During the first week of November, there was a short window of clear skies in between Autumn stoms in Juneau,AK. These breaks in the weather have always brought great relief, especially when the last clear day was around 20 or so days ago. When this nice weather arrived, my friend and fellow photographer Stacy LaMascus and I leapt at the opportunity to photograph the clear night skies. So we packed my truck with warm clothes, tripods, cameras, lenses, hot tea and drove to Fish Creek Rd. on Douglas Island, because it was more protected from the 30 MPH winds that were hitting downtown Juneau.
Once we got there, I started to take test shots of the scene. The purpose of doing this is to adjust composition in the dark and get a base exposure by looking at the histogram. To get a base exposure, I will increase my ISO to the highest setting (3200 on my Canon 5d) and will use the widest aperture which was f2.8. I will also turn off noise reduction until I have a histogram and composition to my liking. By doing this, I do not have to wait a very long time to see what I am getting.
After I am happy with the shot, I will turn noise reduction back on, reduce my ISO to 800 and do the math to get the correct shutter speed and f stop. I will also manually focus on infinity so that the stars will be in focus. For this shot my exposure was 69 sec. f/4 @ ISO 800. Stacy also helped me out in this photograph by driving my truck down the road so that I could have a some red and orange leading lines directing your attention to Mt. McInnis.
Another thing that helped me out during this process was my TC-80N3 remote cable release. In a nut shell, this cable release allows me to set a self timer so I will not have any camera shake, and I can also set my shutter speed longer than 30 sec. by using the bulb setting.
Here if the photograph of Mt. McInnis, Mt. Stroller White and the Big Dipper.
If you have any questions about how to photograph at night, or mention something that I missed please feel free to ask and I will respond to the best of my knowledge.
-Kenneth Checote Moriarty