"Guidance"



A pano of the night sky surrounding Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on North Carolina's OBX coastline.

A pano of the night sky surrounding Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on North Carolina's OBX coastline.

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Contest Finalist in Light Sensitivity Photo Contest
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4 Comments | Report
ovosphotography
 
ovosphotography August 18, 2015
well done!
KochSelectImagery
 
KochSelectImagery October 17, 2015
I used to work there! This stunning photo takes me back to the magic and beauty of the place.
nandicmb PRO+
 
nandicmb October 27, 2015
Congratulations on both your Contest Finalist wins!
jenniefromthe603
 
jenniefromthe603 May 09, 2017
This is spectacular

Behind The Lens

Location
This image was taken at Hatteras Lighthouse at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Time
It was about midnight, maybe just shy of that when this image was taken.
Lighting
I had to wait for the Milky Way to rise into position and for the moon to set enough to have the stars become visible with minimal light pollution from the moon. Night photography on the Outer Banks is excellent due to relatively low light pollution levels from large towns. There is some but with this shot setup facing East over the ocean it was very dark. The rotation of the light makes not blowing the lighthouse light out difficult as it passes the lens every 7 seconds. There's not much you can do about this if your composition includes the light but a little post-processing help toned it down enough to look good here. Otherwise, camera settings were: f/2.8 25 seconds ISO 3200
Equipment
Canon 5D3 Canon 16-35 f/2.8 L II RRS Tripod and Ballhead Canon remote trigger
Inspiration
I have been visiting the Outer Banks for decades, even lived there for a while after graduating college. I have always been enamored with lighthouses and where better to photograph them than the OBX? I also love taking Milky Way shots and had been wanting to try a pano for some time. I really wasn't feeling any of the compositions I had worked and just before leaving decided to give this a try. The end result is this image which is created from 7 images stitched together in PS.
Editing
All 7 images (RAW) were treated with basic adjustments in Lightroom. Minor exposure, contrast, highlights and curves adjustments to get the stars popping. In Photoshop,after stitching the images together, I used luminosity masks to finish bringing out the night sky and Milky Way, reducing the light cast from the lighthouse and reducing shadows from the foreground. Finally, noise reduction and sharpening layers were added to finish things off.
In my camera bag
I'm a Canon shooter and carry all Canon camera and lens gear. I use RRS tripod and ballheads and also have the Lee Filter System.
Feedback
Research, scouting and planning play a huge role in capturing compelling night sky images. Paying attention to the weather forecasts, lunar cycles and even wind forecasts are also all important. Learn your camera controls and be prepared to make adjustments based on conditions you experience on location. A fast and wide lens is best for night photography but I have seen many great images from f/4 glass as well. I was somewhat worried about the pano aspects of this shot because I do not have a panning head for my tripod. I got some great advice and made rotations that included about 30% of the territory covered by the previous shot each time I moved the camera. I was told having more overlap was better than not having enough so that PS (or whatever program you use) would have an easier time stitching the photos together, it seemed to work out great. You do have to account for some cropping on all sides so leaving enough room all around to plan for this is critical, you don't want major elements of your shot being cut out!!

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