Camping underneath the stars in Jebel Sirua, Morocco.

Camping underneath the stars in Jebel Sirua, Morocco.
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Contest Finalist in The Night Photo Contest
Peer Award
Superb Composition
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Outstanding Creativity
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All Star
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Magnificent Capture
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Superior Skill
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6 Comments | Report
kapilsoni February 09, 2017
sakevanpelt February 10, 2017
stuartkilday March 29, 2017
Such a cool photo
sakevanpelt March 30, 2017
Thanks a lot!
rikpoo May 07, 2017
perfect to describe the word "starry night"
sakevanpelt May 08, 2017
It does! Thanks!
Penny-K PRO+
Penny-K December 30, 2018
sakevanpelt January 03, 2020
This is amazing
I cannot get over how beautiful this photograph is, Well done!

Behind The Lens

This photo was taken in the Jebel Siroua mountain range in Morocco. It was one of our first camping places and it was really, really cold! We camped near a small town, next to a small river. The goal was to get to the top of the highest mountain in this area, but because they had a lot of rain the top was covered in snow. Unfortunately our guide was not used to hiking in snow, so we did not get to the top. Really a pity because we are very experienced in walking through snow...
Obviously it was dark outside so it was in the evening. We were waiting for the dinner prepared by our guide and I went outside to play with my camera. Everyone else thought it was too cold and stayed inside the tent.
There wasn't a lot of light as you can see so I had to use a tripod. The light coming from the tents was great and I was lucky enough that everyone inside was standing or sitting still for 10 seconds so I could capture their silhouette.
I used my always faithful Sony A77II and the legendary Sigma 35mm f1.4 ART. I stopped down the lens to f1.4 to get as much light into the camera as possible and used ISO1600 to gain enough light and used a shutter speed of 10 seconds to gain enough light, but not create startrails. Of course the in body stabilization was turned off because I used a tripod ;) The shutter was released with a 2 second delay to get rid of any vibrations.
The stars in the sky are an always inspiring photography object. The thought of all those billion stars with even more planets and the light that traveled billions years to reach our little blue planet is mind boggling. That thought in contrast to the daily hiking routine of setting up your tent, drinking tea, reading a book and waiting for the food to finish makes you put things in a different perspective.
I did some post processing, but a lot less then you would expect. Just some color temperature adjustment, minor contrast and highlights adjustment and noise reduction.
In my camera bag
Nowdays I have a full packed bag of equipment with me, but when I made this photograph I only had two lenses. A Sony 18-250mm f3.6-6.3 superzoom and the Sigma 35mm f1.4 ART lens. I did carry a Hama Star 61 tripod all the way up the mountain, just to shoot some starry skies and long exposure waterfalls. Also I had a Genustec Eclipse ND fader (77mm) with 77-62mm adapter ring and some spare batteries. I had to carry my camera gear all the way up here, so I wanted to travel light.
Get out! Go to places where there is as little light pollution as possible. Even in this place there was light pollution of the small village, but the sky was clear. To get to a photo like this you have to experiment a lot and just try out what works and what doesn't. Use the manual setting as much as possible and also manual focusing. The auto focus is not capable to accurately focus in low light conditions. Use live view if you have it, digitally zoom in to a star or far away object (or near object if you want it in focus) and focus on that. Also use a delayed shutter release or (wireless) remote to get rid of any vibrations. Try to find a composition you like in daylight and make a photo, you can just do it with your smartphone or a light compact camera. If the night falls you go back and bring your heavy gear, set it up and shoot your prize winning photo!

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