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International Sky



I took a trip to Animas Forks ghost town and this is one of the shots I took with a friend lighting painting this old international truck with a diffuse light....
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I took a trip to Animas Forks ghost town and this is one of the shots I took with a friend lighting painting this old international truck with a diffuse light.
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Behind The Lens

Location
This photo was taken just outside the ghost town of Animas Forks, Colorado. We saw this old international truck from the 4x4 road leading through the area as we were going to set up camp. That night we could see the Milky Way clearly with the naked eye, so a few of our group decided to go back and shoot it with the starry background.
Time
At this time of year (July 16th) the Milky Way was best seen early when it was low on the horizon to the East. We got there as soon as it was really dark and this shot happened just after 10 pm
Lighting
For Astrophotography the wider the lens the longer relative exposure can be taken before excessive 'star-trailing' occurs. For this setup, I used ISO 3200 and a 20 second exposure at f2.8. A diffused flashlight was used in a 1 second burst on either side to light the truck.
Equipment
I used a Canon 5D mkIII with a Rokinon 14mm 2.8 lens. My tripod is a sturdy aluminum Manfrotto.
Inspiration
Sitting around camp and seeing the stars emerge on a cloudless night at over 11,000 feet elevation is something everyone should experience. I knew I had to find a spot for the foreground to equal what I was seeing in the sky. I remembered the old truck and decided to give it a try. Since I had my jeep there, I asked if any others in my group of mostly photographers wanted to come. Several did and we drove back to the site. The ones that didn't join us missed out!
Editing
Oh yeah, this took a lot of work in post process. When you shoot at that high of an iso, you know already how much noise is going to have to be dealt with. What you don't know is what else happened that you can't tell from the screen on the back. To maximize my ability to correct mistakes, or unavoidable sacrifices from the ideal, I shoot in RAW. I would say everyone who can, should shoot RAW for the flexibility.
In my camera bag
I only carry the 5D body, though I have another crop frame canon. My lenses start with my favorite: Canon 17-40 for landscape. If I am hiking and want to keep the weight down I carry the Canon 24-105 IS for broader application and the stabilization for handheld. If I am carrying 3 lenses it is the first two and my 70-300 Canon telephoto. I have several other lenses for specific reasons (14mm Rok for astro, 100 Canon macro, Canon 50mm F 1.4 portrait, and such), but not usually travelling with me.
Feedback
1. Location! Gotta get a good foreground. Just a great catch of the stars is not enough. 2. Equipment! Most photography can be done with a simple camera and a kit lens - astrophotography is not one of those areas. This is particularly true with Milky Way chasing. You need to soak in all the light you can in a limited period of time before the stars move too much. 3. Make mistakes! I did. I do. You will. It's how we learn. There is also a lot of good education available on the subject, but doing it teaches quickly. Happy hunting my friends! -Ron

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