San Yuan  

Romancing Hoodoos by San Yuan

September 2020 - Romancing Hoodoos

About the Image(s)

This image was taken at the Escalante National Monument region. The specific location is called Devil’s Garden where many hoodoos and shapely geological formations reigned. The whole process took about 2 hours, from 11pm to 1 am. Settings: 11mm f/4 at 4 mins exposure, iso 400. The images were taken serially in RAW, then output to jpg. I used the PS plugin, Startrax to combine all the images into the final shot. The hardest part of this experience was not having to wait in the dark shivering for two hours, but rather trying to figure out before the sunset what the composition of the final image should be while planning where the Polaris is in relationship to the hoodoos.

6 comments posted

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
(Groups 36 & 67)
Great idea for capture. This inspires the imagination.
May I offer two suggestions. Check out an app for your phone called Photopills. With that at home or on location you can actually see exactly where polaris will appear and when. If you are going to do this type of photography you absolutely have to get that app.

Second, a little trick to getting your foreground sharp and perfect.
Once youhave framed yourshot, shoot the foreground at a much lower ISO, and light paint the important rocks. After you get the star trails just add the foreground shot on top. The beauty is you can take several shots of the foreground util you get the painting right.   Posted: 09/11/2020 14:34:29

Lamar Nix   Lamar Nix
Great star trails! It looks like you have this technique down solidly. The foreground shapes and illumination are a bit superfluous to my eye and tend to be too close to the bullseye. A simpler silhouette might work out better here.
Great job on the sky!
  Posted: 09/17/2020 13:04:43

Pierre Williot   Pierre Williot
I love it San! Another app that I use all the time is TPE and TPE 3D (The Photographer Ephemeris App).
Night photography has it's own challanges: 1) selecting the perfect location (here the Ephemeris is of great help) - this location changes every day as the earth is moving! With the Ephemeris App, one could plan days ahead. 2) Getting there during the day time to make sure that you know the area and that you can get back safely (unless you are sleeping on site (campground, van, boon docking, etc...) 3) having a headlight (red is better as it is easier to see in the dark once you turn the light off) and 4) propper cloathing (keeping extra batteries on your body inside your coat, gloves, warm boots if needed, etc...
Night photography needs planning, and then, clouds can ruin everything!
Great composition - love it!   Posted: 09/17/2020 15:31:18

Todd Paige   Todd Paige
Hi San,

The star trails make such an interesting pattern! I would suggest more light on the foreground, you can use one LED light on a stand and take multiple images moving the light to many different angles to the subject, then blend the foreground images in PS (manually or use: create smart object, stack mode, median). Also, the airplane trails can be cloned out before blending the star trails--which I think gives a cleaner look. Finally, I agree Larry that photopills is fantastic.

Todd   Posted: 09/17/2020 18:44:00

San Yuan   San Yuan
Thank you all for your helpful hints. This image was taken about 5 years ago, when I was not using either TPE or Photopill. Since then, I have tried to use both apps, but find them rather difficult to use in situations when I really needed them. I guess I would just need to get a refresher on youtube each time when I need to find out the locations of sun, Milky Way or moon sets.   Posted: 09/17/2020 19:20:04

Frans Gunterus   Frans Gunterus
Hi San, I never get involved in star trail photography. I learned a bit of Astrophotography when I prepared to shoot Aurora. So I review articles and star trails images before I can give you this comments. Obviously, the concept is no difference than Aurora images. The key is the composition and balance between the trails and the foreground. Therefore, my suggestion is to smoothened and apply local adjustment to brightened part of the foreground to make it more dimensional. Then, smoothened and dimmed out the trails a bit. I might want to add a bit of very light coloring to the trails. I really appreciate your efforts to capture this image.   Posted: 09/21/2020 03:52:23


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