Just a quick piece on some recent work.

Recently I’ve been trying my hand at night photography, with some varied success. Here is a sampling of some stuff I’ve shot recently.

After taking these pictures, I think it’s really quite amazing how many stars and planets are out there that our eyes just can’t see.

This first one is from the backyard of my house in Maryland. Check out the plane flying by :). I positioned the camera to show some of the house and the trees, just to get a sense of perspective against the night sky:

Night Stars
Backyard Stars (click for larger version or purchase)

Every time I see the stars outside, my eyes are drawn to the brightest. Under normal circumstances, that “star” would be Venus… though now, given their orbits, its Jupiter. But I did not quite know that Jupiter is the brightest star in the sky right now until I took this shot:

Jupiter and its four moons
Jupiter and its four moons

Yes, that’s Jupiter and its four moons. I thought it was amazing that my 200mm lens could capture it in as much detail.

So do you want to know how many stars there are in the sky? If you do, don’t ask me :). But if you’d like to see how many stars you can actually see while looking up from Suburbia, USA, check out the next shot. To REALLY view as many stars as were captured, click the link and view the largest (“X3”) version.

Night Stars
Night Stars (click for larger version or purchase)

While I was really trying to focus on the constellation on the right of the photo (of which I still don’t know the name – help?), I was blown away by what came through in the shot. It’s really quite unbelievable how many stars and planets are out there. Each small sliver of light is some distant object. As you can see, some have different color tones: red, blue, green amongst others. The stars also have a distinct, lower case “t” shaped cast of light as well that’s somewhat visible in this photo.

This last shot is one from Great Falls Park in Virginia. I probably spent about 10 hours over the course of 3 sessions shooting this and other shots there — if you have not been there, put it on your list. I captured it right after sunset, while the sky still clung a shade of pink. I used a longer exposure to show some movement in the clouds, and the lights a passing plane:

Great Falls Park Night Stars
Great Falls Park Night Stars (click for larger version or purchase)

That’s all I have for you today. I am trying to get better at this type of technique (in particular by reducing noise); check back in sometime — hopefully I can do the cosmos a little more justice.

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