|"Nighttime Rainbow Over The Rockies" © Mike Berenson (click on image for a larger view)|
Technique: This panorama is made up of 16 vertical images, each exposed at f/1.8 for 20 seconds, ISO 6400. The images were stitched together with a software called PTGui.
Challenges: One of Mike's biggest challenges was getting just enough detail on the mountains and foreground. He had tried to shoot the same location under darker skies (without a moon), but found that to get it just right, he really needed moonlight —but not too bright. He choose a day in late June, with a quarter moon, that worked perfectly.
Berenson also feels the shadow detail was improved by the low-light capabilities of his new D800, but the larger files of the D800 also created a computer challenge when having to process and combine 16 images! "This may not have been the best time to test the new beast, but I didn't mind," laughs Mike.
Mike had shot at this location before, only to be disappointed. In order to make this image work, a lot of conditions he had little control over had to all come together: Clear skies, the right amount of moonlight, and calm winds so he could get good reflections on the pond. "I [also] needed the pond to be thawed (sounds obvious, huh), but that seemed to take forever —with a few wasted trips that I just chalked up to scouting," whips Mike.
Satisfaction: One of the goals Mike had was capturing the reflected stars on the pond from a little bit of distance. He had been taking plenty of up-close reflections; but for this location, he really wanted to show the pond as a smaller component of the foreground. "...almost like it's at the foot of Grizzly Peak, even though it's really across the valley," explains Berenson.
"When I first saw the results in a stitched panorama, I had a huge smile," says Mike. "It's difficult to appreciate the grand view of the sky and the curving milky way with each individual image in a panoramic sequence. But when you put it all together, it becomes so much more than the sum of the parts."
More of Mike Berenson's photography can be seen at his Colorado Captures website and his Flickr photostream.