|"Snowy Range Perseids" - 22 meteorites captured in a Wyoming sky ~ © David Kingham (click image for how-to info)|
The "Snowy Range Perseids" shot was the accumulation of all the things Kingham had learned over the years. "It put all my skills to the test and I came away with more than I imagined," said David. "Everything from scouting the perfect location, creating a great composition in total darkness, shooting for an entire night, to the challenge of post processing to create an incredible composite with the meteors coming from the correct radiant point."
Creating unique imagery: As a landscape photographer, David enjoys capturing beautiful scenery. "But it often feels like it's all been done before," laments Kingham. "When I'm standing on the shore of Maroon Bells or Oxbow Bend with hundreds of other photographers I feel disenchanted. When I stand under a star filled sky, I know I'm one of very few that are taking in this beauty, and unless I'm with friends I know that what I'm photographing is exceptionally unique, not just a different composition, but something that nobody has ever seen."
David's night work often involves selecting a unique foreground element and pairing it with a feature in the night sky. He prefers to work with moonlight to illuminate his foreground subjects, but when there is a new moon he will also employ light painting.
Getting started: Growing up in the mountains of Colorado, Kingham had always been able to clearly see the stars at night—which few in our modern society get to experience, due to light pollution. When he started in photography he had no idea that our cameras were capable of capturing the night sky. It was a Flickr friend, Michael Menefee, and his nightscapes that inspired David. The thankful Kingham worked hard to learn as much as possible under Michael's willingness to share his techniques.
|"Glacier Gorge Milky Way" - a nightscape panorama ~ © David Kingham (click for a larger view)|
|"Cupid Mountain Milky Way Panorama" ~ © David Kingham (click image for a larger view)|
Night photography challenges: Long, cold nights, and a lack of sleep are typical for night photographers. But David admits that driving for several hours into the mountains, and hiking in the middle of the night in freezing conditions is worth the effort. "It's those moments that remind you how amazing a warm bed feels, [and] forcing yourself to leave it takes a special devotion," reports David.
|"No Wind on the Prairie" ~ © David Kingham (click image for a larger view)|
Favorite tools and equipment: Rokinon lenses are a favorite. David has discovered that they are cheap, fast, and free of coma—more so than some of the Canon and Nikon lenses, costing over $2,000! David shoots a lot of panoramas, so a leveling base on his tripod makes life much easier. An intervalometer is also a necessity. And a custom made external battery has allowed him to extend his battery life by 7 hours!
On the software side, David uses Starry Night Pro on the his PC, and Star Walk on the iPhone—both are such amazing planetarium applications that he can't imagine doing night photography without them. Nik Color Efex is his secret weapon for bringing out the detail in the milky way, and Microsoft ICE has become invaluable for stitching night panoramas.
Workshops: Recently, David has began teaching night photography workshops. Giving others the gift of knowledge to create their own nightscapes is deeply rewarding to him.
More of David's work can be found at his website.
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