Monday, February 8, 2016

Dave Morrow: Night Sky Photography On the Edge of Reality

"Sometimes Things Get Complicated" ~ a panorama composed of 11 images ~ Photo by Dave Morrow
 Night Photography is a completely new field to Dave Morrow. Looking at his portfolio, It's hard to believe that he took his first shots of the Milky Way only two months ago!

Editor's Note: This feature is an update on a post I did about Dave back in October 2012.

"I have always been a huge fan of the subject," says Dave. He looked at thousands of pictures of the night sky, which made him want to create something completely different from everyone else.

"Night Tremors" ~ Ruby Beach on the Olympic Peninsula ~ Photo by Dave Morrow
 Two months ago, Dave was headed to the North Cascades to shoot Picture Lake and overheard someone talking about the meteor showers that night. After shooting the sunset he laid out and waited for the stars. His first shot was a bit dark, and the ISO was to low, but after messing around for about 10 minutes he managed to get something he really liked.

"When I got home from my first shoot and upload the picture onto my computer, I had no clue how to process this beast of an image," reports Morrow.  He decided to experiment and see what happened. As he moved different sliders around in Lightroom, some great colors start to come out in the image, so he decide to run with it, and the rest is history.

"When Worlds Collide" ~ Photo by Dave Morrow
Free Tutorial: Dave's star photography has been so well received on the Internet, he has produced a free tutorial and a set of inexpensive Lightroom presets to help others interesting in this type of night photography:
Challenges: Dave's biggest challenge in this new style of star photography is trying to come up with some cool stuff in the foreground to keep his shots interesting. "Finding new compositions that keep people coming back for more is a huge challenge that will continue to grow as I take more shots," remarks Dave.

"Shoot Me to the Stars" ~ Mt. Rainier from Sunrise Point ~ Photo by Dave Morrow
Favorite Equipment and Tools: Morrow's favorite piece of photographic equipment is his Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G lens. "Shooting super wide angles at fast apertures is key to star photography, and this thing handles it like a beast," whips Dave.

Number two has got to be the Nikon D800 which he feels seems to have a star photography “sweet spot” of ISO 5000. "I have never seen a camera handle ISO 5000 like this one does," reports Dave.

Number three would be his Really Right Stuff Tripod. Extending to 72 inches tall is a huge advantage when shooting the night sky for hours, due to the fact that he can look up at his camera without slouching over. The rest of his gear can be found here on his website.

And because the moon is a Milky Way photographer's worst enemy, Dave uses The Photographer's Ephemeris to know when the moons rises and sets (and how bright/big it will be on any given night), as well as the times of the sunrise and sunsets. He also uses a free light pollution map (by Blue Marble). Other tools are mentioned in his online tutorial. (Editor's Note: If you live in the continental United States, another great light pollution map is the Dark Sky Finder mention in our 12 September 2012 blog post.)

On the Edge of Reality: "Escaping people, and at times reality has always been something I enjoy now and then. In order to get good dark skies for stars photography you must do both of these things," says Dave. Adding somewhat philosophically, "So it works out well!"

More of Dave Morrow's photography can be found at his website. Dave also has a Free Learn Photography eCourse.


1 comment:

  1. LOVE these pictures!!!!! The best place to view and photograph the night sky is in the rural countryside because cities have artificial lights which cause a phenomenon known as light pollution. You need to get away from artificial lights in order to see the stars well. A truly dark sky is preferred, but artificial lights keep the night sky from being truly dark. Many beginners aim at capturing the longest star trails by keeping the shutter open for long periods of time.

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