Starry Night, Sawtooth Mountains - Idaho
Here, at 9200 feet in the Sawtooths, the clouds vanished, the silvery sickle of the new moon slipped below the horizon, and I woke up at midnight - the trifecta of night photography. My new Nikon D800 - with its 36 megapixel full-frame sensor, coupled with the Nikon 14-24mm lens - with its huge dome of light-gathering glass, records even the faintest of light at long exposures. I set up on a tripod, changed the ISO to 2000, opened the lens to f2.8, and began taking images at various shutter speeds - deciding here on 20 seconds as the best, with the least amount of star movement (earth rotation).
While the shutter was open, I illuminated the old whitebark pine snag in the foreground. Initially I did this so I could then review the image on the camera LCD screen, zoom in tight, and check my focus, as it was so black out I really couldn't tell by looking through the viewfinder, and autofocus was like, "No way". After I got the focus correct, I decided that I liked the light on the tree in the foreground - although un-natural - it made the image more lively. It was the magical third element (stars, black silhouette, and lighted tree) of interest which is so good to have for an effective image.
I shot many images with differing amounts of light on the tree (illuminated with my headlamp), finally choosing this one - which had the least amount of light. The sheer volume of stars, and color of the milky way, was truly astounding once I had the image opened in Photoshop. I guess I wasn't really preppared for such a busy sky, as the naked eye could only register a fraction of these faint points of light. Ahhh, the wonders of technology!
Nikon D800, 14-24mm lens (14mm), F 2.8, ISO 2000, shutter speed of 20 seconds, white balance of 5350 K (changed in camera, on location).