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Night Photography
Physics to Photos by Steph Abegg

Colorful winter night at Elfin Lakes Hut, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC.
(9 min, f 9.0, ISO 200)

Email me (Steph) if you are interested in purchasing any of my night photography.


Introduction

A night scene is one of the most rewarding and unique photographic subjects. A photograph taken at night can unveil subtle colors and impart an ambiance absent in any daytime exposure of the scene, or capture astronomical phenomena realized only upon an extended exposure. A candle becomes a glowing beacon in a warmly lit room; stars become colorful streaks through an inky sky; a dimly moonlit mountain becomes blanketed with glowing light and deep shadows.

Night photography has become one of my favorite forms of photography. My skills have been entirely self-taught, developed through countless sleepless nights fiddling with my camera under a blanket of stars. This page gives a sampling of some of my favorite night photos.

Night photography requires a good understanding of camera exposure and use of long exposure times. Understanding the simple physics of photography opens up a realm of new possibilities for the night photographer (or any photographer, for that matter). So, before the photos on this page, I discuss some of the technical aspects of night photography, such as what manual exposure settings to use and how exposure works. In addition, all photos on this page are accompanied by their exposure settings. To jump past this discussion and go directly to the photos, click the link below.



GO STRAIGHT TO THE PHOTOS
(which are below the following technical discussion)
Artificial Lighting
Stars
Moon
Colors in Night Sky



Camera Settings for Night Photography

Night photography involves long exposure times. Camera settings (i.e. the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO) depend on the photographic subject (e.g. the stars, the moon, or a lit object like a tent), how dark the night is, and the desired effect (i.e. star trails or star pinpoints). The table below summarizes the typical exposure settings for various types of night photographs. Hopefully, this provides some guidelines so that taking a night photo is only a literal shot in the dark!

After this table, I give a more detailed discussion on understanding exposure, which is one of the key technical aspects of night photography.

 Table of Example Camera Settings for Various Subjects

CONDITION EXAMPLE PHOTO SHUTTER SPEED APERTURE ISO SPEED
Photo of Moon

Difficult to achieve a correct exposure of both moon and surroundings due to large difference in brightness.
Moonrise from Yellow Aster Butte, WA.
(2 min, f 5.0, ISO 200)
1/100 seconds - 2 minutes (to see details on the moon, faster shutter speeds are required; with longer shutter speeds, the surroundings might be better exposed, but the moon will overexpose, loose definition, or even start to streak across the sky, although this can be an interesting effect) ~ f/5.0 - f/22.0 (adjust depending on shutter speed) 100-400 (varies depending on darkness of the surrounding scene; try to minimize to reduce noise)
Moonlit Landscape

Moonlit surfaces can be colorful and bright.
Moonlight on Mt. Baker, WA.
(6 min, f 10.0, ISO 100)
1-10 minutes (the moonlight becomes more pronounced and colorful at longer exposure times) ~ f/8.0 - f/14.0 (try to use a relatively narrow aperture in order to achieve enough depth of field) 100-400 (varies depending on brightness of the lit surface; try to minimize to reduce noise; moonlit surfaces can be bright enough to use a low ISO)
Artificially-lit object or Urban Light

Building, tent, city skyline, etc. Creativity abounds.
"Alpine Start" in the Cirque of the Towers, Wyoming.
(2.5 min, f 4.0, ISO 500)
10 sec -10 minutes (exposure time depends on how bright the light sources are—direct lighting such as a city skyline requires shorter exposure times than muted or indirect lighting such as a glowing tent). At longer exposure times, artificial lighting becomes more pronounced and colorful and motion can also be captured.
    The artificial light source is not always present during the entire shot, especially if the photographer has control over the light source (for example, for a tent lit at night, the tent might only be lit for a quarter of the duration of the shot).
~ f/6.0 - f/14.0 (if the scene contains foreground and background objects, use a relatively narrow aperture in order to achieve enough depth of field) 100-800 (varies depending on darkness of night and amount of artificial lighting;  try to minimize to reduce noise)
Photo of Stars as pinpoints

Photographing stars is best on a dark night, when the moon is below the horizon.
Milky way and planet from our campsite in the Bailey Range of the Olympic Mountains, WA.
(30 sec, f 4.0, ISO 1000)
Exposure time for shooting still stars is typically between 10-30 sec, usually near the upper end of this range in order to capture enough light to get a correct exposure.
     The maximum shutter speed you can use without the stars appearing to streak across the photo can be approximated by dividing 600 by the effective focal length of your lens. For an effective focal length of 20mm, this gives an exposure time of 30 seconds. (Some math: if you assume that 5 pixels - or 0.1% - of movement on a 5D's 12.8 mp sensor (equivalent to 4 pixels of movement on a 30D's 8.2 mp sensor) is the maximum without streaking and recall that the earth makes one full rotation in 86400 sec, shutter speed = [(180/pi)*(5 pixels x (35 mm / 4368 pixels)) / f] / (360 degrees / 86400 sec)).
     Another aspect to consider is that further away from Polaris, stars trace out longer paths in the sky. Hence, slightly longer exposure times can be used to photograph stars closer to Polaris without registering the stars' movement.
~ f/4.0 - f/6.0 (aperture needs to be wider to let in more light since exposure time is short and the night is dark) ~800-1600 (ISO needs to be high to register more light since exposure time is short and the night is dark; on a really dark night, the camera's highest ISO might be needed, which unfortunately means more noise in the photograph)
Photo of Star trails

Photographing stars is best on a dark night, when the moon is below the horizon.
Rotation of stars around Polaris, John Muir Trail, Sierra Nevada Mountains, CA.
(23 min, f 4.0, ISO 200)
20 minutes to 2 hours (or longer if the battery can last!) ~ f/4.0 -f/10.0 (the longer the exposure, the narrower the aperture can be, but typically star photos are taken on dark nights so you can't make the aperture too narrow) 100-800 (varies depending on darkness of night, I usually try to minimize ISO to avoid registering too much noise during the lengthy exposure)
Combination

Creativity is key!
Big Dipper, Moonlight, and Tent in Evolution Basin, John Muir Trail, Sierra Nevada Mountains, CA.
(40 sec, f 4.5, ISO 400)
30 seconds-2 hours (whatever gives the effect you want) adjust aperture based on shutter speed and lighting; if there are foreground and background objects, use a narrower aperture to achieve a larger depth of field adjust ISO based on shutter speed and lighting, but try to reduce ISO to minimize noise



Some Physics of Night Photography

The following section discusses some of the key technical aspects of night photography. I've put together a worksheet on exposure settings to help you understand the following discussion; click here to download the worksheet on exposure settings.

  Key Concept = Understanding Exposure

The exposure of a photograph is a function of the amount of light entering (or being recorded by) the camera. For a given scene, the amount of light entering (or being recorded by) the camera is controlled by three settings, which can be adjusted independently of the others:

1) Aperture: (the area of) the opening through which light travels into the camera; wider apertures (which are non-intuitively represented by smaller f-numbers) allow more light to enter the camera. A standard sequence in one-stop increments of f-numbers from a narrow aperture to wide is: 32.0, 22.0, 16.0, 11.0, 8.0, 5.6, 4.0, 2.8, 2.0, 1.4.

2) Shutter speed: the length of the exposure; longer shutter speeds allow more light to enter the camera for a given photograph. A standard sequence in one-stop increments of shutter speed (in seconds) from short exposure to long is: 1/2000, 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, ¼, ½, 1, … (much longer for night photos).

3) ISO speed: in film cameras, ISO refers to the film speed; in digital cameras, it represents the sensitivity of the sensor; higher ISO corresponds to higher sensitivity and allows the camera's film or sensor to record more of the incoming light. A standard sequence in one-stop increments of ISO from low speed to high is: 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200.

  Reciprocity of Camera Settings

There is a reciprocal relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO speed:

Exposure ~ Aperture Area  x  Exposure Time  x  Film/Sensor Sensitivity (ISO)

These three camera settings are calibrated in stops, or doublings and halvings. For instance, for a given scene, doubling the amount of light entering or being recorded by the camera can be achieved by:

1. Doubling the area of the aperture (i.e. decreasing the f-number by one stop)
2. Doubling the shutter time
3. Doubling the ISO

Reciprocity also means that a variety of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO combinations can produce the same exposure. A change in one camera setting can be counterbalanced by changing the other camera setting(s) by an equal number of (combined) stops in the opposite direction. For example, let's say a photo is correctly exposed with a shutter speed of 30 seconds, an aperture of f/8.0, and an ISO speed of 800. We might want to keep the shutter speed the same, but increase the depth of field (i.e. decrease the aperture size). In order to maintain the exposure, each stop in aperture requires the ISO to be increased by one stop. For example, the photo will be identically exposed with a shutter speed of 30 seconds (same), aperture of f/16 (2 stops), and ISO of 3200 (2 stops).

It is important for the night photographer to know that there is an exception to the direct linear application of reciprocity for situations that involve low light and longer exposure times. Termed "reciprocity failure," this occurs when the light levels decrease out of the reciprocity range. At low light levels, i.e. fewer photons per unit time, photons impinge upon the photographic medium relatively infrequency, and the partial charge created as the photons arrive is not stable enough to survive before enough photons arrive to record a permanent latent image. The usual trade-off between aperture and shutter speed is no longer proportional, and the increase in duration, and hence of total exposure, required to produce an equivalent response becomes higher than linear reciprocity predicts. In other words, in low light when exposure times are greater than about 1 second, the exposure time must be more than doubled to double the exposure.

  Exposure Values

Based on the reciprocity of the camera settings, the exposure value (EV) is a mathematical construct that denotes all combinations of camera shutter speed and aperture that give the same exposure at the same ISO speed. The concept was developed in an attempt to simplify choosing among combinations of equivalent camera settings, although practice and experience usually replaces the need for tabulated exposure values.

Mathematically, exposure value is a base-2 logarithmic term defined by

EV = log2(N^2/t)

where N is the f-number related to the size of the aperture, and t is the exposure time in seconds. As indicated by the formula, the EV increases as f-number increases (i.e. smaller aperture opening) or exposure time decreases (i.e. faster shutter speed). Hence, greater EV correspond to more brightly lit scenes, while lower EV correspond to dimly lit scenes. Typical values of EV range from -6 to 16, with EV 0 corresponding to an exposure time of 1 s and a relative aperture of f/1.0. Most night photography takes place in situations with negative EV. Exposure value is also used to indicate an interval on the photographic exposure scale, with 1 EV corresponding to a standard power-of-2 exposure stop

Every scene—a Full Moon casting a beam of light over the ocean, the colorful reds and greens of Aurora Borealis, the Milky Way in a starry night sky—has a characteristic EV related to the brightness of the scene. Some photographers use a light meter to determine the EV. However, lighting is often predictable, so the EV of a scene can often be determined with reasonable accuracy from standard values. Tables of standard values are provided below. As an example of how to use them, consider a nightscape under a half moon (i.e. Gibbons moon). The EV table shows that this scene has an EV of around -4. Using the second table, for a given ISO the EV value can be used to determine a combination of shutter speed and aperture—for example, ISO of 800,  f/4.0, and 30 seconds would give the correct exposure. 

Exposure Settings and Exposure Values
(click to enlarge)
Artificial Lighting
Stars
Moon
Colors in Night Sky

These charts are good to know about, but with a little practice choosing a suitable combination of camera settings (i.e. EV) becomes quite intuitive, and most photographers don't even think about the EV value their chosen combination represents.

Although all camera settings with the same EV nominally give the same exposure, they often do not give the same photographic result. For example, a 30-second f/1.4 exposure of the Big Dipper is nominally equivalent to a 16-minute exposure at f/8; the first will show the pinprick stars, while the second will show star trails. In night photography, the exposure time plays an important role in the overall outcome of the photo, so often it is just a matter of choosing the appropriate aperture and ISO setting to suite the desired exposure time and EV of the scene.

  Camera Noise

It is typical in night photography to use a higher ISO setting to increase the sensitivity of the camera to incoming light. The downside is that high ISO leads to noise—the appearance of random "bad" pixels scattered over the photo. It is a similar effect as "grain" in film photography and it degrades the photo quality.

A bit of physics: The camera's electronic sensor is built from many tiny pixels that are hit with incoming photons of light and in this way register the image. There is always a level of background noise, largely caused by free electrons from the image sensor itself that contaminate the photoelectrons from the incoming light. Several phenomena can cause the natural noise from the sensor becomes more pronounced: (1) Higher temperature causes more electron excitement (so a photo taken on a cold night will have less noise than a photo taken on a warm night). (2) Low light causes the amount of light energy measured by each pixel of the CCD to be low; some pixels can appear as noise because the energy level measured for them is significantly close to or higher than the actual light intensity. (3) Long exposure times cause the CCD to accumulate more light in each pixel, but at the same time accumulate more noise. (4) High sensitivity modes, such as a high ISO setting, cause the sensor to amplify the measurements it takes, amplifying its own natural noise as well as the incoming light; also, boosting the ISO heats up the sensor which can introduce even more noise.

Noise can be reduced by addressing any of these causes, although this can be particularly difficult in night photography where often all four sources of noise are present). One useful technique is to take a dark frame (which records the amount of noise collected on the sensor) for the same length of time as the exposure and subtract this from the photo.

  Manual Focus

In low light, the camera's automatic focus typically will not work. So when setting up a night photo, you usually need to use manual focus to make sure the main subject of the photograph is in focus. For landscapes and stars with no foreground objects, setting the focus to infinity is usually best. If you have a chance to set up your photo while it is still light enough to use automatic focus, you can set the focus this way and then turn off the automatic focus for the night photograph.

  Handy Tip for Exposure Settings

If you are not sure what combination of exposure settings (shutter speed, aperture, ISO) to use, here's a quick-and-dirty technique that works pretty well. Set your camera at its highest ISO setting, its widest aperture, and a shutter speed of 30 seconds. After taking the photo, examine the photo's histogram on the camera (sorry film users, this trick only works with a digital camera). If the image is underexposed, increase the shutter speed until you get the correct exposure; if the image is overexposed, decrease the shutter speed (or decrease the ISO) until you get the correct exposure. Once you find the desirable exposure, "stop down" the ISO (since a lower ISO is desirable as it results in less noise) and "stop up" the shutter speed (towards longer exposure) or aperture (towards narrower aperture) by the same number of stops used to stop down the ISO. For long exposures, you usually need to add an extra half-stop to the exposure time, due to reciprocity failure at longer exposure lengths.

  Photo Examples

In the next section, (finally!), I give a sampling of my favorite photos, each accompanied by its exposure setting. 


(Since starting this website, I have started to pick away at a book titled "Night Photography: Physics to Photos", which gives several interesting articles on the technical principals of night photography and astronomy phenomena, along with several of my favorite night photographs. I'd love to publish it someday.)




A Sampling of my Night Photography

The rest of this page gives a sampling of my favorite night photos. I've arranged the photos into four sections: (1) Artificial Lighting, (2) Stars, (3) Moon, (4) Colors in the Night Sky. However, there are a myriad of ways these categories can be overlapped by merging various techniques. Creativity and experimentation is a key aspect of night photography! Many of my favorite night photos (or at least the most creative) are in the Artificial Lighting section.

For each photograph, I've noted the exposure settings (shutter speed, aperture, ISO speed).

Use the following links to jump to a specific category or, if you want to see them all, just scroll down the page.


Artificial Lighting
Stars
Moon
Colors in Night Sky


PHOTOS OF Artificial Lighting
(Flashlight Writing 1)
Using my headlight to write the name of the mountain behind me.
(30 sec, f 7.1, ISO 1250)
Autographing the sidewalk at Gasworks Park, Seattle, WA.
(30 sec, f 14.0, ISO 200)
More fun with light at Gasworks Park, Seattle, WA.
(30 sec, f 14.0, ISO 200)
Happy 4th of July!, North Cascades, WA.
(2 min, f 8.0, ISO 400)
(Flashlight Writing 2)
"Grand Teton" the night before the climb.
(2.5 min, f 7.1, ISO 250.)
"Happy 4th" with sparklers at camp underneath Elephant's Perch.
(30 sec, f 7.1, ISO 640.)
"Elephant's Perch".
(30 sec, f 8.0, ISO 160.)

(Glowing Tent 1)
Camp at night below Mt. Baker, WA.
(69 sec, f 4.5, ISO 400)
Cloudy night in the North Cascades, WA.
(2 min, f 4.0, ISO 200)
Glowing camp on Kololo Peak.
(3 min, f 5.6, ISO 800)
Glowing tent at camp in North Cascades, WA.
(3.5 min, f 7.1, ISO 400)
(Glowing Tent 2)
Glowing camp in the Tetons, WY.
(15 min, f 7.1, ISO 800)

Autumn camp under Prusik Peak in the Enchantments.
(2 min, f 6.3, ISO 400))
Big Dipper, Moonglow, and Tent in Evolution Basin, John Muir Trail, Sierra Nevada Mtns, CA.
(40 sec, f 4.5, ISO 400)
Our camp in the Cirque of the Towers, WY.
(30 sec, f 4.0, ISO 640)
(Glowing Tent 3)
Start trails above a glowing tent in the Cirque of the Towers, WY.
(20 min, f 6.3, ISO 800)




(Glowing Tent 4: People Inside)
Reading in the tent at night in the Cirque of the Towers, WY.
(45 sec, f 9.0, ISO 400)
Alpine Start in the Southern Pickets, North Cascades, WA.
(2 min, f 6.3, ISO 200)
Nighttime at camp
(2.5 min, f 9.0, ISO 500)
Nighttime at camp
(2 min, f 7.1, ISO 400)
(Glowing Tent 5: People Inside)
Sleeping in the tent, high camp in the North Cascades.
(3 min, f 6.3, ISO 800)



(Urban Lights 1: Cities from Afar)
Moon setting over Seattle from high camp on Mt. Rainier, WA.
(30 sec, f 3.5, ISO 400)
Seattle city lights 10,800' below, from high camp on Mt. Rainier.
(30 sec, f 3.5, ISO 250)
Night lights of Trento, Italy.
(25 sec, f 9, ISO 100)

(Urban Lights 2: Glowing buildings)
Seattle night skyline from Gasworks Park.
(30 sec, f 16.0, ISO 160)
Space Needle, Seattle night lights, and Mt. Rainier from Queen Anne Hill. (Compare to same shot taken on a cloudy night, in the "Colors in the Night Sky: Glow of Civilization" section.)
(30 sec, f 14.0, ISO 100)
Nighttime beauty in Manarola, Italy.
(30 sec, f 7.1, ISO 100)
Nighttime beauty in Manarola, Italy.
(30 sec, f 7.1, ISO 100)
(Urban Lights 3: Night streets)
Nighttime in Manarola, Italy.
(20 sec, f 13, ISO 100)
Night lights around the Chiesa di San Michele in Lucca, Italy.
(15 sec, f 10, ISO 100)
Nighttime in St. Mark's Square Venice, Italy.
(13 sec, f 9, ISO 100)
Elvis Presley lives on in the graffiti in Pavia, Italy.
(30 sec, f 11, ISO 100)
(Urban Lights 4: Christmas Lights)
Christmas card houses during Christmastime in Seattle, WA.
(5 sec, f 10.0, ISO 100)
Christmas lights on a street in Pavia, Italy.
(2 sec, f 10, ISO 100)
Christmas train and lights in Pavia, Italy.
(13 sec, f 18.0, ISO 100)
Christmas lights on fog horn hut on Saturna Island, BC.
(10 sec, f 8.0, ISO 200)
(Urban Lights 5: Christmas Lights)
Christmas lights on fog horn hut on Saturna Island, BC.
(10 sec, f 8.0, ISO 250)
(Urban Lights 6: More....)
Christmas train and lights in Pavia, Italy.
(13 sec, f 18.0, ISO 100)
Glowing street lamps in Venice, Italy.
(13 sec, f 10.0, ISO 100)
Canal reflections in Venice, Italy.
(25 sec, f 9.0, ISO 100)
Colorful waterfront in Venice, Italy.
(15 sec, f 10.0, ISO 100)
(Glowing Windows 1)
Ornate stained glass window in the cathedral in Como, Italy.
(1/100, f 4.5, ISO 400))
Christmas card houses during Christmastime in Seattle, WA.
(5 sec, f 10.0, ISO 100)
Cozy candlelit windows at a wintertime Hidden Lake Lookout, North Cascades, WA.
(7 min, f 5.6, ISO 400)
Star streaks, candlelight, and city lights at the old Fire Lookout on the summit of Three Fingers, North Cascades, WA.
(20 min, f 9.0, ISO 200)
(Glowing Windows 2)
Rainy night on the streets of Pavia, Italy.
(1/25 sec, f 4.5, ISO 1250)
Glowing chair lift station at Mt. Baker Ski Area, WA.
(30 sec, f 8.0, ISO 100)
Welcoming entrance to a Whole Foods.
(15 sec, f 22, ISO 100)
The Old Faithful Visitor Center at twilight, Yellowstone NP.
(25 sec, f 22, ISO 100)
(Motion 1: Vehicles)
Bus driving by in Zion National Park, UT.
(30 sec, f 7.1, ISO 800)
A passing bus on a street in Pavia, Italy.
(8 sec, f 14.0, ISO 100)
Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Lights, CA.
(6 sec, f 8.0, ISO 800, Canon S30)


(Motion 2: Boats)
A vaporetto passing by in the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy.
(20 sec, f 10.0, ISO 100)
A vaporetto passing under the Ponte di Rialto in Venice, Italy.
(20 sec, f 18.0, ISO 100)
A vaporetto passing by in the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy.
(13 sec, f 9.0, ISO 100)

(Motion 3: People)
Long exposure of people hiking through the lava tubes, Ape Caves, Mt. St. Helens, WA.
(59 sec, f 9.0, ISO 500)
Window shoppers and ghost walkers in Trento, Italy.
(6 sec, f 18, ISO 100)
Skaters enjoying the Christmas spirit in Pavia, Italy.
(8 sec, f 22.0, ISO 100)
Having fun with night photography on Mormon Row, Grand Teton NP
(4 min, f 9.0, ISO 100)
(Motion 4: Alpine Start)
"Alpine Start" in the Cirque of the Towers, WY.
(2.5 min, f 4.0, ISO 500)
Alpine start in the Tetons, WY.
(30 sec, f 7.1, ISO 250)
Alpine start on Mt. Rainier.
(30 sec, f 4.5, ISO 1000)
Alpine start in the Canadian Rockies. The streaks are caused by us moving around with our headlights on.
(7 min, f 9.0, ISO 100)
(Artificially Lit Object 1)
Star trails over Mt. Gimli, Valhallas, BC. I lit the cairn for a few seconds during the 16 minute exposure.
(16 min, f 5.0, ISO 400)
Colorful star streaks above Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, UT.
(10 min, f 6.3, ISO 400)
Star streaks over hut (which I lit up with my flashlight) at East Point on Saturna Island, BC.
(21 min, f 9.0, ISO 400)
Rock formations at Goblin Valley SP lit by the lights of a passing car (also Milky Way in photo).
(30 sec, f 3.5, ISO 2500)
(Artificially Lit Object 2)
Medieval tower lit up by streetlamp, Pavia, Italy.
(13 sec, f 8.0, ISO 100)
Glowing giant inflatable Mickey Mouse on a street corner in Pavia, Italy.
(13 sec, f 18.0, ISO 100)
Shining a light on myself in different spots throughout the exposure while a geyser erupts, Yellowstone NP.
(4 min, f 5.6, ISO 400)
Shining a light on myself with stars rotating behind.
(5 min, f 5.6, ISO 1000)
(Objects at camp)
Inside the WInchester Mtn Lookout, North Cascades, WA. Note how the pink Nalgene moves around!
(100 sec, f 10.0, ISO 320)
Nalgene meteorite shower at camp near the Chopping Block, North Cascades, WA.
(5 min, f 8.0, ISO 200)
Making dinner in the Hidden Lake Lookout, North Cascades, WA.
(2 min, f 8.0, ISO 320)

(Dark Interiors 1)
Inside the cozy Abbot Hut, Canadian Rockies, BC/AB.
(3 min, f 7.1, ISO 100)
Inside Basilica S. Giocomo in Bellagio, Italy.
(4 sec, f 8.0, ISO 100)
Inside Chiesa di Santa Maria in Pavia, Italy.
(10 sec, f 8.0, ISO 100)
Inside Basilica di San Michele in Pavia, Italy.
(13 sec, f 8.0, ISO 100)
(Dark Interiors 2)
Enchanting paintings inside Basilica S. Teodore in Pavia, Italy.
(2 sec, f 8.0, ISO 100)
Enchanting paintings inside Basilica S. Teodore in Pavia, Italy.
(10 sec, f 8.0, ISO 100)
Light, shadow, and cobblestones make for a welcoming gate in Pavia, Italy.
(30 sec, f 11, ISO 100)
A cozy candlelit evening in the Fire Lookout on the summit of Three Fingers, North Cascades, WA.
(76 sec, f 6.3, ISO 100))
(Fire)
Reading by the campfire, Shi Shi Beach, WA.
(30 sec, f 7.1, ISO 250)
A Subaru Forester ad. Camping below "The Feathers" at Vantage (Frenchman Coulee), WA.
(6 min, f 10.0, ISO 250)
Cozy wood stove inside the cozy Abbot Hut, Canadian Rockies, BC/AB.
(2 min, f 11.0, ISO 100)
Glowing candles in a church in Trento, Italy.
(1/30 sec, f 3.5, ISO 160))
(Fireworks)
Fireworks, Bellingham waterfront, WA.
(13 sec, f 8.0, ISO 100)
Fireworks, Bellingham waterfront, WA.
(10 sec, f 8.0, ISO 400)



PHOTOS OF Stars
(Milky Way)
Milky Way on a starry night in the North Cascades.
(30 sec, f 3.5, ISO 2500)
Milky way and planet from our campsite in the Bailey Range of the Olympic Mountains, WA.
(30 sec, f 4.0, ISO 1000)
Milky way over mountains.
(60 sec, f 4, ISO 1600)
Milky Way above Zion National Park, Utah.
(30 sec, f 3.5, ISO 1600)
(Star trails 1: Rotation around Polaris)
Rotation of stars around Polaris, John Muir Trail, Sierra Nevada Mountains, CA.
(23 min, f 4.0, ISO 200)
Star rotation and candle glow at Hidden Lake Lookout, North Cascades, WA.
(20 min, f 5.6, ISO 400)
Rotation of stars around Polaris.
(50 min, f 4.5, ISO 400)
Rotation of stars around Polaris, over Glacier Peak, WA.
(30 min, f 5.6, ISO 400)
(Star trails 2: Rotation around Polaris cont.)
Glowing tent under rotating stars, Wind Rivers, WY.
(20 min, f 6.3, ISO 800)
Polaris just above the summit of Elephant's Perch, Sawtooths, ID.
(20 min, f 6.3, ISO 250)
Polaris just above the summit of a moonlit Pingora, Wind Rivers, WY.
(20 min, f 6.3, ISO 800)
(Star trails 3: At horizon can see rotation around both poles)
Since the camera is pointed at the Celestial Equator, on the right stars circle around the South Celestial Pole, while on the left stars circle around the North Celestial Pole.
(10 min, f 5.6, ISO 500)
Star trails above the Palisades, CA.
(20 min, f 8.0, ISO 200)
Star streaks near Marie Lakes on the John Muir Trail, Sierra Nevada Mountains, CA.
(29 min, f 4.0, ISO 200)

Star trails above the Hoh Glacier from Camp Pan on Mt. Olympus, WA.
(32 min, f 10.0, ISO 400)
(Star trails 4: Colorful Night)
Colorful star trails over Dome Peak.
(9 min, f 5.0, ISO 400)
Star trails over Eldorado, North Cascades, WA.
(18 min, f 4.5, ISO 400)
Colorful night and star trails above tree.
(14 min, f 8.0, ISO 1000)
Star trails above Little Annapurna, Enchantments WA.
(15 min, f 7.1, ISO 400)
(Star trails 5: More Star Trails)
Tent and star trails, North Cascades, WA.
(28 min, f 8.0, ISO 320)
Star trails above a snowy White Rock Lakes, North Cascades, WA.
(16 min, f 7.1, ISO 400)
Star trails above a moonlit Eldorado Peak, North Cascades, WA. (Note: that's actually a lens flare in the photo, from the moon which was just out of the frame)
(23 min, f 5.0, ISO 200)
The international space station captured during a long exposure.
(24 min, f 4, ISO 500)
(Star trails 6: And More Star Trails)
Star trails above Teewinot Mtn, Tetons WY.
(20 min, f 6.4, ISO 800)



(Still stars 1: Starry night)
Clouds and stars above Mt. Olympus, WA.
(41 sec, f 4.0, ISO 1000)
Starry night above Luna Peak from the Access Creek headwaters, North Cascades, WA.
(30 sec, f 4.0, ISO 1600)
Starry night in the North Cascades.
(30 sec, f 3.5, ISO 1600)


(Still stars 2: Big Dipper)
Big Dipper above Prusik Peak in the Enchantments.
(30 sec, f 4.5, ISO 1000)
Big Dipper above the moonlit Southern Pickets, North Cascades, WA.
(47 sec, f 4.0, ISO 800)
Big Dipper above Yosemite Valley, CA.
(no exposure data, Canon S30)
Tent and Big Dipper, North Cascades, WA.
(30 sec, f 4.0, ISO 1600)
(Still stars 3: Orion)
Orion above the Hidden Lake Lookout.
(30 sec, f 5.0, ISO 1600)

Orion above moonlit snow, Mt. Baker, WA.
(30 sec, f 4.5, ISO 250)
Orion above glowing tent in the Wind Rivers, WY.
(30 sec, f 4.0, ISO 1000)

(Short vs. Long exposure 1)
Big Dipper over Mt. Triumph, North Cascades, WA.
(45 sec, f 4.0, ISO 1600)
Longer exposure: Star trails over Mt. Triumph, North Cascades, WA.
(36 min, f 9.0, ISO 200)
Orion and stars from the Tatoosh Range near Mt. Rainier, WA.
(30 sec, f 4.0, ISO 1600)
Longer exposure: Orion and star trails from the Tatoosh Range near Mt. Rainier, WA.
(19 min, f 10.0, ISO 400)
(Short vs. Long exposure 2)
Milky way and planet from our campsite in the Bailey Range of the Olympic Mountains, WA.
(30 sec, f 4.0, ISO 1000)
Longer exposure: Star trails in the Bailey Range of the Olympic Mountains, WA.
(63 min, f 10.0, ISO 400)
Starry night over Mt. Formidable, North Cascades, WA.
(30 sec, f 4.0, ISO 800)
Longer exposure: Star trails over Mt. Formidable, North Cascades, WA.
(69 min, f 6.3, ISO 250)
(Short vs. Long exposure 3)
Glowing tent under Milky Way, north side of Mt. Rainier, WA.
(62 sec, f 3.5, ISO 1600)
The same glowing tent as previous photo under a longer exposure.
(15 min, f 5.0, ISO 400)


(Short vs. Long exposure 4)
Star pinpoints above a moonlit Pingora in the Cirque of the Towers, WY.
(30 sec, f 4.0, ISO 1600)
Star trails above a moonlit Pingora in the Cirque of the Towers, WY.
(72 min, f 10.0, ISO 125)
Star trails above Pingora (after moon had set) in the Cirque of the Towers, WY.
(28 min, f 4.0, ISO 125)
Big Dipper above the Cirque of the Towers, WY.
(30 sec, f 4.0, ISO 1600)



PHOTOS OF THE Moon
(Photo of Moon 1: Moon over mountains/camp)
Bottom left to top right: Venus, Moon, Jupiter, Pleiades.
(49 sec, f 5.0, ISO 640)
Full moon over high camp.
(30 sec, f 5, ISO 400)
Moonrise over Mt. Shuksan, WA. No, that's not the sun!
(5 min, f 13.0, ISO 100)
Moon over camp in the Canadian Rockies, BC.
(2 min, f 7.1, ISO 200)
(Photo of Moon 2: Moon over water)
Orcas swimming by under moonbeam on Saturna Island, BC.
(0.5 sec, f 6.3, ISO 800))
Moonrise from Yellow Aster Butte, WA.
(2 min, f 5.0, ISO 200)
72-Minute Exposure of Moon, Saturna Island, BC.
(72 min, f 22.0, ISO 100)
Moonrise over Cinque Terre, Italy.
(30 sec, f 9.0, ISO 100)
(Photo of Moon 3: Zoom-in)
Half Moon.
(1/200 sec, f 8.0, ISO 400)
Full Moon over Ocean.
(0.4 sec, f 11.0, ISO 250)
Full Moon, Saturna Island, BC.
(1/4 sec, f 22.0, ISO 100)
Solar Eclipse (moon in front of sun).
(1/8000 sec, f 32, ISO 100)
(Moonlight 1: Snow)
Sparking snow in moonlight, and Orion rising over Mt. Shuksan, WA.
(no exposure data, Canon S30)
Moonlight on Hidden Lake Peaks and The Triad, North Cascades, WA.
(30 sec, f 5.6, ISO 800)
Colorful moonlit night, Mt. Baker, WA.
(3 min, f 10.0, ISO 100)
Moonlight and star trails over the Southern Pickets.
(30 min, f 9.0, ISO 200)
(Moonlight 2: Rock)
Moonlight and star trails in the Enchantments, WA.
(9 min, f 11, ISO 400)
Moonlight on Abbot Pass Hut, Canadian Rockies, BC/AB.
(30 sec, f 6.3, ISO 800)
Stars above a moonlit Warbonnet and Warrior Peaks in the Cirque of the Towers, WY.
(30 sec, f 4.0, ISO 1600)

(Moonlight 3: Objects)
Moonlight beaming through the windows of the old Fire Lookout on the summit of Three Fingers, North Cascades, WA.
(20 min, f 8.0, ISO 200)
My Subaru against a moonlit landscape of the Courthouse Towers (Tower of Babel and The Organ), Arches National Park, UT.
(30 sec, f 4.0, ISO 1600)
Star trails and above moonlit rocks.
(20 min, f 5.0, ISO 200)

(Moonlight 4: Moonlit camp)
Moonlit camp in the Cirque of the Towers, WY.
(30 sec, f 4.0, ISO 1600)
Moonlit camp in the Palisades, CA.
(30 sec, f 5.0, ISO 800)
Moonlit high camp in the North Cascades.
(30 sec, f 5.6, ISO 400)
Moonlit camp in the North Cascades.
(8 min, f 5.6, ISO 500)
(Moonlight 5: Moonlit camp cont.)
Moonlit camp under Middle Teton, WY.
(2.5 min, f 7.1, ISO 250)
Moonlit tent in the Cirque of the Towers, WY.
(5 min, f 6.3, ISO 640)


(Moonlight 6: Colorful night)
Moonlit car camping.
(3 min, f 6.3, ISO 100)
Autumn moonlight on Summit Chief, Chimney, and Overcoat, North Cascades, WA.
(15 min, f 8.0, ISO 400)
Winter moonlight on Hidden Lake Lookout, North Cascades, WA.
(5 min, f 8.0, ISO 200)
Moonlit night at camp and clouds in the valley below, North Cascades, WA.
(6 min, f 4.0, ISO 200)
(Moonlight 7: Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP)
Old Faithful Geyser erupting in the moonlight, Yellowstone NP.
(3 min, f 5.0, ISO 500)
Moon lighting the steam of Castle Geyser, Yellowstone NP.
(4 min, f 5.6, ISO 400)
Shadow of tree and moonlit shack on Mormon Row, Grand Teton NP.
(4 min, f 8.0, ISO 250)
Pink house on Mormon Row, Grand Teton NP.
(30 sec, f 5.0, ISO 800)



PHOTOS OF Colors in the Night Sky
(Twilight)
Twilight on a street in Pavia, Italy.
(3.2 min, f 9.0, ISO 100)
Cactus at Twilight, AZ.
(1.3 sec, f 22.0, ISO 100)
Twilight Colors over Orcas Island, from Saturna Island, BC.
(8.5 min, f 13.0, ISO 640)
Joshua Tree in Twilight, Joshua Tree National Park, CA.
(1/25 sec, f 4.0, ISO 400)

(Twilight (and Dawn) cont.)
Winter twilight on Mt. Shuksan, WA.
(5 sec, f 16, ISO 100)
Winter dawn around Chimmey and Overcoat, North Cascades, WA.
(2 min, f 10.0, ISO 320)
Winter twilight over Tomyhoi and Larrabee, North Cascades, WA.
(10 min, f 7.1, ISO 400)
Winter twilight and candlelit windows at Winchester Mtn Fire Lookout, North Cascades, WA.
(72 sec, f 13.0, ISO 500)
(Glow of Civilization 1)
Star streaks and glow of civilization above Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan, North Cascades, WA.
(10 min, f 8.0, ISO 400)
Glow of Leavenworth lights from the Enchantments, WA.
(9 min, f 6.3, ISO 400)
Moonlight on Mt. Baker, with glow of civilization on horizon, WA.
(6 min, f 10.0, ISO 100)
Glowing civilization from glowing tent on the shoulder of Eldorado, North Cascades, WA
(17 min, f 10.0, ISO 400)
(Glow of Civilization 2)
Vancouver Lights and Star Streaks at East Point, Saturna Island, BC.
(20 min, f 10.0, ISO 100)
City lights on horizon from inside Hidden Lake Lookout, North Cascades, WA.
(30 min, f 5.6, ISO 400)
Glow of civilization on the horizon during a moonlight night at the Hidden Lake Lookout, North Cascades, WA.
(2 min, f 8.0, ISO 800)
Glow from civilization seen across the North Cascades.
(64 min, f 5.0, ISO 200)
(Glow of Civilization 3)
Light pollution over water can be pretty.
(2 min, f 8.0, ISO 1000)
Light pollution giving colors to the cloudy sky over Seattle. (Compare to same shot taken on a clear night, in the "Artificial Light: Urban Lights" section.)
(30 sec, f 16.0, ISO 1000)


(Atmospheric effects)
Eerie autumn night sky above Prusik Peak, Enchantments, WA.
(2.5 min, f 6.3, ISO 400))
Incoming storm above Valhallas, Olympic Mountains, WA.
(5.5 min, f 10.0, ISO 400)
Haze from forest fires over Mt. Despair, North Cascades, WA.
(5 min, f 5.6, ISO 400)
Colorful clouds over camp on Mt. Baker, WA.
(5.5 min, f 3.5, ISO 500)

(Colorful Stars)
Coloful stars rotating around Polaris, North Cascades, WA
(48 min, f 4.5, ISO 400)
Colorful star trails over Dome Peak.
(9 min, f 5.0, ISO 400)
A faint Milky way behind colorful star trails.
(16 min, f 7.1, ISO 400)

(Aurora and other optical effects)
Colorful winter night of a faint Aurora Borealis at Elfin Lakes Hut, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC.
(9 min, f 9.0, ISO 200)

Faint circumzenithenal arc on moonlit clouds. (Link to description.
(30 sec, f 4.0, ISO 800)

These moonlit clouds seemed to be forming behind the Grand Teton and radiating outward.
(10 min, f 7.1, ISO 250)

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