Views 155 Unique 113
Vote 51
Award Shortlist   

Empire of the Stars

By CraigBill    

Even though I arrived at the Shiprock formation right outside Shiprock, New Mexico early in the day, my photographic intentions were for the coming night. There at the base of this extinct volcano that the Navajos regard as an ancient spiritual monument, I scouted and planned for the Earth’s turn away from the Sun. And this area is in a good dark spot for nighttime star gazing - In fact I came here to execute a lengthy photo project starring, well... the stars. “Empire of the Stars” and the other images captured that night featured enhanced star trail captures. I had been exploring and developing complex processing methods to bring star trail images to a new visual and artistic level, if successful.

This image is formed from over 700 twenty second long exposures, five different programs (some taking hours for just one adjustment) and over a month to plan/develop. It also is the longest processing project of 2019 coming from this night partially because of the most number of captures and challenge to capture it as a panoramic photograph of which is very rare to find. In fact, it can be extremely difficult to pull off a great day-to-night photograph anyway - so adding star trails and the sun (the closest star to us) compounded the technical and processing complexity to the point that I started to doubt its outcome. The accentuated vibrant circles and arcs come from the stars subtle colors mostly (raw images captured and pre-processed with that in mind), wispy traveling clouds over the night and sky color from approaching dawn, horizon lights and air quality. Too many clouds, however, can ruin the entire night. But not tonight! After the cameras clicked away all night, I waited patiently, but apprehensively as I traveled back to the studio, hoping all the images from the sensors and cards gathered enough ancient starlight to compose epic astrophotography images.

This image is a still time-lapse day-to-night project that started before sunset and finally ended about 6am due to the cameras batteries being exhausted. The holy grail of still time-lapse imagery is a successful day-to-night photograph and can entail extensive spans of time, energy, preparation and sometimes luck to land.

Tags: Sun Desert Night Panoramic Long exposure Astrophotography Star trails Pano New mexico Landscape and travel Shiprock

Voters: Vambomarbleye, iNKFIEND, pablophotographer and 48 more

Get 50% Off Affinity Photo Today!


8 Jan 2020 11:07PM
Stunning long exposure astro work. More skill than luck, I think.

sawsengee Plus
14 6 36 Malaysia
9 Jan 2020 6:04AM
My "dream" photographic subject......thank you for showing me the reality. ee Smile
PeterAS Plus
4 114 1 England
9 Jan 2020 7:30AM
Fantastic result.. worth every second SmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmile
Mike_Smith Plus
13 677 1 United Kingdom
9 Jan 2020 4:42PM
Amazing work, executed to perfection. Probably the best image of its type I have ever viewed, remarkable well done
Wow such a wonderful image. Thank you for making such a brilliant capture. Amazing. Debs
Dodge 15 16
21 Jan 2020 3:54PM
What the ....!!!!!! Just staggering beautiful and a real labour of love, perfectly executed. 11/10.
Tooma Plus
4 2.1k 3 Scotland
10 Mar 2020 12:11PM
Fabulous image. Most gong-worthy.

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.