Photo of the Week 28 May 2013
Congratulations to Glenn Carpenter from Lockport, Illinois for his Photo of the Week! We love this long exposure shot of the night sky at Moraine Valley Community College and had the opportunity to speak with Glenn about how he planned for the shot, what inspired the image, and which photographers inspire him.
Where was this image taken? What inspired this particular image?
This photo was made specifically for the Moraine Valley Community College 2013-2015 Catalog cover. The designer and I met to discuss ideas for the cover. A friend of mine, Robert Jordan, had made a similar image at the University of Mississippi. The designer, Aaron Johnson really liked the photo and wondered out loud in the meeting, “Could we do something like that?” I researched what was necessary and acquired the necessary cables from Trigger Trap.
What gear did you use?
How did you plan for this shot?
I waited anxiously for a clear winter night and photographed the clock tower, knowing that the we needed a lot of room on the left side of the frame to wrap the image to the back cover of the brochure. Then, later that night, I shot the star trails. To make the star trails, I determined a proper exposure of 15 seconds at f/5.6. Next, I focused the lens at infinity, taped it down and turned off the auto focus. The Trigger Trap App controls the camera via a 10-pin connector and makes a series of photographs at prescribed intervals. For this shoot it was 200 frames of 15-second exposures with a 1/2 second in between each exposure.
All the images are captured in RAW in order to remove the orange cast of light pollution. This is easily done in Adobe Camera Raw by desaturating the orange. The 200 star photos were saved as JPG files to the appropriate size and then combined using StarStax. I saved the image of the star trails and sent it to the designer.
The designer then combined the image of the clock Tower and the trails making a mask and sizing it for the cover of the catalog.
This technique is fabulous for star trails with digital cameras. Leaving the shutter open for 20 minutes or longer (traditional method for star trails) causes too much heat to build up on the sensor thus causing noise.
The image was taken in Palos Hills, Illinois.
What is the best advice you’ve learned or equipment that you’ve found helpful for this type of shot?
I have been a photographer for over 25 years, the best advice I have received is to never stop learning. When I started I would have never dreamed of this type of technology. I cannot imagine what we will be doing in the next five years.
The key ingredients to making this shot were a rock solid tripod, a tack sharp lens and preplanning.
What kind of photography do you enjoy shooting most both for professional and personal photography projects?
I shoot everything everyday, from portraits and sports to architecture and scientific. That is what makes a job in higher education so much fun. Personally, I enjoy macro photography and the Fuji X10 is a great walk-around camera for that.
Who are some of your favorite photographers that you draw inspiration from?
Photographers that I draw inspiration from include most of my contemporaries at other universities like:
- Jim Stroup- Virginia Tech
- Eric Bronson- University of Michigan
- Mark Philbrick- Brigham Young University; UPAA article on Mark’s work
- Robert Jordan- University of Mississippi
- Todd Paris- University of Alaska-Fairbanks
- Joe McNally- I read his books every year
- Steve McCurry- His image of the Afghan girl on the cover of National Geographic changed how I view beauty
- Annie Griffiths- She is a University photographer in spirit
To see more of Glenn’s work be sure to check out his portfolio: http://media.morainevalley.edu/photos/mvcc_gwc/.
Do you want to try your hand at your own long exposure shot of the night sky after seeing Glenn’s image? Here are some helpful tutorials that explain the basics of setting up and planning for this type of shot:
- How to Photograph Star Trails: The Ultimate Guide by Christopher O’Donnell on Light Stalking
- Long Exposure Star Trail Photography by Photography Mad
- An Introduction to Shooting Star Trails by Trevor Williams on Digital Photography School
We’d love to hear from you. Let us know what works for you for a long exposure night star scene, and don’t forget to submit your own image to be considered for Photo of the Week!
To be considered for Calumet Photographic’s Photo of the Week email us your best photo at email@example.com, with your name, title of the photo, the city where you live, portfolio website and the gear you used to get the shot. Files should be saved at 72 dpi JPEG at least 1000 pixels on its longest edge. Please do not include a watermark, if chosen we will add one to your photo. By submitting your image, you’re granting Calumet unrestricted permission to publish it in our email, website and/or social media outlets. For the full details on what this entails, please read the legal terms.