I Wish Upon a Star

The power of the night’s sky is truly something to behold. For centuries, stars have been looked at as Gods, points of light to navigate by, and even shimmering lights to simply enjoy. This is that of a star-filled night by where a father and son chased a special image.

One day in May of last year, I was busy preparing for a photography trip to Sedona, AZ with my father. Knowing my dad would be all over Sedona red rock landscapes, I was envisioning something a bit different and the plan quickly morphed into coming away with a great nightscape image. What I envisioned was something with great foreground elements, star trails and enough lighting to make the entire scene incredibly dynamic. Once in Arizona, we did the obvious shooting early in the mornings and late in the evenings. The remainder of the time during the days was spent scouting for new spots, including where my night setup would be. I had already researched the phase of the moon and the times that would work best for my shot. What we didn’t plan on was the multiple tanks of gas and hours of time it took to find the perfect spot. And wouldn’t you know it; the perfect spot ended up being no more than 5 minutes from town.

I set up my rig based on composition, and about 40 minutes after sundown the process began. While some photographers out there might envision one very long exposure, I approached it a bit differently, mostly because of the amount of light pollution from town. I took the first image, 40 minutes after sundown. To our eyes, it was almost dark but to the camera, there was still a lot of light to be exposed. This particular image is what illuminated the mountain ridges in the foreground. I then left my rig alone for around 2 hours, waiting for the moon to set and the night sky to get as dark as possible. This is when multiple 30 second exposures began which lasted 90 minutes. I left the spot with 181 images. I ended up using a subset of those images, stacked them in a way that created the single final image which you see above. As some may see, some images require a lot more time than others!

What was so exciting about this long and arduous process was hidden inside all this work was the adventure of a father and son. My dad was so enthralled to be a part of something that was merely a vision in my head more than 1700 miles away. We both came home with a diversity of imagery and adventures we will not soon forget.

Josh Haas

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2 Responses to “I Wish Upon a Star”

  1. Julie says:

    LOVE this photo! I’ve been trying to get “night-time” shots myself. I have a LONG way to go! What kind of camera/lens did you use for this? I’ve never thought of shooting at night until last night – just put my camera on the ground and set the timer and walked away. Got some interesting shots – but no detail. Frustrating!

  2. Josh Haas says:

    Night Photography is not as easy as a lot of people make it seem but while the technique behind the shot isn’t too hard, getting a good image compositionally is typically what’s difficult. There was a lot involved in that shot but to keep it short here, go to the following links to see FREE lessons on my blog on photographing 3 different types of night scenes. I hope that helps!