I’ve been shooting star trail photos for a few years but recently got very interested in shooting what I like to call “nightscapes”. The premise is simple: go somewhere really, really dark. Throw your camera up on a tripod. Use a wide lens. Snap long exposure pictures in the middle of nowhere for a few hours. Completely by yourself.

In reality, it’s a lot harder than that. You’ve got to know where the stars & Milky Way are going to be, whether the moon will be too bright to show too many stars, making sure not to step in mud or streams, avoiding cow patties, watching out (or listening out) for coyotes. And you also need to know how to use a camera. There are lens distortions. Longer shutter exposures are hard because the Earth is turning at 1000 miles per hour. Having a full-frame camera body helps keeps the noise down, too.

Once you figure out the optimal settings for your camera and snap some great shots, the post-production stuff starts. Futz around in Lightroom to get the levels right, make sure there isn’t too much noise, sharpen it up as much as you can. Maybe even try to remove some background light pollution. Then again, once you’re done, the results are astonishing.

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Cottonwood Pass, Grand County, Colorado. 2015.

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Tabernash, Grand County, Colorado. 2015.

Tabernash, Grand County, Colorado. 2015.

Tabernash, Grand County, Colorado. 2015.

Tabernash, Grand County, Colorado. 2015.

Tabernash, Grand County, Colorado. 2015.

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Mary Jane Base @ Winter Park Resort, Grand County, Colorado. 2015.

Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. 2015.

Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. 2015.

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Tabernash, Grand County, Colorado. 2012.

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Poudre Lake @ Milner Pass in Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand County, Colorado. 2015.

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Mary Jane Base @ Winter Park Resort, Grand County, Colorado. 2015.

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Mary Jane Base @ Winter Park Resort, Grand County, Colorado. 2015.

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Fraser, Grand County, Colorado. 2015.

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Tabernash, Grand County, Colorado. 2015.

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Cottonwood Pass, Grand County, Colorado. 2015.

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Tabernash, Grand County, Colorado. 2015.

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Overlooking Winter Park Resort & Town, Grand County, Colorado

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Tabernash, Grand County, Colorado. 2015.

Chihuly at Night, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, Colorado. 2014.

Chihuly at Night, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, Colorado. 2014.

East side, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. 2015.

East side, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. 2015.