A nighttime landscape overlooking Nantahala National Forest. I was out for the Perseid meteor shower. When shooting meteors the goal is: to catch meteors. But when possible, you want to catch meteors with some other interest in the frame, so I went to one of my favorite overlooks for this momentous occasion. I’d just finished shooting a timelapse of the milky way (and quite a few Perseid meteors), and wanted to change lenses and set up another timelapse. But before I did that, I lined up this shot and took a thirty-second long exposure, in the hopes that I’d be able to really see the scene (despite it being basically pitch black out to the naked eye).
You can not see the stars’ colors without a telescope (or a long-exposure photo like this). I could see the clouds and some of the color with my eyes, but not so clearly or so bright. And on that subject, I believe the clouds are so colorful and bright because they are reflecting light pollution from East Tennessee. I am no fan of light pollution of course, but sometimes it can be pretty too. Life is complex!
Another question I’ve heard more than once about this image concerns the greenish-blueish glow in the fog in the lower right. I can only speculate, but I am guessing there is an antenna tower with a green light that blinked multiple times during this 30-second long exposure photograph which illuminated that area. I want my nature photography to be as “natural” as possible, but I also accept the argument that human activity is “natural” because we are of and from nature ourselves. And sometimes human activity can inadvertently make a nature shot more appealing and interesting, and I think this is one of those times.
Most of my night sky images involve a lot of effort to get the stars rendered as sharp points in the sky (the way they appear to our eyes), which takes thought and effort because the earth is rotating and over time the stars move (from the camera’s perspective – in reality of course we’re the ones moving). In this image I did not try to compensate for that motion, and that is why all of the stars appear as small streaks instead of sharp points. I love the way they look in this image, and wouldn’t have it any other way. But if you’re thinking about ordering a print of it, I would perhaps recommend canvas over metal because I think it might benefit from the softer look of canvas. But if you want maximum color contrast, metal is still probably the most preferred medium for this (and just about any other print).