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on Feb 24, 2012 in K&M Adventures, Landscape Photography

Well, It is a Star After All

The sun, I try to have it in every image I take. Sometimes directly but mostly indirectly. Our first stop this morning (and I want it on the record this morning, K&M started at 07:30!) was Elephant Mesa in Monument Valley. I have no doubt folks were wondering just what the hey I was seeing and thinking as I headed up the wash. Just looking at the scene with your eyes, there was no photograph. But with camera eyes, I say a very cool star burst to be made on a cool formation. Because the sun is a star after all, a star burst just makes perfect sense! What you see here is exactly what I saw with my imagination and bugged over to photograph.

Now how did I know where to walk to in order to get this star burst? Glad you asked, great question! There are a couple of things you need to make a star burst. First is the sun, then closing your lens down and in this case to f/22 and lastly clear skies. I had everything but the clear skies. So I shot over to where by looking on the ground, I could see the shadow from the mesa on the ground with the V from the sun coming through the slot. I went there because with the clouds, I wouldn’t have a clean star burst but rather, a big bright smudge. By carefully moving so the sun was just peaking over the edge of the cut in the mesa, I forced a star burst even with the clouds. The rest was done with a 5 image, hand held HDR (all this was taught to the folks with us so they could all know what I was seeing and confirming, I am nuts).

As I moved away from the mesa, you can see what the clouds do to the star burst. No setting changes were made, I just didn’t have the edge of the rock to make the sun a small light source causing it to flare. It simply doesn’t have the same impact. And this bottom image? Well that’s my favorite. This was the last shot taken when I walked way left because the earth had moved placing the sun further to the west. This permitted me to incorporate a foreground and background much more interesting. So while you’re using a technique to make a star burst, using software to combine exposures, you still have to incorporate the basics of photography to make the final image sing. This is simply just great, fun photography when the light would normally be considered, yuck. Never loose site, it is a star after all!

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