November 3, 2010 – Stars over Moses Coulee

Stars over Moses Coulee

Stars over Moses Coulee

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hey folks! You may remember a couple months ago (almost to the day), I mentioned that I went over to “Eastern” Washington (I used quotes because, geographically, “central” would have been more accurate, but the term basically means east of the Cascade crest) for a day and a night. I went on for a little while about how pretty it actually was over there, and I posted a shot that was, and essentially still is, the only one I’ve actually snagged out of that set and processed and tossed online. That occurred me to me recently, and I realized that I should really take the time to go through those some more, and start tossing them into the mix.

Yeah, well, that still hasn’t really happened. BUT, I did spend a few minutes last night looking through them. Not ALL of them, but at least the ones that look like this one. One of the nice things about camping, in the desert specifically, is that you get to see a lot of stars. I happened to wake up in the middle of the night anyway, so I decided to fart around outside for awhile. It was really gorgeous out there, you could see the milky way and everything, and there were a couple spots in the sky where you could see a little bit of city glow. In this particular picture, the glow is coming from Wenatchee, although in the other direction you could see (much more dimly) something else, Ellensburg maybe? Don’t know.

So, I took some star pics. I got some shots of the milky way and all that. And shots like this. Turns out I’m not actually sure my camera allows me to set exposure times longer than 30 seconds. Or at least, I couldn’t figure out how to do it. I think there’s a mode where you can hold it open as long as you want, but I think that requires holding down the shutter button, which would have shaken the camera. I have a remote control, but that’s just for starting the exposure, but then it uses the settings you’ve got set. I’m sure they make little cable things that you can hold down a button on without shaking the camera, but I don’t have one. So, I was restricted to whatever I could get to turn out by opening up the aperture all the way, cranking the ISO up (I had it set at 800), and exposing for 30 seconds. And this is what you get.

As I was looking through these shots, I realized that my sensor has a few hot pixels on it. These turned up as little dots that were pure red or pure blue. I cheated a bit and used Picasa’s Retouch feature to erase them where I could, but sometimes I wasn’t sure if I was actually removing hot pixels or stars, so I probably missed a couple and took out a couple that weren’t actually what I thought they were. But whatever, not important. I haven’t yet done enough analysis to figure out if it was *actual* hot pixels (as in, pixels that always say they were 100% exposed), or if it was just random sensor noise due to the dark conditions and super long shutter speeds. (ie, I haven’t checked if the same pixels came out hot in every frame, and I haven’t checked if I get any spots if I do a long exposure in complete darkness. Honestly, I’m not sure I will either, I don’t think I care enough.)

Anyway, here you go, here’s what it looked like from where I was camping. Now you know just what it was like. It’s almost like you were sitting right there next to me in the tent. Wow, this just got a little bit awkward, didn’t it?

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens. 30 seconds, f/2.8, ISO 800. Focal length: 11mm.

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