Yosemite: Astrophotography

There is a part of me that is always hesitant to stay in Yosemite after dark, especially on a trail somewhere.

It goes against everything I was taught, while growing up, about hiking: it’s easier to get lost, the temperature may drop unexpectedly, it’s easier to get hurt, etc. To my parents, especially my dad, trail safety was of paramount importance. Even if they hadn’t emphasized it, I would hate to get stuck behind a slow car on a mountain road when I am already cold and exhausted.

I know there are amazing views to behold and photograph in Yosemite after dark; I have yet to take advantage of them.

However, in the area around Mariposa, where I tend to lodge when I go to Yosemite, the sky is still beautiful and full of stars at night. During my last trip to Yosemite, a few yeas ago, I was kicking myself when I looked up and saw the sky–only to realize that I had forgotten my tripod at home.

This year, I did not forget.

I have never really attempted astrophotography (star photography) before. I’ve taken pictures of town-scapes and skylines in well-lit cities, but not the stars.

In both photos below, you can see the stars pretty clearly and see the colored bands of the night sky, though it may be faint.

I know there are ways I could improve, both in technique and gear. For example, I know both photos are pretty noisy. Also, in the process of writing this, I just learned about the process of stacking in astrophotography (using multiple images to form a composite of sorts, similar to an HDR), and now I wish I had multiple usable pictures.

One enduring question I have, which I am unable to answer, is why they are different colors, when they were taken only a few minutes apart. That is something I will have to research: if you have an idea on why, please leave a comment!

But, for now, I am going to celebrate some unexpected successes in something new.

I hope you enjoy!

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