This image was taken at night in Yosemite Valley, CA, where I set up my tripod before dark, focused my wide angle lens on this gnarled incense tree in the background, set a base exposure, composed my shot paying attention that no branches of the tree intersected the top of the surrounding mountains and waited for darkness to descend. Then it was just a question of taking several shots at different times at night, with the sky taking on different hues, and sometimes experimenting with “light painting”, as in this image.
Painting with light is a hit and miss technique that may be performed in night photography situations, and that is achieved by shining a flashlight on the foreground subject, or anyway a foreground element, to accentuate it and give it some texture in the final image. There are no hard and fast rules for how long to light your subject, and the photographer is best advised to take several shots with different intensities of lighting, as there is no way of telling which one will turn out to be the most pleasant one. On those circumstances I always take a few shots in full darkness too, with the tree that is completely silhouetted against the lighter sky, because sometimes those may turn out to be the best option.
In this case, however, I think the moderate amount of “light painting” on the incense tree works to the benefit of the image as it gives kind of an eerie feel to the gnarled tree, accentuating its tortured limbs that stretch out in all directions and one of which points to Yosemite Falls.
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Just look at that star-filled sky! Never see that here and have to go to Michigan for that canopy.
Thank you for sharing this technique, Stefano. I would imagine that time management is crucial, that you need to have a good plan in mind and all of the equipment handy. After all, dusk lasts only so long and when the sun is gone, it’s gone. But, if you can get this type of photo as a result, all of the planning and preparation is definitely worthwhile. It’s a beautiful shot.
Thank you, John! You are absolutely right: to be able to really appreciate the beauty of a starry night you need to travel far from all the light poluution we are so used to living in a “civilized” environment. And yes, preparation is indeed crucial for successful night photography as you do not want to find yourself fiddling with equipment when it is pitch black all around you!
Many thanks again for your kind comment.
Beautiful. I find trees such fascinating subjects; their bark reminding me of wizened elders meditating on eternity.
Thank you, Maureen: you said that so eloquently and elegantly! Hat’s off to you 🙂
What a unique photograph! What an interesting photograph technique. It allows you to capture the beautiful star filled sky with the tree illuminated at the same time-gorgeous!
Thank you, Heather: yes, you perfectly stated the idea behind “painting with light”.
Glad you liked this image 🙂
This image is just so beautiful….wow…really sweet job Stefano.
Thank you very much, Kimberly! Greatly appreciate the compliment! 🙂
Truly, it took my breath away… it is a potential roadtrip spot this summer!
Thank you, Kimberly: yes, you should definitely consider it! There’s so many things to do and see, it’s just unbelievable. Thanks again for your kind words.
Stefano, this looks magical! Beautiful photo!
Thank you so much, Judy! Very much appreciated – glad you liked it 🙂
Gorgeous. I can see this work with the baobabs in the Botswana Salt Pans, too…oh man, just brought me back. Thanks for sharing!! I am enjoying your “lectures”, probably more lessons, on photography a lot.
Thank you, Oliver, an yes I totally see hat you mean regarding the baobabs against a breathtaking African starry sky! Also, I am glad you enjoy my little photo tips – they are far from being lessons, but maybe they can motivate someone to push the envelope a little bit and experiment (and hopefully have fun) with some new technique. Take care
A beautiful impression, Stefano. Thanks a lot for an interesting post! I visited Yosemite many, many years ago, it was almost like being in Norway. Revisiting with you was nice! 🙂
Thank you, Dina! Yosemite is such a nice Park to visit, preferably away from the big Summer crowds, but always beautiful. Glad to have brought back pleasant memories 🙂
Wonderfully atmospheric shot, really delightful. Thanks, Tracey
Thank you very much, Tracey! Glad you liked it.