above, stars and clouds over the Tellico River Valley on 12-12-12 from Big Junction, NC
This photo is certainly the most popular one I ever put on the NG Instagram feed and a lot of people have asked me how I shot it.
I've wanted to shoot a time lapse sequence of stars moving over the North Carolina mountains for a long time but my time and the right weather haven't lined up the right way until this week. The generally cloudy, warm weather we've been having in the South was supposed to clear the night before the new moon. That combination of changing weather often leads to dramatic landscapes.
When I stopped at Big Junction just after sunset the sky was cloudy but clearing fast. This picture was shot well after dark. Fog has pooled in the Tellico River valley and the clearing clouds in the sky catch light from the towns of Tellico Plains and Etowah, Tennessee. The artificial lights give the photograph its golden hue.
The first few frames that I made were straight landscapes and did not work very well. The picture needed a person in it to ad to the sense of vastness. I was alone up there so this is a self portrait.
Now for the tech stuff that so many people have asked about.
The camera is a canon 5D MK III set to ISO 3200. Shutter speed is 30 seconds. The lens is a Canon 16-35mm zoom at f 2.8.