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Night photography is one of the hardest things I've done. Especially in winter at high altitude. I woke up at 3:30 in the morning to capture this shot. I had an idea of what I was going to do, something I had scouted the day before in the day light, but sure enough, at night, it was a completely different story. Wasn't really feeling my scouted shot, which I did shoot, but I wanted something else. I was running around this area of Mono Lake, in 13 degree weather, trying to find a comp before the milky way got to high in the sky! Found this, which I ended up really liking. But man, composing and focusing at night is no fun. Especially when you have to continually take breaks to warm up your hands that start to scream from the cold. The winter night photographers dilemma? Keeping fingers warm, yet nimble for pushing little buttons. If you have some amazing solution, I'm all ears!

These are called sand tufas. This area used to be under water at mono lake, but good ole Los Angeles has been slowly depleting the lake over the years. Luckily that's been brought to a stop, and the plan is to bring the water level back up to a certain level in 50 years or something. Eventually, this stuff will be underwater again. However, having depleted the lakes waters a bit has revealed some pretty other-worldly formations. These were under water fresh water springs that had a high level of calcium. As the fresh water bubbled up through the salt water of mono lake, the sand and calcium were deposited creating these tubes. Really interesting to look at.

Foreground was shot at iso 1600, f5.6, for 2 minutes. Three focus stacked shots. I also placed a light to the right for some subtle light painting. A flashlight inside of a white nalgene bottle makes for a really nice diffused light source. The sky is iso 5000, f2.8, 20 seconds. Plenty of detailed contrast work to bring out the milky way using dodging and burning and color balance.

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