Monday, March 25, 2013

Star Trails - Cook Bank Building - Rhyolite Ghost Town - Death Valley National Park (Part 36)

At the end of November last year (2012), I took a trip to Death Valley National Park. This is the second trip there in my life. The 1st time I went, I was still a little kid, and I didn't start taking photos yet. This time, I have a pro camera and I am ready to shoot the scenery. Death Valley National Park is known for its "out of this world" scenery, UFO sightings, and many other things. The desert is a very mysterious and beautiful place. In this chain of blog posts, I will be showing you mainly photos of Death Valley National Park, but also photos from surrounding areas like The Mojave Desert, Alabama Hills, and Rhyolite Ghost Town. I have picked out over 400 photos from my trip to show you guys and I will be dividing them into many blog posts. Unlike blog  post chains before, I obviously can't put a link of ever blog post on every single blog post, so instead, I will do the same thing I did for my Yellowstone National Park photos before, by sticking a link of the Next and Previous post on each blog post instead.

Full Resolution Photos and Prints: If you want to see full resolution photos or buy prints of any of the photos you see, they are up on my portfolio for viewing. To see my best work from Death Valley National Park, use this link. To see my best sunset and night photos of 2012, use this link. To see all of the photos from my Death Valley National Park trip use this link.

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Message from the Photographer: Sorry about not posting recently! I've been really busy. Saturday, a few G+ photographers and I went on a photo walk in San Francisco at Battery Chamberlin and Battery Crosby. Took many photos there, and will hopefully post those photos up in the coming months once I finish the other photos in my collection. :) Then for Sunday, I spent the whole day working on those photos. So yeah... Very busy and tired! Also, if you live in or near the SF Bay Area and would like to be invited to photo walks like this, please add me on my personal G+ and PM me there. You can also find that link to my G+ under the social networking buttons on the right sidebar. Once you do, I'll add you to my SF Bay Area Photo Walkers circle so I don't forget to invite you!

Today I have a star trails time lapse I did at the Cook Bank Building in Rhyolite Ghost Town in Rhyolite, NV. So pretty much, after Furnace Creek, my parents and I decided it was too late to drive home (original plan) and there were many places we didn't see yet, so we called up The Atomic Inn in Beatty, NV (the place we stayed at 2 nights before) and reserved a room for the night. On the way to Beatty, I decided to go into Rhyolite Ghost Town (was on the route from Death Valley National Park to Beatty) to do a star trails time lapse. I found the Cook Bank Building made a very good subject so I did it there.

Now a bit more on The Atomic Inn. The hotel is great, I would definitely recommend it but just remember to bring your own hair dryer as they don't have it. Other than that, they have shampoo and soap for you so you don't need to worry about that. The Wifi was a bit crappy, it kept disconnecting on me, so I just gave up, but it is free. There is a small LCD TV with lots of channels, and I ended up watching some National Geographic after the tiring day. Also, another thing I love about is that every unit (room) is separate from each other (kind of like cabins) so your neighbors can't really be a nuisance if you know what I mean. If you go to Death Valley National Park, definitely recommend you stay with them. :)


For the photo, I took 25 photos together with each photo at 2 minutes exposure so it took me a bit over 50 minutes as I let the camera pause a few seconds in between to save the shot. Then later, I combined them in Photoshop. If you want to read more on star trails time lapses, please view my tutorial here. Some of my fans on G+ was asking me if I purposely lined up the stars with the Cook Bank Building. The answer is no, this was completely a coincidence. I have no knowledge in astronomy what-so-ever except that the stars make a 360° rotation every 24 hours...

Here is the other photo data:
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens/Focal Length: Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens @ 16mm
Exposure: 25 photos x 2 minutes = 50 minutes
Aperture: f/2.8
ISO: 100

This is the 3rd party intervalometer I used for this time lapse and long exposures I've done before. So far it has been great and has not failed me. You can program a lot of things with this including the exposure time, the number of exposures, and the delay between each exposure. It works well for time lapses and long exposure. They make the device for several brands of cameras. My only complaint is that there is no low battery warning or a power indicator, so it has died on me a few times when I forgot to turn it off. The good news is, I always carry extra AAA batteries so I'm good. I recommend you buy 3rd party because you can get them for way cheaper than what your camera manufacturer prices them. Also, since these run off of 2 AAA batteries instead of a button cell, they cost less to use, plus you get longer life per battery.


I always shoot my photos in RAW so there is more room to fix/edit in post processing, but I also shoot a smaller JPEG with each so I can preview them on the computer with out special software. Below are the individual exposures I made. Since I never processed those RAW files, I uploaded the JPEG previews. If you want to view them in a slide show to see the stars moving, just click on the first photo and use your arrow keys to navigate.














These are all the photos for today! I hope you have enjoyed them. Next time I will have some photos up of my drive into Death Valley National Park from Beatty, NV and photos from Salt Creek. Please don't forget to share with your friends and family members! Also, if you want to get notifications when I post up more photos, "Like" us on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and Google+. These links can also be found on the top of the right sidebar.

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