Night on Snowball Road, Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Night on Snowball Road, Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Photo Details
Title:Night on Snowball Road, Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Taken:30 December, 2011
Location:37° 17.355′ 0″ N 107° 0.0603′ 0″ W
Camera:Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Focal length:24mm
Shutter speed:18s

I love Pagosa Springs, and on one visit in December, 2011 I decided to try taking photos of the night sky using a rented 24mm f/1.4 lens. This was the first time I had taken night photos, so I learned a lot of valuable lessons on this trip. The biggest: finding a shot at night is much harder than finding one during the day.

My usual approach to taking photos is to look for good settings, light, and color and then find a good composition to capture them. This doesn’t really work at night when it’s dark and you can’t see anything. Good night shots are usually taken on a moonless night, so all you have are the stars and whatever lights you bring with you. I often couldn’t see beyond my own headlights, and it was impossible to know what was in the photo beyond what was right in front of me.

Fortunately, I found several great subjects on this trip, including several others I will repost in the future. Lessons learned:

  • Look for good subjects in the day time and use tools like PhotoPills or the Photographers Ephemeris to plan out how they’ll look at different times of the night.
  • Bring warmer clothing.
  • It’s pitch dark, and that noise you heard in the bush next to you is probably nothing to worry about. Probably…

(I originally published this photo in 2013.)

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