Nighttime skies over Havana Arkansas revisited–02-09-15 Featured Arkansas Photography
Taken with a Nikon D800e, 14-24 Lens @ 15mm and F 3.5 in a series of stacked exposures. This shot was taken in February of 2013 on a very clear night from the summit of Mt. Magazine. The view is directly to the south looking over Havana Arkansas. In the distance you can see Blue Mt. Lake and Blue Mountain itself. I believe that Blue Mt. is the on the left. It would be a tall mountain if not for Mt. Magazine as Magazine dwarfs Blue Mountain.
This is one shot but it was composed by taking around 30 or so stacked exposures of 45 seconds. I had a 3/4 moon that night so the illumination down into the valley is all from the moon. I did some light painting on the tree on the left as the moon light was not going to get there until much later. I did not want to wait that long as by the time the moon would provide that illumination it would also be causing both flare and over exposure issues. This night there was quite a bit of traffic down in the valley along Hwy 10, but it just adds to the overall effect to me. I am always amazed when I look down into this valley during the day it’s hard to see any building of significant size, but at night even the smallest light will show up.
I first worked this shot up back in 2013 and thought I had a good version. Recently when viewing that shot, I realized that I had not been very accurate with the star trail work, and in fact I had a dip. This happens when you just slightly move the camera. It doesn’t take much to offset the trails. The best bet is just don’t touch anything until you are done. I say that, but I usually have to stop the series somewhere in the middle to see if I am getting some damaging flare. The Nikon 14-24 will flare with any amount of light that hits the outer element from the side and the flare can be very destructive and next to impossible to correct in post processing work. Flare tends to totally shift the blue of the sky to a red or yellow hue and tend to have a very hard demarcation which makes removal quite difficult.
Here is my first version of this work, and I greatly prefer the new one. I was able to pull out a lot more of the details in the valley. I also re-worked each of the images to try and pull out more of the trails on the left side. In this location the moon will pass from the left side to right and thus makes an even exposure pretty hard to obtain. However working in Lightroom and with some filters I have I pulled out more definition from the faint trails on the left side.