Bob Randall

Bob Randall

This is my favorite night sky shot in 2015 because of the subject matter (love Mt. Shasta) and the unplanned way that I came to the shot: It was a bit like finding a $100 bill lying on the ground.  I was driving up to Portland, Oregon on July 23rd for a family visit and had stopped at Castle Crag State Park around 5 pm for a hike up to explore the Crags. I finished the hike around 8:30 pm and drove on toward to Weed, stopping for gas and a bite to eat.  By this time it was about 11:30 pm.  There was a slim crescent moon in the sky and it suddenly hit me: I had all my photo gear on board and instead of getting back on Interstate 5, I should drive up Highway 97 to shoot Mt. Shasta and the Milky Way, with some lighting provided by the soon-to-be setting crescent moon.  I raced up Hwy 97, looking for a spot with a clear view of Shasta.  I found one and set up my gear.  The moon was low on the horizon and about to set.  The sky was dark except for the lights of Redding to the south.  But I had to get my shots between trucks and cars moving along Hwy 97.  For my first few frames I had the Moon, but then it set and was gone.  As my 30-second shots kept getting spoiled by headlights, I cut the shutter to 20 seconds, increased ISO to 4000 and waited for the gaps between cars.  I shot for 45 minutes and came away with 30 frames.  I was shooting with my Nikon D5100, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens and Manfrotto tripod & ball head.  I wish I could have gotten this shot before the Moon set so Shasta would have popped more, but ….  This is a single image with minimal post-processing, just some basics in Lightroom.  I cropped from full-frame to a nearly square format as I felt it added some majesty to the almost upright Milky Way.

See more of Bob’s work on his Facebook & Picasa pages.