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220 Northwest 8th Avenue
Portland, OR, 97209
United States

Santa Monica based amateur photographer and biker racer.  Sharing pictures and musings as I dabble in photography and try to race my bike.  

Looking for Stars in Santa Monica

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Working stiff, Belgian beer lover, coffee snob, novice photographer and weekend racer.

Looking for Stars in Santa Monica

Wade Hewitt

Stars are a daily sighting in Santa Monica.  However, that isn't really the type of stars I'm referring to here.  I'm talking about those great big skies with thousands of twinkling lights that you see when camping or vacationing on a deserted island. In LA, we only get to see a few stars in the night sky. So, when I saw an article from PetaPixel talking about how to capture the Milky Way in heavy light pollution I was intrigued.  What was even more interesting is that the article talked about doing this in Palos Verdes and Venice Beach, which is pretty much my back yard.

So last night after dinner, I headed out to the beach armed with a tripod and my trusty Fuji X100.  The Fuji X100 is small, and you can imagine how funny it looks on top of a large tripod.  Kind of overkill, like Andre the Giant holding a point-and-shoot camera, but it gets the job done.  I had watched the PetaPixel video a couple times so I figured I could remember everything.  Well, that was my first mistake.  My short-term memory isn't that great so I got the majority of the settings right but didn't remember everything.  With a little bit of experimentation and playing around I started to get the hang of things.

It was fun being on the beach in the dark on a night when I could actually see a decent amount of stars by LA standards, which means I could see more than four.  I had a little section of the beach all to myself except for the cop that kept coming by and shining a spotlight on things and messing up my shots.  Guess he was trying to figure out what I was doing standing around on the beach in the pitch black with a tripod with a toy camera on top.

I'm pretty happy with how well the pictures came out.  Thanks to our light pollution, a fair amount of Lightroom manipulation is required to coax the stars out of their hiding spots but the results are worth all the effort. Check out the results below and let me know what you think.

f/2.8, 13 seconds @ 1600 ISO

f/2.8, 13 seconds @ 1600 ISO 

It's amazing how much more detail I was able to pull out of the same shot in black and white.

f/2.8, 27 seconds @ ISO 3200

The light from the left is from the cop's spotlight.

f/2.8, 45 seconds @ ISO 1600

I tried slowly panning toward the pier.  Evidently my tripod was pointed slightly down which caused the curved effect.

f/2.8, 27 seconds @ ISO 160

f/2.8, 50 seconds @ ISO 1600