On July 26, 2014, Matt Pollock and I captured this spherical panorama of green airglow, the Milky Way, and star trails over Bar Harbor from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Maine. I've shot several spherical panoramas of star trails with my Panoneed robotic panning head, but Matt and I wondered how difficult it would be with a manual panning head. Obviously, we didn't want to be rotating it every 30 seconds or so for 2 hours, so we decided to shoot three 40 minute timelapses with a Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye that has had the lens hood shaved off for full frame use, rotating every 120° to capture three stacks of star trails that I blended into a single panorama of star trails.
The sphere consists of 5 photos of the sky blended with 4 photos of the ground, plus another 249 images for the star trails (3 x 83) layered on top. It took about 22 minutes to shoot the Milky Way and ground from 11:30 – 11:52 PM, and 2 hours of shooting star trails from 01:06 – 03:07 AM. In between we shot some dark frames and tried various shutter speeds and ISOs for ideal exposures, and setup the dew heater on the lens so it wouldn't fog up. We’d been battling with fog and clouds for a few nights in a row and almost gave up on this night as well, but decided to stick it out another hour or so and we were rewarded when the fog suddenly lifted after 11 PM. We had three other cameras, tripods, sliders, and remotes in the truck that we really should have set up to shoot some motion-controlled timelapse video, but we were too busy looking at the stars and chatting all night to think about any of that!
Camera settings: ISO 6400, f/2.8, 40 seconds, & 3550°K white balance for the sky blended with ISO 6400, f/2.8, 160 seconds, & 3786°K white balance for the ground. Star trails were shot at ISO 1600, f/2.8, 25 seconds, & 3550°K white balance. I removed several airplane trails before stacking.
Hardware used: Nikon D810, Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8 (lens hood shaved off for full frame use), Promote Control, and Really Right Stuff TVC-34L tripod with leveling base & multi-row pano package.
Software used: Edited with Lightroom, stitched with PTGui Pro, and blended with Photoshop. Pixel Fixer was used with a dark frame to remove hot pixels from long exposures at high ISO. Star trails were stacked with Advanced Stacker Plus.
The United States is one of the most diverse countries on earth, jam packed full of amazing sights from St. Patrick's cathedral in New York to Mount Hollywood California.The Northeast region is where it all started. Thirteen British colonies fought the American Revolution from here and won their independence in the first successful colonial rebellion in history. Take a look at these rolling hills carpeted with foliage along the Hudson river here, north of New York City.The American south is known for its polite people and slow pace of life. Probably they move slowly because it's so hot. Southerners tend not to trust people from "up north" because they talk too fast. Here's a cemetery in Georgia where you can find graves of soldiers from the Civil War.The West Coast is sort of like another country that exists to make the east coast jealous. California is full of nothing but grizzly old miners digging for gold, a few gangster rappers, and then actors. That is to say, the West Coast functions as the imagination of the US, like a weird little brother who teases everybody then gets famous for making freaky art.The central part of the country is flat farmland all the way over to the Rocky Mountains. Up in the northwest corner you can find creative people in places like Portland and Seattle, along with awesome snowboarding and good beer. Text by Steve Smith.