Starry night at Watch Hill15s, f/4, ISO4000

This weeks shot is one I have had in my head for a number of years. I've always wanted to capture a sandy beach with the tall grass and slat fence, but I have always thought it would be great at night with the stars as the background. Keeping an eye on the Lunar Calendar I took a drive out to Watch Hill, Rhode Island the night before the new moon.

I parked around 8:30 and headed off to the small dune area at Napatree Point, the wind was howling off the coast and it was hovering around freezing. It being a new moon I didn't have a whole lot of light to see with, so I had to let my eyes adjust and slowly make my way up and over the largest hill on the dunes. Much to my chagrin the nearby towns were casting quite a bit of light pollution, so I couldn't escape a yellow glow on the horizon. Despite this, I think it actually helps here, creating a subtle color contrast against the cool blue sky.

Once in Camera Raw I cooled off the white balance a bit to bring it back to where it was, then punched up the black a bit. Not a whole lot more was done to the exposure. It was a bit grainier than I had hoped, but I was shooting at ISO4000. This was my second time out shooting stars with my new 5D MkIII so I am still looking for the best settings. I had bumped the ISO a little bit to keep the exposure at 15s, avoiding any star trails - I learned on my first trek a week earlier that shooting at 30s the stars start streaking just a hair.

I only have a few more nights here in Connecticut, so while I don't know if I can go back for another shoot, I would love to try it at a lower ISO and hopefully get more of the ocean in the frame. Overall I do like this shot, but I think it will land in the 'learning' pile once I get some better star shots in the future.