Manzanita Nights

I arrived in Manzanita just after sunset so I headed to the Treehouse, unloaded my car, and settled in.  Around 9:00 PM I felt it was dark enough to venture out and see if I could make something of the clear skies.  I drove along the beach and it was interesting with ground fog but, I had done that not too long ago and I chose to move on in search of something different.  I headed north on 101 and just out of Manzanita, I turned into a pullout and stepped of my car to a sweeping view of Manzanita below with the ground fog creeping in from the hills to slowly engulf the little town, shrouding it in mystery; the waves seemed to  glow against the dark water and the clear sky was filled with stars…

Nikon D4, AF-S 24mm 1.4f2.0, 15 sec, ISO 800

Nikon D4, AF-S 24mm 1.4G 
f2.0, 15 sec, ISO 800


I set up my tripod, extending the legs to both a comfortable height for me to see through the viewfinder and to shoot over the tangled brush that would be a distraction in the foreground.  With a fast lens I was able to keep my ISO down to a reasonable 800 and still close down just a bit to f2.  15 second with a wide angle lens is good enough to acquire pinpoint stars.

Enjoying myself immensely, I tried a couple compositions rotating the camera into vertical position using the Really Right Stuff L-Bracket to keep my camera balanced over the tripod for the greatest stability…

Nikon D4 AF-S 24mm 1.4

Nikon D4 AF-S 24mm 1.4G
f2.4, 10 sec, ISO 560


Not only did my composition change so did my exposure with a different angle of coverage and the lights of Manzanita filling more of the frame.  Notice the change of 1 1/2 stops in the two exposures.  I split the differences between aperture, shutter speed and ISO to find a good balance between the highest quality and lowest noise.

After making several more images I decide to set up for a star trail sequence but, my car was almost out of gas and I needed to be able to turn it on to keep warm and I didn’t have any entertainment to keep me occupied…no music, nothing.  So, I made a quick decision to head back to town, fill up and grab my ipod and ipad to while away the coupe of hours I hoped to be out.

As I headed back north again I drove through increasingly denser and more foggy spots but, I figured that I would rise above it shortly.  I hit patches where I could barely see the lines on the road to guide me but, I persevered on (there weren’t any places to turn around anyway).  Arriving at my designated photo spot I found myself surrounded by dense fog everywhere but above me which rapidly filled in while I sat there.

I turn my car south, towards home (for the weekend) giving thanks for the fleeting moments I did have to capture some beautiful images and enjoy the night sky for a time.