Some lessons and best practices for night photography seem pretty easy when you read them in books, ebooks and online. However, planning shots and actually getting out there and trying to implement an idea is a whole different beast. The above shot was a half baked idea I had after spending 2 nights in the Spitzkoppe area in Namibia. I say half baked because I had all the info on sun position, star locations, etc all sorted out, but I had never really been successful with super long exposures over a minute or two. The idea I had for this shot was to get some really faint star trails over the mountain just as the soft twilight from the sun was coming up from the East. I took my time setting up the shot and getting my exposure correct when all of sudden the sunlight was started to pour in and I had lost time to mess around. I quickly fired off a couple 7 minute exposures, but that was all I had time for as the stars began to give way to the morning sky.
Lessons learned were that no matter how much you think you’d prepared you still have to be really prepared when the light is right. I think you almost have to be able to predict what the exposure is going to be during dawn and dusk in the future and that really just takes practice. You can read up on ideal exposure settings, etc but that’s a lot of information to juggle when you’re out in the field and trying to also react to the setting. With almost everything camera related you need to develop a muscle memory for the buttons and settings but also for what the settings are going to produce. This image turned out quite nice, but wasn't quite what I wanted. Either way since I got this image on my last morning in the area I'll have to wait until next time to get the shot I really want (or whatever other idea I come up with at the last minute).