Star party at Cape Kiwanda

Star party at Cape Kiwanda

A group of beachgoers sits around a bonfire under the Milky Way, Oregon coast.

A group of beachgoers sits around a bonfire under the Milky Way, Oregon coast.

 

Terence Lee and I had been shooting some stars at the sandstone bluffs around Cape Kiwanda when we packed up our gear and trudged out, sand in our shoes, and saw a group of about 20 twenty/thirty-somethings gathered around a bonfire, having what seemed to be a great time on the beach.

I walked up through the darkness to the edge of the group. They still hadn’t seen me because they were focused on the bonfire itself, and I did my best not to freak everyone out when I announced my presence by asking if I could take their photo.

A handful of them said something that sounded like “sure,” so I positioned myself in some grass farther inland so that I could shoot at them with the Milky Way behind them.

The conditions were challenging, to say the least. I had some wet grass very close to my lens, and the dynamic range between the center of the fire and the moonless night had to have been roughly 3,000 stops of light. The shot above is three bracketed exposures: one for the foreground, one to control for lens flare, and one for the night sky. I had to do a little dance in post-processing, but I eventually got the job done.

After I had packed up, thanked everyone, and started walking off, someone in the group asked if I wanted to shoot them playing with their sparklers. I really didn’t, but several folks insisted that I did, so I got my gear back out and took the obligatory sparkler photo (below) shooting back toward my original position. You can see Terence still lurking like a ninja in the background on the left.

Until next time!

 

A group of beachgoers plays with sparklers in front of a fire, Cape Kiwanda, Oregon coast.

A group of beachgoers plays with sparklers in front of a fire, Cape Kiwanda, Oregon coast.

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