Jenny Lake Road
Getting this shot was totally not a part of my plan that night. I had set up a lovely composition down at Jenny lake right after sunset and then I had to wait until 2 am for the Milkyway to be in place so I decided to drive around the park and see what other shots might have decent Milkyway alignment. On my way back to the Jenny Lake shot I encountered this curving road at probably around midnight with the Milkyway lining up directly at the end of it, so I decided to pull over and set up my star tracker in the middle of the road!
I'm not going to lie, being alone in grizzly territory at night is high on my list of uncomfortable environments. I made a point not to stray too far from my vehicle. That being said, the feeling of being alone in the forest at night with the sounds of elk bugling all around you is just incredible.
The foreground shots I got that night at this spot did not turn out great, so I returned a few days later at about 6:30 am before sunrise and got some blue hour shots from roughly the same spot.
As for the color of the sky, this piece in no way reflects reality when it comes to that. Generally speaking to the human eye the sky looks black and white, color is something we lose when the light is so dim! Here I took an artistic approach to the tint of the night sky to match the blue hour foreground.
Sony a7iii + 85mm f/1.8 (ground) + 24mm F/1.4 (sky)
Sky: 2 mins at f/2 iso 640
Ground: two shot horizontal pano 1/200 at f/11 iso 640
Castle Creek
This night under a moonless sky in Colorado was one to remember. At the last minute, my roommate at the Aspen Music Festival and I decided to make the 20-minute drive down Castle Creek Road which leads to this beautiful field and view. 

We spent a few hours freezing our butts off at 10,000 feet elevation but enjoying the stunning night sky. In this image, you can see many beautiful features of our galaxy, one of my favorites being the Dark Horse Nebula. If you look just to the right of the dead center of this image you will see a horse on its rear legs galloping through the sky.
Sony a7iii + Sony 24mm GM
Sky: 780 seconds at f/2.8 iso 640
Ground: 780 seconds at f/1.4 iso 640
Aspen Mountain View
The view from the top of Aspen Mountain made for an incredible spot to see the core of our galaxy passing behind the mountains.

I arrived around 8 pm and got to work shooting - wrapping up around 12. Along the way, I was fortunate enough to see a huuuuuuge moose and lots of deer kept me company throughout the night.

The shot you see here is the result of two 5 minute exposures of the sky stacked for noise reduction (I shot 8, but due to tracking error 6 of them were unusable), dark frames to subtract hot pixels, and five 5 minute exposures for the foreground stacked for noise reduction.

Sony a7iii + Sony 24mm GM
Sky: 10 mins at f/2.8 iso 640
Ground: 25 mins at f/2.8 iso 640
The Great Rift at Cannon Beach

What a night. My best friend Tanner and I had Canon beach all to ourselves and enjoyed a nice fireside dinner with the world's best view. After dinner, we set out to enjoy the low tide and reflections left behind by it.

Even with the light pollution of nearby towns, we could clearly distinguish the Great Rift/Cygnus region of the milky way with our naked eye, in addition to plenty of shooting stars.

Post-processing this shot was a huge challenge as the colors in the sky just looked super wonky with the atmospheric elements that were present that night. The interference of the mist from the ocean plus light pollution gave this purple and orange look.
Sony a7iii + 24mm GM
Sky: 188 seconds at f/2.8 iso 1600
Ground: 180 seconds at f/2.8 iso 1600
Forrest Gump Point
This is one of the shots I spent many hours planning and editing from my southwest road trip. To be quite honest, it has been driving me a little crazy, and I just need to put it out into the world to let it finally see the light of day so I can move on 😅.

After a long day of driving from New Mexico, I arrived in Monument Valley, AZ. This Navajo land is something straight out of the movies - truly breathtaking. This spot in particular is famous for the scene in the film Forrest Gump where he decides to stop running across the country. The skies were crystal clear and the night sky was so bright I hardly even needed a flashlight to see around me - this kind of dark sky environment is a rare thing for me and I can't believe that others don't ever get to experience it, as it's truly an incredible sight.

This shot was achieved by snapping the foreground right after sunset at blue hour and then coming back around midnight when the milky way alignment was just right and shooting 4 shots panning vertically with my 85mm lens (+camera lol) on the star tracker.

I wouldn't have had nearly as great of a time shooting this without the company of my newfound friend Levi and his pup. Crazy how you can make friends even in the middle of the desert.

Sony a7iii + 85mm f/1.8
Foreground - 117 seconds at f/5.0, iso 500
Sky - 4 shots, 60 sec at f/1.8 iso 640
Strawberry Super Moon

Featuring my two crazy friends Luke and Ethan who literally climbed this mountain with only moonlight to guide them just to get this moon alignment shot.

Earlier that day it had been storming relentlessly and it was really looking like it wouldn't work out with the cloud cover that came in at the wrong time, but in the end, I think the clouds added a nice element to the shot!

I ended up with two shots I really liked, one with just the guys in front of the moon, and one with longer exposure showing the clouds reflecting all sorts of colors. I ended up combining the two to show the scene best. 

Sony a7iii + sigma 100-400
400mm, f6.3,
1/400 for the moon shot and 2.5 seconds for the cloud shot.

Maroon Bells Airglow
July 4th looked a little different around Aspen. No fireworks were allowed due to wildfire restrictions but the sky still put on a show of its own. Of course, this airglow was not visible to the naked eye, but with the help of my camera and tracker, I was able to capture some beautiful colors!

Airglow occurs when the sun supercharges atoms in the upper atmosphere with its cosmic rays. During the nighttime, we can see the process of nitrogen atoms combining with oxygen to form nitric oxide, and during this process, a photon is emitted! Other chemicals can also create airglow. Red airglow is found at much higher altitudes between 100 and 200 miles above the surface, while green is found just below between 50-100 miles.
Sony a7iii + Sony 24 GM
Sky: 2.5 minutes at f/1.4 iso 640
Ground: 4 minutes at f/1.4 iso 640
Perseid Meteor Shower
This was one of the more crazy meteor shower weeks I've experienced. Between the 3 weeks of clouds we had leading up to it, the crazy wildfire smoke, and just being a full-time musician again after a year away, I certainly had a challenge in capturing this image before the shooting even began.

I had scouted this location about a month prior, hoping I'd get good Milkyway alignment over the valley as my maps had indicated. I wasn't quite sure how I'd get this shot still, as it was a hike up and I've never night hiked or camped before!

Luckily, on a whim, my buddy and fellow musician Michael agreed to hike with me that night and experience the show from this incredible vantage point. We set out at about 10 pm and when we arrived at our shooting location, the sky was completely obscured by clouds.

After we had set up camp, though, we were pleasantly greeted by a crystal clear sky, and I got to work shooting. At about 1:30 am the Milkyway alignment was in place and I began shooting my tracked sky shots. After those were done, I set my camera up to shoot continuously until twilight (about 5 am) while I laid back and watched the spectacular show overhead until I drifted off to sleep for about an hour.

When twilight arrived I took 3 shots of the foreground with my 85mm lens to be stitched later (making this shot a focal blend).
Sony a7iii + Sony 85mm f/1.8 + Sony 24mm GM
Ground: 3 shot pano on 85mm for 30 seconds at f/2.8 iso 640
Sky: 24mm for 4 minutes at f/2.8 iso 640
Meteors: 24 mm for 700 shots, 8 seconds each at f/1.4 iso 640
Monument Valley
This night in Monument Valley will stick with me forever. This shot, unlike the one I posted a few weeks ago, was totally unplanned and a very happy accident. As I was heading to the Forrest Gump point I noticed this beautiful angle on the three buttes named (from left to right) Stage Coach, King on his Throne, and Brigham's Tomb. I shot the foreground as the sun was setting and came back to this location after twilight to link up with my newfound friend Levi and shoot some tracked sky shots as the Milkyway core made its way over the buttes.
Sony a7iii + Sony 24mm GM
Sky: 28 minutes at f/1.4 iso 640
Ground: 1/60 at f/7.1 iso 100
Jenny Lake
This is a composite image I dreamt up while in the Tetons. To be fair, the alignment is basically 100% real - I just chickened out from going down to the water alone that night because I was (once again) scared of a grizzly bear eating me!!

In fact, while I was shooting the foreground right after sunset as it was getting dark, I heard something down the shoreline from me that was seemingly large, and it was quickly making its way towards me. Even with my headlamp pointing in that direction, I could not tell what it was, but I tried to tell myself to stay calm, it's nothing crazy, probably just an elk or something. As I continued shooting the noise would pause, then quickly move closer, then pause again as I whipped my head in its direction. Eventually, it was close enough that my instincts kicked in and I couldn't help but grab my camera and run for the trail before whatever it was got too close for comfort. I never did see what it was but for the rest of that night, I knew I'd have a hard time overcoming that instinctual fear and climb back down to the water's edge to shoot this alignment at 2 am. I ended up compromising by setting my camera up right above the shore and sleeping in my car while the camera clicked away, capturing the progression of the Milkyway through the night. 
Sony a7iii + Sony 24mm GM
Sky: 2 minutes at f/1.4 iso 640
Ground: 3 shot vertical pano for 13 seconds at f/11 iso 100
Bonneville Salt Flats
This night on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah was unlike any other! I made my way out just before sunset and found a nice secluded spot smack dab in the middle of nowhere. There is something really special about being out on that flat desert surface surrounded by nothingness. There were a few other cars out in the distance doing their thing and as the sunset faded away they departed, leaving me alone out on the vast landscape to enjoy the night sky. The faded look in this image can be attributed to the smoke in the air which had traveled over from the California wildfires. For once this summer I felt completely at ease being alone at night under a brightly starlit sky as I knew there was nothing around me for miles. It sort of felt like being on the surface of the moon.

This shot is a composite from the same location but pointing opposite directions. The milky way core was in the Southern sky which faced the interstate and didn't lend for a beautiful composition - unlike the North-facing view which shows the beautiful mountains in the distance. While I don't usually create unrealistic compositions like this, I felt like it served my artistic vision here and so I leave this disclaimer that you will not find this in reality!

Sony a7iii + Sony 24mm GM
Sky: 2 mins at f/2.0 iso 640
Ground: 2 mins at f/1.4 iso 640
Mount Hood Star Trails
This night my friend Tanner and I camped at Trillium Lake in Oregon hoping to catch the northern lights. The forecast for the evening had an extremely high probability so we sent it! Sadly, after waking up every two hours to check the forecast the aurora was a no-show, but I left my camera running for 3 hours and captured the rotation of the sky from our perspective here on Earth. The reflection was added in Photoshop as unfortunately, we had choppy water from the strong winds that night. 
Sony a7iii + Sony 24mm GM
400 shots for 13 seconds at f/1.4 iso 640