The Night Skies of Yosemite National Park
After spending three summers shooting time-lapse of Yosemite’s night skies, I finally got around to putting them all together for a new episode of Yosemite Nature Notes. When I bought a Canon 5D Mark II back in 2009, it was the first camera that I’d ever owned that allowed me to shoot astro time-lapse, so I began capturing the wonders of the universe that can be seen from Yosemite National Park. Like many shooters, I often focused on the incredible “clouds” of the Milky Way near Sagittarius, often puting a rock or a tree in the foreground for interest. Eventually, I realized that these types of images were becoming pretty generic, so by 2011 I began to focus on the bigger landscape of the park, trying to create shots that really said “Yosemite.” Taking advantage of a 50% waxing moon about a week before full, the moonlight would set on Half Dome or other landforms, illuminating the landscape and yet still providing enough darkness to see the stars.
After my Moonbows episode came out in 2011, I used YouTube’s powerful analytics to learn that viewers found the time-lapse shots of photographers more interesting than the actual moonbows, so I then decided to include more people and telescopes at the Glacier Point Star Parties. Finally, in August of 2012, I got my last interviews, picked up a few more Star Party shots, and with the help of climbing-bum/editor Jeff Lodas, knocked out the edit in about a week.
So far, this episode has been a smash hit, with over 100,000 views in its opening week, more than any previous episode has experienced. It may take a while before it breaks 4 million like Frazil Ice, but I do feel that this is one of the strongest episodes yet.