2020 Calendar – Night Sky Images of Washington State

2020 Calendar – Night Sky Images of Washington State

The 2020 Calendar is here a bit early this year!

There are several reasons for this, first, people who visit Washington in the summer want calendars! And normally none are available. Also I wanted to do a Night Sky Calendar for some time, which means no need to worry about getting seasonal images, etc etc.

So, here it is, the 2020 Calendar – Night Sky Images of Washington State

The calendar is printed on 100lb bond, gloss stock, really nice paper. The size is 8′ x 12′ (a bit bigger than normal) which means that I didn’t have to either crop the image, OR add a border to the print.

Ring bound and shrink wrapped, they are ready to ship anywhere your heart desires!

$20 each, shipping $6

You can order your copy here.

The Night Sky Images of Washington State – 2020 Calendar is for sale locally at:

North Cascades National Park / Forest Service Headquarters, Sedro-Woolley

Skagit Valley Food Co-op, Mt Vernon

Sedro-Woolley Chamber of Commerce, Sedro-Woolley

Bulk Orders and Orders for Resale are available! Contact me at Andyporterphotography@gmail.com

Here are the 14 images

Night Sky Images of Washington State

I have been capturing night sky images of Washington State for about 4 years now. These 14 images display my moments of good luck so far.

Capturing nice Milky Way shots is not difficult, technically. A decent camera, wide angle lens, tripod and remote are all that’s needed. The aperture, shutter speed, ISO and focus are all set. You can read more about the settings here.

The tricky part is getting yourself and camera to a spot far away from light pollution, on a night when there is
a.) No moon in the sky and
b.) No clouds covering up the stars!

Once you get that all figured out, then its a matter of practice, trail and error (lots of errors), and really just getting yourself out there.

The settings for these types of images were the same:

  • Milky Way shots: Aperture: f2/8 ; Shutter Speed: 30 seconds ; ISO 2,500 to 6,400
  • Star Trail Shots: Aperture: f2/8 ; Shutter Speed: 20 minutes ; ISO 100

Here are the details on each image.

First Beach, Olympic Coast This is First Beach, in La Push, down the road from Forks. I used this huge stump to block the light pollution from the small village. This was taken in January, and the Milky Way is faint.

Winchester Lookout at Dawn Late September, the Lookout had been battened down for the fall… Early sunrise created a split sky of colors, while my friends meditated with their I phone. They would have the phone “on” for just 2 or 3 seconds during my 30 exposure. The light in the lookout is from a very dim stand-up flashlight I put on the floor of the building

Crystal Mountain Ski Resort The plan was to wander off from the resort and camp and takes pics. This was shot at about 2am, in late July. There are several satellites in this image. When using a wide angle lens you have to be very close to any foreground objects, or they will be very tiny in your image.

Sahale Camp, North Cascades National Park This is the highest camp site in the North Cascades National Park, at more than 7,500 ft. The view is facing south. 30 second exposure, my friends in the tent had the light on for 1 -2 seconds. Any longer and the tent would be over exposed.

Night Sky Images of Washington State 2020 Calendar

This year I started the Calendar early! We printed on 8″ x 12″ sheets of 100lb bond, glossy paper.

They really look fabulous! Each individually wrapped.

The calendar is now back from the printer and ready to ship anywhere in the world!

Order Yours Here

Palouse Falls is a wonderful spot for Night Sky Imaging, its very remote and scenic. Someone started a campfire in the basin that night, and that’s where the wonderful illumination comes from in this shot.

Mount Larrabee, North Cascades This is a 20 minute exposure. The green glow along the horizon is the Aurora Borealis! This image was captured from atop Winchester Mountain.

Nighttime at Diablo Overlook Here is a south facing view of Colonial Peak, from Diablo Overlook. The star trails are streaks across the frame. If you shoot pointing north the star trails form a circle.

Milky Way over the North Cascades Highway at the Washington Pass Overlook. This image was taken on June 2nd, at about 1am. As the Earth rotates the Milky Way arcs across the sky. The tail lights from a car headed east, to Winthrop, provide the lighting for this pic.

Mount Shuksan and Picture Lake This famous view of Mt Shuksan affords some nice reflective opportunities! Its easy to get to, and from there you can head up to Artist Point for more images of Mts. Shuksan and Baker.

Buying Prints

Prints are available for all images. Traditional paper prints of all sizes are possible. These come ready for matting and framing. Canvas Wrapped Prints of any styles and sizes are also available directly from the web site. Here is the link to the Night Sky Gallery. Feel free to call me if you have any questions. 360-809-0661.

Also, if you use the code: NIGHTSKY50 you will receive 50% off your order!

Govan School House. Located near Wilbur on Hwy 2, this remote abandoned building was perfect for night sky. We illuminated the inside with a Coleman Lantern and a few other orange/yellow lights. I would love to find some more old building or barns to do this again!

Park Butte Lookout and Mt Baker. I brought a very dim flash light and hung it from the ceiling, I could barely see it from out side, and it provided plenty of light for me. It looks like the stars emanate from the crater on Mt Baker!

Liberty Bell, North Cascades Highway. The Washington Pass Overlook is one of the best spots there is to capture night sky pics. Its VERY dark, the foreground is outstanding (Liberty Bell and the hairpin turn in the North Cascades Hwy) and its easy to park and get there in the dark.

Camped along Baker River, North Cascades. I would start the 30 second exposure and yell to them: Turn it on! and then after 1 second, Turn it off! that was plenty of light on their faces and the tent. The gravel bars along Baker River are an easy distance and very dark spots for night sky.

Winchester Lookout and the Northern Lights. For long exposures, if you point towards the North Star, all of the other stars will make concentric circles. The green and reddish glow is the Aurora Borealis.

Night Sky Photo Classes and Photo Tours

Currently I am scheduled to teach one more Night Sky Photo Class this year, through the North Cascades Institute. It is scheduled for Wednesday night, July 31, and you can find out more here, and register.

Night Sky Photo Tours are also available each month at the New Moon. I take individuals and groups to Drive-in locations, like the Washington Pass Overlook, or Artist Point. For those adventurous photographers who can carry a 30 lb backpack up hill for a while, there are back country locations we can visit, like the Park Butte or Winchester Mountain Lookouts. You can find out more here, and feel free to email or call if you have any questions.

Night Sky Imaging at Beacon Rock, Jan. 2019

Beacon Rock State Park is located along the Columbia River, on the Washington side. Its not far from the Bridge of the Gods and Cascade Locks.

I visited once and walked to the top. Its quite something. I have no idea what its like, photographically; which seasons, times and conditions are best. But the next New Moon is Jan 5th, 2019.

My plan is to shoot night sky images at Beacon Rock State Park on Jan 4th and 5th.

The good thing about shooting night sky in January is that its dark early; you don’t have to stay up to 1am to see anything. Its as dark as its going to get by 8 or 9pm, latest.

I am offering Night Sky Photo Tours to anyone who wants to make the drive down there. The cost is $150 per person. Payment is due day of the tour, prepayment or deposits are not needed.

Details about Night Sky Photo Tours here.

If you’re interested in Beacon Rock Jan 4th and/or 5th, 2019, email me at andyporterphotography@gmail.com and I can answer any questions.

Washington Journey Magazine

Some months ago I was referred to a local travel author for tips on capturing awesome landscape images. I shared my ideas and sent it off with some images. I was a bit surprised to get a call later from a “fact checker” to verify what I had said!

Months past and I assumed the article was scrapped, but behold, here it is in the Fall issue of Washington Journey Magazine.

Departures  — Journeys Issue: September/October 2017

Scroll down a bit for the article “Picture Perfect”.

The next Night Sky Class at the North Cascades Institute is scheduled for Sat. Sept. 16th. This class is through NCI, I am the instructor. We will visit Artist Point.

I will also be doing Night Sky Tours on Friday, Sept. 15 and Saturday,Oct. 21 Here is the Link. 

Classes in Burlington and Marysville start again September.


Andy Porter Images Media and Awards

A few recent splashes for one of my night sky images.


First Beach Olympic Coast, near La Push Washington

The image won third place in the annual Alaska Airlines Photo comp, winning me 2 free RT tickets! You can see the Alaska web page here.

Another use of the image is from the Sierra Club, on their Daily Ray of Hope page.

The next New Moon is June 4th, here is the link if you would like to come out for a Night Sky Photo Tour!

Elements of Coolness

Last week I was preparing materials for my latest photo class, on Photo Composition. I included basics on Subject and Theme, Rule of Thirds, selective focus, leading lines, framing and all the stuff I’d learned over the years, reading “How to…” articles and photo books.
flowers and clouds 4
Then I started thinking about what I actually do, in real life, when I am out taking pictures.

And I realized that while I do utilize all these things, what I really do is to focus my attention on adding what I call Elements of Coolness.

Isolation Lake, Enchantments

Isolation Lake, Enchantments

Looking at pictures taken by other people I am often awestruck at the magnificence they managed to capture. And after a while I began to notice that the images I admired the most had one, or in many cases, more than one really awesome aspect to them.
Generally the more Elements of Coolness in the image, the more remarkable the image is. Photos with several stay imprinted in my brain.
Maple Pass Loop Storm em
What is an element of coolness? Well, a reflection adds a very cool aspect to a photo. Bright colors do it for me (I’m a Color Junkie). A wide view from high on a ridge, wildlife, an awesome sunset, fireworks, people doing crazy stuff, flowers, mountains, stars, hot air balloons, the moon, a stormy sky…all of these are Elements of Coolness.
Sequim Balloon Festival

Sequim Balloon Festival

July 4th Carnival

July 4th Carnival

Sunset on the Port Townsend Ferry

Sunset on the Port Townsend Ferry

North Cascades Mountain Goat

North Cascades Mountain Goat

So, when I am planning to head out to capture images I have (of course) a plan of what I am going to take pictures of, as in flowers, or mountains, or whatever. Mostly I am considering how I can add cool components to the shots. I await sunrise or sunset. I watch the skies and look for crazy clouds or weather. Water and reflections are a magnet for me. I get out there and scan for lines or patterns.

Samish River

Samish River

I plan outings based on the moon cycle, flowers blooming, trees changing, sun setting and stars shining.

Colchuck Lake, Enchantments

Colchuck Lake, Enchantments

My goal is to add as many elements of coolness as I can to the image. Sometimes its luck, like when I visited Palouse Falls this spring and happened to choose a night when some intrepid soul had started a camp fire down in the basin at 1am!
Palouse Falls

Palouse Falls

But more often than not I am able to add coolness elements by going back several times. Once you’re at a place once you get a feel for the place. When you return you can even bring things with you, like more people, or a dog…or a photogenic tent.

Sahale Glacier Camp

Sahale Glacier Camp

I went to photograph lookout towers several times and had issues with illuminating the inside. A headlamp just wasn’t cutting it. So, on my latest trip I hauled a special flashlight that opened up and threw out a nice broad, softer light.
Park Butte Lookout and Mount Baker

Park Butte Lookout and Mount Baker

Next time you see an image that you fancy, count up how many elements of coolness there are. Sometimes there is only one, like a picture of the tulips, but when you start adding more elements, wow, the image really takes off.
Tulips at Sunrise

Tulips at Sunrise

Start a list of your own. Think in terms of how you can add cool elements. Work out learning new techniques for image capture (like nighttime shooting) so that your list is bigger. And Voila!, you will soon have cooler images of your own.

Zion Canyon, Zion National Park

One of the most commonly captured images is from this view point, on the bridge over the Virgin River. The main highway makes a sharp curve and crosses this bridge. You will often see the bridge lined with photographers.
This shot was taken at about midnight, with a Canon 6D and a Rokinon 14mm lens.
I just got lucky on the satellite crossing and of course Orion looks stunning hovering above the scene…
Zion River and Orion

Deception Pass State Park – Nighttime Imaging

Encouraged by last Tuesday’s photo shoot along Baker River I headed out to Deception Pass on Friday night to see about some shots. There was a crescent moon, which was almost set by the time I got out there, maybe 10pm or so. Clear skies, cold, good time for capturing stars.
stars 7 em
I started up on the bridge, got a few shots of the channel with Orion…
stars 3em

Then I jumped the railing, trying to get a better angle with the moon below the bridge. This view afforded silhouettes of the lower bridge structure as well.
stars 2em

stars 6em
There was so much ambient light that it was difficult to capture the real strip of the Milky Way, so I decided to head down to Bowman Bay.

The road to the parking area was closed, so I hiked down and across the spit to see about some long distance view of the bridge, but that didn’t really pan out. However Bowman Bay had some great lighting…
stars 4-1em

stars m-1 em

And the long pier also suggested some interesting shots…
stars 5em
Nighttime photography is really a blast!

As for camera settings:

I used a Canon 6D, with a 24-105 mm lens, tripod and cable release. Aperture at f/4 (wide open), shutter speed at 8 to 13 sec. and ISO at anywhere from 12,000 to 20,000.

Nighttime Imaging

Anytime I have seen images of the night time sky I have always been awed. Viewing the cosmos, seeing the huge number of stars, the strip of the Milky Way stretching across the sky these evoke such a strong feeling…

So, I decided this year to try my hand at capturing a few images. I read up, re-studied my camera instruction manual, got my tripod and cable release and started.

My first effort was of the Cirque of the Towers, in the Wind River Range. The moonlight illuminated the peaks in a perfect light. I was excited!

Warrior Peak, Cirque of the Towers

I did not fully duplicate the fact that I would not be able to see anything through the view finder, and that the camera’s auto-focus would be inoperable.

So, I set the focus manually to infinity, turning the dial all the way to its end.

I was generally very disappointed, with the exception of this one image, because, as I later learned, on Canon lenses one needs to set the focus ring back, matching up the mark on the top with an l-shaped symbol on the lower ring. The result of my ignorance was that most all of the images I pictures were out of focus.

What a bummer!

My next effort was along the Washington Coast, again, I picked another moon-lit night to try and capture images, but did not take into account clouds! I was able to get a few images, thought they were fuzzy and too grainy.

Stars at Point of the Arches

Heading back to the books I read more about focus, ISO, time of exposure and decided to try again.
This time I headed up to the Baker River on a night with no moon, and even better, no clouds!
However, I was again foiled by my failure to make sure that the focus was set right. But I did recall an advice to review images on the camera using the magnification buttons to zoom in and see if the image was in focus…about halfway through the shoot I remembered that advice and checked, and the focus was way off. Fixing it I continued and was able to get a few good images. For the most part I was using an ISO of 800 to 1600 and a shutter speed of 25 to 30 seconds. As I reviewed the images it seemed to me that the stars were somewhat fuzzy, I recalled reading that with longer exposure times, (20 to 30 seconds) that the rotation of the earth can blur the stars.

Tent and Stars on the Baker River

Encouraged I headed up to the Washington Pass overlook to take another stab at moon-less night. I wanted a dramatic backdrop. Setting up at the overlook gave me Liberty Bell mountain as a silhouette. Here I tried to use higher ISO, 1600 to 3200 and keep the shutter speed down to 15 seconds.

Liberty Bell Mountain and Milky Way

It looks like I captured either a shooting star or satellite on this image.

Liberty Bell Stars

A short time after I had occasion to return to Baker River again. I tried to recall each point: turning off the image stabilizer, removing the polarizer, setting the manual focus, using a shorter speed and higher ISO. I also had someone inside the tent turn on and off the headlamp so as to not overexpose the tent light.

On the Baker River: Tent and Stars

This particular tent is very photogenic!

Another picture of a tent with stars!

Last weekend I headed up to Cutthroat Pass and the next night up to Heather Pass, in the North Cascades.
This first image is from Cutthroat, we camped on a rock slab at the top of the pass. I believe the orange tint in the foreground is from wildfires burning to the south.

Cutthroat Pass at Night

This last image is from Heather Pass, here I tried to use all I had learned, incorporating the tent, milky way strip and a high ISO (and shorter shutter speed) to get things sharper.

Heather Pass: Starfields at Night

It seems that I still have a way to go, back to the books for me. If any of you have any advices for me, I would be most grateful!