star gazing

Star gazing at Leo Carillo Beach, CA with the Sony A7s & A7r II

Leonard Holland, one of our guys at IE Photo Rentals loves doing landscapes and he has been talking about shooting with the group for some time. He came into the shop one day to show me a photo of his last trip to Leo Carillo Beach, CA. I was blown away with the ideal of laying out at the beach and looking at the stars. He told me that he wanted to go again to try and get a better shot since he wasn't happy with his last encounter.

I figured it was a great time to take a short trip out with the team and take photographs as a group. We agreed to meet there at 10pm but we actually met closer to 10:30pm or so. Our group ran late cause we got caught up in the Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade traffic, Pro was coming from the "hood" and Leonard's group was about 5 mins behind my group. Hector and Nancy made it there 20 mins before anyone but Hector started to get a bit of anxiety cause it was so dark. Our group originally planned to eat a nice meal in Santa Monica but cause we were running late, we ended up eating Jack in the Box. Felt like I was in high school again... in a car packed with people eating Jumbo Jacks with their famous buttermilk sauce. Good times. Below is a map of where Leo Carillo Beach is.

As soon as we arrived, I could already see the stars shinning brighter than they have ever in my entire life. I could even see traces of the Milky Way Galaxy... that was all a big trip for me. Part of why the stars were so bright, no ambient light pollution. I am guessing light pollution is about 3 stops of light brighter than the stars way above. When our eyes adjust for street lamps and such, the weaker light of the stars recede. 

It was pitch black out there so in an effort to keep the photos representing the feel out there, I left the images mainly untouched. We ended up shooting for 2.5 hours or so but people started to get cold and sleepy as we were getting closer to 3am. I felt like I could shoot another 2 hours. 


I didn't like the composition of the shot where the Milky Way was so instead, I probably did a big no-no and ended up making my own composition. I stacked a shot of the Milky way into a landscape that I liked better. I know a lot of you Purist would probably scoff at me but hey, it's what I do. It took me about 40 mins to properly blend it in but I got it to where I was happy.

Definitely worth a trip out there.

©2015 Copyright Andrew Manley

©2015 Copyright Andrew Manley