Nighttime in Nevada: Occidental Mineshaft

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A couple years ago one of the best photographers I know, Neil Lockhart, told me how to get to the remains of this interesting mineshaft near Virginia City, Nevada. It requires going up a rough, steep road, but it is worth it because the mine is very photogenic and appears to be an old relic of a historical time in Nevada when gold and silver was on the minds of many, and getting rich quick was possible for some. It’s one of the things that I like most about photography in Nevada; the history can be just as visually interesting as the natural scenery.

Milky Way over the remains of the Occidental Mineshaft near Virginia City, Nevada

Milky Way over the remains of the Occidental Mineshaft near Virginia City, Nevada (Sony A7R ii — ISO 8000, f2.8, 20 seconds)

As you may know, I am very interested in nighttime photography and have been collecting images for my Nighttime in Nevada project for several years. In February, after getting my tax-return, I bought a Sony A7S to use as my main nighttime camera. It has been fantastic, but it has been my only camera since I decided to sell all the Olympus gear and switch entirely to Sony a few months ago. While the Sony A7S can produce amazing images in all types of light, the 12 megapixels can be limiting for someone who likes to print big. So in June I preordered their latest and greatest camera, the 42 megapixel Sony A7R ii, and it has been in my possession since August 11. My intentions were to use the Sony A7S at night and the new Sony A7R ii during the day, but I read a lot about how the Sony A7R ii is close to being as good in low light as the Sony A7S. I’ve been testing both cameras all week with the Perseid Meteor Shower coinciding with the new moon, and from what I have seen so far, the Sony A7R ii is close to being as good as the Sony A7S in low light, and in some ways I think it beats it. I don’t want to bore people with 100% crop noise comparisons, but the Sony A7R ii is the second best camera that I’ve ever had for nighttime photography, and I would probably use the Sony A7R ii’s 42 megapixels instead of the Sony A7S’s 12 megapixels if I knew that I would be making large prints.

Star Trails over Occidental Mineshaft (Sony A7S -- ISO 8000 f2.8 -- 100, 15 second exposures blended with Star Stax Software)

Star Trails over Occidental Mineshaft (Sony A7S — ISO 8000 f2.8 — 100, 15 second exposures blended with Star Stax Software)

One thing that I am really excited about now that I am rocking two very special cameras is that I can work on time-lapse stuff while also working on capturing a variety of stills. I won’t have to choose between the two; I’ll be able to do both. Here’s an example of a quick little time-lapse video that I put together. There might be one or two shooting stars with this, but most of the streaks going across the sky are from airplanes.

 

 

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