So, we are back with another Post-a-Photo. This time, as promised, you show you another photo from photographer Ken Lee, and the interesting story behind it.


“In March of 2013, my girlfriend and I took a road trip to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada and Zion National Park in Utah. I took night sky photos of Valley of Fire one evening, scratching myself pretty good when my hands were raked by branches of a very thorny bush, while I was running around light painting some of the rocks. And on another evening, I took night sky photos of Zion National Park.  I took various photos of Big Bend and other dramatic, spectacular features.

But at one of the locations, I could not shoot what I wanted because the moon was absurdly bright and constantly in frame, wreaking havoc on the photo. I decided to scout other locations. I turned around, and saw this tree, illuminated by the moon. I gasped at its beauty, and immediately turned the camera around to photograph it.  Although the tree looked perfectly gorgeous the way the moonlight picked up the texture of the bark, compositionally, I noticed that it would benefit from a bit of separation from the background. I added just a hint of light from the headlights of my car in the distance, which creates the back glow on the tree, also warming the photo a bit and adding a magical feel. The long exposure, a total of fifty minutes overall, captures the heavenly movements of the stars, a beautiful reminder of how we are constantly in a state of movement even though we are often oblivious to it.

Temple Tree Zion, by Ken Lee

Temple Tree Zion, by Ken Lee

A bit later, the editors at National Geographic featured this photo as one of the Daily Dozen of the day, putting it on the front of their website, a very flattering honor. It has also won numerous other accolades, such as the Photo of the Day on Photoburst and other sites.”

– Ken Lee –


We hope you enjoyed it. And, if you did, please keep an eye open, there is also an interview with Ken Lee coming up very soon!


Post-a-Photo: Ken Lee

This is the first of a new category of posts called Post-a-Photo. In the Post-a-Photo we will give here a place for people who want to show one (or several) of their photos and tell the story behind it.

We are very happy to start it off with the great photographer Ken Lee.

“This is a 50-minute exposure in total, showing the movement of the stars, a heavenly nocturnal show, at Trona Pinnacles in the Mojave Desert in California. The otherworldly landscape consists of hundreds of pinnacles reaching as high as 140 feet (43 meters). They were formed tens of thousands of years ago when these unusual shapes formed while they were underwater. Many science fiction movies are filmed there, including “Star Trek” and “Planet of the Apes”, as well as many other movies and TV shows. This part of the Mojave Desert is also largely away from light pollution, so it is possible to see the Milky Way and other stars vividly. There is the glow of the little town of Trona in the distant horizon, warming the landscape.
I drove out to Trona Pinnacles, a four-hour drive, in July 2013 on a warm evening. I had the whole area of Trona Pinnacles to myself for the entire night, the desert air silent except for the occasional train rumbling past, a very peaceful evening. Occasionally, I broke the silence with some music. I laid on the hood of my car while listening to Bob Marley or Brian Eno with Cluster while the camera captured long exposure star trails. Altogether a magical evening. After photographing the Trona Pinnacles, I drove to the “Kill Bill” Church to photograph it, getting there just before sunrise.

Trona Pinnacles, by Ken Lee

Trona Pinnacles, by Ken Lee

A bit later, this photo, entitled “Trona Glow Star Trails”, won first place in LA Times Travel section for Best Summer Photo. I had been reading the LA Times Travel Section since I had been a kid, marveling at fantastic photos of distant lands, wishing I could experience these exotic places and be able to photograph them as magnificently as the photos I saw there. So although perhaps not as prestigious as winning accolades or contests with National Geographic, Smithsonian, Lonely Planet or others, I was especially moved by this award.”

– Ken Lee –

If you liked this post, stay tunned. There is more of Ken Lee coming soon!   ;)


Here at the Lights from Dreams blog we had the pleasure of interviewing one of our favorite night photographers: Dan Barr.
On top of having some really great looking photos, Dan Barr has also some very interesting ideas about Night Photography, talks about his gear and creative process, and gives some very useful tips for people who are trying to develop their photographic skills.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about you?
Sure, I am a self taught photographer based out of San Diego California. I am married and expecting my first child in January. My number one hobby is spending time outdoors and I take almost every free opportunity to go hiking, backpacking or camping. I grew up in Wyoming and have lived in a bunch of different places, including North Dakota, New Mexico and New York either for work or to pursue an education. I have a bachelors degree in Anthropology/Biology from the University of New Mexico and a PhD in cell biology from SUNY Stony Brook. Although my professional background is as a research scientist in cell biology I am no longer working in this field.

Photo of star trails by Dan Barr

Guardian of the Patriarch, by Dan Barr

2. How did you get started into photography, especially into Night Photography?
Early on photography never held much interest for me. I had several film cameras over the years but I was never much of a photographer. I’d take photos and would end up with these rolls of exposed film that I was usually too lazy to get developed. I still have some undeveloped rolls in a box somewhere.
Everything changed with the advent of digital cameras. I bought my first point and shoot digital camera in 2005 while I was living in New York state and working on my graduate degree. I bought the camera mostly to document my life in New York and to take with me on hiking trips in the catskills and walks on long island beaches. I soon discovered that I really enjoyed the process of making a photograph and I began to see photography as something more than just taking pictures, but something that required forethought and composition. I took the camera along on a weeklong camping trip to Maine and that did it for me, I was hooked.
I didn’t get involved in night photography until 2008, after I had relocated to California. I loved the open spaces of the desert and began spending all of my free time hiking and camping. I rekindled a lost love of star gazing, a hobby I was never really able to enjoy on the east coast due to what seemed like perpetual clouds and excessive light pollution. Around this time I also bought my first DSLR, a canon 40D and a tripod. From here it was a natural progression for me to point the camera skyward. I was absolutely blown away by what the camera could capture at night. Making images of wilderness landscapes at night soon became and absolute obsession for me.

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