Capturing shooting stars

Camas photographer is among contest finalists

While last-minute filers were submitting tax returns online or at the post office, William Lee of Camas, was taking photos in tulip fields in Woodburn, Ore.

One of the results of his April 15 late evening photo session has led to recognition in the Energizer Ultimate Photo Contest with National Geographic magazine.

Lee’s photograph of star trails above the fields at Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm is one of two finalists in the travel category. Overall, there are 12 finalists in categories such as animals/wildlife, nature, people/cultures, weather and action/energy.

Lee was inspired to take photos of star trails, after watching an Oregon Public Broadcasting TV program “Art Wolfe Travels to the edge.” It included a photo with star trails over cactus in a desert area.

Lee describes star trails as the paths left by stars.

“When staying still and observing from Earth – as the result of the self spin of Earth – all stars appear to move and circle in the sky around Polaris if in the northern hemisphere,” he said. “A camera mounted on a tripod with shutter kept open for a long time will record star trails, because all stars are like slow moving light sources relative to camera sensor.”

Lee used a Canon EOS 7D to take the honored shot.

He said in order to stay outdoors for an extended time, he has to plan well – especially for a night shot.

“The temperature drops rapidly after sunset,” Lee said. “The fog/dew condenses water on my lens quickly. For a long exposure like this, I cannot even turn on a flashlight and need to clean up the condensed water on my lens in total darkness. Otherwise, the flashlight will ruin the exposure.”

The grand prize winner in the contest will win a National Geographic expedition for two to the Greek Isles, and his or her photograph will appear in an ad for Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries in National Geographic magazine. More than 14,000 entries were received.

National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson will determine the grand prize winner, which will be announced on Nov. 4.

“With color as intense as an artist’s color wheel, this image goes on to enchant us with layers of depth and precise composition – the extended ‘moment’ inherent in the star trails and the lovely sweep of a passing cloud,” Richardson said of Lee’s photograph. “Night scenes are rarely so colorful.”

For more information or to vote in the Energizer Ultimate Photo Contest through Wednesday, Sept. 15, visit www.nationalgeographic.com/lithium.

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