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Colourful Night Sky Above Tetons and Snake River   -  By: Babak A. Tafreshi

National Geographic Fine Art collection

Seen on Astronomy Picture of the Day. Photographed in the Grand Teton National Park of Wyoming, the image is made from exactly the point where Ansel Adams made one of his most iconic photos in 1942: The Tetons and the Snake River. But this time at night. The trees has grown up in the past 7 decades and block some of the river bend. I never imagined to be here on such a special night. It was early July 2013 and after making the first shot I realized there is something going on in the sky. The red and green bands all over my images. I was well familiar with the phenomenon, doing this for over 2 decades, but never seen the "Airglow" so intense and in defined wave-like patterns. This is the most colorful airglow I have ever photographed. Airglow is natural emission of the Earth upper atmosphere energized by solar radiation. Its usually faint and always colorless to the eyes (due to our weakness in detecting colors of diffuse objects at dark) but the colors are real and can be recorded in camera. Stars in the picture are diffused and appear larger than usual due to high clouds scattering the light. Everything in the image is illuminated only by starlight and airglow! The foreground is slightly brightened in post-processing to reveal more detail and green color. Besides the beauty of the panorama as a fine art, I probably can not repeat this scene in my lifetime due to rare occasion of such airglow activity.

When I started photography in early 90s, a teenager in Tehran, I came across the Ansel Adams images in a book and the Snake River shot captured my mind for many years. Twenty years later I finally visited this magnificent beauty lit by starlight. The highest peak on the Teton range is the Grand Teton at 13,775 ft. The view of the mountain and the snake river inspired many artists, novels, and film makers. The 2015 Pixar successful animation "the Good Dinosaur" was based on the Tetons scenery and inspired by Adams photo.

 

 
 
 

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