Though I suspected I might come across a few stargazers during my late-night shoot at Bannack State Park, I never imagined I would find myself sitting around a campfire with a dozen living ghosts from the 1860s. My assignment in Montana‘s best preserved ghost town happened to overlap with the park’s second annual Living History event, which attracted a few Gold Rush-era reenactors from across the country. These reenactors had set up a camp on the outskirts of the ghost town, and after the park closed and I had finished shooting, they invited me to join them around their campfire. I listened as they recounted stories from acting gigs as cavalry in Civil War battles and as soldiers in the nearby battle at Little Bighorn, and felt as if I had stepped directly into the past.
Photo tip: When I saw a few men move toward a tent in order to light a few lanterns, I jumped at the opportunity to grab an image. There was very little light in the tent, and I knew I would need to shoot the image at a fast enough shutter speed to capture a sharp image, so I set my ISO to 1600. Though I knew shooting at ISO 1600 might reveal a bit of grain (or camera “noise”) in my image, this was worth the sacrifice in order to produce a sharp image. Had I set my ISO at 800 or 500, the image would have contained less noise, but this would have required me to slow my shutter by a few stops and risk capturing a blurry image due to handheld camera shake. Shooting at 1600 allowed me to use a faster shutter speed, which froze the action and produced a sharp image. With the advance of high ISO noise reduction in modern camera sensor technology, images shot at a high ISO have become more useable than ever, and this image contained no noticeable “noise” or grain.
Photographed with a Canon 6D and 24mm 1.4 L lens. Exposure settings: 1/50 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1600