Francesco Barnes: Piana di Campo Felice

The Image

Francesco Barnes

Piana di Campo Felice, Abruzzo , Italy

Time / Date:
22:41 / August 14, 2014

The Technical

Camera Body: Canon 5D
Lens: Samyang 14mm f/2.8

Camera Settings:

Shutter Speed: 27s
Aperture: f/2.8
ISO: 1600
Focal Length: 14mm

The Story


I love action and landscape photography and specifically mountain biking pictures. The idea of taking this picture came to my mind almost one year ago, when my brother and I were up in the mountains for a mountain bike photo shooting. That night we camped in our tents, and for the first time in my life I saw the beauty of the Milky Way. Since then my dream was to put together stars and planets, and some sport action, in order to get a stunning image. Unfortunately, that night I did not have the appropriate lens and a good location for that shot, so I had to wait a long time before reaching my goal.

The Scene: 

The picture was taken in Abruzzo, near the small village of Tornimparte, in one of the wildest areas of central Italy, 1,500 meters above the sea level. The shot was realized along a mountain road, climbing up to the vast prairies of an almost untouched piece of landscape. The framing was chosen after studying the position of the Milky Way, that is viewable at its best from that angle at night, during that time of the year. It’ was the night of the Assumption, and the orange light halo in the background was a trace of the night campfires lighted during the traditional ceremonies to celebrate the end of the summer harvests.


I decide to take only my Canon 5D with me, due to the benefits of a full frame sensor for night photography and the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 lens. I also used a shutter release cable to avoid any shaking of the camera during the exposure. The only artificial lights in the picture are two front lights, used by the rider.

Making the Shot:

To make this shot happen I needed two people, my brother, who rode the bike, and a friend who helped me coordinating the timing between the opening of the shutter and the rider, moving through the night. We were constantly in contact by radio, because of the distance between me and them. We worked in complete darkness. For me the hardest thing was to focus the stars correctly, and to set the right shutter speed. Other factors that played a very important role that night were the absence of the moon, the lack of city pollution, and perfect weather conditions, otherwise the shot wouldn’t have been acceptable. The picture was made ​​with a single shot after about 15 attempts in a span of time of half an hour.

Editing & Processing:

It’s always difficult to edit images of the Milky Way, because you have to let all the colours and the stars, which you don’t really see in the raw image, come out and become the main character in the photograph. I used Lightroom and Photoshop to edit this image, choosing first of all a good white balance and then set the saturation of each color. Afterwards, I played with exposure and a lot of noise reduction due to the fact hat I shot with very high iso levels.

Looking Back:

I decided to shoot this image because in the records of mountain biking photography there are very few night pictures, especially with the Milky Way in the background. Having worked on just one single shot, the image was designed specifically to get the result that anyone can see.


My advice to all photographers is, to portrait what you really love, and try to have your own style, think different, create new compositions and always be yourself.

There are several reasons why I love to take pictures: the sense of freedom and adrenaline, the excitement and happiness that you get when you know you are creating an image that captures all the emotions of a certain moment, images that will evoke those precise feelings for the rest of your life. Also, as a photographer I try to show how nature can interact with human beings, when their presence doesn’t damage it, but rather brings out its deepest meanings. I think that action sports represent one of the most effective means to put men back in contact with their natural environment.


About the Photographer

I’m a professional photographer based in Rome, and I am focused on action and outdoor photography. My passion for photography in general started four years ago after a trip to Canada, but I have been focusing my efforts on action photography, especially in the world of mountain biking and cycling, for the past two years.

Facebook: /francescobarnesphoto
Twitter: @fbarnesphoto
Instagram: @francescobarnes

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