It’s been a while since my last post, I figure this is the time when the novelty of newly started blog wears off and many give up at this point. I’m determined not to do that. Life has been a bit too busy and getting in the way since my last post, but I will continue as will my River Thames project.
But for now, a little diversion. My passion for photography began because of being into astronomy, (a long story for another time) so some form of astrophotography is well overdue. As I write, I’m sitting in a Youth Hostel at Lizard Point, Cornwall and I planned this trip with a Milky Way shot in mind. I timed it for a new moon, which sets very shortly after the sun to maximise the darkness of the sky. Lizard in Cornwall is one of the few places in the UK not to be plagued by light pollution. The only thing I don’t have control over is the weather. My first day here was completely grey and it drizzled all day long, but the weather forecast promised clear skies the day after, and for once, the forecast delivered.
The night in question was beautifully clear, save for a single cloud hovering over the lighthouse. I’ve never seen the Milky way quite like this before (I haven’t seen it much period, truth be told). Our galaxy was clearly visible rising from the south, arcing directly over my head and towards the north. The weather gods were on my side and gave me perfect conditions. A long exposure from a camera can pick out the Milky Way better than the human eye.
I was in a field full of cows, hazardous elements were underfoot and large inquisitive creatures wanted to inspect my camera and tripod. Shouting “shoe!” and “go away!” taught me these animals are characterful, some scarpered quickly, others were a tad more stubborn. Thankfully, when the time came to shoot, there was ample distance between me and any cows.
The challenge with shooting the Milky Way is that you are forced to use high ISO’s so noise is something to overcome. You can’t really do exposures any longer than around 20/30 seconds due to the Earth’s movement causing the stars to trail. I do most of my shooting with an Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera, and while the noise performance is good for the size of sensor, it can’t match a full frame DSLR. It’s the reason I hold on to my Canon EOS 5D Mk3. Still, at ISO 3200 and a 20 second exposure, noise is still a significant problem. The solution involves taking multiple exposures and a Photoshop technique. If you are interested in learning this, rather than re-invent the wheel, check out the Lonely Speck website, and specifically this page. Also, there is a ton of info via Google and YouTube. It was by studying materiel from this searching that I learned how to do this and splashed out on a Samyang 14mm f/2.8 for my Canon, it was un-expensive and recommended. A bargain compared to other wide angles and does the job nicely.
This is my first Milky Way shot and I’m made up. 🙂
If you got this far, thanks for reading. Please feel free to comment below, it’s always a pleasure to receive any comments and to answer any questions you may have.
Bye for now.