I came up with the idea to shoot this image last year but before I did I saw a photo like it on someone else’s website. I didn’t want it to seem like I was copying an unoriginal idea so I never took the photograph. This year I reconsidered because even though it’s the same subect, everyone has there own way of seeing things. Last Monday after work I headed to Land’s End to take the picture. This is a blend of two images, one with the lens focused at infinity for the milkyway and the second focused on the statue. For the statue I used live view and zoomed in on the head and by lighting it up with my flashlight I was able to see to get a sharp focus. Both exposures were 30 seconds at f2.8, there’s a building right behind me and behind the building there was a street light providing enough ambient light to illuminate the statue.
After looking at my photos from Pemaquid last week, I wasn’t totally satisfied, I knew I could do better. I thought about it all week and envisioned the type of photograph I wanted to take. My original plan was to go early Sunday morning but the below zero temps kinda put a damper on that so I decided to go Monday morning. Well, the temps didn’t warm up at all but the sky conditions were right for the image I wanted. I have two apps on my iPad, Sky Walk and The Photographer’s Ephemeris that show all the features of the night sky and where they’ll be at certain times of the day and times of the year. Normally the milkyway is photographed during the new moon because moon light will wash out the stars. This particular day the quarter moon set at 12:30 AM so I knew there wouldn’t be that extra light to deal with. My two apps showed the milkyway would rise shortly before 4 AM and this time of year it’s low in the sky, just above the horizon. I got up at 2:30 AM and hit the road, it was 10 below zero F. This is one of the images I took, it’s a combination of 5 five photos combined in Photoshop to make the panorama. Monday morning was the first time I had a battery stop working because of the cold, luckily I had just bought a spare so I was able to exchange it and keep on clicking. By the time I got home shortly before 7 the temp had dropped to 15 below, I’m so glad I had hand warmers. It’s hard to make out in this picture, but the sub zero temperatures created plenty of sea smoke.
Got an invite from my friend Dan, Bicycle with a View, to go to Pemaquid Lighthouse this morning. This image was taken shortly after 5 AM and as you can see, the milky way is appearing in the early morning sky, although the brightest part of it isn’t in this pic. I didn’t realize, while I was exposing the photo, a shooting star went across the sky. Pemaquid Point is one of the iconic, and oft photographed lighthouses in Maine, but this was actually the first time I ever photographed it.
My last trip to Reid State Park to photograph the Milky Way did not produce any Milky Way shots. I went back at the beginning of the month to attempt it again. At this time of year the Milky Way doesn’t appear over the Atlantic like back in June and July, it’s more west, although if I was at the same spot as the last Reid post it would’ve been over the beach. However it was clearer the night I was there and I think the lights of Portland would’ve been an issue. The trees in the background of this image helped block the lights because I was down low looking up. This image is a combination of two. The milky way was exposed at ISO 3200, f2.8 for 30 seconds focused at infinity. For the foreground I focused on the rocks in the front and exposed that at ISO 1600, f2.8 for 6 minutes.
I’m still trying to improve my night photography techniques. I took this photo a couple of weeks ago at Popham Beach. As the season progresses the milkyway slowly moves west across the night sky. The lights of Portland show up on the right of this image, if I had been in this same spot earlier in the summer the milky way would’ve been more south and to the left, so directly over the ocean and I would not have picked up any lights, the lights reflecting off of the haze in the distance didn’t help. All I would’ve had to do is move my camera position to the right so the milkyway would’ve still lined up with the life guard tower. That’s the challenge with this type of photography, finding an area there is truely dark, in this day and age it’s difficult but not impossible. Maybe next month I’ll go further north and away from city lights.
The internet has been inundated with Milky Way photos lately but I had to try my hand at it. Last night I took a ride to Reid State Park at midnight and the sky couldn’t be clearer. I’ve actually been planning this binocular shot for a few months but since then, I’ve seen a similar one taken by someone else. I assure you I didn’t copy the idea.