It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.” by Carl Segan.
I have always loved watching the night sky and now that I have chosen photography as my profession, I was keen to capture a picture of our home, the Milky Way.
If you happen to be out on a countryside during a dark clear night, with no moonlight and no clouds, chances are you will see the most elegant breathtaking view of our beautiful galaxy. It is, without doubt, the experience of a lifetime.
And in case you are passionate about capturing this magnificent view through your lens but are not sure on how to go about it, let me share with you some tips that I am sure will be of help.
Firstly, drive a minimum of 50 miles away from urban cities because you want to make sure that you are away from light pollution. If you are from the Bay area (San Jose, San Francisco), I, personally, have found that driving over to Big Sur always pays off.
Secondly, download an app called Stellarium. It helps in determining the moon phase and the rise and setting of the Milky Way and its direction. Just like the moon, the Milky Way comes above the horizon at different times during the year.
When i go for this shoot, I like to use my 16 mm wide angel lens and I find it a challenge when it comes to focusing the camera to capture sharp images. I work around it by shining light at a far enough object. I, then, focus on it and point the camera in the general direction. I keep the aperture open as much as possible for the right exposure. It typically takes 20 to 30 seconds exposure while keeping ISO above 800.
Hope this article helps and you enjoyed reading it. In case you are from San Jose and wish to capture the same, I would be more than happy to tag along. This beautifully decorated night sky captivates me every single time.