Night time Photography and the Milky Way

July 19, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Ugh! Light pollution is all around.

If you live in the city, you see few stars.

If you live in the country you see them but the Milky Way can be tricky to find or, and I think this is more likely, you just take the stars for granted.

Many people have written about how to do Astro Photography right and I've read them all. Advice for equipment, settings and advice for finding the Milky Way (which we are actually in, so just look out your window, anywhere, and you'll see it) and the best times. And then, you find your spot and you're all set and it's cloudy and, big one here, the sky is not as dark as you thought. Light Pollution.

There are certain times of the year and specific days (nights) of the year when you can find that massive cluster of stars. The view of the universe that can make you feel both insignificant and like the only person in that moment.

I have photographed night portraits of couples for years - mostly in the city and mostly focused on the couple within their immediate environment. Here is one of my favourites of Nikki and Tom. 

Sparks Street Ottawa WeddingSparks Street Ottawa Wedding

But I haven't really made time to go Milky Way Hunting. Sure I've seen all kinds of posts of glorious Milky Way pictures but haven't delved into it... until now. 

Jack and I had gone into Ottawa to make pictures of the city at night but then, coming home late we decided to pull over to see what we could see and to experiment. Here are a few examples from that night.

Milky Way-6Milky Way-6 Milky Way-13Milky Way-13

I learned a few things from that experience, here are some takeaways

1. Focus manually on the screen in live view (feels a bit like being back in a darkroom) when you are in the dark, everything is dark and, even though everything I read promotes using live view I have always been a "through the viewfinder" kind of photographer. Lesson learned.

2. Don't take pictures on the side of a very busy road (we were safely away from traffic but hey you never know with people driving home at 1 a.m. plus you lose a lot of night vision every time a car goes by).

3. Experiment on the fly - get it right and then play.

And here are pictures from last night (somewhere around Kemptville). There was still light pollution (exacerbated by it being a low hanging cloudy night) but I have learned more for an engagement shoot I will be doing next weekend and will experiment with them too!

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And yes, it was very dark out, here is the setup

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And here are the results KatieMike 004ALRKatieMike 004ALR KatieMike 001AKatieMike 001A

 


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