Photographing the Milky Way

Photographing the Milky Way. Photo taken by Heshan Fernando of Fernando Fotography, 2014. {praylivecreate.com}  photo by Heshan Fernando

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands. – Psalm 19:1

Heshan and I took our first Milky Way shot this summer in mid-August at Montauk Point State Park.

He’s been dabbling in astrophotography since learning about it earlier in the summer. Usually there’s a science to shooting photos like these. The Milky Way only shows itself during certain months in our hemisphere, and photos have to be timed around the right level of darkness, cloud cover, and moon rise times. (I didn’t know this before, but the moon actually rises at a different time every night.)

After doing the research, he learned that conditions would be perfect on one day and one day only in August, so he made arrangements for us to drive the three hours east on a Friday night and capture the shot. We got there just as the Milky Way was showing itself, and we could see it as soon as we got out of the car. It was truly incredible – I’ve never seen a night sky like the one we saw that night.

We set up the camera just outside of a parking lot where a few RVs were camping, and it was so dark we couldn’t see more than an inch in front of our faces. You can turn on even small lights when shooting stars, because it disrupts your night vision, so we shot in pitch dark and linked arms to make sure we stayed together. A fox ran out as we were pulling in and a few deer came out to say hi while we were shooting. The ocean was behind us as we took this shot, and we were almost brave enough to walk down the rocky path to the shore until an unidentified animal ran out at us.

I’m not going to lie…. I ran screaming in the other direction. We never made it to the shore.

We did capture this shot though, and it’s pretty high up on my list of photoshoots we’ve done together (Heshan does all the photo work, and I’m there for moral support). We tried again a few times in Maine, but this shot is by far and away my favorite, just because of the perfect conditions and the memory of our first star shoot together.

The light you see here is the result of adjusting the shutter speed and aperture on the camera settings to capture as much light as possible from the stars. Heshan caught it with a Canon 5D Mark III and post processed in Lightroom.

 

 

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9 comments

  1. That’s just incredible, I’m speechless. I want to get a shot like this one day- and really just to see it with my own eyes! We’re so close to the city lights you can barely see anything in our night sky. Sometimes I crave a getaway for just that reason.

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    1. Sarah, it was our first time seeing it with our eyes, and it was amazing. We’re surrounded by light constantly where we are too, so we actually drove 3 hours east of us for this. My husband packed me an overnight bag while I was at work and booked a hotel for the night. We came home the next day. A little extravagant maybe, but totally worth it. 🙂

      Date: Mon, 8 Sep 2014 14:30:16 +0000 To: kimfernando@outlook.com

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    1. Angela, I couldn’t believe we could see it in person! He did post process it following the standards for working with astrophotography, but the sheer number of stars and the Milky Way itself were that visible even with the eye … I mean, I’ve never seen anything like it. We hoped to see it again in Maine, but it’s shifting south so we couldn’t capture it like this. It was a huge privilege!

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  2. Kim, that is an absolutely amazing shot! I’ve always wondered how those kinds of pics were captured. I should definitely put seeing the Milky Way on my bucket list!!! (and imagine God says that He knows each of the stars by name…looking at that photo just makes me say WOW!)

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