You’ve seen those awesome Milky Way photos, right? I’ve tried for years to get a shot like that. I Googled, I read blogs and perused forums, but given my equipment, I just wasn’t ever able to capture anything close to what I was seeing with my eyes or on those websites.
But I’m too stubborn to give up, so I looked up the date of the new moon and checked the light pollution map, and with a rented full-frame camera (Canon 6D) & wide-angle lens (Rokinon 24mm 1.4) the dog & I took off for the outer darkness. That’s how it felt, anyway. it’s dark out there with no moon & no lights of any kind.
The trip took me through South Park at sunset. It’s a beautiful part of Colorado with wide-open skies and low, rolling mountains. As I crested Wilkerson Pass, I was greeted with the golden view above. And further along that long, lonesome ribbon of a road, there was this:
South Park has a secret, though. Mosquitos. Swarms and swarms of them. See that photo of the dock? It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. It’s buzzing with the wingbeats of a million blood-sucking insects. You snap the picture & you jump back in the car & high-tail it out of there. That’s been my experience in mid-summer South Park. Other times of the year are much more enjoyable.
Well after dark, I pull into my destination: Twin Lakes. A stunning place by day. Turns out that it’s just as amazing at night. There are few campers and the night sky is breathtaking. Literally. We don’t see stars like this where I live, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the unfathomable depth and brilliance laid out before me.
Time to set up the tripod. I got the camera dialed in with the settings I found online :
- aperature: wide open 1.4
- shutter speed: 30 sec (or 30″ on my camera…that threw me off at first)
- ISO: start smallish to keep noise at a reasonable level, raise it incrementally to let in more light if you need to. I started with 800.