Dark Skies and the Milky Way   6 comments

Our trip to southern Utah coincided with a new moon phase.  Having been out west before I knew that meant a beautiful night sky that we rarely, if ever, see on the east coast.  It also meant that I had the opportunity to try some Milky Way photography — something that has been on my to-do list for a long time.

Preparations were fairly straightforward.  I did some pre-planning by reading a few excellent celestial photography blogs, including David Kingham’s free online tutorials.  I also had the good fortune of meeting and spending an evening photographing the Milky Way with Jon Fuller, a photographer who lives in Moab and has been published in National Geographic Magazine (among other publications).  We collaborated with Jon and his wife, Paula, and both ended up with some fantastic shots in Devil’s Garden.  Finally, I also downloaded a very cool free app called Night Sky 2 Lite to my iPhone.  It allowed me to pinpoint where the Milky Way Galaxy would rise on the horizon, at 190 degrees south, between the constellations Scorpio and Sagittarius when we were there.  (Note that the Milky Way rises at different times and at different places depending upon the time of the year and your location on earth.  Early October was particularly convenient, as the galaxy rose shortly after sunset).

Although these are first attempts, below are four images that I particularly like, with my notes appended.  The gas cloud that you see in the photos below is what gives each image a “wow” factor.  Unlike the human eye, a camera gathers additive light for as long as you keep the shutter open.  This allows you to see things that the naked eye does not.

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(Above) Location:  Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah.  Exposure: 30 seconds; ISO 3200; Processed in Adobe Lightroom 4.

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(Above) Location: Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah.  Exposure: 30 seconds; ISO 3200; Foreground “painted” by Melanie Snyder with a flashlight; Processed in Adobe Lightroom 4.

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(Above) Location: Devil’s Garden (near Escalante), Utah.  Exposure: 30 seconds; ISO 3200; Foreground “painted” by Melanie Snyder with a flashlight; Processed in Adobe Lightroom 4.

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(Above) Location: Devil’s Garden (near Escalante), Utah.  Exposure: 30 seconds; ISO 3200; Foreground “painted” by Jon Fuller with a very large flashlight; Processed in Adobe Lightroom 4.

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Posted October 20, 2013 by ~ Bruce in Travel Photography, Uncategorized

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6 responses to “Dark Skies and the Milky Way

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  1. Great shots, Bruce.

    • Thanks, Shawn! I’m especially pleased with the last one. My iPhone app and trusty compass allowed me to position the shot precisely between those two rock formations. Love it when things work the way I plan them. 🙂

  2. Thanks to you Melanie for sharing the beautiful photos & accompanying information.

    Phyllis Snyder Albright
    • Thanks, Phyllis! It’s great that Melanie doesn’t mind (and even enjoys) standing out in the desert, watching stars, and helping me photograph the night sky.

  3. Great shots, really like the one between the rocks at the devils garden.

    jcollettphotography

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