News and Views from Dave Wilson

Archive for August 15th, 2010

Shooting Sky

by on Aug.15, 2010, under Photography

I’ve been really keen to try shooting the night sky for several years. Unfortunately, even though we are several miles outside Austin, our sky is pretty polluted by the orange glow of the city and a few surrounding towns so we seldom get a wonderfully clear night and a good view of the Milky Way. I was lucky, therefore, to get a reasonable view a couple of nights ago so thought I would give it a quick try. I only shot a dozen frames and none are fabulous but I’ve definitely learned enough to know where to start next time.

The biggest surprise to me was to see that even with a 50 second exposure and a very wide angle lens, star motion is still very apparent (hence my only posting a low resolution version of this image). I was shooting at 14mm f/2.8 400ISO but next time, I think I’ll try 1600ISO and reduce the shutter speed to 12 seconds or so to try to minimise the effect of the Earth’s rotation. The D700 should handle this fine without the noise being too much of a problem.

In the meantime, here’s the Milky Way from our front yard. I had hoped that the image would be crossed by a few Perseid meteors but we only saw 4 or 5 in the 30 minutes we were outside and none of those appeared while the shutter was open. I tried to increase the foreground interest a bit by painting the cedar trees with a flashlight.

The splash of the Milky Way seen from just outside Austin, Texas

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