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April 2018
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DAJ Designs Photography
 
April - The Milky Way Reappears
Bridge Of Stars
Bridge Of Stars
Photography by: Benjamin DeHaven
As winter turns to spring, the Milky Way makes its way back into the southern skies. Rising a few minutes earlier each day, soon it will be summer and the Milky Way will be visible all night long in the Mid-Atlantic area. So, how does one photograph the Milky Way? Read on to get some tips!
Milky Way From Hooper's Island
Photography by: Benjamin DeHaven
First things first, you need a moonless night. The darker the better. Second, you need to get out away from all the city lights. Lights and the moon wash out the Milky Way, making it harder to see and photograph. I prefer places like Hooper's Island, MD or Davis, WV to escape the city lights. And, you need a good tripod. The sturdier the tripod, the better because you will need to take long exposures to capture the beauty of the Milky Way. How long? Not as long as you might think because the stars are in motion and will streak across your image if you expose for too long. For a full frame camera at 15mm, you can expose for just shy of 8 seconds to ensure pinpoint stars. At 18mm on a crop sensor DSLR, you can only expose for 5.5 seconds. That brings us to the next part of the equation - the ISO. Set your ISO as high as possible in order to increase the sensor's sensitivity to light. And finally, you need a fast lens. An f/2.8 or wider is best to let in as much light as possible.
Devil's Garden
Photography by: Benjamin DeHaven
Once you have a dark night, the location, and the camera ready, the tricky part begins. Manually focus your camera on a star using live view. Next, find a good foreground composition. Normally that's easy, but remember... you are in a dark place away from those pesky city lights. One tip would be to point your camera in the general direction of the foreground you want to capture, and then take a test shot. Recompose until you have the shot framed the way you want. Now, with your camera on a sturdy tripod, use a shutter release to expose for the Milky Way. I typically use ISO 6400, the exposure time mentioned above, and my lens wide open at f/2.8. Often times you will need to take a separate long exposure to capture the foreground, and then blend the two shots in Photoshop to reveal a nicely balanced scene.

There are many other topics to learn about such as: stacking images to reduce noise; blending in Photoshop for a cleaner foreground; and even ways to track with the night sky for longer exposures. But, those topics will have to wait for another time...
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Bridge Of Stars
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Milky Way From Hooper's Island
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Select photos also available at
Gallery Framing, Ltd. 
Cockeysville, MD. 

http://www.galleryframing.com
Until Next Time....
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