Photographer Adam Woodworth shares the story behind the planning and execution of this shot of the Milky Method from a sea cave

Nikon D800E, NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.eight lens

I photographed this view of the Milky Method from a sea cave again in February of 2015, however it had been within the planning for about 2 years.

Plenty of issues wanted to return collectively for this to work. It needed to be early within the yr (in the beginning of “Milky Method season” the place I reside in Maine) with a view to even see the Milky Method from contained in the cave, and I wanted clear skies throughout the brand new moon when the tide was low sufficient to get out and in of the cave and nonetheless have sufficient time to strive varied angles and take all of the pictures I would wish.

All these issues got here collectively on this frigid night time in February, aside from some clouds that obscured the decrease a part of the Galactic Heart of the Milky Method. It was bitterly chilly and really windy, however after all there was no wind as soon as I used to be contained in the cave. I feel the ambient temp was someplace round 0F, however a lot colder with the windchill whereas I used to be making my manner right down to the cave.

However earlier than I might take the picture I wanted to scout the cave first in daylight, to verify it could be secure getting there by the deep snow and ice coated rocks, and to see if the view from the cave would even look in the fitting route to see the Milky Method.

To get to this location I needed to snowshoe by knee and waist deep snow down the hillside by the woods to the shore, slide down what was primarily a frozen waterfall of a drainage stream from the woods right down to the rocks subsequent to the ocean, then placed on traction spikes to cross the ice coated rocks and punctiliously make my manner over to and contained in the cave. Then I must do all of it once more, alone at midnight at 3am, when it was roughly 0F levels and windy.

Usually I plan my Milky Pictures (or any panorama shot) utilizing PhotoPills, an app obtainable for iOS and Android gadgets. However on the 2D planning map it was laborious to know the place the cave was, not to mention the precise route it confronted. So to essentially know if it could work I wanted to be contained in the cave. Standing on the opening to the cave I might use the augmented actuality characteristic of PhotoPills, which let’s me see the place of the Milky Method overlaid on the reside view by the iPhone digital camera. I additionally double checked with a compass, understanding the heading that the Milky Method would begin directly the Galactic Heart was up above the horizon.

You’ll discover that there’s loads of colour within the sky, there’s orange gentle from gentle air pollution from cities up the coast, there’s some inexperienced from airglow, and the reddish colour may additionally be airglow.

Nikon D800E with Nikon 14-24mm f/2.eight lens @ 17mm. Like most of my night time images, this can be a mix of a number of exposures to get the scene in focus and effectively uncovered from the foreground to the celebrities. Technically 13 exposures have been used to create this last picture. 10 exposures of 10 seconds every at ISO 6400 have been used for star stacking of the sky. These exposures have been stacked utilizing Starry Panorama Stacker for Mac that aligns the photographs and averages out the noise, and with 10 second exposures the result’s pinpoint stars with low noise. You may as well do that in Sequator on Home windows, or strive it in Photoshop however it’s a really tedious ache and doesn’t all the time work effectively in Photoshop. You’ll be able to study extra about this in my Star Stacking article.

Then three different exposures have been used for the foreground at ISO 1600 and at totally different focus distances, f-stops, and exposures lengths to seize a low noise and in focus foreground, all shot in the identical place on the identical night time with out transferring the tripod. The picture that outcomes from the star stacking is then blended with all of the foreground photos to create the ultimate picture that has low noise and is in focus from the foreground to the celebrities.

Be taught extra about Milky Method capturing & modifying strategies by tutorials obtainable at Adam’s web site,, and comply with him on Instagram as @awoodworthphoto.

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