Shooting the Milky Way




How do I let so much time go by between Blogs? Perhaps it's because I get very little feedback. Is anyone reading????

I started writing this blog when I was working at The Poughkeepsie Journal and I wanted to see if I could share some traveling experiences and tip as well as photographic knowledge with peers on a regular basis.

Somewhere along the way I fell off the wagon and would like to try and come back.  So, if you are reading this and find it valuable in any way, PLEASE comment!!!

This past weekend I had the joy of participating in a Milky Way shoot in Pocontoc, Texas.  I always love going out with my fellow photographers to try and overcome the challenges of space, settings, weather, bugs, atmosphere, and the unknown.  We had all of the above to contend with on Saturday night and I don't feel like I got the very best images, but I had a blast!


First of all, we had to meet early and stop off for good barbeque.  Coopers in Llano had the very best brisket I've ever tasted, but then I'm a NY girl in a Texas world.  My companions and I sat next to a cowboy who was on his third barbeque that day.  He was quite a character and proceeded to enlighten us with all of his favorite barbeque joints. He even gave us a printout of his top 10 favorite places and the address of HIS blog, and darn it - he's already written his review of those places! (He inspired me to get back to this)

We went to the Llano Bridge where there was a spectacular waterfall. Unfortunately the light was very bright - we really needed to be there about an hour later. I took pictures but they just reinforce for me that you really need to shoot at the GOLDEN HOUR and not waste time when the light is too bright.  See the second picture for the last one I took as we were leaving. Better light, right?

But, you have to make the best of whatever situation you are in, so I had some fun practicing on my silhouette's which have always challenged me.

Great place, but light is way too contrasty.
Great light but we were headed to shoot the Milky Way and couldn't stay here. We will return one day!
Fun with silhouettes.

The light WAS perfect as we were passing some cow fields. At first I had the wrong lens on, then I couldn't get the cows to look at me. Cow backs are just not interesting.  So, we grabbed some sunsets.



Eventually we got to the site where we planned to shoot the Milky Way and selecting the best possible spot was the next challenge - where were we going to get the interesting ruins in the foreground with the Milky Way in the background? I selected my spot and got a bunch of burrs on my socks, so I changed into long pants - more of being prepared!  I was happy with my setup and then foolishly decided to try another lens out just before it got pitch dark.  Focusing in the dark is not easy and, I'm still not certain why but, the thing to do is take the focusing ring all the way counter clockwise and then come back just a smidge to get infinity. My focusing ring kept going around and around and around. So, any photos I got were pure luck! (Sometimes the photo gods shine their light upon us!)

Oh, and did I mention that we were on a highway with huge trucks cannonballing down behind us, shedding their unwelcomed light? And we were having a tough time light painting the building to get the right amount of light.  This is the last photo I took.

Not too bad, under the circumstances.  A little less Milky Way than I'd like and too much light in the middle, but it's interesting and it was the purpose that we set out for that made a wonderful night's adventure.  I also did a series of light trails that I'm going to go process right now. So, stay tuned.  Keep on finding your own challenges and shooting and sharing!


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