Space, to unwind

The elusive Milky Way.

 

It never ceases to amaze me how accessible it's become to capture phenomenal effects with little more than consumer electronics. That's the actual Milky Way right there - stars which are older and more distant than is possible to comprehend - and all it took to capture it was some (relatively) basic digital camera equipment. Yet the irony is that as equipment becomes more powerful, we're fighting a losing battle against being able to see the things we're trying to photograph.

 

However much I love the challenge of shooting star trails against an urban backdrop, light pollution from those city scenes is killing our views of this incredible phenomenon. I mean, when was the last time you actually saw the Milky Way with your own eyes? It's not just the awesome visual spectacle that's being lost either; light pollution in some regions is now so bad it's affecting the lifecycle of wildlife and the basic circadian cycle of knowing whether it's day or night.

 

I don't know what the answer is. Maybe I don't even know what the question is. But if you get even the slightest chance to stand and take in a scene like this, don't hesitate for a moment- do it while you still can. That's not me being all worthy, just a reflection that one of the greatest naturally occurring spectacles is slowly being eroded away.

 

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About the image: For all the star trails on my stream, this is the first time I've successfully captured the MW. Even so, cloudy night skies meant it took until the sixth night of my seven night holiday in a beautifully unpolluted area for the opportunity to present itself. I was getting worried that sleeping under canvas was going to be for nothing.

 

Amidst the dark-coloured tents, this bay-window camper stood out for its colour as much as its iconic shape. It's not often everything falls so neatly into place but I really think I couldn't have asked for more. Twin streetlamps - the only ones for miles - cast shadows onto the camper over the back of a hatchback parked on the next pitch. I filled the shadows in with a little bit of torchlight (but not enough to wake the sleeping couple). Voyeuristic - nah, the curtains were closed where it mattered ;)

 

The frustration over the previous nights was nothing compared to waiting until I got home to have to view it on a big screen and know how things had worked out.

 

Hope I have as much luck this weekend with more high-ISO shenanigans trying to chase down meteors from the Perseids shower.

 

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After several EXIF comments below, here goes:

- Sky: ISO3200, f/2.8, 30sec. Lens was a Sigma 20mm prime

- Foreground: ISO800, f/2.8, 4 mins (one stop brighter than that needed for sky; dropped the ISO for quality reasons)

 

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Taken on August 7, 2011