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Milky Way Over Forester Lake

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We ended our second day of backpacking at Forester Lake after descending from Franklin Pass. The pass was actually a mini-adventure in itself, as both pass and trail were covered in a bit of snow that seemed too dangerous to cross, so we had to scramble over some rocks and above some cliffs to make our way past. The rest of the descent was fairly uneventful, and as luck would have it our campsite at Forester Lake turned out to be one of our prettiest.


Once we got to Forester Lake, it was clear it would be a nice place to make a panorama of the Milky Way, as it had an eastward view over water with no tall mountains blocking the horizon. That said, at 5:30 or so it started to drizzle a bit, and then a few thunderclouds arrived, and for an hour or so I was worried they would stay into the evening. But then they blew away.


I set up for this shot around 9:45. A waxing crescent moon was behind me. On the plus side it lit up the mountains; on the minus side it washed out the sky a bit.


On an earlier trip to Yosemite I found with my EF-S 10-22mm @ 10mm, I could take a 45s exposure without noticable star trails, so I used that setting at maximum aperture (f/3.5) and ISO (1600). I took 4 frames spaced 37.5 degrees apart.


Before setting out on my trip, I expected I'd have to stitch the panorama manually, since the stars drift significantly over the 3+ minutes it takes to make 4 exposures. I had a plan for how to do this, but in the end when I fed the 4 images into Hugin they seemed to stitch together fine without any manual intervention.


After stitching, I made a few adjustments in Lightroom: white balance, exposure, levels, saturation, noise reduction.

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Taken on June 28, 2009