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Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

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Tips for Milky Way Photos?

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Offline With Deacon

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Tips for Milky Way Photos?
« on: September 05, 2015, 09:28:54 PM »
I tried my hand at some Milky Way photos last January, but we just decided to return again in January 2016, and I'd like to have another go, of course, since I wasn't overly pleased with my results the last time.  I can't really practice these kinds of shots where I live (east coast).

What tips do you have?

Gear I intend to use:
Nikon D7000
Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 (love this lens)  (also have a Nikon 35mm 1.8)
Remote Shutter
Tripod

The last time, I took most of my shots from the main entry road just inside the Study Butte entrance to the park.  I wanted to go deeper into the park like maybe the Sotol Vista, but it never quite worked out.

In addition to technical tips, do you have any location suggestions?

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Tips for Milky Way Photos?
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2015, 05:33:40 AM »
You asked at the right place.  Here is our own tjavery's tutorial on night photography.  He is one of the best.
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Offline With Deacon

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Re: Tips for Milky Way Photos?
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2015, 09:35:28 AM »
Thanks for that link! I've done a fair bit of googling on the topic, but haven't been thrilled with the sites I came across.

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Online The Scorpion

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Re: Tips for Milky Way Photos?
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2015, 03:28:25 PM »
Here is some info I found a while back ago.

This tells you how long of an exposure you can do and at what focal length before you start to see star trails in the exposure.

Focal Length   Seconds
   
10 -----------   31.25
14 -----------   22.32
18 -----------   17.36
20 -----------   15.63
24 -----------   13.02
35 -----------   8.93
50 -----------   6.25
85 -----------   3.68
100 -----------   3.13
135 -----------   2.31
200 -----------   1.56
300 -----------   1.04
400 -----------   0.78
500 -----------   0.63
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Offline tjavery

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Re: Tips for Milky Way Photos?
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2015, 08:22:59 PM »
You asked at the right place.  Here is our own tjavery's tutorial on night photography.  He is one of the best.

Thanks for mentioning it!

Although that guide has gotten stale, it's mostly still valid. I'm working on updating it... slowly... someday...  :icon_lol:

Here is some info I found a while back ago.

This tells you how long of an exposure you can do and at what focal length before you start to see star trails in the exposure.

Focal Length   Seconds
   
10 -----------   31.25
14 -----------   22.32
18 -----------   17.36
20 -----------   15.63
24 -----------   13.02
35 -----------   8.93
50 -----------   6.25
85 -----------   3.68
100 -----------   3.13
135 -----------   2.31
200 -----------   1.56
300 -----------   1.04
400 -----------   0.78
500 -----------   0.63

Depends on your film or sensor size (physical size). Those times look about right for APS-C size (aka "cropped" sensor). I.e. they will do well for a D7000.

For full frame digital cameras, you can get away with a little longer exposures. There is the "500 Rule". Divide 500 by your focal length, and the result is the exposure time (in seconds) that will result in negligible star trails.

Location Suggestions

Sotol Vista
Basin Road (pick one of the many pull-outs on the northern end of the road)
Fossil Bone Ridge
Cerro Castellan (or rather, the open area along Ross Maxwell near the peak)
just about any backcountry roadside campsite

Nearly all of the park is VERY dark. Just find a safe place to pull off the road and set up your tripod.

Your timing may be a little problematic, depending on your expectations. The good part of the Milky Way (the wide, detailed portion of the galactic center) won't be visible during dark hours roughly about that time.

Download the free program Stellarium to simulate the night sky for a given location and date. You can check it out for the dates that you plan on being there.

If you can wait, try mid Feb. The Milky Way rises in the east about 4:30am, and it will be sufficiently dark for another 2 hours or so.


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Offline With Deacon

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Re: Tips for Milky Way Photos?
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2015, 10:13:08 PM »
Thanks... I realize the timing of our visit isn't ideal, but it's a group trip so we had to pick dates that work for all of us, and only two of us are really interested in photography.

I'm off to Paris in 48 hours so I'll be back to pick your brain between getting back from that trip and heading out to BBNP!

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Offline rdking647

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Re: Tips for Milky Way Photos?
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2015, 11:03:59 PM »
if you have vibration reduction on your lens turn it OFF when using a tripod and a long exposure

 


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