Saturday, July 18, 2015

Milky Way and Fireflies

This coming week will be the last time this month to photograph the Milky Way without the moon interfering with the picture.  The best time of night is probably starting around 930-10:00 PM.  Try to pick a location that has minimal light pollution.  Right now the Milky Way is rising from the south.  I utilize PhotoPills and The Photographer's Ephemeris to help me decide on locations.  The other night, our plan was to go out to Gooseberry to photograph the Milky Way, however, the gate was locked.  We change location to Allens Pond Stone Barn, where you can shoot directly south with only a minimal amount of light pollution.  About the only thing that interferes other trails that occur when airplanes fly by.  For this shoot my set up was Nikon D810, Ronikon 14 mm lens set at f/2.8, ISO 1000 and shutter speed of 25 seconds.  To cut down on mirror vibration.  I set a two second delay on the shutter firing after the cable release was pressed.  The night was completely clear what everything in the sky brightly shining.  I created an eight image panorama making sure I overlapped at least 30% on each shot.  This was very easy to do because of the angle of view of the 14 mm lens.  Back on the computer, I used the new panorama setting in Light Room to create the image.  Light Room creates a DNG image, which allows post processing non--destructively.

Panorama of the Milky Way at the Stone Barn, Looking South
Milky Way over the Stone Barn, Looking North, There Is More Light Pollution North

I also created a two image HDR, the only setting I changed was ISO and then utilized Light Room to create another DNG image, and then post processed in Photoshop
Milky Way HDR
Also, it is a great time to photograph fireflies.  While we were photographing the Milky Way and the sky fireflies were flying all around us flashing their fluorescent colored lights.  I decided which location I wanted to photograph, took the time delay off the shutter and set the interval timer to take a picture every 26 seconds.  Back in the computer, I went through and checked the pictures that had fireflies lights present.  Because I utilized the 14 mm lens the night sky and stars were also included.  I opened the images that I selected in Light Room into Photoshop as layers.  I selected all the layers above the bottommost one and changed the mode from Normal to Screen.  The only problem that I had was because the selected pictures were not contiguous and that there were not a great number of pictures, the stars in the sky did not make great trails and looked ugly.  On the merged image, using the Quick Selection Tool, I selected the sky and created a separate layer.  I then opened in Photoshop, one of the images without any fireflies in it, and selected the sky of that image and created a separate layer.  I then floated all the images in Photoshop and took the new sky image and moved it to the image with the fireflies and replace the sky.  This gave me a composite picture with multiple fireflies in it, and the sky with star points.  I then post processed the image in Photoshop.

Firefly Light Trails

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