I downloaded the free software and need a little verification I'm viewing this correctly. I will be in Vermont 9/30 - 10/7. Looking at 9/30 it looks like the milky way looks best at roughly SW at 8:00 PM but that puts the moon directly in the frame if I am looking at this correctly. Alternatively on 10/01 the milky way appears to be roughly NW at 6:00 AM.
Could someone verify I am 1) viewing this correctly and 2) suggest a good date and time during my visit? Thank you!
Shooting the Milky Way is problematic when the moon is in the sky. I think your best opportunity for photographing the Milky Way will be on September 30. You need a dark sky which means two hours after sunset or before sunrise. On September 30, the sun sets in Burlington at 6:35 PM which means you won't have a totally dark sky until 8:35. The moon sets at 10:52 PM, so the best time to shoot the Milky Way will be after moon set. By October 6, the moon is rising at 5:23 PM, is nearly full and will be in the sky until nearly 6:00 AM so getting a good photo of the Milky Way will be almost impossible.
If you are interested in night photography, you might find my article on the subject helpful. You can see it at: http://www.goldimagesphoto.com/Nightscapes
Here is a link to a Milky Way photo I made last year in early October in Wisconsin: http://www.goldimagesphoto.com/Portfoli ... /i-DT4dk4Q
Keep in mind that the Milky Way isn't nearly as visible to the naked eye as it is to a long exposure in a camera. You can search the sky and not see it with your eyes, that's why it is important to know where it is. The Milky Way will be equally visible throughout the night, so long as you are between two hours before or after the sun. Don't rely on Stellarium to show you its brightness.
The Milky Way gets less visible based on the earth's movement on its axis. It is best seen in the southern sky late in August or early September when the moon sets around sunset. Then you can get some nice exposures without staying up half the night. I have night shots made in Zion National Park in early November. The core of the Milky Way is below the horizon so the Milky Way isn't so impressive. One of my shots of the Watchman and includes the less impressive Milky Way http://www.goldimagesphoto.com/Portfoli ... /i-nSC454T was made around 4:00 AM. May and June are also good times to photograph the Milky Way, but it is best seen in the very early morning hours.
http://www.goldimagesphoto.com/Portfoli ... /i-zpRpHjb
Notice Orion's belt, the Orion Nebula, Capella and the Seven Sisters can be found in the shot. I think it makes a nice photo even if it doesn't include the Milky Way.
Use Stellaium's constellation lines and labels to see what else is in the night sky.
If you can't tell, night photography is really my passion.
Thank you again for all your help. Brightness definitely did the trick. What a great little piece of software. I really like your photos and your article. Some great tips there I didn't consider, especially how to ensure you have a good composition without blasting the scene with a light. I am bringing a small spotlight for a few seconds of light painting. One scene I would like to try is the Old Red Mill in Jericho. Do you think this would disturb people very late at night? Not sure who would be able to give permission for such a thing.
Here's an alternative to your light painting. Take a long exposure, something like 3 or 4 minutes. Don't worry about the star trails. That exposure should light up the foreground nicely. Then you can take shorter exposures. Choose one and combine it with the long exposure in Photoshop. Make sure you are using a good tripod with everything tightened down. You should also have a shutter release cable so you aren't touching the camera. This photo http://www.goldimagesphoto.com/Portfoli ... /i-nSC454T is a composite I made using Photoshop to combine a long exposure and a short one.
Light painting can be a pretty interesting technique. I was in Zion National Park for a night photo shoot last November. The guy who was leading the shoot set up a huge strobe that blasted a gazillion foot candles of light. It lit up a huge rock there called the Organ. I always thought of light painting as using a spotlight like you. This was something very unique.
I don't know what kind of spot you will be using but it will most likely generate warm light so make sure you set your white balance to Incandescent or use a custom setting of 3200K.
I highly recommend Stellarium. (Do a Google search to find it.) It is free software and easy to use. You can literally see where the Milky Way, the planets and stars will appear in the sky. Also consider getting the app "Photo Pills" for your smart phone. It has some really good photo tools including night time tools. It has what is calls "Night A/R". You can choose the date and time you want, stand where you want with your camera and it will show you what will appear in the night sky at that date and time in your exact location as you look through the camera. I don't know how well I am explaining it. You just have to see it or visit their website.
Moonset in Barton on September 30 is at 10:47 PM and 37% of it is visible. You should wait until the moon sets because it generates so much light that it dims the sky making it harder to capture the Milky Way. If you are going to be in Barton this weekend, the sky will be much better for photographing the Milky Way. On Saturday the moon sets at 9:06 PM which is almost exactly two hours after sunset. You can get sunrise/sunset/moonrise/moonset data here: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.php
Read my article and make sure your focus is set to infinity. I don't think Nikon has an infinity mark on its lenses so you will crank the focus all the way to the end and then move back a little.
Once you see your Milky Way photo, you will have a sense of excitement ten times one of CT's foliasms.
If you have questions let me know. I love night photography and I want to help anyone who wants to learn.
I have spent a fair amount of time shooting the Old Red Mill. You should not have any problems there. The Mill is actually a craft shop these days and there probably won't be anyone there during the evening hours. If you have not been there, you might be surprised at its setting. It is tucked relatively close to the main highway (SR-15). If you look on Google Maps on Satellite View, you get a pretty good idea of the setting. The big curve you see is actually on a very steep hill, so at the bottom, where the Mill is, is blind. Be careful about oncoming traffic from the Northeast. There is a parking lot just off the road, and to the East of the parking lot is the river that the mill is set on. The road crosses the river and the bridge is set very high above the water, which is a waterfall.
I have climbed down the embankment there IN THE DAYLIGHT. It is muddy and a fall there would likely be fatal, so use EXTREME CAUTION, especially at night. I would definitely recommend a headlamp. There was no sidewalk to shoot from when I was there some years back (and the Google satellite view confirms that. There is really no other vantage point to get a decent angle on the mill (assuming you want it in the photo ) and both sides of the road only have a very narrow "shoulder." Not sure I would advise setting up there at night, as it is one of the major highways coming into Burlington (SR-15).
I DO think Al's suggestion that you alert local law enforcement of your purpose might be good. Somebody around the mill at night with a headlamp might arouse suspicion. OTOH, its a commercial area. There is a party/convenience store immediately West and some other commercial establishments to the East.
During mornings and afternoons, there is a non-stop stream of commuters along the road passing in front. I would expect that at the time of night you are speaking of, three would be very little of that (and thus, not a constant stream of headlights).
Good luck and please share your results with us.
If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .
The one potential problem I see here is what I suspect is a streetlight on the power pole to the left of the building near the parking lot. If lit, it will give off a lot of light. Not enough to spoil the sky but it will light up parts of the building while other parts are in the shadow. The solution to that problem might be to photograph the mill before the light comes on and use that exposure and one with a good night sky to make a composite.
- jericho mill.jpg (176.99 KiB) Viewed 34332 times
My concern about this spot for nightscape photography was the potential for a lot of ambient light. That is indeed the case; the building is really lit up. Even the trees in the foreground are brightly lit.
I'm interested in the technical details. What focal length lens did you use? Aperture? Shutter Speed? ISO? Camera?