There is nothing more satisfying than to brave the dark and the cold to shoot the Milky Way and come home with a few “keepers” that make you grin from ear to ear. Two weekends ago, we had overcast, showery days, but the evenings cleared up and it was an opportunity to take some astrophotography shots.
Over two nights, I went out on my own, armed with my Canon 7DII camera, wide angle lens and tripod, and a head torch! I am glad to report it paid off. I had not had the opportunity to do this for ages, never seeming to be there at the right time, with the right weather conditions and moon phase. So it was a treat to get back into it. Our place in Jan Juc is on the Surf Coast, at the start of the Great Ocean Road, far enough away from cities to see the Milky Way with the naked eye.
We are lucky. On a clear dark night we get to look up from our house and see a thick band of glowing stars stretch across the sky. A few minutes’ drive takes us to iconic Bells Beach, South Side and Point Addis, great vantage points for wonderful shots of the star studded sky with the ocean and the breaking waves along the cliffs in the foreground. It always amazes me how much light the camera finds with a simple 25 to 30 seconds exposure. Millions of stars light up the sky and reflect in the water.
There is something hypnotic about gazing at a galaxy so old and so many light years away and it is always a thrill to capture this on camera. The first night was beautiful: clear skies, new moon, perfect conditions. It was good to try different spots along the coast, and the images I brought back were very pleasing. But the second night was definitely up a notch. I drove further to Aireys Inlet, intent on capturing the breathtaking celestial heavens with the lighthouse casting its beam of light towards the ocean. I knew what I wanted to achieve in my mind’s eye, but was not sure it would work out. So I was ecstatic when it did!
Photos like these don’t happen by accident. There is a fair amount of fiddling and experimentation. But what a reward!
Here is a gallery of our favourite Milky Way images. Among them was one posted on Facebook with a couple of groups, notably Women Who Sail Australia, and Women Behind the Lens. It attracted numerous likes and comments. I was so chuffed so many people appreciated my photo. On the strength of that we got the image printed on metal. So the wonderment continues every time we look at it.
We hope this post will inspire you to venture out and experience the jaw-dropping beauty of a crisp, dark night sky and capture the moment with your SLR. If you are interested in finding out the how to, click here for a checklist.