The Milky Way

The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains our Solar System. Its name “milky” is derived from its appearance as a dim glowing band arching across the night sky whose individual stars cannot be distinguished by the naked eye. As galaxies go, the Milky Way is a middleweight and it has between 100-400 billion stars, but when you look up into the night sky, the most you can see from any one point on the globe is about 2,500. The Milky Way, along with everything else in the Universe, is moving through space. The Earth moves around the Sun, the Sun around the Milky Way, the Milky Way around the universe. Currently, we can’t take a picture of the Milky Way from above, any that you see are either of other galaxies or are artists renditions. This is due to the fact that we are inside the galactic disk, about 26,000 light years from the galactic centre. It would be like trying to take a picture of your own house from the inside. However, we can take pictures looking into the Milky Way disk from our little planet.

Over the weekend myself and fellow photographer Brian Kennedy decided to head down to the Galloway Forest, South West Scotland to try and get some clear weather to allow us to shoot the Milky Way. Leaving Central Scotland we were greeted by a nice sunset, a little cloudy, but the weather was looking promising. After our 2.5 hour drive, we got to our location to find stunning clear night skies with loads of start and the Milky Way clearly visible to the naked eye.

We headed down to the beach at the Auchenlarie Holiday Farm at about 10.00pm and set up in a little corner shadowed from the street lights behind us. (You don’t really need to be in a pitch black area to get reasonable good images of the Milky Way). We travelled up and don the broken shell beach, using the foreground rocks to frame the bottom of the images. Looking for lead-ins and nice detail that complimented the images. We moves about the beach for about 3 hours shooting the start and sharing settings etc.

The 2 images above were 2 of my favourite images of the evening. I had shot about 2 dozen images, trying different settings, however my best results were as follows:

  • Camera : Nikon D810
  • Lens : Nikon 14-24 f2.8
  • Focus : Manual, set to infinity
  • Aperture : f2.8
  • Shutter : Bulb, but set to 25 seconds on my remote release.
  • ISO : 4000

Images were all shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom 5.7, exported to jpeg at various sizes for web and print.

I hope you enjoy my images, if so, please feel free to share my links.