Avalon Beach, N.J. Milky Way Photography Hot Spot

  • Avalon, New Jersey, Milky Way with Aliens
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 Avalon Beach, New Jersey

Milky Way Photography Hot Spot

Avalon, New Jersey, Milky Way with Aliens

Avalon New Jersey Milky Way Photography

Avalon, New Jersey is one of the few places in New Jersey that you can do Milky Way Photography. Walk right up on the beach at the right time of year and get superb milky way images. Make sure you read all about when to go. The Milky Way is not always visible. If you go at the wrong time, you will not find her. Our Dark Sky How To Page has some great information.

Avalon is a borough in Cape May County, New Jersey, on Seven Mile Island. As of the 2010 United States Census, the full-time borough population was 1,334, although it swells during the summer months. The population declined by 809 (-37.8%) from the 2,143 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 334 (+18.5%) from the 1,809 counted in the 1990 Census.

The Avalon  New Jersey Community

The community is one of the most affluent communities along the Jersey Shore and is home to some of the most expensive real estate on the East Coast. In 2007, Forbes listed Avalon as the 65th most expensive ZIP Code in the United States. Washingtonian even “named Avalon the ‘chicest beach’ in the mid-Atlantic, the place to see women in diamonds and designer swimwear.” A small portion of Avalon is not on Seven Mile Island. The borough is part of the Ocean City Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Avalon, known as a South Jersey seashore resort, has the motto “Cooler by a Mile” since it juts out into the Atlantic Ocean about a mile farther than other barrier islands. It was ranked the seventh-best beach in New Jersey in the 2008 Top 10 Beaches Contest sponsored by the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium.

How to Shoot Milky Way and Night Sky Photography

What you will need:

Light pollution map – light pollution map

Camera – You will need a camera to manually control your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.

Lens – A fast wide-angle lens of 1.4 – 2.8 is ideal. If you use a 3.5 or higher (slower lens), you will have to increase the ISO. The higher the ISO, the more grain or digital noise or grain will appear in your photos.

Tripod – A good sturdy tripod is essential for night photography. If it gets windy, you will need a sturdy one. Keep that in mind, when you buy one, it should be sturdy enough to withstand the wind but small enough to fit in your suitcase.

Sky Map – Sky Guide is available through the iTunes Store for $1.99. It has a 5 out of 5-star rating on both the current (3.2) version (1200+ ratings) and all previous versions (8600+ ratings).

Flashlight –  Our choice is Coast brand for flashlights. The ideal flashlight will have high lumens, and you will be able to zoom the in and out on the amount of light emitting from the flashlight. Get the HP7, PX45, or the G50. Ideally, go with the  HP7.

Moon Phaze Map – The best time to go is during a new moon, and you want to be in the darkest area possible. The week before the new moon, when the moon has not risen, is a perfect time to go, so be sure to check the moonrise chart to see when the moon will be up.

Remote Shutter Release – When painting with light and you want to go over a 30-second exposure, you must have a shutter release to use your bulb mode. When exposing your pictures in general, you can use the remote release, or you can use your camera’s built-in two-second timer.

Milky Way Photography

Use a Tripod – First of all; you must be on a tripod. A good sturdy tripod is necessary if it is windy. If the tripod moves, your picture will blur.

Focus – Use live view.  To focus in the dark, use your camera’s live view, hit the zoom button, and focus on a bright star. You can also use the infinity setting on your lens but do several test shots to see if it is accurate. It can be off a little on some lenses. You can also light it up with a flashlight, focus, then gently without touching the focus ring, put the camera in manual focus so it will not search for the focus. You would have to do this each time you move your camera to take your next angel.

Camera Settings

ISO – Start with ISO 1600 – 3200.  This is just a common starting point, and you will adjust from here.

Shutter Speed – Remember, the earth is rotating. If you leave the shutter open for too long, you will see star trails that will not make for a crisp image. We want crisp non-star trail images. Here is the formula to avoid star trails. The 500 rule – Divide 500 by the focal length of your lens. So, if you have a 24mm lens on a full-frame camera, you will set your shutter speed to 20 sec. (500/24 = 20.83). If you are using a crop sensor camera, first do the math of the crop sensor to find the focal length. Cannon is 1.6, Nikon is 1.5. Convert to full-frame focal length then use the formula. Nikon 18mm x 1.5= 27mm – 500/27 = 18.51 seconds.

Aperture – Depth of field isn’t critical on these shots, but letting the light into the camera is; therefore you should shoot wide open if. If the depth of field is essential to you, try not to go to high. (wide open =the lowest aperture your camera will allow). You will have to increase the ISO some, which will give you digital noise.

Some white balance suggests; when in live view mode, you can change your white balance settings and see what it will look like. You can shoot in shade or cloud mode as a standard-setting and adjust things later.

When to view the Milky way

The best images are usually of the dense part of the Milky Way. We can see this part of the milk way in the southern sky. During March, April, and May, the milky way rises above the horizon in the pre-dawn hours. In June, at about 10:00 p.m., you will see the milky way.  From July until October, you can see the milky way as soon as the sunsets, and it becomes dark enough to see, which is about an hour after sunset. In November, the milky way no longer comes above the horizon. You will have to wait until March if you want to stay away really late or get up early to see her again.

See our Milky Way Hot Spot Locator and our  Night Photography Information. 

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Park and Area Information:

Entrance Fees: None off-season or at night to do milky way photography.

Permits are effective September 15th until March 31st. The fee is $40. They accept cash or checks made payable to the Borough of Avalon. Vehicles must be 4 wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The permit must be affixed to any corner of the rear window. Items Needed– Tow rope, jack with a board, inflated spare tire, shovel, fire extinguisher, supplied first aid kit, and a flashlight. Beach Paths– 9th Street (if this path is available), 20th, 32nd, 38th, 60th, and 79th Street.  Call (609) 967-4220.

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