Dark Sky Photography Heaven
Bed and Breakfast – The absolute closest place to the Park is the Frosty Hollow Bed and Breakfast. Not only is it the closest it is one of the best B and B’s in the area. It’s a warm, welcoming atmosphere, the kind we search the world over for. It’s so good that we didn’t want to leave. Set in a remodeled barn and farmhouse, this creekside B&B is in a picturesque rural valley only a 3 minutes drive from US Highway 6 and 0.6 miles from a country club and golf course. Since 1992, the Ayers’ have been welcoming guests to the remodeled barn which they have beautifully decorated with their lifetime collection of antiques and heirlooms passed down from generation to generation. In 1998, they completely renovated the farmhouse on this 10-acre property where Joe grew up. They can now offer ten guest rooms, each uniquely decorated with Gail’s unique touch. They spare no expense here. The beds are top of the line, and the pillows will make you never want to move a muscle. It will be hard to get out of bed and head down to breakfast, but once you get there, you will be sure glad you did.
Cherry Springs State Park is an 82-acre (33 ha) Pennsylvania state park in Potter County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. The park was created from land within the Susquehannock State Forest and is on Pennsylvania Route 44 in West Branch Township. Cherry Springs, named for a large stand of Black Cherry trees in the park, is atop the dissected Allegheny Plateau at an elevation of 2,300 feet (701 m). It is popular with astronomers and stargazers for having “some of the darkest night skies on the east coast” of the United States, and was chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and its Bureau of Parks as one of “25 Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks”.
GEAR LIST FOR SHOOTING MILK WAY
Light pollution map:
You will need a camera to manually control your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.
A fast, wide-angle lens of 1.4 – 2.8 is ideal. If you use a 3.5 or higher (slower lens), you must increase the ISO. The higher the ISO, the more grain or digital noise or grain will appear in your photos.
A good, sturdy tripod is essential for night photography. If it gets windy, you will need a sturdy one. Remember that when you buy one, it should be sturdy enough to withstand the wind but small enough to fit in your suitcase.
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).
Our choice is Coast brand for flashlights. The ideal flashlight will have high lumens, and you can zoom in and out on the 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; 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 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 use your camera’s built-in two-second timer.
CAMERA SETTINGS FOR MILKY WAY
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.
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 too high. (wide open =the lowest aperture your camera will allow). You will have to increase the ISO some, giving you digital noise.
Now that the ISO and aperture are set in manual mode, roll your shutter speed until your meter reads (0) zero. Take a test shot and adjust from there. 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. You can make star trails specifically, but that’s not what we are going for here since we started with Milky Way photography. We want crisp, non-star trail images when doing this.
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.
White Balance :
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 editing.
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 determine accuracy. 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 must do this each time you move your camera to take your next angel.
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 it sunsets, and it becomes dark enough to see 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.
Check out this page to see dark sky information that you might need such as dark sky maps.
Check out other dark sky locations to go to.
Here is everything you need to know to get dynamic milky way images.
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