Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Waiting on the Milky Way

So what does a person do all day while waiting for true dark to arrive? Besides nap that is.

Working on the river.

Well, on the one day the skies were clear while I was in the UP I wandered the Manistique waterfront looking for other things to photograph while impatiently urging the sun to hurry up and sink.

If you zoom in you might be able to read about the lighthouse.

The mouth of the Manistique River was being dredged so I watched that for awhile. It was sort of interesting, but you can only watch so many piles of mud being moved before you have to move on.

Scoop after scoop of muck was dug up from the river bottom and poured into the barge.

I couldn’t resist walking out on the causeway leading to the shiny red lighthouse. It was such a pretty day.

A wide cement walkway made the trip out there easy to navigate.

I spent quite a bit of time out there waiting for the sun to go down. And watching the light glint off the water.

It’s not a long walk on a pretty day.

A couple of guys were fishing but they hid behind the lighthouse for me to get some shots.

All metal, it can withstand some nasty weather. But none was forecast while I was there.

But as the sun lowered I came back into shore.

The flowers glowed, loosestrife, an invasive, and goldenrod.

The evening light makes everything so pretty.

The last bit of light before the magic begins.

And then, slowly, slowly, the sun sank and the blue hour began.

Let’s take a walk down this boardwalk.

Earlier in the day I had scoped out a place to set up, hoping that the Milky Way would be near the lighthouse from my vantage point. The compass said it should be. But I knew I only had one night so I hoped I wasn’t wrong.

The beginning of blue hour on the beach.

I waited impatiently. It takes forever for the night to get truly dark. And then….a few stars decide to turn on their lights.

Here we go…

I still couldn’t tell exactly where the Milky Way was going to shine…but the stars made me smile anyway. And then….finally, finally, there it was. It was pretty darn amazing. I don’t know why the beach wasn’t full of people just staring.

Take a moment and just look.

I stayed out there a long time. A lot of it not shooting, just standing there, in the moment.

Because, really, how many shots can you take of the same lighthouse with the Milky Way? Well, as it turns out…several dozen. You see, the dark sky requires that you have a high ISO and a wide open aperture and that causes grainy shots.

Beautiful without the lighthouse too.

But you can stack them. Did you know that? There’s software that will lay your photos, one on top of the other, and match up your stars and eliminate anything different. And that clears up a lot of the grainy noise. Huh. So I was taking 7 shots of each shot, in preparation for stacking. But I learned, just this week, I should have taken 10 to 15 shots to stack.

Ah well.

Many of my images had these streaks. I never saw it when I was on the beach, but some people say this light in the sky is the Sky-Link satellites. Zoom in and see what you think.

So, anyway, these are single images, no stacking here, just a little editing to bring out the whites and sometimes to lift the shadows.

I still have so much to learn…so many technical things that I can do to make the images more clear, more beautiful. But the Milky Way season here in Michigan is almost over. There will be one more chance in October, just a few nights, and then I’ll have to be patient until 2023.

Just to show you, we are never alone, the sky is full of stuff flying around.

Yea right. I can hardly handle waiting for the sun to set in a single evening. How am I going to get through months of no Milky Way?

It’s gonna be tough.


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Watching the night sky

I’m taking a Milky Way photography course on-line. It’s consumed a lot of my time, as there is so much to learn. I’ve been working on improving my night photography skills since 2017 when I took a one evening class. Too bad that one night there was sleet and rain, but I learned a lot.

And now I’m learning more. I went out a couple weeks ago to a local park, in the middle of the night, just to practice my settings and see how it felt to be out there in the dark again.

It felt pretty wonderful, but that was a park close to home. We have lots and lots of light around here, and I’m going to have to go further afield to find darker skies. Still, it’s good to practice.

I need to go out again soon and practice some techniques for getting the stars in focus. But it’s raining and it’s going to keep raining…maybe right through the next new moon window of opportunity for Milky Way shooting!

So, out of frustration I went back to some images I took in the summer of 2020 when the comet was flying high and I was standing on a sandy bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. Once the comet was done for the night I turned around and saw the Milky Way.

Tonight I wistfully clicked through those pictures. They sure aren’t perfect, but they remind me of a wonderful time. But I hope to do a much better job of focusing on my next attempt!

Now if it would just stop raining.

Be warned, those of you that live in dark areas of the country, eventually you’re going to hear from me, asking to camp out in your backyard. I promise to be quiet as I skulk around under your sky.

You might even want to join me. You’d be amazed at how time flies when you’re standing in the dark looking up at millions of light years looking back at you.