So what does a person do all day while waiting for true dark to arrive? Besides nap that is.
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.
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.
I couldn’t resist walking out on the causeway leading to the shiny red lighthouse. It was such a pretty day.
I spent quite a bit of time out there waiting for the sun to go down. And watching the light glint off the water.
A couple of guys were fishing but they hid behind the lighthouse for me to get some shots.
But as the sun lowered I came back into shore.
The evening light makes everything so pretty.
And then, slowly, slowly, the sun sank and the blue hour began.
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.
I waited impatiently. It takes forever for the night to get truly dark. And then….a few stars decide to turn on their lights.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.