Starry Starry Night

September 6, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

Milky Way

I have been mildly interested in timelapse since getting a digital SLR, but when I first saw Bill Castleman’s awesome Milky Way timelapse last year, I found a target that motivated me.

This page was a big help in planning, so I got to work:

  • I put all the weekends with a moonless sky into my calendar (or so I thought).
  • I made a pair of tripod weights, which I’ve never used in night photography before.
  • Even though we would be away from most comforts, I wanted Danah to have a comfortable place to nap, so we worked up a gadget to fill in the rear floorboards to extend the sleeping area. (It turns out that, with the rear seats removed, our PT Cruiser is actually a rather comfortable sleep.)
  • Tests with the camera battery made it clear I’d need AC power, so I bought an AC adapter for the camera.

In August we packed a cooler and picnic basket and took a drive to Mount Mitchell, where we learned that (a) the park really is locked at night, and (b) if you don’t have a spot in the campground, you really are expected to leave. So, after a nice picnic in the cool, we did. (Hey, it was worth a shot. Lesson learned.)

Yesterday, we woke up to a magnificently cool and low-humidity morning. Over coffee, I realized that I’d missed a moonless weekend – this one. Danah was willing to try again, so we packed up again and headed for Clingman’s Dome via Townsend, TN.

Thankfully the National Park Service doesn’t mind all-nighters, Danah got a reasonable amount of sleep, and I got several hours worth of photos.

I still have a bit to learn about photostacking and how to tease out the most detail in the photos, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.