Trying to Catch the Milky Way

After having seen my first milky way photography ever I was fascinated by the beauty of the nightsky and the stars. This summer I decided to give a try to the night sky photography.

My first time was in July, when the center of the milkyway appears in the middle of the night. I went to Neideck castle, took some pictures of the sunset, making friends with two other photographers and was eventually waiting for the milky way all up on the ruins tower. It was freezing cold, not very comfortable and to be honest I had no idea what exactly I was waiting for.

Half an hour before the milky way should appear (at least Photo Pills told me so) the sky was becoming cloudy. Somewhat relieved that I could go to bed now, I packed my things and went down the hill to my car again.

Maybe the next day would be better. The photographers I had met up at Neideck castle told me they would be on the “Walberla” (first mountain before the Franconian Swiss starts) the following day and had invited me to join them.

The next evening I left the birthday party, I had been invited to, at 11 pm to catch up with my fellow photographers. This time I had already a slight idea of what I was looking for, but unfortunately “Walberla” is not the best place in Franconia regarding light pollution.

But after all, I got it, my first picture of the milky way.

Walburgis Chapel on Ehrenbuerg

Short time later I had to go on business trip to Detroit. In the meantime I had learned that new moon was the time to chase milky way.
The next new moon was in August, directly after I had returned from Detroit. Quite jet lagged I choose I place near Pottenstein with a look out called “Stairway to heaven”. This time I had also my new 12 mm fisheye lens with me, hoping to get a larger section of the night sky than with the 18 mm lens.

Not beeing used to that new perspective, I had a hard time to get the motive on the photos as I wished to. Additionally I made also some series in hope to get a panoramic view later on.
Working with “Lightroom” on the RAW’s I found out, that it is not possible to make a panorama out of my pictures with the fisheye lens using that program. But I got at least one nice single motive.

Stairway to heaven in Pottenstein

During the next new moon, in September, I was on climbing holidays in France. Before I came there I already found out that it is probably a good idea to work with a panoramic head (Nodalpunktadapter – I don’t have any idea what this is called in English) and ordered one in the internet, but did not get it before the holidays. So the tripod had to work as well.

I made two series of pictures on two different nights, but was not so satisfied on the first hand. Later, back at home, I was searching for a program to do panoramic pictures and found one eventually. With this program I was able to make my first full milky way arch and I was a litte proud of it.

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Milky Way Arch over Rue des Masques in France

Of course I was aware that the quality of the foreground was really poor and I decided that I would try it with stacking and a seperate foreground additionally.

Meanwhile it was end of September and the next new moon phase was coming up. I drove to the dolomites for an elongated weekend  – three pinnacles! But unfortunately I had bad luck there with humidity – you can read this story separate: A second phototrip to the Dolomites.

Milky Way over the “Three Pinnacles” in Italy

Back to Germay again I did not give up the idea with the stacking and visited “Stairway to heaven” in Pottenstein again. Next bad luck here, one of the stacks was not sharp enough and 5 pictures with ISO 6400, 1 s shutter speed an f stop 1.8 were not enough to reduce the noise visibly. I preferred the “normal” panoramic photo with 15 s shutter speed and ISO 2000.

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Stairway to heaven in Pottenstein

Eventually the last try for this season was three days ago at “Vexier” chapel in Reifenberg. Stacking went okay, but the place was too bright and the moon was already setting too late. Now the milky way season is over in Germany. Of course I am looking already forward to February next year.

View from Vexier Chapel in Reifenberg


One thought on “Trying to Catch the Milky Way

  1. Nice story, as always, and your Schlepperbus is very beautiful 🙂
    Btw. your little panoramic friend is called nodal slide ^^ I’m actually married with this thing!!
    Looking forward to the next milky way season and I’m already very excited, maybe you can entführen me a little bit, who knows 😉
    Si ju mei littl shuuting star!

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