Capturing the Milky Way over Mount Hood from Lost Lake was a bucket list capture for me. This shot was taken in April 2016. I was feeling the itch to get out and capture the galaxy’s core, as it hadn’t been visible since October 2015. I knew there was a very short window of time to get this specific capture. In addition to needing ideal weather conditions and minimal moon light, I knew the Milky Way would be off to the right of the mountain instead of directly above in a short month.
I made the trip with another photographer friend, Nick, to Lost Lake Resort expecting a three-mile hike to get to this location. We knew the resort would be closed for the winter and that the roads weren’t necessarily maintained during this time. Thankfully, to our surprise, the road had been plowed, and we were able to drive right up to the gate of the resort. The three-mile hike we were expecting was shortened to a leisurely half-mile stroll.
The short hike wasn’t without obstacles, however. A severe storm had recently passed through and downed many massive trees, blocking the trail completely. We attempted to climb over the trees, but there was no surmounting those giants without the risk of injury. We made the decision to back track to the road and happened upon a wooden staircase that led us directly to the North Viewpoint. Once there, we set up our cameras and waited for the Milky Way to start rising. We were pleasantly surprised to have the viewpoint all to ourselves. After taking some test shots and getting my focus correct, I waited until 2 a.m. to take this shot. We stayed out until around 4 a.m. taking additional shots when we decided to call it a day, or night, depending on how you see it. It was an amazing night and one that I won’t soon forget.
The image is an 11-shot pano taken in landscape orientation at ISO 20,000. Yes, you read that right—20,000. I use a Really Right Stuff Pano-Gimbal Head to make sure all my panos are level and will stitch together nicely in post. This was mounted to an Induro CT203 tripod. The images were then edited in Lightroom, merged to a pano in Photoshop, and further edited there.
Sony a7S II, Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T*. Exposure: 10 sec., ƒ/2.5, ISO 20,000.