Learn Milky Way Photography in Acadia National Park

Boulder Beach & Otter Cliffs - Redux Acadia National Park, Maine I posted another version of this shot recently but I'm not happy with it anymore, so I started from scratch and re-processed it. Originally I pushed the image heavily towards blue to take out a lot of the green airglow color out of the sky, but this time I chose to feature a more natural colored sky. I still punched it up a bit for contrast, but the green glow in the sky is real, it is from airglow, a natural phenomenon that occurs high up in the atmosphere as molecular particles emit light when they react to scattered radiation from the sun and various other chemical interactions. The sky doesn't look like this to your eye at night but the camera is capable of seeing much more light during a long exposure, so the actual colors of the sky come out in the photographs. Airglow is much more visible (to the camera) in places where the sky is very dark without light pollution, and Acadia is a great place for that! This is a blend of 5 main images, but technically 9 exposures. The sky is made up of 5 exposures at ISO 6400 f/2.8 for 10 seconds each, which are then stacked with Starry Landscape Stacker (available for Mac only, but you can do this in Photoshop) to achieve pinpoint stars and lower noise than a single ISO 3200 shot for 25 seconds would have yielded. The foreground is from 4 other exposures, 3 at ISO 3200 f/2.8 for 5 minutes each, and 1 at ISO 1600 f/2.8 for 10 minutes. The foreground exposures are taken at different focus distances so that I can get the entire scene in focus after blending them together. Doing it with multiple exposures instead of a single exposure at f/8 or f/11 means the exposures take less time and and I can re-take one more easily if there was a mistake, and I can capture water movement in a different way. All shots were at 14mm, using my Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens on my Nikon D800E. You can read much more about my process in my tutorial

This photo is from a couple years ago at Acadia National Park in Maine.  The tide was going out and I had to hurry to get my foreground exposures taken before the water was too far away (I wanted some washing over the rocks in the foreground) and at the same time I had to make sure I got the sky shots taken at the right time to have the Milky Way in the spot I wanted.

This is a blend of 5 main images, but technically 9 exposures. The sky is made up of 5 exposures at ISO 6400 f/2.8 for 10 seconds each, which are then stacked with Starry Landscape Stacker (available for Mac only, but you can do this in Photoshop) to achieve pinpoint stars and lower noise than a single ISO 3200 shot for 25 seconds would have yielded.

The foreground is from 4 other exposures, 3 at ISO 3200 f/2.8 for 5 minutes each, and 1 at ISO 1600 f/2.8 for 10 minutes. The foreground exposures are taken at different focus distances so that I can get the entire scene in focus after blending them together. Doing it with multiple exposures instead of a single exposure at f/8 or f/11 means the exposures take less time and and I can re-take one more easily if there was a mistake, and I can capture water movement in a different way. All shots were at 14mm, using my Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens on my Nikon D800E.  These days I use the Nikon D810A, and with that camera I use ISO 6400 - 12,800 regularly for sky shots and sometimes even foreground shots.

If you're interested in learning Milky Way photography in a hands on environment, I teach such workshops in Acadia National Park in Maine.  Acadia is one of the darkest areas on the East Coast and thus a great place for seeing the stars!  These workshops often sell out fast but I still have some spots available for my May 28 - June 1, 2016, workshop.  You can learn more about the workshop and request your spot at the following link: http://www.adamwoodworth.com/workshops/acadia/memorial-weekend-2016

I also offer video tutorials for purchase that teach my editing techniques, you can learn more about those here: http://www.adamwoodworth.com/

Adam Woodworth is a landscape photographer, award-winning filmmaker and software engineer. He has had a love of photography for most of his life and one of his main focuses is landscape astrophotography. His earliest memory of gazing up in awe at the night sky was as a child in a canoe on a lake in Maine, fishing at night. The intensity of the star-filled sky in such a peaceful spot was a powerful experience, and now he enjoys sharing that experience through his photography.

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