I have never had an opportunity to photograph the Milky Way. Heck, I can’t even see it living in suburbia. However, in the Teton mountain range area, city lights are sparse. Last week, we vacationed there and I had set a goal for myself to do whatever it took to photograph the Milky Way. Last week provided a very bright 3/4 moon, so I had to wait until the moon set. Unfortunately, that took until about 2 a.m. So, on the last night of our vacation in the Tetons, I managed to wake up at 3 a.m. and drove from our resort in Jackson, WY to a Grand Teton National Park overlook about 15 miles away from the town of Jackson. The quantity of stars I could see with my naked eye was simply staggering. And, I could make out the Milky Way plainly enough to see what direction I needed to shoot. I also used a great iPad app called “Star Walk” to assist me in locating it, but it really wasn’t necessary, as my view of it was incredible.
Unfortunately, the Milky Way didn’t cross into the Teton range at the location I wanted it to (over the Grand Teton peak), and I didn’t really feel like driving another 30 miles north, so I made the best of it from my location. I decided to position my car in the shot, so it provided a little more drama to the scene. Since I was shooting a 30 second exposure, I was able to use my iPhone screen light and “paint” my car with the glow from it during the exposure. The light streak was from a satellite. After taking about 8 shots, I drove back to my cabin and went back to bed, happy of fulfilling a goal I had set. I’d love the opportunity to do it again, but perhaps a little earlier in the evening to perfect to process.
So, I was able to prove that you can photograph the Milky Way without a f/2.8 lens and on a DX-format sensor. I was also able to prove that you can get good focus on a foreground object without the need to take 2 shots and overlay them.