Ferron Mountain Milky Way

Ferron Mountain Milky Way

In June of this year, I took my kids and met a bunch of my family on Ferron Mountain for a few days of camping, relaxing, mountain biking, and Milky Way photography. We had favorable dark skies, which means getting out to shoot the Milky Way was a must, no matter how tired or unmotivated we felt. So I got my kids settled in our tent, took 22-month-old Lillie to sleep in my parent’s trailer. My dad, niece, and I headed out for some dark sky hours around 10:00 pm. We drove to the top of Ferron Mountain and enjoyed the next three hours watching falling stars, photographing the Milky Way, and listening to all the night-time critters. Bats and owls kept us company.

When I got home, I downloaded my photos, and I haven’t touched them until now. Life is busy. Milky Way photography requires a lot of post-processing. It takes a lot of time to get the shots and a lot of time to edit them relative to any other photography. Capturing the photos usually take hours. I’ve got my editing process down pretty well, but it is still a multi-step process. The image above is 8 photos from the same tripod spot and this is one of the simple Milky Way photos. The complex Milky Way photos I do involve a star tracker, multiple rows of shots to get a panorama and lots of post-processing to bring it all together. For a simple Milky Way photo, here is what the process looks like:

Foreground: ISO 6400, 14mm, f/2.8, 325sec. A really long exposure is necessary to capture the foreground on moonless nights. This was over 5.5 minutes.
Single exposure of the Milky Way. ISO 6400, 14mm, f/2.8, 20sec. Take 7 of these in a row, one immediately after the other.
7 of the above images stacked together using Starry Landscape Stacker to reduce noise.
The stacked images edited in Photoshop. The process includes color correction, exposure adjustment, star reduction and some saturation adjustments. This process brings out the core of the Milky Way.
The stacked and edited sky blended with the foreground. (same image as the first one)

So there is the process. I actually like the way this image came together more than I thought I would. I wasn’t super excited about the foreground, but I like the way the composition turned out. I like the leading lines of the converging double-track roads.

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