Revisiting MacKenzie Falls

This nightscape image is MacKenzie Falls in Grampians National Park in Victoria, Australia and the Milky Way. A lot of time and effort went into this image. First and foremost, I flew to the other side of the world to take it. Second, I keep coming back to the photos I took on this particular night and revisiting my edit. I’m not sure I’ll ever be fully satisfied with the outcome, but each time I revisit MacKenzie Falls in my photo library, I choose a different perspective. This is about my fourth attempt to create the image I wanted.

Every time I revisit these photos, I also relive the experience of that night. That night was a special experience that was part of a larger trip to the other side of the world to visit my parents while they were in Australia. My dad scouted the location before we got there specifically to make a Milky Way photo under the Southern Hemisphere sky.

My dad and I drove through the windy Grampian mountain roads around midnight, dodging kangaroos along the way. We hiked about a mile in the dark to the base of MacKenzie Falls, where we spent most of the night working the scene you see here. Unfortunately, there were clouds in the sky when we arrived, and the moon wasn’t below the horizon yet. So we set up our cameras and waited in the dark, with the roaring falls keeping us company.

The clouds eventually cleared, and I approached this scene from several angles. I made several panorama shots at both 24mm and 50mm.

  • NIKON D750
  • 24mm
  • f/3.2
  • 13s
  • ISO 6400
The Milky Way and MacKenzie Falls, Grampians National Park, Victoria Australia.

This image is 14 shots for the foreground shot in two rows with 7 shots each and stacked for noise reduction and then turned into a panorama. The sky is a three row panorama with 7 shots stacked for each row making 21 images total for the sky. They were all shot from the same tripod location at 24mm. The sky and the foreground were blended in Photoshop. The foreground is also lit with low-level-lighting.

This next photo is not mine, but it gives the falls some scale.

Not my photo. This is MacKenzie Falls taken from This shows the scale of the falls.

After spending several hours at MacKenzie Falls, we hiked back to the car and drove to Reed Lookout in the hopes of capturing the Magellanic Clouds.

I think the Magellanic Clouds are the neatest features of the night sky in the Southern Hemisphere. There is just nothing else like them in the Northern Hemisphere. Under dark skies, they are clearly visible to your naked eye. I really really wanted to get a picture of them, even though the conditions weren’t ideal. Dawn was approaching fast and we were shooting toward some light pollution. I’m still happy I got this shot. I actually had nightmares about not getting a photo of the Magellanic Clouds.

  • NIKON D750
  • 24mm
  • f/2.8
  • 13s
  • ISO 6400
The large and small Magellanic Clouds and the tail of the Milky Way

Dawn was approaching so we drove back to our rented cabin and slept for a few hours before heading out on the next adventure to the Twelve Apostles. The Twelve Apostles visit wasn’t really photography focused, but I did get a couple of snapshots in the area.

The Next Morning

The Grampians
Kangaroos hanging out just outside of our cabin.
Twelve Apostles Area
Twelve Apostles
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