My plans for this past weekend originally included heading out to the Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia for a backpacking trip. Unfortunately, however, events unfolded that led me to cancel this trip. Such is life.

The upside was that I had three days with absolutely nothing planned. Rather than sit around and lament the fact that I couldn’t go on my backpacking trip, I decided to throw my camera gear in the car and head down south to The Gorge. This wouldn’t be my typical photo session though. This time the goal was to shoot for the stars… literally!

The Shoots

I ended up doing this same trip twice, both on Saturday night and Sunday night. The plan was to arrive at Chimney Rock to watch the sunset, setup my equipment and hangout to shoot the Milky Way throughout the night.

Arriving on Saturday, Chimney Rock was packed with people. Luckily the crowds cleared out once the sun went down. During the night I got one shot that I ended up really liking.

I enjoyed shooting so much on Saturday that I decided to repeat the trip again Sunday night. This time I had Chimney Rock all to myself! The only issue was that the moon was already much brighter than the night before. This meant that the Milky Way was incredibly washed out. Regardless, I did manage to get a shot of it.

Despite being a novice with astrophotography it was clear that the conditions just weren’t very conducive to photographing the Milky Way. Rather than walking away with my tail between my legs I decided to start playing around with compositions that put a human (me) in the frame. I ended up with a result that I was pleased with.

It was at this time I decided to head on home.

Lessons Learned

Overall I am quite pleased with my results. Being a novice, however, there are definitely a lot of things to improve upon. Here a just a handful of lessons I learned from these shoots:

  • The wider your lens, the easier it is to shoot the Milky Way
  • A camera that can handle high ISOs would be a huge plus (sadly I am stuck with an ASP-C camera sensor for the time being)
  • Moonlight can be your enemy when doing Milky Way photography
  • The faster your lens, the better off you are
  • I found it best to go just a tad faster on my shutter speed than what the 600 rule says I could
  • Don’t forget to enjoy! While the goal may very well be to photograph the stars, they are well worth enjoying in the moment too!

Bonus Timelapse!

By the way, Saturday night I decided to try out the night lapse feature on my GoPro Hero 4 silver. I’m pretty happy with how it does 🙂

Got Any Tips?

Do you have any Milky Way photography tips for a novice like myself? If so I’d love for you to share them! Leave them down in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter: @Serialphotog. Oh, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram to see all my latest photographs!