Milky Way Over Homer Wilson Ranch

Nikon Z 6, NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S lens.
The Milky Way and Venus rise over Carousel Mountain and Homer Wilson Ranch in Big Bend National Park in Texas. Venus is the very big bright object in the lower left part of the sky. This is from my trip to Big Bend back in February of 2019.

I shot this at 50mm to get a very intimate view of the Milky Way behind the mountain, and to make the abandoned ranch buildings more noticeable.

Technical Details:

Nikon Z 6, NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S lens. All shots were at f/1.8.

Normally I would do maybe 3 or 5 second exposures for the sky at 50mm to limit star trails, but in this case it was insanely windy so I didn’t want the camera to shake in the wind and blur the stars during a longer exposure, so I took fifty 1 second exposures at ISO 16,000 for the sky, which were then star stacked in Starry Landscape Stacker (available for Mac but you can do this with Sequator on Windows) for low noise and pinpoint stars. Check out my Star Stacking article to learn more about this technique.

I figured of the 50 maybe I’d get enough non-blurry ones, but turns out my heavy duty Really Right Stuff TVC-33 tripod and BH-55 ballhead had no issue keeping the camera still in the wind so I was able to use all 50 for the stacking. For the same reason I shot 9 exposures at 30 seconds each for the foreground at ISO 12,800, hoping that a few wouldn’t shake too bad, but turns out I was able to use all of them. I stacked those foreground exposures in Photoshop by combining those layers into a smart object and using the median blend mode, resulting in a much lower noise image.

Then using my normal workflow, in Photoshop I blended the sky stacked result from Starry Landscape Stacker with the foreground stacked result from Photoshop to create a final image with detail and low noise in the foreground and sky.

Learn more about my editing techniques with my video tutorials.
This entry was posted in astrophotography, landscape astrophotography, Landscape Photography, Milky Way, mirrorless, Nikon, Nikon Z 6.

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