I went out for some late night/early morning adventures this week.

The goal was to do some prep work for an upcoming planned night shooting trip. I wanted to run through different combinations of shutter speeds and ISO with two lenses to really find the threshold of where noise starts becoming a problem. I think I’m probably going to get one shot if the details of the night trip work out, so I need to know the range of settings that will work best for it.

On Tuesday late night, I went out to the Skyway Bridge. I got some usable data and a few neat shots. The header pic of the Skyway is me just screwing around before heading home in the wee hours of the morning.

These were my other two winners from that trip.

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The meteor was really bright as it shows up clearly through all the light pollution. I didn’t actually see it in the sky, I just saw a bright flash all around for a split second. I thought it was car headlights from the interstate behind me reflecting off the inside of my glasses. I was shocked when I saw the meteor in the picture. It was a big one.

The other shot is the Milky Way rising above the Skyway.

On Thursday morning, I got up at 4:30 am and hit the beach. There was a pretty dark patch of sky that the Milky Way would be going through in the hours before dawn.

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It was supposed to be clear skies and all, but no. There were some wispy clouds that were reflecting the yellow of sodium-vapor streetlights. Boo. That kind of killed the color balance of the shot. Part night sky, part yellow mess. There was also a light fog hanging above the coastal waters that wasn’t helping.

After messing around (and several failed attempts) with Photoshop and Lightroom, I finally got a decent result.

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I also threw on the 1963 Nikkor 50mm and pointed it at the galactic center. With a cropped sensor, it’s really 75mm. I cranked it down to f/1.4 and fired away. This is from nine 10-second exposures; five at ISO 1000 and four at ISO 500. I stacked them using Sequator to reduce noise.

This is the heart of the Milky Way. The light that my sensor captured is about 25,000 years old. This is what the galactic center looked like 25,000 years ago. Looking at the stars is as close to time travel as we’ll ever get. Also, that’s a shit-ton of stars!