Under the Milky Way 2-3

Uluru – Northern Territory June 2016 (9 photos)

One of the photography sessions I looked forward to in particular was a night time shoot of Uluru framed by the stars and The Milky Way, taken at the sunset viewing area. These shots are from the second night I was there. There was dense cloud cover earlier that afternoon. Thankfully, the clouds dispersed by about 6pm and after dinner we made the decision to head out for a night shoot.

Under the Milky Way 1

Because we were there to coincide with the full moon rising at Uluru at the same time as sunset, the caveat was that the stars would not be as bright as at a different phase of the moon cycle. These photos were taken around 10pm. The full moon was just to the left of frame, carefully excluded from the shots to expose properly for the stars.

Under the Milky Way 2-2

I didn’t miss the opportunity to turn around and shoot backwards, away from the moon for a better view of the stars.

Under the Milky Way 1-2

Sometimes when this place gets kind of empty
Sound of their breath fades with the light
I think about the loveless fascination
Under the Milky Way tonight

Lower the curtain down in Memphis
Lower the curtain down all right
I got no time for private consultation
Under the Milky Way tonight

Wish I knew what you were looking for
Might have known what you would find

And it’s something quite peculiar
Something that shimmering and white
Leads you here despite your destination
Under the Milky Way tonight

… “Under the Milky Way” is a single by Australian alternative rock band The Church, released in 1988 on their album Starfish.

Under the Milky Way 2

Even the carpark looks less ordinary under The Milky Way.

Under the Milky Way 1-3

In my previous post, Catch a Falling Star, I mentioned that manual focus is essential in this situation as autofocus is mostly useless.

Another difficulty is composition and framing. The viewfinder and live view will be black. Getting the right composition involves taking a photo and then reviewing and repositioning until you get it right.

Under the Milky Way 2-4

The same applies to the exposure settings. Keep it under 30 seconds to avoid movement blur of the stars.

Under the Milky Way 1-4

Above I tried a 3 minute exposure: the start of star trails. If only I had all night and didn’t need to be up in less than 6 hours for the next dawn shoot.

Under the Milky Way 2-5

Under The Milky Way – simply a magical experience.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Under the Milky Way


65 thoughts on “Under the Milky Way

  1. It certainly did look like a magical experience. Although 10pm and the sun set well before, it sure did look like blue hour. All that manual focus and manual reviewing sounded annoying, but you do what you do to get that shot you want πŸ™‚ Ah, if only you had all night. Star trails would have been lovely but you know, there is always next time πŸ™‚

  2. hmunro says:

    A magical experience indeed β€” and your final image captures that magic beautifully! Thank you so much for taking us “behind the scenes” of your stunning shot as well. I’ve not done much night photography,so I greatly appreciated reading the technical aspects. Nicely done!

    • Thank you very much. This was my first go at it. I didn’t really know what to expect. Finding the right location away from city lights is the key. Photographing during a new moon would give much brighter stars but the rest of the landscape would be dark. I think photographing during a quarter or half moon would be best.

  3. KG says:

    I can’t see any stars in the city. Once during my visit to Munnar, tried shooting stars…didn’t come out at all. I didn’t have too much time in hand too. Would love to learn that someday.
    Exceptional photographs, LD πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, KG. To see the stars, let alone photograph them, you need to get away from the city lights which pollutes our view of the sky.

      I shot several shooting stars in my previous post, but that was more luck than anything else. But I’m happy I got several nice shooting stars shots so I won’t complain. πŸ™‚

  4. All these shots are amazing to me.I have yet to take a nighttime photo away from a city, so this is very interesting and helpful. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  5. LaVagabonde says:

    Even with the full moon, the stars are magnificent. I love the contrast with the red earth and green vegetation. Typo alert – “Miky way” is missing an “l” in your very first paragraph.

    • Thank you very much. Colours seem to have an added depth in most long exposures and being a night shot is no different. I hope this helps with your night photography adventures.

      Typing correction made. Much appreciated. πŸ™‚

  6. Mjollnir MacAlba says:

    Magical stuff Woody and I even got to hear the Church for the first time in ages. I must admit to being ‘Tantalized’ in the ocacasional ‘Unguarded Moment!’ πŸ™‚

  7. Starry, starry night
    Lignum points his camera high
    Catch the stars and sparkling sky
    The heavens sing with every twinkling light

    Now I think I know
    Why dragons love to soar and fly
    How they touch the stars and paint the sky
    With cameras capturing the joy
    They sing and soar and take the light
    And bring it back to you

  8. Thank you for giving information about your techniques for photographing a star filled night. I have a new mirrorless camera that is supposed to make good star photos. I will now understand if I don’t see in the viewfinder the image, but will look at the resulting photos and I will try your exposure time.

  9. breath-taking shots! I loved seeing the sun set near Uluru as much as seeing it rise above it… Today, I’m still very uncomfortable shooting at nighttime but I sure hope to learn soon enough to create pictures as beautiful as these!
    They are sublim!
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you very much. Uluru glows as it catches the changing light. One great benefit to a very flat landscape so the sun can shine directly onto it as it rises and sets.

      I’m sure you’ll do well at night time photography. It’s easy once you get the basics.

  10. I hadn’t thought about it, but yes, it makes sense that autofocus wouldn’t be much good. Oh, I love auto anything on cameras….I’m so lazy…haha!!! πŸ˜€ I love photography and beautiful pictures of life, but the messing around with settings…hate technical stuff. But when I get my new camera I guess I’ll have to learn to experiment if I want to get some amazing results. So lovely to see these starlight pictures, thanks for taking us on your trip! πŸ™‚

    • Learning the basics, even if it’s just the effects of ISO, Aperture and shutter speed will significantly improve your photographic technique and output. Definitely something to do when you get your new camera. Then it’s just practice, practice, practice.

  11. avevo gia ammirati questa selvaggia localitΓ  con i suoi monumenti di roccia in un tuo post precedente, ma l’aggiunta del cielo stellato ha aggiunto fascino e mistero
    pregevolissime immagini
    sonostata via ma adesso riprendo con piacere il mio girovagare fra i blog
    felice domenica Drago

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