Monday, March 30, 2015

Photographing the Milky Way

I am not an outdoor-type of person. Sure, I like to do long walks and hikes but at the end of the day, I want to have wifi, my bed, sometimes a bottle of beer. So when the wife said we will go stargazing, I wasn't 100% in...

Finally, I acquiesced. On one condition: I will not drive. I know I will not be able to sleep properly and I don't want to drive after having less than four hours of sleep; I had less than three...

So, with  a tent, a couple of sleeping bags, and a few provisions, we went up the mountain with 21 others. (Don't be fooled: it was not a long hike, after a 50-minute jeepney ride, the place was just maybe 100 paces away from the main road...)

I was armed with a Canon G15 and a GorillaPod. I didn't really plan to shoot some photos since I haven't done any astrophotography except when a lunar eclipse happened in Princeton, NJ. Anyway, the first thing that I noticed when we went up the mountain and after we set up our tent was that Metro Manila was really bright! I photographed the constellation Orion and you can see the glow of the metro - there is so much light pollution in the city!!! (I also thought, "Somewhere out there, Anne Curtis' billboard is calling out for me..." Don't ask!)



I was also able to photograph some of the constellations:

Big Dipper



Canis Major



Crux



Also, at around 3AM, I tried to photograph the Milky Way, the real purpose of why I am staying outdoors in the first place! But unfortunately, the G15 tops out at 15s! I wish it could be longer! And so, to my great dismay, all I got was this:



But then, while sitting in front of my computer, I realized that I was shooting RAW photos. So I thought, why not try to pull some images out by increasing the exposure of the photos. These were the photos that I got! There is a great amount of noise, hardly surprising considering the size of the sensor of the G15, but I was still able to photograph the Milky Way!!!






So, lessons learned?

-- Shoot in RAW!!!
-- Bring a real tripod
-- Bring a DSLR

Yes, the best camera is the one that's with you, and I have proven that here, but next time, I would bring a full frame sensor and a 50mm f/1.4 lens. I will have more leverage when it comes to the noise level and I will be able to control the time more.



The morning after...

Oh, and practice putting up the tent at your own home where there is plenty of light...

And for my friends who still doubts that I spent a night in the wilderness (not really wilderness; the house of the owners were just a shouting distance away...), here's a photo of the wife and I. And our tent. :) And yes, there will be a next time! :)



The place where this happened:


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