Milky Way Shot Bryce Canyon Utah
Milky Way Photo Bryce Canyon
Milky way photography in Bryce canyon just got a whole lot more fun with the use of my Canon 6D and a sturdy tripod. I was really impressed with the ability of the 6D to preform so well in low light conditions even at high ISO. You can crank the ISO up past 6400 and still get some really amazing results. This particular shot was on a relatively clear night and relatively close to the new moon. The location was amazing and the dark sky really helped me capture a spectacular milky way to add to my milky way photograph collection. If you are thinking about a full frame camera for night photography you wont be disappointed with a 6D and a nice wide angel lens. I paired my Canon 6D together with a Rokinon 14mm lens to make an affordable full frame night photography camera. You can typically pick up the Rokinon for under three hundred dollars and the 6D can easily be found for under two thousand dollars for the body only.
Bryce Canyon for astrophotography
Bryce canyon turned out to be a really awesome place to take pictures of the night sky with the location being far from the pollution of the city lights. You really feel close to nature and the cosmos when you step outside and see the milky way as clear as day. We use cameras for long exposures to bring out even more detail in a night sky, but nothing beats seeing the milky way with your own eyes. I am a big supporter of people getting out and connecting with nature in this day and age of social media and Jobs that keep many of us always connected! Why not take some time off and explore a national park with a camera and a relaxed mind.
Photographing the Milky Way can be a daunting task when you see some of the amazing work and effort people put into creating great images of the Milky Way. When I first started taking pictures of the Milky Way I had a basic idea of what to do and was able to capture some basic Milky Way photographs. The important thing with any type of photography is to get out and take pictures and learn to love the manual setting on your digital camera. Photographing the Milky way requires some manual settings to be adjusted and you typically can get away with 3200+ ISO, F/1.4-3.5 and a 20 to 30 second exposure. Its nice to use a wide angel lens so you can capture as much of the landscape and Milky Way as possible but you can also get away with using the kit lens if you just want to get the practice and start honing your Milky Way photography skills.
Photographing the Milky Way Details
In the photograph on this post below you can see an example of a picture taken with an inexpensive camera and lens that produced an acceptable picture of the Milky Way. The Canon 600D is great for those that want to get into Milky Way photography as cheaply as possible. I made sure I went out on a night that was as close to a new moon as possible. Taking photographs close to the time of a new moon allows you to capture the most stars without interference from the sun reflecting off the moon. I found a good location as far away from the city Light pollution as reasonably possible and found a cactus to have in the foreground with the Milky Way Peeking over the mountain. This photograph wont win any awards, but it really gave me an appreciation for how important preserving the dark skies in Arizona and around the world is.
Milky Way capture Tucson Arizona 2013
Quick Summary for Capturing Milky Way on the cheap
Canon 600d $500
Rokinon 14mm lens $250
30 Second exposure
Steel Wool photography is really popular
Steel wool photography has become more and more popular on social media sites lately. People are posting photos of orbs and long light trails from steel wool all over the internet. Steel wool photography is popular because the effect is pretty awesome and it really is fairly simple to do. You can use an old Canon like the 600D and achieve some really amazing results with minimal effort. If you have a basic understanding of your cameras manual setting and a tripod then you have conquered the hardest part of steel wool photography.
Steel wool photography thoughts
Many people experienced with steel wool photos will do a long exposure (30 SECONDS) and set the ISO to around 200 to 400 with an F/4.5 or more. If you have a camera with a little better light sensitivity and less high ISO noise such as a 5DMIII or Canons 6D you can get some results that are quite different then what you see with other photos with different ISO and exposure settigns. I have played with settings of six second exposures and a ISO as high as 3200 with some interesting results that are not typical for the steel wool photos you see around social media channels. I think its important to try different manual setting, you might be surprised with the results you can obtain.
Things to think about before you do steel wool photography
You will want to make sure to protect your skin and hair since you will be playing with fire and we all know what happens when you play with fire! Make sure you don’t start anything on fire by doing this in a location that is safe for this type of photography. You may be able to find events in your community that will showcase people doing steel wool fire spinning. If you find an event like this that is your chance to take advantage of an easy way to practice your shots and different ISO and exposure settings with minimal effort.
Steel Wool photo taken in the desert in Tucson Arizona in 2013
What are your thoughts on Steel wool photography, is it something that is going to stick around for a while? Will people eventually get tired of the novelty and find something else?
Taking pictures of the night sky with your digital camera is something many people can do and you don’t need a very expensive camera to capture some great night sky objects. You can get a lower end Canon or Nikon digital camera and have some acceptable results with a greatly reduced budget compared to a full frame camera system. I started out with a canon T3I(600D) and took some Milky way shots along with time lapse videos that have been shared on Huffpost science Instagram account. I also created an animated gif from a few photos of a series I used to create a time lapse. The Milky Way animation made it to the Google + whats hot page and had over 50,000 views in a day.
I think its important to realize that you can start taking amazing Dslr astrophotography pictures without the need for a very expensive setup. If you go the Canon T3i route you can use the kit 18-55 lens. You may also want to go with something like an inexpensive Rokinon 14mm that you will also be able to use on a full frame camera if you decide to upgrade in the future.The Rokinon is a manual focus lens which is perfect for dark sky Milky way and landscape photography. The Rokinon is a inexpensive wide angle lens that you can use to capture some amazing starscapes.
Magic Lantern is a must if you want to capture Milky way time lapse video without having to worry about extra hardware like an intervalometer. I have used this software to setup a series of 30 second exposures every 35 seconds with over 700 photos. Lightroom 5 will allow you to do pretty much all the editing you need without having to purchase the more expensive products like photoshop. I also use the free open source software called Gimp for quick edits, animated .gif creation and basic editing.
Some quick tips that will help in the filed when taking pictures of the milky way.
1. Make sure you are in a location with no passing cars or lights, the darker it is the better.
2. Remember the 500 rule which is 500 divided by your lens = the maximum exposure to avoid star trails Example: 500/14 = 35 seconds. I advise in general to keep exposures under 30 seconds.
3. Battery grips are handy for time lapse videos with the extra battery capacity.
4. The closer you are to a new moon the better, since the light from the moon will be much less and allow for better capture of the Milky Way
5. You will want to use an ISO of 1600 and possibly more depending on the conditions, just keep in mind the higher you go the more noise you will get.
Canon 6d thoughts
I purchased the Canon 6D a few weeks before a planned vacation to Bryce Canyon in Utah. I mostly wanted the 6D to take advantage of its low light capabilities. The full frame sensor and the low light capability’s make it ideal for astrophotography. I decided I should try the camera out during the day as well. I wanted to see how the 6D did with some basic landscape photos and its overall portability. I have to say for the most part I was very pleased with the camera. The fact that it is Canons cheapest new full frame camera along with its smallest was an added bonus for me. Spending the day in Bryce canyon with the 6D not only made me appreciate the camera more but also changed my thoughts about getting out and taking more pictures.
Bryce Canyon photography thoughts
Bryce Canyon National park is located in Utah and is in my opinion a really great location for digital photography. If you are a nature lover the park is teaming with a variety of different wild animals. The animals roam around freely and in plain sight for park visitors to photograph and admire. If you are a fan of night sky photography then Bryce Canyon is a dark sky location that will make you say wow! You will be amazed by how many stars are visible and just how vivid the Milky Way is. This is a dark sky location with limited light pollution that will help you appreciate the dead of night. Make sure to bring some good LED lights and I recommend investing in a LED head strap so you can go hands free when you are walking around at night with your camera gear. I also recommend getting a headlamp with a red led light option so you can preserve your vision while still be able to see things you need to adjust once you find a good spot.
Bryce Canyon photo
Canon 6D 17-35 MM Lens