Jacob and I went for a walk last night around the neighborhood and noticed how clear the sky was. Luckily, we live a short drive away from dark sky, so when it’s clear enough with city light pollution that the Milky Way starts to be visible, we hop in the car. Capturing a moonrise with stars and no layering is a difficult challenge. While these aren’t all the pictures from last night, I wanted to share a few of them.
For planning dark sky photography I use a couple websites:
The majority of dark sky locations have insufficient GPS/cell service to use my constellation sky map app, so I can’t recommend it at this time. That’s not a bad thing. Maybe with their next update I’ll include it in another dark sky post. Plus, it was a paid app and I’m currently trying to recommend free services.
5 October 2020 – Early Evening Photography
The view that the Stardome tool produces is a bit off since the place where we stood on the surface of the earth is not Milwaukee, but it gave us a bit of an idea of what we were looking at. I hope this helps as a reference guide for some of the photographs below.
For the month of October 2020, Mars is visible to the east in the early evening sky. On 5 October we photographed Mars with a rising 87% waning gibbous moon.
To the north of the moonrise over the mountain crests a cluster of stars is visible. I believe these may be part of the Taurus constellation containing Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster, but it is important to note that I am a novice and that is most certainly washed out by light on the horizon.
Post processing of dark sky photos allows for the revealing or obfuscation of information within the photograph. I’ll include a second processed version of the above photo as an example.
Due east and more visible in this next picture is the red color of Mars. We attempted to use a telephoto lens to reduce the exposure and focus on the unique aspects of the trees in front of the moon, but ran into an issue of condensation as the temperature and humidity started changing rapidly.
One of the fascinating things about taking pictures during a moonrise was that I was constantly adjusting the exposure time to prevent starlines/streaking. Before the moonrise exposure time was at 8 seconds and after moonrise I reduced this down to 3.2 seconds. One of the streakier examples is shown below.
One of the incredible things about taking a camera out at night and pointing it in a direction, then setting the aperture open is just how much you can see.
At less than 3.2 seconds the darkness of the shot makes it hard to make anything out without post processing.
At greater than 5 seconds once the moon had risen the star lines were intolerable.
But that moonrise? Beautiful. Except I’m dealing with noise – that’s all the weird blotchy discoloration instead of there being a smooth transition across the sky.
The above image is the one I posted to Instagram. The noise issue is one that Adobe Lightroom handles well, but Instagram amplifies.
It can be seen here too. Look along the bottom edge.
In future posts I look forward to exploring some apps for editing dark sky photos on the go, and ranking based on which ones make the same pictures that start out looking like mostly void and partially stars the best.
In the meantime, if you enjoyed this post and want to see more dark sky photos please like, comment, and share. I have a lot of photos to edit and play around with, plus I enjoy getting out and taking new ones. I’m excited to try and get some aurora pictures this winter.
Thanks for reading 💕
If you would like to use any of our photos from this post:
- For unpaid projects, simply credit us by linking back to this website.
- For paid projects please send me an e-mail and we can exchange a fair use contract with more details.