The Vast & Awesome Universe!

Location: Pigeon Point Lighthosue, Pescadero
Time: Wee Hours of the Morning
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 | 17mm | f/2.8 | 13s | ISO 4000

My third Milky Way outing this season. The first one was a complete bust; weather did not cooperate at all. I was told that even though there are patchy clouds, it could be ‘avoided’. So, we gambled and went to Shark Fin Cove. The patchy cloud completely covered the MW. We drove up north for more than 10 miles but we couldn’t see the MW at all.

The second attempt was good. Even though I didn’t get any good shots at Shark Fin, the Davenport ones turned out really well. One of my first successful Milky Way shots. I was hooked. I wanted to get as many Milky Way shots as possible this season. I wanted to go out any chance I got. The chance came along last week. Initially, I was planning to go Sunday morning. A bunch of guys from the Photography group wanted to join as well.

Somehow, we decided to go Saturday morning instead of Sunday. We decided to check out Pigeon Point Lighthouse as we have seen some great MW shots from there. One of the guys was supposed to pick me up around 2:15 in the morning. When I wake up at 2, there’s a message from him that another person that I haven’t seen in a while is joining as well. They both picked me up 2:15 and we headed to Pigeon Point. A couple of others were planning to carpool and come directly to Pigeon Point.

Unfortunately, one of my friends slept through his alarm which required my other friend to drive alone to Pigeon Point. When we got there we realized a couple of things: 1) MW does not align well with the Lighthouse and 2) fog was rolling in. We realized fog wasn’t going to be a problem as it was not thick nor persistent. It rolled off as fast as it rolled in. The real problem was alignment.

So, we walked around the Lighthouse to see if we could somehow lineup the MW with the Lighthouse. We even walked outside the Lighthouse compound but nothing seemed to work. We even tried shooting the MW with a dead tree that’s in the Lighthouse compound to at least get the MW. The only other option we had was to stand close to the hostel and shoot the MW from the side of the Lighthouse. My 17mm on a crop sensor wasn’t wide enough. But I started shooting and some of the shots in the LCD looked ok. I wasn’t super thrilled with the comp but I wanted to at least get some shots.

I learned about stacking MW shots to reduce noise. So, I took several shots without changing anything. I have tried to blend in PS but it doesn’t seem to work. I am not sure if I didn’t take the shots right or if my blending is not right. Either way, something for me to learn.

As for this shot, it’s a single shot at f/2.8, 13s, and 4000 iso. I hate the noise in this image but this is the best I can do. I definitely need a FF camera to shoot MW; my crop sensor doesn’t cut it. I tried my best to reduce noise but there still is significant amount of noise. Sowmya did a great job with the fences. Yeah, there was ugly fence all around the Lighthouse and Sowmya did her magic and completely removed it.

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