Monday, May 26, 2014

Pic(k) of the week 22: The road to the Milky Way (UAE)

Try explaining to a non-photographer why you just drove 5 hours, including some very remote, pitch dark off-road driving high up in the mountains and that you finally got home with "ONE image"... 

That is pretty much what I did last week, when I drove to the Northern tip of the UAE during a moonless night, looking for a place with little or no light pollution. The aim was to photograph the Milky Way, a galaxy which part of our Solar system and using the somewhat clearer air at altitudes of more than 1500m.

Even though, the initial place on top of a mountain looked very promising just before sunset, it was all spoiled by a single light which automatically came on as it got dark... Yes, it played with the idea of throwing a stone! After trying some long exposures, I eventually started coming down the steep gravel road around midnight and did find an interesting place which was looking down into the valley along a winding mountain road. 

The image consist of two different exposures; one for the foreground and a second for the background, which after extensive post-processing in Photoshop brought out the Milky Way. I need to highlight that even though the editing pushed it further than what I normally do, no pixels were added; whatever ones sees in the final image, was captured on the great Fujifilm X-T1 sensor in these two images!

The road to the Milky way in the UAE
As this was my first attempt in capturing the Milky Way, I must give credit to Kenneth Brandon who made an excellent Youtube Photoshop tutorial titled "How to edit the Milky Way". Although not perfect, I'm pretty excited about the result above.

I also would like to give a plug to a just released Craft and Vision eBook "Nightscape" written by David Kingham. Ironically I only picked it up the day "after" I got back from the trip! I'm sure it will come in very handy, after the Summer here in Dubai, when clearer skies will want me to do more of the above!

Image details:
Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF 10-24mm f4 lens
Foreground image: ISO800, f4, 10mm, 350s
Background image: ISO3200, 10mm, f4, 34s
Photoshop CC to merge both images together
Photoshop CC to enhance detail in the sky

More images of the night sky shot in the UAE can be found here.

Last Friday was a big night for shooting the meteor shower but unfortunately yours truly was somewhere on the way to Los Angeles when it all happened...
Remember: "Night is a world, lit by itself" - Antonio Porchia


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