Photographing the Milky Way (Part 2)

Last June, I blogged about my first attempt at capturing a shot of our own galaxy – the Milky Way. Earlier in September I headed out again into the wild on a dark moonless night, for another round of astro photography. This time around I had high hopes of getting a shot of the Andromeda galaxy, the nearest galaxy to our own, which around September starts showing up in the early night hours just above the horizon. Unfortunately I failed miserably, as the lens and technique that I ended up using, didn’t really cut it.

The night however didn’t completely go to waste. Prior to my trip to Italy this summer, I mentioned that I had purchased a Sigma 10-20mm ultra wide angle lens. This lens is great for landscapes, but it is equally good when it comes to astro photography. At its widest setting (10mm), this lens can stay open for nearly 40 seconds on an APS-C camera such as my own, without capturing any trails. The trick here is that the closer you zoom into a star, the easier it is to detect the trail of the star caused by the earth’s rotation. Time is key here, because you want the shutter to stay open for a longer period of time so that you can record as much light (and hence more detail) as possible without at the same time capturing any trail.

Here is the result of my second attempt at the Milky Way with my new Sigma lens.

Milky Way - 1920c

Shot with my Canon 60D and my Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM lens, at ISO 3200, F4.0, 35 secs.


Venice Sunset

Most photographers are suckers for a good sunset picture…and admittedly I am no different. What’s great about a sunset (and sunrises alike), is that during these so-called golden hours, the light is more diffuse thus reducing the hard shadows you would normally get in mid day. The colours also are much warmer, especially during twilight, and when combined with an interesting background (such as a cloudy sky), it makes landscape photographs even more compelling.

Getting a good one is no easy feat however. This is one of my many attempts at getting a decent sunset during my recent trip to Venice, Italy. Not sure I managed to get it right, especially given that I had no tripod and my camera had to rest on the side of a bridge!

Venice sunset - 1920c

Taken with my Canon 60D and Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM lens, at ISO 200, F8.0 @ 6 secs (bracketed at -2/0/+2).