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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Brecheisen

The Milky Way Over Maroon Bells in Colorado

The Milky Way over the beautiful Maroon Bells! Last fall my husband and I took a trip to Colorado, and part of my focus on this trip was to practice my astrophotography. We live in SC, and there is a LOT of light pollution on the east coast. Going out west was such an opportunity for me. Obviously this is not a great milky way image, but I'm still proud of it, because it is my first. I feel like it's a great starting point, because I could've started with a much worse image. The wonderful things about astrophotography are the people you meet along the way and the quiet dark of being under a moonless starry sky. Now there are also some "characters" if you will. What I mean is you will meet some people who care only about their own images, so you can be in the middle of a set, crotchety old white hair will show up beside you, and he'll be "giving you tips" and telling you everything you're doing wrong.... while he's turning his headlamp on and off during every single one of your shots. Not cool lol. But honestly, you will most likely only run into people like that at heavily photographed, iconic spots such as maroon bells.

About this image:

It was not an ideal time to be photographing in this direction, because the moon stayed up above the bells until about 11, and slowly it dipped down behind them. We could've gotten a MUCH better image if not for that.

This is a series of about 7 images stacked in photoshop to reduce some of the noise. (I'm not the best at reducing the noise yet.) Each exposure is about 40 seconds with an aperture of 4.5 and an iso of 3200.

A high iso adds a lot of noise, but you need to collect as much data as possible. I'm thinking I'll use a 50mm f1.4 next time. All I brought with me on this night was my Sigma 12-24 f4.5. I am using a Nikon D600 and a VILTROX intervelometer I got off Amazon for $14.

I am in no way an expert on this, but I thought I would share how I went about getting this image. Just remember to have fun, and don't beat yourself up about wasting all this time if you fail. There's always something to learn and something to improve on!

Jennifer Brecheisen


Rock Hill, SC

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