A Rocky Mountain Night Experience!

My initial thought for Colorado was to simply see more of it and not worry about the Milky Way. And because of that I had planned on being there when I couldn’t shoot the because of the Moon. However, some luck was due on this trip and my all my friends at the Arcanum have provided that. So when I made plans with another fellow Arcanum apprentice, I knew we had to at least give it a shot, especially at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Our second night was going to give us the best shot, so after exploring Rocky Mountain for most of the day we set out to one of the many lakes in RMNP for sunset. We scouted the lake earlier in the day and it provided a great spot for both sunset and the Milky Way. Timing was going to be everything, the sunset at 7:41 and with it typically taking anywhere from an hour to hour and half to get dark enough, a moon rise of 9 was making our window very small. And then, almost on queue, we could see the Milky Way.

Photographing the Milky Way on a night like this presents a lot of issues. First, the moon being so close to the horizon, second issue is time, and the third is skill. With so little time, photographing the Milky Way is difficult because it takes time with each exposure taking around 20-30 seconds and i’m usually grabbing 5 exposures per photograph. This all takes time and with my mind set on getting a panoramic I had very little of it. Which is where the skill comes in or better put, practice. A whole summer of photographing the Milky Way definitely helped me this night, as I moved comfortably from shot to shot.

In the end, we had a great night photographing Rocky Mountain National Park. I came away with some great keepers, and an awesome weekend with a fellow photographer.

First Shot:

Most have probably seen this already. This is the panoramic I created that night. 6 shots exposed for the Milky Way and 6 shots taken just as the moon was coming up for the foreground.

Second Shot:

Another panoramic, this time vertical. I photographed the foreground at blue hour, just after sunset and then sat and waited for the Milky Way to show itself. The Milky Way was stacked to reduce noise with 5 different exposures.

Final Favorite shot:

This shot was taken on a whim because I liked how the Milky Way and the large tree on the right worked together. I also stacked both the foreground and Milky Way for this one to reduce noise. I was extremely happy when I saw two meteors in one of the frames! 🙂