Dark Skies of Iowa!


Iowa was another state that I wasn't too concerned with in regards to dark skies. Most of the state sits in a Bortle Class 4 or less, obviously except for the cities. For the sake of the trip and less driving time I found a great spot at Honey Creek State Park campsite and was pleasantly surprised with the sky and the beauty I uncovered in Iowa!<! data-preserve-html-node="true"--more-->Iowa was my first successful Milky Way panoramic and you can read about that here. All in all, Iowa was a great night. The lake I was on, Rathbun Lake, is massive and while I had some light pollution across the lake it didn't prohibit my shots at all. As I have said in the past, light pollution doesn't bother me, as long as I can see the Milky way I'm a happy camper. Yes light pollution does take away a little bit of what you will get out of the Milky Way, but for me that is all part of photographing the night sky. If you ask me it's what gives the night sky personality. The great part about Honey Creek State Park is that my campsite was a short walk from the shores of the lake, which would make shooting the Milky Way very easy for me. I headed down to the lake at sunset to take some photos and get a lay of the land. The shore of the lake had some great foreground opportunities and the clouds were basically disappearing before my eye during sunset, so I knew it was going to be a great night.My first shot was a shot of the Milky Way running across lake with the shoreline as the foreground. I liked this composition because it gave a real sense of where I was. Specs for all the shots from this night: Canon 6d, Rokinon 14mm 2.8, 20 Secs 3200 Iso @ f 2.8. 5 different exposures stacked in PS to reduce noise and lit with a constant light source.I strolled along the shore taking some photos along the way, but my next favorite shot was one I didn't even scout because I didn't make it this far down the shoreline. As I was shooting a different shot I noticed this rocky shoreline that I knew I had to work into a composition.

The last photo I'll share here with you is one of my personal favorites. I'm not sure why or when I developed a fascination with old wood laying in water, but it has certainly become one of my favorite things to photograph, so when I saw this little guy lying on the shoreline I knew I needed to create a Milky Way photo with it.

Overall, Iowa had a great night sky. The area I photographed was a class 4 and with plenty of other areas in Iowa rated better I would say its safe to say Iowa is a great place to go out and shoot the Milky Way.