Milky way core season is peaking: As summer months are upon us, the brightest part of our home galaxy will be in the sky pretty much all night. Why not take some time to go out and photograph it?
For the first time in seven months, I have been able to shoot the milky way in a proper way. Living in within the Arctic circle at the aurora borealis observatory on Senja island in Norway, I had to wait until Spring in France to do so. It actually feels good to leave the midnight Sun and see stars again. The aurora off-season enables me to travel the world and shoot nighttime material, whether it is film or pictures. This year I decided to take a first trip to France to shoot the milky way. It is also where I was born and have family, so who doesn’t want to kill two birds with one stone?
Thanks to favorable weather conditions over France the past few days, I decided to take a hike around the source of the Ain river in the Jura mountains in France. Arriving on location early enough to set up, I didn’t realize that the spot would be a private property, so I had to improvise. I parked on the side of the road and hiked down a dangerous cliff to come to the shore of the Vouglans lake and found an absolutely gorgeous spot by the water. A small peninsula overlooked a huge lake surrounded by forested cliffs. The turquoise color of the water comes from the special minerals and ecosystem living. All night long the trout were making a lot of commotion and movement in the water and ruined the reflection, but it was so nice and soothing to hear this ballet of wildlife. I got a pleasant visit from a fox and some owls as well!
I took several pictures throughout the night and it felt so good to see the milky way core again. There was a lot of light pollution towards the core because of the city of Geneva but the view to the Swan constellation, and because it is higher up in the sky, enabled a very pristine view. I was shooting with a light pollution filter so it allowed me to still capture great detail in the milky way. I even caught a nice long meteor at the start of the evening as the milky way was rising over the hill:
Whether you are in the southern or northern hemisphere, now is a very good time to capture this absolutely mesmerizing light and colors from the downtown region of our home galaxy. In the northern hemisphere and depending on your location, it rises early evening towards the east. To be able to actually see it, you need to have at least astronomical twilight (Sun below 12 degrees under the horizon). If you are located above 53-55 degrees of latitude north, your summer nights might be a bit too bright and will wash away the core. It will pass at its highest due south so that will be the best time to take a picture of it. Let’s not forget that the lower on the horizon a sky object is, the more deformed and color-shifted it will appear!
I was also out to test the Sigma 35mm f1.4 and I should say it is another big lens by Sigma. I was unsure of how much detail and sharpness I was going to be able to pull out with this one, but I would say it’s almost as good as the beast 50mm of the same Art series. I love how the foreground and background sky came together super well in these shots, with lots of things to gaze at!
Shooting the milky way at night is another way of reconnecting with nature. Even if you don’t take pictures of it, take the time to lie down and look up at the stars, even for an hour or so. The night sky is an overlooked natural spectacle that is free for everyone! So head out of town and explore the night sky!