Every spring some of my photography friends and I travel to the Big Bend area of Texas on a photography trip. Each trip we try to find new vantage points from which to photograph the Milky Way Galaxy. This year we decided that we would like to photograph the Milky Way over Mule Ears. If you’ve been to Big Bend you’ve probably been to the Mule Ears Viewpoint. If not, you may not fully understand the foreground.
We scouted the location during the day and hiked around trying to avoid falling in a gully, sliding down a hill or running in to the many varieties of cacti. Walking around in the dark is very difficult so we needed to memorize our path to the final location. Through luck, we arrived at the chosen location. For this shot I decided to photograph the foreground first. I then used my star tracker device to photograph the Milky Way. The device allows me to have much longer exposures (3 minutes vs. 20 seconds) and longer exposures allow for more stars in the image. I was also able to reduce my ISO settings from 3200 to 400 which helps minimize the noise in the photo. I am only mildly satisfied with this photo as I see room for improvement. I learned a lot from the experience and I plan on applying what I learned the next time I go out to shoot the Milky Way over Mule Ears.
This image was taken with my Canon EOS 5DS using my Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC. The camera was set on Manual mode with the aperture set at f/2.8, shutter speed at 3 minutes and 7 second and the ISO set at 400. I used a tripod for stability and my Vixen Optics Polarie Star Tracker with the close focusing attachment. These are two images (one for the stars and one for the foreground) brought together into a single image in Photoshop.
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