Starry, Starry Night: The Story Behind the Photo

By Lana Macko

Photo of the Milky Way above a lake in Michigan

Starry, Starry Night by Lana Macko

For years I have wanted to shoot the Milky Way. But there are so many factors that have to line up in order to get that shot.

First of all, you have to be in a “dark sky” area. For us in Dallas/Fort Worth, that means driving at least a couple of hours.

Of course, the weather has to be good with a clear sky and no moon. So I was very excited while in Michigan to have all those things line up for me. An official dark sky area, no moon, and clear skies.

I contacted fellow TAPC member Bill Webb for advice, and I watched several videos. And naturally a couple of new apps needed to be purchased.

The only thing that made the conditions less than perfect was the fact that it was the same day as meteor showers, and other photographers and astronomers, and in fact, entire families were at the same spot.

For that reason, I waited until 1 a.m. to head to the park and walk through the dark with my red flashlight. Even then there was a crowd. So I got my shot, although I wish there had been better foreground interest. The fun really began back home as I started post processing.

That involved more videos, and I am still playing with my shots. Are we ever entirely satisfied with our shots? I know I’m not. And the interesting thing is that even though I can cross this off my bucket list, rather than quenching my desire for this type of photography, it actually awakened it. I can’t wait until I have the chance to try it again.

Camera settings: f/4, 25 seconds, 3200 ISO, 11-24mm lens

Open Season: 7 Ideas for Shooting Different Photographs

Closeup photo of insect by David Clode from Unsplash.com

Photo by David Clode from Unsplash.com

During the photo club’s “open” competitions, it may be tempting to look through past images and choose one of your best. It’s understandable — how else are you going to show off those shots from Prague or Bora Bora? However, it’s also possible to use this assignment to push yourself to do something new. But what? Maybe these ideas will inspire your best image yet.

1. Do something completely different

If you shoot landscapes, try street photography. If your images are usually straightforward, try going abstract. Crawl around your backyard with a macro lens. Fail hard. Fail often. Progress is ugly.

2. Give yourself an assignment

Pick a subject, and spend the month shooting only that. At the point you’ve exhausted all your options, you may break through to something truly unexpected and exceptional.

3. Change your perspective

Spend a day shooting from the hip, or the foot, or a ladder. Again, forcing yourself to stick with it may yield some surprising results.

4. Go somewhere new

National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson once said, “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.” Maybe it’s time for a local road trip.

5. Look on someone else’s paper

Go out to a site like 500px. See what others are shooting. Find something that inspires
you, and see if you can recreate it or give it your own personal spin.

6. Focus

Give yourself one thing to pay special attention to: triangles, reflections, bright spots… Whether you have your camera or not, spending a month looking for one thing will force your brain to see everything in a new way.

7. Buy, rent or borrow

Maybe it’s time for some new equipment. Try a fisheye lens, flash gels, a neutral density filter, or even a drone. Or start working with an interesting prop: a mirror, glass ball, or prism.

Angled perspective of building by Pauline Loroy

Photo by Pauline Loroy from Unsplash.com