Manistique, Michigan. Friday, July 25th, 9:30pm. My wife and I went to grab a quick dinner at a local pizza parlor before heading out for the shoot. All day the skies were unpredictable. We had storms, sunshine, high winds and everything Mother Nature could throw at us that day. That evening, the skies cleared and we knew the time had come.
As we finished our pizza, we decided to brush up on research one last time before heading out. I had spent the last few months studying and researching how to set up my camera accordingly to be able to capture the Milky Way. I knew I needed to use a low aperture. (Or, wide open, as some say.) I knew my ISO was going to be high, somewhere between 2000-6400. And I knew my shutter speed was going to have to be SLOW. Like, 15-20 seconds. Any more than that, would produce star trails. The lens I intended to use was a Nikon 14-24mm F/2.8. (Nice and wide.)
In our last minute research, we stumbled across an article by Ken Rockwell. Buried deep in the article, is a little tip about white balance. He suggested changing your white balance to 'Tungsten' instead of 'Auto' (which is where I leave it most of the time.) That article can be found here. We decided we'd try it on site.
Once we arrived, we set up the camera on a tripod, and walked out to the beach with my red helmet light resting atop my melon. (Which, my lovely wife made fun of me dearly for.) BTW, little tip...if you're ever out somewhere dark, and you need to keep your eyes 'used' to seeing in the dark, use a red light. Works like a charm. Your eyes won't have to readjust after using it. After we set up, we gave our eyes a few moments to get used to their surroundings and there she was. Resting just above the horizon, reaching upward, over our heads and landing in the trees behind us. The Milky Way shined very brightly overhead. The brightest part of it, which we called the Nebula, was just above the horizon above Lake Michigan. It was a surreal moment for both us. I stood there and thought, I've been up here dozens of times and never stopped once to appreciate this beauty that shined in the UP's dark skies. That won't happen again. We began shooting.
Right away, we saw results, and got excited. We can really do this! Let's take another one. But this time, let's increase the shutter speed to 10 seconds.