North Rim Milky Way

January 25, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Grand Canyon and Milky WayGrand Canyon and Milky Way

Summer has come and gone and we're well into winter.  So this post is a bit delayed but I wanted to get it up as I'm planning for the coming Milky Way season.

For the final summer 2022 Milky Way shot I headed for the darker night skies of northern Arizona and the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  I’ve been to the national park a number of times but haven’t really explored Kaibab National Forest that borders the park to the north.  For this trip my brother and I decided to do a little exploring of parts unknown.

It was a productive trip for exploring, but the opportunity for photography was mostly a bust.  The monsoon has been active this year and there was a good chance we’d have cloudy skies at night.  But an active monsoon season also means a good chance of dramatic thunderstorms over the Grand Canyon, so I figured that either way we’d have good material.  Unfortunately, it ended up being mostly clear during the day with storms rolling in during prime Milky Way time.

I did come away with this picture, though, which I rather like.  The clouds add a sense of drama, even if they did end up obscuring most of the Milky Way.  Because the clouds were blocking the meager ambient light available it was difficult to get a good exposure of the foreground.  To get the foreground visible enough I ended up using multiple images with different ISO settings (250 to 800) spanning over 20 minutes.  The sky is a single 30-second untracked exposure at f/1.8 and ISO 800.  The stars are streaking a little bit but shooting at 20mm helped keep the streaks to a minimum.

It was a great trip despite the lack of photographic material.  We got to explore some new country and see some beautiful landscapes.


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