Spring is the busiest time of year for my photography. The weather turns warm and beautiful and the night sky clears and reveals its, almost forgotten, beauty. It’s also the time when my commercial / real estate work really kicks off. And I have been pulled hard by this amazing spring weather with stunning sunrises & sunsets, the Aurora Borealis, and more. But this time of year my paying clients come first. So this month’s morning light work amounted to only one morning. One very early morning, okay, night. And one stunning night it was.
It was a clear, moonless sky. Which is often difficult to come by in early May in the Pacific Northwest. I had a shot in mind for this early morning. One I have been planning for months that I’d already missed out on a couple of times. But first I decided to run my “milky way circuit”.
Sony A7Rii + Samyang 24mm f/1.4 20s @ f/1.4 iso 5000
My first stop was Hummel Lake. I like to stop here because of its simple beauty and because it gives me my first indication of what kind of sky I’m dealing with. And I wasn’t the least bit disappointed. I’ve shot this composition many, many times but over the last year or so I’ve been dragging a portion of my real estate lighting kit with me for my night shots. It lets me add a touch of light to the foreground bringing out some detail in places that would otherwise be dark or pretty noisy.
You can see another example of nighttime off camera flash use in my Richards Dock image from my March Morning Light Post.
From Hummel Lake I headed south to one of my favorite milky way spots, the old Richardson Fuel Docks.
Sony A7Rii + Samyang 24mm f/1.4 20s @ f/1.4 iso 4000
I’ve got hundreds of shots at the great location. And many of those have been grand landscape shots that included a large portion of the milky way arch. Those are cool images but I wanted to tighten up my composition and focus on the galactic core of the milky way. I spent probably an hour setting up lighting and shooting different compositions to get this shot but there are a number of technical issues that I think I can clean up. So it’s definitely going on my list to revisit next May when the conditions are similar.
It would unfair to say that I was killing time since it was such a glorious night, but my planned shot was at the old Center Church. I have been thinking about and planning for a shot of the milky way rising over this great old church for probably a year and this was my third attempt to shoot it.
The key to this shot was trust. Trust in folks goodness. Which means that this church is usually/always? left unlocked. And that includes 3:53am on this Saturday May 7th.
Sony A7Rii + Samyang 24mm f/1.4 20s @ f/1.4 iso 6400
Having the church open allowed me to place a light inside the church which was crucial for the look I was after. Here is the lighting set up.
- Cactus RF60 Flash with a 1/4 cto gel inside the church
- Cactus RF60 on light stand with shoot thru umbrella camera left.
- Cactus RF60 with snoot camera right aimed at church steeple.
What I hadn’t planned on, and had no control of was the light on a barn in the valley below. It’s responsible for the tree shadows on the front of the church. I go back and forth between liking it and wishing it away. But I’ll likely revisit this idea as well. Cause there’s always room for some improvement.