Milky Way Timelapse on Staple Tor

Staple Tor with the Milky Way above

I’ve known for some time that the early hours of the morning around midsummer tend to be the best time to photograph the Milky Way, but like so many of my photography plans, weather and life have got in the way. When Guy and I discussed plans for our time-lapse film of Dartmoor we were keen to include a number of night scenes (there are plenty still in the pipeline). Top of my list was Staple Tor which I knew could be photographed from a number of points as the night progressed.

I camped up there with Emma overnight and although I didn’t sleep much it was a very successful ‘trip’. I must admit that when I saw the results I was getting on the back of my camera I found it hard to stop shooting stills and spent the following hour or so, until about 1.30am, trying a variety of compositions.

I set the time-lapse gear up pointing up the hill slightly at a stack I have shot with the milky way before. I’m very pleased with the result although it is a shame that cloud drifted across the sky and ended the clip prematurely.

Planning is an important part of shots like this and having a good sense of direction and memory will help in selecting the location you are going to visit. I use an app called ‘Star Walk’ to see what the night sky will look like at a given time and place. The Milky way is brightest towards Sagittarius and this constellation is highest in the summer. You need to be shooting around the time of new moon to get a sufficiently dark night sky to capture the Milky Way effectively. From a technical perspective this was shot at 30 seconds, f2.8 and ISO3200 which has produced a clip of surprisingly high image quality. I processed the image to add contrast and reduce the light pollution. I’ll be hoping to shoot more Milky Way scenes soon.

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