The Milky Way

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to my friend and fellow blogger Poppy, when I happened to mention what a fabulous moon there was outside.  Poppy’s BB piped up in the background with ‘yes, tonight is a super moon‘.  Well, that was the start of another Poppy and Chillbrook excellent photography adventure.  Two in the morning, out in the wilds of Cornwall and Worcestershire, Poppy and I were exchanging photography and astronomy tips by mobile phone whilst looking at the most amazing night sky.  A plan had been hatched that night, via Skype, to photograph the Milky Way and last night the plan came together. Excellent!!

It’s extremely difficult to find a truly dark sky in the UK as the villages, towns and cities are now so numerous and spreading, each filling the sky with the ubiquitous and vile, orange sodium light pollution however, I found a dark patch, using a website called Blue Marble, on the south coast of Cornwall looking out to sea that looked promising.  I thought this would be a good place because I assumed there wouldn’t be any orange light pollution out at sea.  I was wrong.  The large tankers and cargo ships plying the English Channel also favour this particular form of lighting apparently so it seems nowhere is sacred and a dozen or so miles from the nearest town, the orange glow is evident.

However, despite the light pollution, Poppy and I both managed to get some rather interesting pictures.  You can see Poppy’s pictures here.  We live in a truly wondrous galaxy.  How small and insignificant we are..

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Milky Way II15mm f/2.8 30 sec. ISO 3200
40px spacerMilky Way15mm f/2.8 25 sec. ISO-4000
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I will be paying very close attention to location, foreground interest and Milky Way position on my next outing to shoot the stars.
I’ll be writing up a tutorial describing how I went about getting these photographs in the next few days.. :-)
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102 responses

  1. Amazing images.

    July 23, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    • Thank you Simon!

      July 23, 2014 at 5:34 pm

  2. Reblogged this on This Got My Attention and commented:
    Wow, amazing!

    July 23, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    • Thank you for the reblog! :-)

      July 23, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      • Anytime. Thanks for the terrific photography. Share a few tips when you get some time.

        July 23, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      • I will do my best! :-)

        July 23, 2014 at 5:55 pm

  3. I’m loving these! Fantastic. I’ll look forward to your tutorial, Adrian.
    It’s difficult to find places to photograph without light pollution!

    July 23, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    • Thank you Karen. It’s becoming more difficult all the time especially on our little crowded island. I imagine there are wide open spaces in Canada where you can still really get away from it all. True wilderness. I would love a taste of that.

      July 23, 2014 at 5:55 pm

  4. Wonderful shots.

    July 23, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    • Thank you Adrian!

      July 23, 2014 at 5:56 pm

  5. Wow. Holy shit.

    July 23, 2014 at 5:53 pm

  6. Carol Ann CLayton

    These are so wonderful…do you follow Neal de Grasse Tyson (astrophysicist)?

    July 23, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    • Thank you Carol. No I don’t. I will look him up.

      July 23, 2014 at 6:01 pm

  7. These are amazing Adrian. I’ve always want to try this but have to find a place out of the city with no light pollution. I’m looking forward to your tutorial.

    July 23, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    • Thank you Edith. It’s the light pollution that’s the biggest hurdle to these kinds of photographs. The less light pollution you have, the lower the ISO needs to be to capture the more distant stars. I’ll start writing the tutorial directly! :-)

      July 23, 2014 at 6:50 pm

  8. poppytump

    Wow ChillB that Cornish mist well and truly lifted – what a beautiful Milky Way you captured ! Wondrous indeed.
    I was out for over 4 hours but it felt like no time at all – I wonder if that was a time slip … course I should remember from the Monty Python Galaxy song ” we are moving at million miles a day, in an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour of the galaxy we call the Milky Way ” since DD gave me a rendering of it after seeing the very last Python show on Sunday :-D
    I’m off to do some homework :-)

    July 23, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    • Thank you Poppy. I remember the song. It does rather put it all in context doesn’t it? It was a fabulous night and as I was driving home in dense fog through the tortuously narrow windy lanes, I was truly happy. This photography business is marvellous!

      July 23, 2014 at 6:48 pm

  9. These are cool….especially love the second one, because the foreground adds great context to the shot.

    July 23, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    • Thank you Mark! I can’t wait to try some more although taking photographs at 2 and 3 in the morning takes a bit of planning. :-)

      July 23, 2014 at 6:52 pm

  10. Wow, fantastic, Adrian. These are photos to be proud of! I have never tried this type of photography. 4000 iso? Can you still get a decent print?

    July 23, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    • Thank you Malcolm. The result is inevitably quite grainy at such a high ISO. I’m about to run off an A4 print. I’ll let you know. :-)

      July 23, 2014 at 6:53 pm

  11. Pat


    July 23, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    • Thank you Pat!

      July 23, 2014 at 6:53 pm

  12. Amazing images, Adrian. Well done to you. The colours are awesome. :)

    July 23, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    • Thank you Sylvia. It was quite a night. There I was with the sheep, a couple of foxes, a badger some cattle and my camera. All I had to do was press the shutter and wipe the lens after each shot as the air was so heavy with moisture. I was seriously thinking of staying there all night and waiting for the dawn. I wish I had now. Perhaps next time. As night shifts go, it wouldn’t have been a bad one. :-)

      July 23, 2014 at 9:04 pm

  13. As a decades-long landscape photographer who has made a great many nighttime photos Adrian, I want to tell you how captivated and blown away I was by both the beauty of these images and your technical accomplishments. These are magnificent images and they were all a delight to experience. Many thanks. ~ Rick

    July 23, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    • Thank you so much Rick. An amazing compliment coming from such an accomplished photographer. I really appreciate that and I’m so glad you enjoyed the images. I certainly enjoyed taking them.

      July 23, 2014 at 8:58 pm

  14. These are beyond fantastic. Well done!

    July 23, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    • Thank you very much Eden! :-)

      July 23, 2014 at 9:04 pm

  15. Doesn’t it put everything into perspective when you see the galaxy in all its glory! We have spent many happy nights on Sherkin Island lying down on blankets and gazing upwards to watch shooting stars and satellites. No light pollution there…but then again, no decent camera in hand to even attempt to capture such beauty! You have done a fabulous job and I look forward to the tutorial. P

    July 23, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    • It really does Patsy, thank you. What an amazing place, Sherkin Island. That really looks like somewhere I’d like to spend some time. Something I must plan for. My camera needs a few more outings beyond Cornwall. :-)

      July 23, 2014 at 9:24 pm

  16. They are wonderful Chillbrook, so glad you were able to find somewhere to take some photos. I tried to get some the other night but the clouds came over. Hoping to try again on Monday night. I love doing the milky way, it is so amazing. Great shots.

    July 23, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    • Thank you very much Leanne. The Milky Way really does present a great subject but sadly, very weather dependent.

      July 24, 2014 at 11:13 am

      • That’s for sure, as I found out the other night when it was covered over by clouds.

        July 24, 2014 at 11:33 am

  17. These are stunning shots. I read somewhere you need to keep your exposure under 30 seconds to avoid star trails. Is that your experience?

    July 23, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    • Thank you. Yes, I use the 500 rule which basically states that you divide 500 by your focal length to give the maximum exposure time before star trails start to occur. For most intents and purposes this equates to between 25 and 30 seconds.

      July 24, 2014 at 4:00 pm

  18. Wow, your milky ways are impressive, Adrian.

    July 23, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    • Thank you very much Bente! :-)

      July 24, 2014 at 4:00 pm

  19. Wow! These are so spectacular. They remind me of a trip a long time ago to the Badlands in South Dakota where there was not any light pollution. These are amazing, Adrian!

    July 24, 2014 at 2:11 am

    • Thank you Anita. :-)

      July 24, 2014 at 4:04 pm

  20. Gorgeous! Wishing you clear and dark skies!

    July 24, 2014 at 3:55 am

    • Thank you very much Sheila!

      July 24, 2014 at 4:04 pm

  21. Gorgeous!

    July 24, 2014 at 4:17 am

    • Thank you Jennifer! :-)

      July 24, 2014 at 4:04 pm

  22. Wow, these are beautiful, Adrian, really enjoy the orange and blue glows in it. Not really an expert in night photography, but I thought a lower ISO would work good here as well? Or does that give even more noise with the longer shutter speeds?
    Well, these worked out great, so I suppose the answer is already given ;)
    Greetings from KL, Ron

    July 24, 2014 at 7:33 am

    • Hi Ron, Thank you. To capture the Milky Way like this you really need to crank up the ISO to allow the sensor to ‘see’ light that isn’t visible to us. This really means anything from 2000 ISO upwards otherwise you simply don’t capture the distant stars. Those very distant stars, the ones closer to the horizon in my images, that is towards the galactic centre, are something like 25,000 light years away. Makes you think doesn’t it?

      July 24, 2014 at 4:13 pm

  23. leecleland

    Truly beautiful, Adrian. The foreground in the second image adds to it and makes me want to try for my own shots. I live in an un-light polluted part of Australia where I can walk out my door and shoot the sky, but so far I haven’t. I’ll await your instructions and thus prompted will give it a go. Thank you in advance :)

    July 24, 2014 at 8:36 am

    • Thank you Lee. How wonderful to be free from light pollution. You must see some incredible night skies. I will get the tutorial published as soon as I can. :-)

      July 24, 2014 at 4:14 pm

      • leecleland

        Thank you :) Looking forward to it.

        July 25, 2014 at 7:33 pm

  24. ” How small and insignificant we are..”

    But too often, we forget it.

    Excellent work.

    July 24, 2014 at 10:21 am

    • Too true! Thank you Marcelo!

      July 25, 2014 at 9:43 am

  25. Reblogged this on Pattu's terrace Garden.

    July 24, 2014 at 10:36 am

    • Thank you Pattu!

      July 25, 2014 at 9:43 am

  26. Truly stunning!! I have yet to try capturing star trails, it’s all about the location :D

    July 24, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    • It is Trish, you need to get away from city lights.

      July 25, 2014 at 9:42 am

  27. Awesome work Chillbrook, wow!

    July 24, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    • Thank you so much Mary!

      July 25, 2014 at 9:41 am

  28. Thanks for the link to the Blue Marble site, I thought I would have to wait until I go to the mountains before being able to take some star shots but it seems there may be a patch closer to home with little light pollution.

    July 24, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    • That’s good to hear Ben. Dark places are increasingly hard to find. I went up onto Bodmin Moor, an apparent dark area up by Dozmary Pool but the area was surrounded by orange glow from Bodmin, Liskeard, Wadebride.. very disappointing.

      July 25, 2014 at 9:41 am

      • I read somewhere and I don’t remember where that you need to be 11 miles from a town or city to loose the light pollution, not sure how accurate that is but it is quite an interesting Idea.

        July 25, 2014 at 9:43 am

      • I’ll have to do some measuring..

        July 25, 2014 at 10:26 am

  29. Great work on these… yet another creative avenue!

    July 24, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    • Thank you very much John!

      July 25, 2014 at 9:36 am

  30. Crazy beautiful, Adrian…wow!

    July 25, 2014 at 1:13 am

    • Thank you Scott!

      July 25, 2014 at 9:36 am

      • You’re welcome. :)

        July 25, 2014 at 3:56 pm

  31. Wonderful shots! Regards Thom.

    July 25, 2014 at 6:39 am

    • Thank you very much Thom!

      July 25, 2014 at 9:37 am

  32. Marvellous. We are, indeed, insignificant. A truly excellent photo adventure….

    July 26, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    • Thank you very much! :-)

      July 28, 2014 at 5:55 pm

  33. Stunning image.

    July 26, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    • Thank you PC, much appreciated!

      July 28, 2014 at 5:56 pm

  34. spectacular :)

    July 27, 2014 at 7:35 am

    • Thank you very much Joshi!

      July 28, 2014 at 5:56 pm

  35. GAASP, you leave me speechless, Adrian. This is beyond anything I’ve seen coming from above. Excellent work.
    I’m in Bonn now and the light pollution is quite heavy. North Norfolk on the other hand has almost no light pollution, no street lights in Cley! :-)
    Very much looking forward to your tutorial. :-)
    Love and best wishes, Dina

    July 27, 2014 at 9:11 am

    • Thank you very much Dina. Enjoy Bonn. When you get back to Norfolk, you can perhaps give this a try for yourself. Hopefully I’ll have the tutorial written by then :-)

      July 28, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      • That would be more than great! :-)

        July 29, 2014 at 8:58 am

      • :-)

        July 29, 2014 at 6:48 pm

  36. Astonishing images – and not too long exposures either. I look forward to reading the tutorial. I’m off to the Alps shortly where light pollution is not a problem but this year I don’t expect to be out climbing through the night, so I will miss the real darkness that I have seen at 1am at about 11,000ft!

    July 27, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    • Thank you Andy. I can imagine the night skies get pretty spectacular up there in the mountains. I’m very envious. Enjoy your holiday! :-)

      July 28, 2014 at 5:58 pm

  37. I love the adventures of Chillbrook and Poppy, a splendid team. And I am astounded by these fantastic images. STUNNING!

    July 28, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    • Thank you Elena. It’s so nice to have someone to share these photographic adventures with. Even when we’re not in the same county, we manage to keep in touch by cell phone which is brilliant when you’re experimenting with something new like astrophotography. There’s definitely creative synergy happening. :-)

      July 29, 2014 at 6:41 pm

  38. Stunning! When I see shots like yours, I can’t help but believe that there has to be other life out there … how could something so vast be home to only us?

    But… back to your photos. Just beautiful! You’ll have to come to Colorado … the views of the night sky when you’re high in the Rocky Mountains is astounding.

    July 29, 2014 at 4:56 am

    • Thank you John. I absolutely agree with you. To suggest that in a galaxy 100,000 light years across, and in other galaxies just like our own across the universe, there isn’t other life out there seems absolutely ludicrous. The light from some of these stars has taken tens of thousands of years to reach us, who knows what other life, with intelligence possibly greater than ours, could have evolved in that time. Perhaps ready, having developed the ability to travel across these vast distances, to pay us a visit any time.
      I would love to visit Colorado and the Rocky Mountains. It’s been an ambition of mine for a very long time. Perhaps I’ll get the chance in the next year or two. I hope so. :-)

      July 29, 2014 at 6:48 pm

  39. Fantastic photos.

    July 29, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    • Thank you very much Lou! :-)

      July 29, 2014 at 6:49 pm

  40. Stéphane Cassin Photographie

    Wonderful picture!!!

    July 29, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    • Merci beaucoup stephane. Votre visite et votre commentaire est très apprécié.

      July 29, 2014 at 6:53 pm

  41. Adrian I’m totally blown away by these, phenomenal is the word that came to mind instantly! It’s also a nice thought, imagining not just you and Poppy but everybody who was looking up at the milky way that night…although maybe not everyone viewed at 2am! :-)

    July 29, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    • Thank you Scottie. It seemed like a crazy idea but once I was parked on the clifftop and Poppy was in position in another county entirely, we got totally wrapped up in what we were doing and for all our efforts, we were treated to a beautiful sunrise that came around surprisingly quickly. :-)

      July 30, 2014 at 8:02 pm

  42. Oh my goodness. That is a wonderful photo!

    July 30, 2014 at 1:48 am

    • Thank you very much Bumba, glad you enjoyed it.

      July 30, 2014 at 8:00 pm

  43. This is very beautiful work. I like the way it came about, too. And don’t you love that almost-losing-your-balance sense of smallness you get sometimes when you’re out in a dark place, looking up at the night sky?

    August 3, 2014 at 8:41 pm

  44. Fabulous images Adrian, as you say, it really drives home how insignificant we are.
    Sadly I’m too pushed for time at the moment but hopefully soon things will calm down and I can get back out with my camera …..

    August 5, 2014 at 8:28 am

  45. Wow!!!They look so amazing,Just looking at pictures is so awe-inspiring I wonder how it would have been to witness the beauty .

    August 14, 2014 at 5:46 pm

  46. Awesome work!
    My b&w post at:

    September 12, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    • Thank you very much Hans! :-)

      September 17, 2014 at 6:09 pm

  47. Lovely shots. I’m heading for somewhere dark sometime soon!

    September 15, 2014 at 8:24 am

    • Thank you Mary. I hope you get some nice shots. Photographing the stars can be very rewarding and you’ll be surprised at what your camera sees that you can’t.

      September 17, 2014 at 6:12 pm

  48. Just Amazing Night Colour!

    June 25, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    • Thank you. It’s amazing the colours a digital camera sensor will pick up over a long exposure!

      June 26, 2015 at 9:53 am