Working Photographer looks at the turbulent world of editorial photography through the eyes of someone been working at it for forty years -- and hopes to stay active for a lot longer. A quarter of a century at National Geographic has taught me to stay nimble and keep growing. That's what this blog is about.
OK, this is cool. Sky Voyager on the iPhone! Let me tell you why.
Anybody who has seen my photography in the last couple of years will have noticed that I'm fascinated with shooting the Milky Way. And everybody should know by now that to take pictures of the night sky you need a really, really high ISO camera (like my Nikon D3.
But there's another tool that will make life a lot easier. You see, you really need to know when and where the Milky Way is going to make itself available. It rises and sets just like the sun and the moon. Knowing when that's going to happen from a given location can save you a lot of fruitless, sleepless nights.
That's where SkyVoyager comes in. It's a really nice, easy to use astronomy program from Carina Software. I've used it for several years. It'll tell you sunrise and sunset info as well as moonrise and moonset, and where these objects will be any time of the day or night, today or in the past or in the future. So when I knew that I was going to be on Easter Island with the cool statues in January on just one day I could see that the Milky Way would be visible AND that the moon would set by midnight, giving me a shot at a picture.
Now comes the good part. They just ported it over to iPhone! It's not cheap, as iPhone apps go, costing $14.99. But, hey, if I've only got one shot at a great picture in a remote location, that's nothing.
The laptop version is easier to use, I think, but I'm glad to have both of them available. SkyVoager and a $5000 Nikon D3 and you're ready!
It was a grand sight to see, the Milky Way stretching across the sky behind Owachomo Bridge. It was a natural subject for the opening spread of National Geographic’s story Our Vanishing Night in the November issue.
First, let’s get this out of the way. This is a straight shot.
That’s right. No layers in PhotoShop. No multi-image, bracketed-exposure HDR computer magic. No telescope-mounted clock-driven hours-long exposure. At National Geographic we really can’t use all those wonder weapons of the digital era. Readers expect reality and we try to deliver.
This picture just involved a camera on a tripod in front of the right scene. Well, almost. Photographing the Milky Way and not ending up with a big blur requires several elements, one of which has only been available in the past couple of years. Here’s what you need to know.
The Milky Way is out there every night. But you need a really, truly dark sky like what they have at Natural Bridges National Monument in southern Utah. You probably can’t do this picture east of the Mississippi. I scouted this location during the day, looking for the right bridge that faced the right direction and that I could get to in the middle of the night. Oh, and if you want a dark sky you can’t have any moon. That’s part of the next step.