MOK Lighthouse & Milky Way
The MOK Lighthouse & Milky Way is an image I have had in my mind for a few years now but just never got round to it and this year in particular I’ve not done much Landscape Photography.
The forecast was suggesting a few hours of clear skies at the same time as dark night which also coincided with no moon.
A quick check of the Planit! Pro for photographers app and it showed that the Milky Way was -1.0 degrees below the horizon which I was happy with and that it was going to be positioned to the right of the MOK Lighthouse.
On the way down I was keeping an eye on the sky as there was a lot of cloud around and I was getting worries that the forecaster had got it wrong. I had considered heading out for sunset but there was too much cloud on and above the horizon for a good sunset image.
The further South I travelled it wasn’t getting any better but I decided to head out anyway and hope that I got a little break in the clouds at some point.
When I arrived at the car park at the top of the hill at the lighthouse blue hour was well underway and as I walked down I had to stop and capture the scene as it opens itself up to you when you cone round one of the bends.
The scene is one of those that you just have to stop and take in the scenery in front of you. There was a few showers moving up from Northern Ireland which added a bit of character to the scene and the sunset hues were still visible on the horizon behind Northern Ireland which was a bit more clearer of cloud but still more than what I was hoping for.
F11 ISO 100 30 seconds.
I had done a 2 minute exposure also and caught part of a fishing boat trail sailing through but that image was a bit blurry due to the longer exposure and some gusts of wind coming through.
Onwards and eh…Downwards
By the time I finished the starts were starting to pop through so I headed on down the hill. At the top on the gate there was a sign saying the Lighthouse was closed due to work, which was fine as I wasn’t intending on going in the Lighthouse due to the composition I had in mind based on Planit Pro’s position of the Milky Way.
I eventually arrived at the helipad just up from the Lighthouse where I got my warm clothes on and setup my camera and tripod.
I done a test shot from here to see what the composition was like. It was still bright in terms of camera exposure but dark night hadn’t began yet, however I was getting no hint of the Milky Way. I did capture a satellite passing over.
So, I quickly check Stellarium on my phone, luckily I had a signal and checked the live status, it was showing the Milky Way more to the South which positions it to the left of the MOK Lighthouse.
As you can see from the screenshots below the different positions of the Milk
As dark night approached ( feel like I’m writing a script to Batman lol ) I could see the Milky Way where the Stellarium had forecast. I grabbed my gear and headed down to the Lighthouse to find a better composition.
I walked right upto the gate at the entrance to the Lighthouse which was closed over due to the work being doing and set myself up there. I would have preferred to have been a bit closer but I didn’t want to go over the gate and also there was work vans parked outside the lighthouse that would have started to show in the image.
I was happy with the composition I setup and fired off a test shot, yip I was happy.
I had to change my composition plans completely here. I was hoping for a landscape compositon to capture as much of the scene as possible and then shoot a vertorama, however in the position I setup that was no longer an option.
I had to shoot in portrait orientation. To the left in the image was just the hillside and that would have been of no interest at all, just a dark silhouette. I could have shot landscape orientation and positioned the Lighthouse and Milky Way in the left but this would have left the image too heavy on the left side due to their position.
So, portrait orientation it was and the image below captured at f2.8, ISO 3200, for 25 seconds. I did do an exposure for the Lighthouse and blended it in via Photoshop as when the light flashed it blew out the highlights.
Some people don’t like light pollution in their images but I think the light pollution from Northern Ireland here, it adds to the image and creates a nice warm feel to it which contrasts well against the blue sky.
I was really happy with what I had captured so thought I would do a bit of experimentation. I shot this image with my Samyang 14mm f2.8 lens which is awesome by the way but wanted to see what the Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 could do.
This also gave me the opportunity to zoom in a bit closer and get more detail of the Lighthouse in…I didn’t like the image. I shot a 3 image vertorama which required a lot of cropping after it was merged and I just didn’t like the final image.
So, if I want to use this more often then I need to take into consideration the amount of cropping required.
Onwards and Upwards
So, I was happy with my wee session and I headed back up the hill. It wasn’t that bad of a walk, must have been because I was walking under the starry sky and just constantly looking up to the sky looking at different constellations and satellites.
I just had to stop again at one of the better vantage points on the way back up and try and capture and image of the amazing night vista.
As you can see the cloud was starting to come back in again which it was forecast to do but it was still an enjoyable walk taking this in.
3 images at f11, ISO 3200, 25 seconds each.
It was great to get back out at night with the camera and great to get an image I like on a subject that I wanted to photograph. However I feel there is still another image to be captured down there but at different times and with the Milky Way in a different position.
I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more clear nights as the buzz is back 🙂
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