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Gathering the Light, Photographing the Milky Way at Hurricane Ridge. Astrophotography

This past weekend I was able to enter into the world of Astrophotography and complete my goal to photography the Milky Way. Me and some friends headed out to the Olympic National Park with enough coffee, snacks, memory cards, and batteries to shoot all night. We chose to setup at the Hurricane Ridge visitation center. During the summer months volunteers, or as they call them Dark Rangers, host Dark Sky Nights. Hurricane Ridge is located seventeen miles south of Port Angeles and is the most easily reachable mountain area inside the National Park.

We arrived around 7pm at the visitation center in time to view the Bailey Range basking in the late evening sun. There was also a lot of deer grazing on the grass around the parking lots. We watched the sunset on the glimmering snowcapped mountains  as the blue sky added layers of orange, red and pink until the sun dropped below the horizon.  While we waited for the skies to darken we setup up our equipment during blue hour. We were amazed at how much light still lingered around after the sun disappeared below the horizon.  We chatted with others and got the chance to see the rings of Saturn and Jupiter and some of its moons with the telescopes that volunteers had setup around the visitation center.

Once it got pitch dark around 12 or 1230 we started snapping away.  I will not bore you with all the details of the shoot but will say that all of the photographs of the Milky Way I took was a single exposure of between 20-30 seconds with and ISO between 1600- 3200. It was funny and interesting in the beginning because photographing with three cameras and two photographers, the two of us were excited to start taking pictures and making adjustments that we weren’t aware that the other one was in the middle of an exposure.  Once we worked out the timing it was shot after shot of the Milky Way as it drifted through the night sky. 

If you get a chance to make it up there during  one of their dark sky nights I would highly recommend it not only for the photographing opportunity but to view the Milky Way and all the wonders of the night sky is fantastic. To see some of the Milky Way shots that I took click here.



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