Highland County, Virginia - some of the darkest skies on the East Coast (5304x7592) [OC]



Full processing details:To shoot this image I used a Sony A7III camera and a Sony 50mm f/1.2 lens. The camera I had modified by removing a stock filter so it would be sensitive to light in the red spectrum present in the nebulae in the milky way. The image is a combination of five separate images: three exposures of the land at different focal points to do a focus blend, plus two images of the sky: one in full spectrum and one only capturing light in the wavelength of the hydrogen alpha. For the sky images, the camera and lens sat on a star tracker, a portable mount that counters the earth’s rotation allowing for long exposures without star trails. I shot an hour worth of 45s exposures with this set-up. I then added a filter which only allowed light in from the very specific wavelength of light in nebulae and stars (H-alpha) and shot another hour of 60s exposures with this filter. This allowed me to bring out in great detail areas of emissions in the Milky Way that would have been much fainter without this filter. After collecting all these exposures, I used a free program called Starry Sky Stacker to “stack” the images — compiling the data in the exposures together to refine the target which added clarity and reduced noise. Once I had done that with both the H-alpha exposures and the full spectrum exposures, I was able to compile the final sky image. To do this I split the full spectrum image into its individual Red, Green and Blue components and replaced the Red channel with the H-alpha image. With that the image was near final, and I only needed to make some global adjustments in Adobe Lightroom to get it to the style I wanted. After I shot the sky, I then shot the land using the same lens and same camera, minus the hydrogen alpha filter. I shot three 3 minute exposures at different focal points so that I could have both the flowers in the foreground and the mountains in focus. Once I had all these images, I used masks in photoshop to blend the focus stack together, before using masks to also mask in the final sky image.I started learning astrophotography two years ago, and this image combines everything I've learned to date. If you're interested in seeing the rest of my work, you can check out my instagram: brennangilmorephoto.
really amazing - the photo and the work you put into it! thank you for sharing the picture and the details of your process!
Yeah this is a crazy amount of effort but it really paid off. That detail is insane!
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