Galactic Center Spotlight

Milky Way Galactic Center brightens up Driftwood Beach while Pegasus goes vertical. Captured with the FE 1635 f-4 on A7S on 07-11-2015 on Driftwood Beach Jekyll...
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Milky Way Galactic Center brightens up Driftwood Beach while Pegasus goes vertical. Captured with the FE 1635 f-4 on A7S on 07-11-2015 on Driftwood Beach Jekyll Island State Park Ga.. Most of this wood is gone due to two recent hurricanes. This is time captured light not to be repeated and why we do it!
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7 Comments | Report
jairadumarancastromayor June 16, 2018
crystalfoley April 11, 2019
auxgen4 Platinum
auxgen4 April 11, 2019
Thank You, crystalfoley. A place worth a night visit.
amelahajdarevic June 12, 2019
Just one nice photo. Blue and yellow shades look great.
auxgen4 Platinum
auxgen4 June 13, 2019
Thank You amelahajdarevic, the orange/yellow is from amber lighting at a condo hotel for baby turtles to go out to the ocean. A great place to capture the MW.
DNproSTUDIO February 05, 2020
wow so really amazing photo shot
auxgen4 Platinum
auxgen4 February 06, 2020
Thank You DNproSTUDIO, Really easy - just a super wide angle (this 16mm) I like 12mm now (no fisheye) and f/4 or wider and just look to the south at night while everyone is a sleep. Just find a dark sky!!!!
Lesabre1954 Platinum
Lesabre1954 July 25, 2020
Incredible photo! Very beautiful!
auxgen4 Platinum
auxgen4 July 26, 2020
Thank You Lesabre1954. It is a place with dark skies for us have to capture local. This time of year the Gulf of Mexico Florida to Texas for a vertical MW.
balantaylorp July 29, 2020
Wonder shot.technic photography
auxgen4 Platinum
auxgen4 July 29, 2020
Thank You balantaylorp
parthapratimray_7528 September 16, 2021
Heaven on earth
auxgen4 Platinum
auxgen4 September 16, 2021
Yes it is when standing there in the dark with a few waves slapping. Thank You!
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Behind The Lens

Jekyll Island State Park Georgia on Driftwood Beach, the 5th romantic beach in the US. A barrier island away from the mainland and out more into the Atlantic Ocean and having darker skies. A beach that used to be a picnic area park until Hurricane Dora's northern winds and tides downed old oaks and washed the dunes away. Some of the old cement picnic tables that were destroyed still lay in the sand, so you have to watch where you step at night. Low tide is very wide from high tide which reviews the many fallen old Oak trees and Pine tree stumps for about a half mile. Looking southeast and to the south from February to October to southwest in November on clear nights for almost 2 weeks during a new moon the Milky Way can be seen with the naked eye stretching from horizon to horizon over head. Only problem two small airports with aircraft flying about But you get a lot of meteors in your MW shots.
This was in July 2015 mid Milky Way season where it started to rise at 22:00 but was taken 23:21 because I was walking and capturing everywhere I could get a good capture with a foreground items using the wide 16mm, which allowed me get close to some old fallen oaks.
There is a secret about the lighting on the beach and that is the Milky Way is to the southeast-south-southwest during the MW season and there is another island to the north, St. Simons Island, that is brightly lit and with a lighthouse light that shines on the beach. I have seen many photographers shine lights on the driftwood and have to tell them that is not needed and to just do a 3200 or 6400 capture, they can ruin the night. Also use a green head lamp not red, it will be easier to cut someone out. An f/4 lens is all that is needed and at ISO 3200 or even 800 and and a 5 second SS the image on the back of the camera will be very bright and MW colors natural with AWB. You have to dim your LCD screen because it will ruin your night vision.
This was captured in July 2015 and I had just bought the Sony A7S in September 2014. Also I had just bought the Sony FE 1635Z f/4 in June 2015 after using the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 which had a mustache lens distortion problem that at the time could not be corrected in PP (for a year). I had (still have) a heavy Manfrotto L190 tripod and used tennis balls on the legs as well as ziploc gallon bags to protect the legs from the salt water. Also wore knee high water boots because of the puddles of water that are cold at night as well a wet sand. And because the driftwood (at the time) was about a half mile long I used my bike with a bike trailer to carry my gear when going up the beach. I like to run and gun as it is called because of all the different driftwood locations, others will pick one spot and shoot all night/morning, I got 100 different captures like this that night.
This was in 2015 and I had just bought the A7S. I learned in February about the A7S was the perfect camera for astro Milky Way photography. But it was 2015 and the net had nothing about the Milky Way or how to see it but one website said the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 was the lens to use so I went out to my local beach in Jacksonville Fl. to check it out. There was so much sky glow I could not see the MW with my eyes BUT when I pointed the camera to the SE and took a test shot at ISO 6400 and 30 sec. there it was all colorful and somewhat clear, I was hooked!!! For July's new moon I wanted some darker sky and less sky glow and different lens a Sony that had no lens distortion the SEL1635Z. With good weather I traveled 100 miles to Jekyll Island Ga. where I go camping and Driftwood Beach is a 10 min. bike ride from (another reason for taking a bike). Not knowing anything at the time, lesson learned the MW and new moon rise together - when the moon rises it is high tide but as the moon continues to rise the tide goes out, so all night you get a clean (no footprints) beach AND more driftwood to shoot behind. The beach was/is super dark until you get your night vision but still need a light to get around. A super clear night I could see the MW going from horizon to horizon, it was perfect. The A7S is like night vision in your hands even with an f/4 lens. I walked the entire beach that night capturing everywhere I could even stayed for sunrise capture.
I did not PP this till 2018. In 2015 software was limited with Lr costing $$$ as well as PS costing $$$ (both separate at the time) but Capture One came with Sony for $30. I had Lr which was limited and was learning Capture One. The image was bright and noisy (at the time) so I used Lr ver. 7.1 because C1 could not handle the noise of ISO 6400 (I should have used 3200). In PP'ing it was better to leave it dimmer because of noise (not as bad as my Canon T2i). There are so many selections today in Lr to edit the MW not available like the Radial filter (inverted) to put around the MW to make it pop along with the brush to delete areas it overlaps so it does not affect other parts of the image. Today for noise I recommend Topaz Denoise AI/ AI Clear even in Lr develop Photo-edit in, you get a whole new image to brighten and do extras with. To enlarge an image from a small 12MP camera to wall size Topaz Gigapixel AI will enlarge to 200MP+ with clarity and noise reduction unheard of before (low $ with free updates)
In my camera bag
In 2015 my bag was small and few lenses were available for Sony E mount at the time and being just a hobbyist I had to save. But with an adapter I could use my Canon FD (35mm film) and EF-S (APS-C) lenses too numerous to list here. For Astro the SEL1635Z f/4 and the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 using the Sony A7s. Today I use mainly the Sony SEL1224G and A7S or A7M3. But use Voigtlander 10mm f/5.6 for that ultra small MW with a very big landscape. I even have the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 (got gear happy) lesson learned to get rid of coma (bird shaped stars in the corners) you still need to shoot at f/2.8 and with lights around (like buildings) f/4 so highlights not blown out and use a lower ISO of 800.
First and foremost always save your images to hard drives by year, I have point and shoot images from 2006 that today with better programs come out great. Today there are apps for your phone/pad. Photopills, Planit Pro, Sky Safari, Star Walk 2, Clear Outside and many weather programs that today show cloud cover. Post Processing programs that do way better and will be greater in years to come, get what you can afford - Lightroom and Photoshop for Photographers plan is great updates are automatic and new options come along, for Sony users Capture One at $50 is a Program a steal, ON1 Photo RAW 2020 is like Lr and PS together. Today just watch YouTube and go to websites of the posters to learn more and more, no need for books and magazines (I have shelves full). Before you get gear happy start low cost, my old Canon T2i (APS-C) and the EF-S 10-22mm f/4 (16-35mm @ 35mm) both under $600 will work fine. Just go out at night and look for dark skies even in a lit parking light you can capture the Milky Way. Learn to do two layer wide angle lens panoramas to get a rainbow MW over a building or object(s) Lr/PS/PTGui will put them together at 50% or greater coverage . Also in winter November to January looking westward you can capture our arm of the MW in a pano. There are two weeks to go out when the moon is not out to play. I recommend going with others at night you can learn and see what others capture and always tell others where you plan to be, even when you see another place while traveling. Lastly no need to take everything just a camera/lens/tripod and never leave extra gear in your car.

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