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astor photography tasmania milky way pentax astrotracer

Under the Milky Way

Under the Milky Way tonight… Well not tonight, as tonight hasn’t happened yet obviously. Unless you are reading this at midnight or thereabouts. And if you are indeed reading this after midnight I hope my ramblings are either keeping you entertained or perhaps even helping you fall sleep. I do what I can. But I digress.

astor photography tasmania milky way pentax astrotracer

Milky Way during “Blue Hour”, just after dusk as the stars finally start to appear through the twilight. This shot is ISO 400 and two 90 second exposures (blended) using the Pentax astrotracer function of the K1.

There were some stunningly clear skies a couple of weeks ago so following my own advice I took a short drive down to Calverts Beach on South Arm for a night under the milky way. The full moon is back as I right this and I am already looking forward to another night shoot when dark skies return early next month.

astro photography tasmania milky way pentax astrotracer

Under the Milky Way. ISO 1600, 90 second exposure.

Astro Photography with the Pentax Astrotracer

I shot all these with the Astrotracer function of the Pentax K1. For those who haven’t heard about this feature it utilizes the GPS and IBIS features built into the camera to counteract the earths rotation to allow pinpoint stars even with long exposures, such as you would achieve with a tracking enabled mount on a telescope for example. It does result in blurred terrestrial features however, as you are in effect shooting a long exposure of the earths rotation!

astro photography tasmania milky way pentax astrotracer

ISO 1000, 120 second exposure

As the night got darker, I was able to increase the shutter speed out to 2 minutes while keeping the ISO relatively low meaning more or less noise free images of the night sky which is perhaps the biggest advantage of this technique.

astro photography tasmania milky way pentax astrotracer

ISO 800, 120 second exposure. The dark sky has taken over and the Milky Way has a beautiful glow now

I also took a second shot, this time with the astotracer disabled, so the horizon remained still and blended the two for these results which I am quite happy with, and I hope you are too – no matter what time of the day or night you happen to be reading this!

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Luke O'Brien

About Luke

Luke O'Brien runs a stall at Hobart's popular Salamanca Market every Saturday where his prints and cards are available for purchase. Follow Luke's photographic adventures on Twitter at @lukeobrienphoto, at his Facebook page or by subscribing to his email newsletter.