I have been capturing night sky images of Washington State for about 4 years now. These 14 images display my moments of good luck so far.
Park Butte Lookout and Mt Baker
Govan School House, Wilbur
Mount Larrabee, North Cascades
Camped along Baker River, North Cascades National Park
Sahale Camp, North Cascades National Park
Crystal Mountain Ski Resort
Liberty Bell, North Cascades Highway
First Beach, Olympic Coast
Mount Shuksan and Picture Lake
Milky Way over the North Cascades Highway
Winchester Lookout and the Northern Lights
Winchester Lookout at Dawn
Nighttime at Diablo Overlook
Capturing nice Milky Way shots is not difficult, technically. A decent camera, wide angle lens, tripod and remote are all that’s needed. The aperture, shutter speed, ISO and focus are all set. You can read more about the settings here.
The tricky part is getting yourself and camera to a spot far away from light pollution, on a night when there is
a.) No moon in the sky and
b.) No clouds covering up the stars!
Once you get that all figured out, then its a matter of practice, trail and error (lots of errors), and really just getting yourself out there.
The settings for these types of images were the same:
- Milky Way shots: Aperture: f2/8 ; Shutter Speed: 30 seconds ; ISO 2,500 to 6,400
- Star Trail Shots: Aperture: f2/8 ; Shutter Speed: 20 minutes ; ISO 100
Here are the details on each image.
First Beach, Olympic Coast This is First Beach, in La Push, down the road from Forks. I used this huge stump to block the light pollution from the small village. This was taken in January, and the Milky Way is faint.
Winchester Lookout at Dawn Late September, the Lookout had been battened down for the fall… Early sunrise created a split sky of colors, while my friends meditated with their I phone. They would have the phone “on” for just 2 or 3 seconds during my 30 exposure. The light in the lookout is from a very dim stand-up flashlight I put on the floor of the building
Crystal Mountain Ski Resort The plan was to wander off from the resort and camp and takes pics. This was shot at about 2am, in late July. There are several satellites in this image. When using a wide angle lens you have to be very close to any foreground objects, or they will be very tiny in your image.
Sahale Camp, North Cascades National Park This is the highest camp site in the North Cascades National Park, at more than 7,500 ft. The view is facing south. 30 second exposure, my friends in the tent had the light on for 1 -2 seconds. Any longer and the tent would be over exposed.
This year I started the Calendar early! We printed on 8″ x 12″ sheets of 100lb bond, glossy paper.
They really look fabulous! Each individually wrapped.
The calendar is now back from the printer and ready to ship anywhere in the world!
Order Yours Here
Palouse Falls is a wonderful spot for Night Sky Imaging, its very remote and scenic. Someone started a campfire in the basin that night, and that’s where the wonderful illumination comes from in this shot.
Mount Larrabee, North Cascades This is a 20 minute exposure. The green glow along the horizon is the Aurora Borealis! This image was captured from atop Winchester Mountain.
Nighttime at Diablo Overlook Here is a south facing view of Colonial Peak, from Diablo Overlook. The star trails are streaks across the frame. If you shoot pointing north the star trails form a circle.
Milky Way over the North Cascades Highway at the Washington Pass Overlook. This image was taken on June 2nd, at about 1am. As the Earth rotates the Milky Way arcs across the sky. The tail lights from a car headed east, to Winthrop, provide the lighting for this pic.
Mount Shuksan and Picture Lake This famous view of Mt Shuksan affords some nice reflective opportunities! Its easy to get to, and from there you can head up to Artist Point for more images of Mts. Shuksan and Baker.
Prints are available for all images. Traditional paper prints of all sizes are possible. These come ready for matting and framing. Canvas Wrapped Prints of any styles and sizes are also available directly from the web site. Here is the link to the Night Sky Gallery. Feel free to call me if you have any questions. 360-809-0661.
Also, if you use the code: NIGHTSKY50 you will receive 50% off your order!
Govan School House. Located near Wilbur on Hwy 2, this remote abandoned building was perfect for night sky. We illuminated the inside with a Coleman Lantern and a few other orange/yellow lights. I would love to find some more old building or barns to do this again!
Park Butte Lookout and Mt Baker. I brought a very dim flash light and hung it from the ceiling, I could barely see it from out side, and it provided plenty of light for me. It looks like the stars emanate from the crater on Mt Baker!
Liberty Bell, North Cascades Highway. The Washington Pass Overlook is one of the best spots there is to capture night sky pics. Its VERY dark, the foreground is outstanding (Liberty Bell and the hairpin turn in the North Cascades Hwy) and its easy to park and get there in the dark.
Camped along Baker River, North Cascades. I would start the 30 second exposure and yell to them: Turn it on! and then after 1 second, Turn it off! that was plenty of light on their faces and the tent. The gravel bars along Baker River are an easy distance and very dark spots for night sky.
Winchester Lookout and the Northern Lights. For long exposures, if you point towards the North Star, all of the other stars will make concentric circles. The green and reddish glow is the Aurora Borealis.
Currently I am scheduled to teach one more Night Sky Photo Class this year, through the North Cascades Institute. It is scheduled for Wednesday night, July 31, and you can find out more here, and register.
Night Sky Photo Tours are also available each month at the New Moon. I take individuals and groups to Drive-in locations, like the Washington Pass Overlook, or Artist Point. For those adventurous photographers who can carry a 30 lb backpack up hill for a while, there are back country locations we can visit, like the Park Butte or Winchester Mountain Lookouts. You can find out more here, and feel free to email or call if you have any questions.