Milky Way over Penland

September 12th 2019

Sarah and I went to Penland School of Craft a few weeks back. It’s in a lovely part of the county — it’s about an hour northeast from Asheville, NC. The moon was pretty full most of the time we were up there, but a few nights I shot Milky Way photos before the moon rose.

In a digital photograph the noise in an image is randomly distributed, so if you take two noisy photos, and combine them then the total noise in the resultant image is lower.

Image comparing the low noise in stacked images to an unstacked noisy image.
Left is the median of 17 aligned images & Right is a single frame

I shot 17 images for the sky at 30 seconds with 3200iso and for the foreground, 4 shots at 30 seconds at 16000iso.

Creating an average image for the sky is hard because the earth is rotating making the Milky Way appear to move. I used Nebulosity to align the Milky Way frames.

removing image distortion animation

I did a similar noise removal for the foreground, but that’s much easier as it doesn’t move. The foreground and sky now exist in separate images. They need to be combined in Photoshop using a mask.

Finally the image needs to be un-distorted — I shot these photos with an 8mm fisheye which gives the world a weird fishbowl shape.