Milky Way in Death Valley

Cecilia Zhang ☕
Badwater Basin in Death Valley

Shot in Fujifilm X-T4. f/2.8, 20, ISO 1600.

There was a time when I thought astrophotography is not that interesting. I felt that the beauty of the galaxy requires you to be there, to be emmersive with the scene.

After my first Milky Way shooting adventure, I realized that it is the process of adjusting all the camera parameters to get the right focus, exposure and image quality, that makes this experience fascinating. I don't enjoy all part of it -- I don't like the fear of being in the middle of nowhere, seeing nothing but the galaxy, though spectacular, and being afraid some random living life would attack me all of the sudden... Maybe I should trust the wild nature and animals a bit more.

I make sure the focus and composition is correct by setting the maximum ISO so that the exposure time is short enough for fast turnarounds. Exposure time cannot be set long because the stars move, I found 15-20 seconds a good range. This also limits the ISO and the aperture, but thankfully I can do a f/2.8 and focus on infinity since everything is lightyears' away.

After many trials of getting crappy quality photos, I finally get to a somewhat satisfying one shown here. Summertime seems a good choice to shoot Milky Way in Death Valley -- it's warm late at night, but driving around during the day is quite painful -- heat kills!

P.S. The front cover of this blog is one of my favorite photos I've taken in this trip -- clean and peaceful.