Milky Way Above Zabraskie Point (Death Valley National Park)

I’m very intrigued by night photography/astrophotography/star photography – whatever it is called – these days and alot of that has to do with the camera I bought earlier this year. My old Canon Rebel T3i is a FANTASTIC camera but I just don’t think capturing the Milky Way like this would be possible on that body – it probably is and I’m sure if I googled Milky Way T3i I’d find something similar – but I am just continuously amazed at what the Nikon D750 can do and the way it handles noise in images. This was taken at ISO 6400 with a shutter speed of 21 seconds. My lens is not ‘optimal’ for star photography in that it ONLY goes to f/4 (as opposed to the lenses that can open to f/2.8 or even f/1.2) but even with a 21 second exposure I think the stars are pretty sharp.

The GENERAL rule with stars is that they should be pretty sharp and show up as single points of light as long as you follow the rule of 500. That rule essentially says that as long as you keep the exposure time below 500 divided by the focal length (I shot this at 16mm) your stars will be pretty clean. Thus, I tried to keep my exposures below 25 seconds (just to be on the safe side – I’ve heard anything over 25 seconds is going to show some blur regardless of the focal length because of how fast the earth rotates).

Milky Way Above Zabraskie Point (Death Valley National Park)

Milky Way over Zabraskie Point (Death Valley National Park)

I stayed out all night shooting – I got 20 minutes of sleep when I pulled off on the side of the road to take a power nap – before heading to the Mesquite Dunes for some early morning shots (after shooting there in the morning I took another 20 minute nap before starting the trip back to Vegas so 40 minutes total sleep in the last 36+ hours – yikes! 😦). There was a fair amount of wind (unexpected) in Death Valley last night which meant the dunes were pretty smooth and free of footprints this morning so I’m actually pretty happy with some of my dune shots from this trip whereas on my last trip I threw every one of them in the trash almost immediately. I will say there are some things I could have done better with these Milky Way shots though. I’ll have to post on that when I have some more energy – now to take a quick nap before dinner tonight.


10 thoughts on “Milky Way Above Zabraskie Point (Death Valley National Park)

  1. Pingback: Mesquite Dunes at Sunrise (Death Valley National Park) | The (Semi-Regular) Roaming Lama

    • Thanks! It was an exhausting day and driving back I wasn’t sure it was worth it but getting that single shot of the milky way and a bunch of the dunes made it well worth it.

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