We have all seen those majestic images of the Milky Way stretching across the star-filled night sky. It is one of those things that digital photography over the last five years or so has really made possible in a way that it never was before. Ian Norman is a photographer and educator who spends much of his time specifically teaching photographers about taking these stunning night sky images through his website, Lonely Speck.
While on a recent flight from the U.S. to Budapest, Hungary, Norman and his girlfriend attempted to do something incredibly challenging, take some of these beautiful night sky images from the window of the jetliner. In a new video, Norman talks about his process for attempting to shoot and process this sort of image. For anyone remotely interested in trying this on their next flight this is a must watch.
Taking an image of the starry sky from a jetliner cruising at 36,000 feet is a task that poses a number of challenges, starting with controlling and limiting the reflection from light off the window in the plane cabin, and shooting with a shutter speed high enough to limit blur from the motion and turbulence of the plan being in flight.
Milky Way at 450 Knots. Never thought it possible to photograph the galactic center from an airliner. This shot is 51 seconds (39*1.3s) of total exposure time over Croatia. @dianasouth did the exposing on this one while I held up a black jacket to cover the reflections from inside the cabin. The biggest challenge was dealing with the movement of the camera (it's hard to handhold a camera that still for so long, especially with the vibration of the plane). Made processing for this one fun. I'm putting the technique we used into a video tutorial for lonelyspeck.com. Sony a7s, 21mm/1.8, f/1.8, 39×1.3s, ISO 12800
Beyond just taking the shot, Norman goes into how he decided to process this image to get the best result. This, as you may know if you have ever attempted processing a night sky image – or any image for that matter – is half the battle. Norman shares some great insight on how he was able to get a good result.
The night sky is a tricky beast, but with the right know-how and a little luck, you too can capture some incredible images of it as well. Norman’s site, Lonely Speck, features a ton of great tutorials on the subject.