Starscapes - Matt Walker
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Milky Way Airglow

Milky Way Airglow

Milky Way Airglow won best landscape image of 2013 in Popular Photography Magazine
I drove up to Yosemite after work, and got stuck in horrible traffic. I missed the sunset, but arrived at Glacier Point with enough light to set up my gear, and get my panoramic sections dialed in. My friend, Mark, was already there, arriving a few hours prior. When it got dark we were surprised to see the Milky Way higher in the sky than anticipated, and we had to react quickly adjusting our cameras higher in the sky to capture the full arc. I now realize that this shot is better achieved in late May, or June as the Milky Way appears more centered, and lower in the sky when it gets dark.
During the shoot we noticed strange greenish bands, or clouds showing up on the LCD screens. We were baffled at the phenomenon, and eventually we could see the strange cloudy light with our eyes. It was like déjà vu because I had experienced this when I shot the Milky Way at Davenport last month.
It wasn’t until Kristal Leonard posted a shot from Tunnel View on the same night describing the phenomenon of Airglow.
Kristal writes, “Last Friday night, I saw one of the most amazing displays of airglow I've ever seen! Airglow is light that originates in the high atmosphere and is associated with photochemical reactions of gases caused by solar radiation, but is chemically different than aurora. The bands of airglow were radiating from the East and were wavier than I've ever seen them. They were so strong, I could see them with the naked eye (which I've never been able to do.)”

So Yeah! We got a shot of the Milky Way with Airglow over Half Dome.

This photo was challenging . The Milky Way was moving really fast, and it took a total of five shots per panoramic. Each shot took thirty seconds.
Because we had to move our cameras during the shoot, we decided to wait until dawn to re-shoot the foreground at a lower ISO. We crashed on the ground next to our cameras for a few hours until 4 a.m.
This image is a total of ten shots: five shots at ISO 100 for the foreground, and five shots at ISO 2,500 for the sky.

2013Glacier PointHalf DomeMilky WayYosemiteairglowrootswalkermatt walkerphotography