Image of the Week

Milky Way over the Karoo, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

Canon EOS R5 with Canon RF 15-35mm f/2,8L IS USM lens at 15mm.

ISO 6400. 15 sec at f/2.8. Exposure set manually.

There are very few places where the night sky is as spectacular as on a cold and clear night in the Great Karoo.  This particular image was captured in the Middelburg/ Steynsburg area. It was an extremely cold night with a crescent moon which was low down in the western sky. The image is actually a vertical panorama of three individual horizontally formatted images. The Core of the Milky way, so clearly visible, was at about 42° above the horizon. The three images spanned beyond the celestial zenith, so that the southern cross and its pointers can be seen towards the upper right hand corner. The Southern Cross was about 45° above the south western horizon. The panorama thus extends about 140° across the sky from an ENE to a SW direction.

The crescent moon (15%) was sufficient to light up the foreground at the exposure I was using for the sky, so there was no need to either adjust the shadows setting in post-processing or do a composite with different exposures for the foreground and the sky.

The camera was mounted on a Gitzo 1548 tripod with a RRS PG-02 LR Pano-Gimbal Head. The R5 is fitted with an RRS  L Plate set. The camera could then be attached to the Pano-Gimbal head in the horizontal position and can be panned vertically with good accuracy as to the extent of overlap of the individual frames. Being a vertical compostion with the foreground only in the first frame, there was no issue with parallax.

Saturn has just risen above the horizon – slightly right of centre  of the image above the distant mountains.

I had intended to do some star-tracked images as well as a time lapse and star trails but the extreme cold got the better of the feeling in my (gloved) fingers. So called it a “night”.