Milky Way Infrared

I had the opportunity to travel to the Torrance Barrens, a region of Ontario that is certified for it’s clear and dark night skies. The occasion was for the less-than-impressive Camelopardalid meteor shower. It was a gamble, and while the meteors were in short supply, there were plenty of stars to photograph.

This image was challenging because it was photographed in infrared. Just as our sun can produce ample amounts of IR light, so too can the distant stars in the night sky. You need to work with photographic extremes to yield usable images, however. This panorama was shot at F/1.4 and ISO 6400 with a 15 second exposure to keep the stars from blurring in the sky. I couldn’t push things much further than this, and post processing was also tricky… but there was enough light to make an image.

It’s interesting to note that the clouds show up incredibly well in this image, but where nearly invisible to the naked eye or our cameras shooting in the visible spectrum. It could be that the clouds reflect IR light very well, and that they were illuminated from distant light pollution – this that’s just a guess. The dark areas of the milky way were darker than expected as well, creating a very nice look at the heart of our galaxy.

click image for larger version