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The Story Behind the Photo: The Milky Way Above Mount Assiniboine

October 11, 2016  •  Leave a Comment


I started doing astrophotography in 2014 upon purchasing a Nikon D800E, which had the extended ISO range, long exposure controls, and high quality wide angle lenses (e.g. Sigma ART series) to enable good results.  Up until that point I was using a Pentax 645D medium format camera, which I really liked, but which was mostly unusable for night time photography.


For a multi-day backpack to Mount Assiniboine, British Columbia, I decided to try to shoot Assiniboine backed by the Milky Way.  A star chart indicated that the direction would be feasible, and I was going to be there during a new (no) moon.


I chose to shoot from an overlook of the mountain which was about 1/2 mile from where I was camping.  Walking at night in grizzly country is always a little disconcerting to me, as grizzlies often use trails at night, and I learned that there was a sow with cubs in the area.  I backpacked alone, and I walked around at night alone.  If I were to surprise a grizzly at night, I surmised the outcome would likely not be good for me.  As I walked, I would say in loud voice "Hey, Bear", and every once in a while, I would do a "Crazy Ivan" [a full 360 degree turn, popularized by the movie The Hunt for Red October]. 




I reached the overlook.  The sky was clear and the stars were amazingly bright, in part because I was 20 miles away from the nearest road.  The Milky Way location was clear to the naked eye.  The photo above is actually a panorama of 15 stitched frames shot with a Sigma 35mm ART lens.  There were two clear nights in all when I was able to shoot the mountain.  It was truly spectacular, and I'm so very glad I went.




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