I’ve been waiting for the right conditions to attempt a photo like this for a while now, and finally, this weekend I had that opportunity to do so.
It was freezing that night, the air so clear and crisp, the temperature was hovering close to 0 deg c, and even less on the top of the mountain. The hike up in the dark was certainly challenging, especially with around 20kg of camera gear on my back. There were far too many steps along the steep inclines, and deep muddy tracks in certain areas. But with all of that, I was rewarded once I got to the top after an hours climb.
The view was amazing! I could see close to a 270 degree view of Wellington New Zealand, and the surrounding area. I arrived at the top close to 11.30pm, unpacked my gear and setup for the night of photographing ahead. The moon was getting low as it was setting in the west. I had to wait until that had set until I attempted my hero shot, but did manage to get a few good shots of the moon while it was setting.
The moon set was quite spectacular, but that was not what I set out to capture that night. As the moon slipped below the mountains of New Zealand’s South Island, I changed my lens on my Canon 5d MkIII down to a Canon 14mm f/2.8, and began my test shots. I’ve shot a lot of stars and night time shots before, but this was definitely the most technical and challenging I’ve been faced with. I wasn’t even sure if I could achieve the shot I wanted due to the intense light pollution coming from Wellington city. But fortunately, the mass of the Milky Way was off to the right of the city, and that gave me more of a chance to capture it. I used a graduated ND filter to suppress the city lights, but I still had to get the exposure of the city below and sky above pretty much perfect to pull the shot off. Finally after shooting until 4am, I made my way back down the mountain and went off home to get some much needed sleep.
The final shot consists of 7 images, all shot with just one exposure, stitched together to give you an almost 180 degree view of the city and the sky above. You can find a higher resolution image of the Milky Way above Wellington, New Zealand panorama here.
Due to an overwhelming response – The Milky Way Above Wellington, is now available as a print in various sizes and paper finishes. Just follow this link and click on BUY IMAGE above the photo for the various print options.