If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing the Milky Way, then you know it looks like a long, straight, milky belt of stars shining above the earth. But, I’m sure you’ve also seen images, like the one below, that depict the galaxy as an all-encompassing arc spanning the sky and touching down on two sides like a rainbow. True, this is not reality, but hot damn, it makes for a striking photo. Check out what I mean in this image of the Milky Way over Palouse Falls in Washington by photographer Michael Brandt:
So, how did he do it? Brandt says he blended two vertical panoramas: one for the falls and canyon, and one for the sky. He used a Nikon D800, a focal length of 16mm, and 20 second exposures.
The effect can be replicated by taking a number of long exposures, focusing on different points, then stitching them together to create one image. The original images would show the Milky Way as being straight, as it really is. The post-stitched image, however, would show up with a curved horizon, which would have to be fixed with editing software. If you’re trying for the same effect, Photoshop or Lightroom can help you distort the image to flatten the horizon, at the same time pulling the Milky Way into this curved shape.
Give it a try. Let’s see what you come up with!
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