Drakensburg Mountains South Africa at night, How I made that photo
above, the milky way spread out over the Drakensburg Mountians, South Africa
Those of you who follow me or @natgeo on instagram have already seen this photo. But since it is the most popular photo I've ever posted on our young Nat Geo instagram feed has seen I thought I might say how I made it.
In the couple days that I was in the Drakensburg Mountians I was struck by how clear the nights were. In the moments before the moon would rise it was as if you could touch the stars. However, the first couple days I was there was just after a full moon and the moon would rise not long after dark and wash the sky out. My last evening out I figured that I had 3 hours between darkness and moonrise.
I wanted to be far enough away from the mountains that the sky could stretch out and the picture would express the vastness I feel in the Draks so I chose a location out a way from the escarpment facing the famous Drakensburg Amphitheater.
The lens is a 16-35mm zoom at its widest setting and I framed the mountains along the bottom edge. I know this distorts them just a bit but that was the price to pay for capturing such a large expanse of sky. I had tried a 24mm and it just didn't give me the scope I was after. The lens is wide open at f 2.8. I am shooting a Canon 5D MK III these days and I have to say its high iso performance is stellar. This photo is shot at iso 4000 for 10 seconds. I was making a time lapse (it is too big to load from here, but maybe I'll put it up when I get home if people want to see it) so I put the camera on a tripod in a location out of the wind and used a canon intervalometer to fire the camera every 30 seconds.
The conversion is with Lightroom. I find Lightroom works very well when I am converting many images for a time lapse.
Someone asked me about the orange color along port of the horizon, it is not the Southern Aurora rather bush fire that the local Zulu use to regenerate their grazing lands. An added bonus of this location is that it also happened to be near the excellent Montusi Lodge. I managed to eat an excellent dinner while making the time lapse.