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  • - So as a photographer, I have this long running list

  • of photos that I want to someday take,

  • and one of them looks a lot like this.

  • There's a large sprawling valley

  • and snow-covered mountaintops,

  • but of course the main focus of this photo

  • is the beautiful Milky Way,

  • cutting straight through the center of the sky.

  • So I hit up the person who took all of those photos

  • to teach me how they do it.

  • Welcome back to "Full Frame," buds.

  • Becca's first astrophoto.

  • On not just a DSLR or mirrorless either.

  • - All right, Becca.

  • So really regardless of what you're shooting with,

  • you have to know where to go and when to go

  • to get the perfect shot of the stars.

  • (upbeat music)

  • my name's Bettymaya Foott.

  • I am the Director of Engagement

  • for the International Dark Sky Association

  • and an astrophotographer.

  • Basically you want to avoid light pollution

  • that can be caused by a number of things.

  • Skyglow is light scattered in the atmosphere

  • from a nearby city or town,

  • obscuring the view of the night sky.

  • Glare is light that's entering your field of view

  • at shallow angles that causes visual discomfort.

  • Light trespass is light from another property

  • trespassing onto your property or into your home.

  • At the International Dark sky Association,

  • we work to protect the night from artificial light.

  • So a great place to go to start to look for a dark place

  • is our International Dark Sky Places program,

  • but there are a lot of other places around the world

  • that are still great to shoot. One of my favorite maps

  • to look at online is lightpollutionmap.info.

  • So when you've found your place to shoot,

  • you're gonna wanna take a look at the moon cycle

  • and figure out where the moon is in its phase

  • before you go out to shoot.

  • If you're looking for that really, really dark sky,

  • you're gonna wanna to go before the moon rises

  • or after the moon sets or during a new moon period.

  • It's also really great to use crescent moons

  • to light up your foreground as well

  • while not blocking out too much of the night sky,

  • and brighter moons are really good at brightening up

  • your foreground completely and it almost looks

  • like daytime with stars.

  • You're also gonna want to check the weather.

  • You want a good clear night with no clouds

  • in order to see the most amount of stars.

  • - [Becca] Bettymaya and I decided

  • that we'd meet in Ridgeway, Colorado,

  • which is right near Top of the Pines Recreation Area.

  • It happens to be the most recently designated

  • Dark Sky park in the US.

  • So I called in some filming friends and away we went.

  • - [Pilot] Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to be the first

  • to welcome you to Denver, where the local time is 1:34 PM.

  • - [Becca] And there was one more expert I enlisted

  • to help us take the perfect photo of the night sky.

  • Give us another clap.

  • - Good morning.

  • My name is Val Szwarc and welcome

  • to the San Juan Mountains outside of Ridgeway, Colorado.

  • (upbeat music)

  • I'm a retired meteorologist.

  • I used to work for NOAA in Boulder

  • and I'm the local dark sky point of contact

  • for Ridgeway, Colorado and Top of the Pines.

  • - Whoop.

  • I'm a little concerned about how cold we're gonna be.

  • Both Val and Bettymaya stressed the importance

  • of scouting your location during the day,

  • and making sure you will have nighttime access.

  • So our local guide Val led us up to Top of the Pines

  • to get a lay of the land.

  • - [Bettymaya] This is our big break, Val.

  • - This is such a nice open horizon.

  • - So I'm looking for just something intriguing

  • that will draw your eye into the foreground.

  • And you're also noticing kind of any leading lines

  • or any color blocks or different parts of the landscape

  • that are gonna draw your eye to a particular

  • part of the photo.

  • - After a whole bunch of scouting and truthfully

  • getting most things wrong.

  • And the Milky Way comes out of the west this time of year?

  • - No, it comes out of the east.

  • It's gonna be probably right over here like this.

  • The brightest part of the Milky Way

  • is gonna to be below the horizon, actually.

  • - [Becca] We agreed upon a spot, did our last checks

  • of where the Milky Way and major constellation would be

  • before heading home to prepare our gear.

  • (upbeat music)

  • Bettymaya brought along the Canon 5D mark IV

  • with a Sigma 14 millimeter F1.8

  • and also a Canon 6D with a Rokinon 24 millimeter F1.4.

  • You might notice that the lenses she brought

  • are both wide and they stop down to at least an F1.8.

  • - When you shoot with a wider lens,

  • you can expose for a longer amount of time

  • before you notice the trailing in the stars.

  • - I see.

  • I decided to bring along the Canon 5D mark IV

  • with a Canon 24 millimeter F1.4, and then of course,

  • the Pixel 6 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro.

  • And we took our last few moments of warmth

  • to dial in camera settings as well.

  • - Changing our focus to manual focus here on our lens.

  • White balance, it's good to start in daylight.

  • We're gonna change our shutter speed.

  • We're doing moonlight shots.

  • We'll start at about 10 seconds.

  • Let's go down to aperture 2.2. - Roger.

  • - We'll take our ISO, let's start with 3,200

  • since we're doing 10 seconds.

  • Then we are going to make sure that our LCD brightness

  • is all the way down.

  • - Ooh, good call.

  • - And we're also gonna make sure we have image quality raw.

  • - And why is it important to keep your eyes

  • acclimated to darkness?

  • - So you can see the mountain lion that's coming to get you.

  • - Don't tell me that! Oh no.

  • - Are we (indistinct) with the Pelican or the backpack?

  • - [Bettymaya] Pelican.

  • (people talking softly)

  • (eerie music)

  • The last thing we had to do before hitting

  • the shutter button on our cameras was focusing.

  • The first step is to set your lens to manual focus,

  • then focus to infinity.

  • Next, bring up the live view

  • and punch in at least 10X magnification

  • in the middle of your screen and find a star.

  • Bring that star in and out of focus

  • until it is the smallest dot of light that you can make it.

  • Then finally, take a photo and don't forget to zoom in

  • and review your focus before you take any more.

  • (shutter clicking)

  • - [Bettymaya] I spent most of my childhood summers

  • sleeping on the trampoline as a kid,

  • looking up at the night sky.

  • To me, it always helped me wonder about the universe

  • as well as just understand that we're both so small,

  • but also so big and such a part of this infinite universe.

  • - [Becca] We spent close to four hours

  • out shooting that night, and it was incredible

  • to be under something so grandiose

  • in a space so vast and quiet and cold.

  • And although I wish the photos that we took

  • came out of our cameras looking as good

  • and contrasty and punchy as the photos you just saw,

  • well, unfortunately, there's one more part

  • to getting the perfect astrophoto.

  • (upbeat music)

  • - I like to think of editing photos

  • as I try to create a scene that makes me feel

  • like I felt when I was there experiencing that moment.

  • - [Becca] Bettymaya uses a combination of Lightroom,

  • Photoshop and a program called Starry Landscape Stacker

  • to reduce noise and bring out

  • what's called air glow in the image.

  • - Air glow are particles

  • releasing energy as light, as photons,

  • and here we can see it.

  • You can kind of see these lines.

  • - We ended up shooting with six different camera systems

  • while were out there, from Canon to Fuji,