Here on Vancouver Island in these final days of summer the Milky Way arches high overhead during evening twilight. To see it well, you really need to be far away from the lights of the city. Big Beach, on the extreme west coast of the island, is one such place.

In a recent Blog post I explained how Chris Boar and I created a stunning shot of a bride and groom on this starry beach, right next door to the Blackrock Oceanfront Resort.

Since it was cold and dark on the beach (and muddy, since the tide had just gone out) we didn’t want to test the limits of the bride and groom by asking them to stand around in the dark any longer than necessary. But, we were still keen to keep shooting photos after they left. So, I mounted my Canon 6D on my iOptron SkyTracker (a neat little device that allows the camera to track the stars over long exposures) and cracked off a few 30-second exposures at 1,600 ISO using my 15mm fisheye lens wide-open at f2.8. This was the same background exposure we had used for the bride and groom shot, but for these shots I turned off the two studio strobe lights, so the foreground was essentially dark.

Of the half-dozen shots I took, this one is my favourite.

I love the way the stars are reflected in the tide pool on the beach! (Note the stars in the tide pool have registered as streaks, because their mirror-like reflection – and apparent motion – is “backwards” from the stars in the sky above, essentially doubling their motion compared to the camera on the SkyTracker… at least that’s what I think. (Any Physics or Optics experts out there that have a better explanation?)

Although I normally work as a real estate photographer in Nanaimo, BC I love to indulge my passion for astronomy in my spare time.

Milky Way – Big Beach