Sunday, April 7, 2013



This image, shot by Adam Woodworth Photography at Cape Neddick, Maine, USA, shows what kind of images can be achieved with little to no light pollution. There is a little light pollution in the image: the yellow/orange glow on the left side of the horizon is light pollution bouncing off the clouds from the Biddeford / Portland area.

Woodworth does find some more substantial light pollution in shooting the Milky Way at this location. As the Milky Way moves south in the sky, it moves towards Boston, Massachusetts; this results in the light pollution from Boston washing out that area of the sky substantially. ‘York, Maine, and Route 1 are right behind you at the lighthouse, lots of houses with lights on at night up and down the coast. The closest well known big cities are Portland, Maine, 56 kilometres (35 miles) north, and Boston, Mass, 97 kilometres (60 miles) south.’

From where Woodworth was positioned to take the image, turning left or right he saw glows in the distance from those cities and other smaller cities, including Biddeford, ME, 40 Kilometres (25 miles) away, and Portsmouth, NH, 16 kilometres (10 miles) away. Looking south at this location and towards Boston he could see a very intense glow. The only light pollution at the Nubble Lighthouse was from the lighthouse itself or from cars earlier in the evening.

Light pollution can be seen in this image, also captured by Adam Woodworth: This was taken in Kittery, Maine, 13 kilometres (8 miles) south of the lighthouse. There is visible haze from Boston, 97 kilometres (60 miles) away. As Woodworth says, ‘I'll admit that I sometimes use light pollution to photographic effect, but if I had a choice I'd always love to see the deep dark night sky. We need lights, but we can do better about controlling what they illuminate.’

Controlling illumination is a big issue and excessive and poorly directed lights use up a huge amount of energy. 2.2 billion dollars are wasted annually in the USA from streetlights alone. Simple solutions to combat such excessive illumination include using lower wattage bulbs, motion sensors and timers, and covering bulbs so that light only goes down where it is needed. Learn more about how to control illumination via International Dark-Sky Association and here:

Both images were shot with a Nikon D800E using the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, set at 14mm @ f/2.8.

Settings for ‘Milky Way Over Nubble Lighthouse’:
Composite of 5 exposures to get the foreground in focus and exposed better. Sky exposure is 30 seconds @ ISO 3200. The rest of the image is blended in with 4 other shots that are at ISO 3200, 1600, or 800, with exposure times of 30, 240, or 480 seconds.

Settings for ‘A Hint of the Milky Way from Fort Foster’:
Composite of 2 exposures. Sky exposure is 30 seconds at ISO 2000. Foreground is 240 seconds at ISO 1000.

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