Larry Treadwell  

Morning Glory by Larry Treadwell

April 2021 - Morning Glory

About the Image(s)

Morning Glory

Nikon D850, 24-70mm lens, ISO 1000, f2.8, 15 second shutter speed.

The so called “Milky Way Season” is once again upon us. Beginning in March and extending into November the Milky Way becomes visible in the northern hemisphere and this means on clear nights I’ll be out with my camera photographing my favorite subject. Fortunately, I live in an area where there are some dark skies and so when the weather gods grant me a clear night I’m out and about.

March 15th was my first opportunity of this “season” to attempt a capture. Although the position, altitude and time changes throughout the season the basic compass direction for a siting is above the southern horizon between the south east and the south west. Fortunately south Florida has a dark southern sky as there is nothing between our southern coastline and South America. This month’s image was taken from a roadside turnout along the Overseas Highway that extends from the Florida mainland to Key West. I left my home at about 11 p.m. and then drove nearly three hours to reached my destination just south of the famed Seven Mile Bridge near the southern end of the Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys. After parking at a roadside turnout I scrambled toward the sea over several hundred feet of seaweed covered wet sand and broken coral rock at low tide. As you can see from the photo the Florida Keys are so flat that the rising and receding tides may expose great amounts of so called beach at low tide. Armed with my camera, tripod, a folding lawn chair and my Yeti mug of ice tea I sloshed across the beach in search of a foreground. Using the app Photopills I located a lone dead tree and the exposed rocks seemed to be in the right position so I set up my chair and camera and settled in to wait for the Milky Way to rise. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a clear night rapidly became cloudy and much of the time the Milky Way was obscured from view. I did manage a somewhat interesting image during the middle of the night. This image may be seen on the DD Group #67 page this month, should you care to look. The image I chose to post here for Group #36 was taken in the last moments before the rising sun overpowered the dim light of the Milky Way. The light of the new dawn is visible on the left and the core of the Milky Way can be seen above the dead tree. I was fortunate to capture a shooting star on the far right and for those with good eyesight, a second shooting star is also faintly visible. The tree and the rocks in the foreground were illuminated by light painting using my Petzl hiker’s headlamp on low setting for only 2-3 seconds of the 15 second exposure. There is a little bit of extra, unplanned light, that appears on the tree. As 18 wheeler semi approached my location from about a ½ mile away the light from the headlamps partially light the tree from the right. I know the light looks a bit fake coming from the right, but I still liked the image and felt it added a bit of surrealism. As the image maker I feel I’m permitted such a liberty. The ISO was 1000 and the aperture 2.8 with a focal length of 24mm. I remained in my chair with my iced tea, while my feet and tripod were slowly being soaked by the rising tide until the light from the sunrise obliterated the Milky Way. After capturing this shot all that was left to do was pack and return to the car for the drive home. Although there was a stop for breakfast along the Overseas Highway and when I reached home, a much overdue nap.

11 comments posted

Richard White   Richard White
Larry, another intersting photo, really enjoy reading you description about your adventure . I looked at your photo on group 67, but I like this one better. In this photo I enjoyed the shooting stars and you're right they added to the photo. What makes this photo is the lone dead tree and the light painting on it. Also, I believe, the horizon and clouds help to define this photo. Only issue I have is the water if front and to the right of the tree are streaks of light, which I found distracing. I would have removed them.   Posted: 04/03/2021 13:55:08
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks Richard.
Thanks for the suggestion about the stars and their reflection in the water. I didn't remove them because I can't clone out something if the image is to be entered in a reality based competition. Still, it is a good idea.   Posted: 04/03/2021 15:19:30

Michael Jack   Michael Jack
Another great story to go with the image. I agree the light from the right looks opposite of what would be expected with dawn emerging from the left, but it still works. I like the foreground and the tree which had a strong branch that leads to the Milky Way and helps form a triangle in the image and keeps my eye in the image. My only suggestion is to apply more of the dehaze filter in LR if you use that to create more structure in the Milky Way core.   Posted: 04/03/2021 17:32:40
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks. I was frustrated trying to drag more detail out of that core. I'll try that dehaze idea. I used Lightroom and saw that I did use it a little bit but perhaps a more heavy handed push on that slider would help.   Posted: 04/04/2021 08:50:41
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
You see the same thing I did with the odd light. It looks strange, but still somehow seemed to work.   Posted: 04/04/2021 08:56:08

Arne Skinlo   Arne Skinlo
I really like this picture. It is both spooky and beautiful at the same time. I am learning light painting now and I think you have succeeded well with this one. If I should make any suggestions for improvement, it would be to crop slightly at the top and bottom and darken slightly a the bottom as the rocks take attention from the tree.   Posted: 04/04/2021 02:09:30
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
For me the image is just too darn tall. It feel awkward. But I rejected cropping from the top because that would either eliminate the shooting star or leave it crowded against the top of the frame. I could crop some from the bottom, and perhaps dim the light on the rocks.

I tried to get a lower camera angle and shoot upward so reduce the space between the tree and the MW but there was just too much water and the camera would have to get wet.   Posted: 04/04/2021 08:55:15

Barbara Gore   Barbara Gore
I thought my driving 1.5 hours in the middle of the night was long…3 hours…good for you!
One of my favorite things to photograph is the Milky Way. A good foreground and natural processing are critical to a realistic image. It's challenging to get the core to look natural and not overprocessed. I like the touch of pink from the sunrise along with the meteor and satellites. I usually like to see more of the MW in the sky, but your choice of the foreground works however the lights on the tree and rocks are a bit too intense for me. I would prefer to see just enough light to balance the foreground with the sky. Additionally, as this image was shot closer to sunrise did you try shooting the foreground during the blue hour with a smaller
f-stop to get more depth of field and then blending?

  Posted: 04/10/2021 08:50:27

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks for the comment. I would have liked to see more of the Milky Way also, but the clouds rolled in and messed up my plans. I was there for about 4 hours and for most of the blue hours it was just clouds. The Milky Way in Florida is hard to shoot because of our humidity. We just don't get those crisp clear skies with billions of stars. Had to use the dehaze filter to bring out even this much of the MW.   Posted: 04/10/2021 11:55:15

Jane Thomas   Jane Thomas
Love this image Larry and your adventures to get it.

The tree and its shape is a great subject, along with the Milky Way. The lighting and the colours do it justice. A little dehazing on the sky would make that beautiful milky way pop a bit more.   Posted: 04/11/2021 14:08:46

Bill Peake   Bill Peake
Larry, your images continue to amaze me, along with your adventures to get them. This image is stunning! I actually like the more subdued Milky Way in your image. It is definitely there but does not looked forced. You could use dehaze to pull it out more, but I'm not really sure that is necessary. I also love the dead tree by the water and the lighting in the sky. I did notice the weird lights in the water that Richard mentioned, but since this is a reality based competition, you can't clone them out. You might be able to burn them out at least make them less noticeable since dodging and burning is typically allowed in reality based competitions.   Posted: 04/14/2021 23:22:37


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