First run at long exposure

I was up north in Ely, MN this past week with my family for our annual trip to Camp du Nord. Ely is my favorite spot for star gazing because there is no place in the U.S. that I have been that has more visible and plentiful stars. It looks unreal even just with the naked eye. I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to practice my long exposure star photography (without star trails) and take a first crack at it. 

Mission: Capture the beautiful north Minnesota stars and Milky Way (finished product at bottom)

So for this, I just used my 50mm lens with no filter of any kind, but I unfortunately have a crop sensor camera so I think that was my first problem with doing this.

The result looks kind of cool but it far too grainy because I had the ISO a little too high. I was shooting in RAW so I was able to bring out some of the amazing natural colors in the sky but If you zoom in at all on the image, the noise becomes distracting and is not as smooth as I wanted.

All in all though, this was my absolute FIRST time shooting a long exposure to any degree and I am happy that I could do it at all! You can see the milky way clearly and I did not have any star trails so I succeeded in that regard. I obviously made some mistakes but that is how you learn. I am visiting Iceland in about 2 months so I am making some serious notes already so I can be ready for the amazing skies with no light pollution, brilliant northern lights, and at a time where there will be a new moon! I am excited to try again and see if I can get it perfect this time.

Sophie Hoover