(Pocket-lint) – Each year, travel photography blog Capture the Atlas puts on an awards competition to find the Milky Way Photographer of the Year.
This year, 25 of the best photos have been selected from entries from all around the world. Photographers from 12 countries including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Iran, Turkey, Brazil, Spain,
Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Greece have submitted their images.
As you’ll see, the quality of these images is astounding.
Cadini di Misurina, Dolomites
This photo was taken in Cadini di Misurina, Dolomites in Italy by photographer Stefano Pellegrini.
It shows a fantastic view of the Milky Way over the Italian mountainside. This photo wasn’t an easy one to pull off though, as the photographer explains:
“This was from a great Milky Way trip in the Italian Dolomites, although there were some challenges because of the weather. First of all, I took this picture in May when the snow had almost melted, so I had to make the ascent to “Auronzo” on foot instead of by snowmobile. Also, the path was hard because I had walk it in the middle of a heavy snowstorm.
Fortunately, once I was at the top, the sky completely opened, a good sign for the night shooting. After a brief rest in the winter shelter, I started the hike to this spectacular location at midnight. Once I was at the spot, the compositional possibilities were very limited. This place, which is very popular during the summer, was completely different covered in snow. The whole ridge was covered in a 3-meter coat of puffy snow that made very dangerous to get too close to the edge. I placed the camera as close as possible to the rim to capture the mountain range, and then I moved all the way up to the right to complete the shoot with myself.”
The Forgotten side of Kanagaroo Island
Taken on Kangaroo Island in Australia, this image is great for several reasons. Not only does it show a fantastic view of the Milky Way but also of an area fortunately not touched by the fires that had ravaged other areas of Oz around the time.
“This image was captured at Baudin Beach on Kangaroo Island. This part of the island was luckily not affected by the devastating bushfires in 2020. It is a capture of the rising Galactic Center floating above the ocean and represents the way of life on the island “where people live at one with nature.””
Sometimes, it’s not just the subject of the photo that impresses, it’s also the framing.
Here Daniel Thomas Gum used the surrounding environment to create an impressive foreground to complement the magnificent backdrop.
“This is my favourite nightscape image to date. Mungo is a 12-hour drive away from my home in Sydney, but those Bortle 1 skies are the best I’ve ever witnessed and photographed at night. I had perfect conditions for three straight nights, with really good seeing throughout.
The moment I came upon this scene, I knew exactly what I wanted to the name the image. It was otherworldly – think Game of Thrones – and it lined up perfectly for how I wanted to capture it. Large, jagged walls framed a winding path leading to a centered spire to the west. There was only ever going to be one way to do it justice and that was as a multi- layered Milky Way panorama.”
Taking a good photo of the Milky Way isn’t just about good photography skills, it’s also about patience and dealing with the environment too.
As you can imagine, working in cold conditions like this proved challenging:
“I captured this image last winter in the Riaño Mountain Reservoir in Spain. The biggest difficulty that night was mainly the cold; it was over -10 degrees. The moisture in the reservoir was freezing the lens and it was difficult to shoot for a long period of time.”
When all the stars align
This one makes it look like the Milky Way is erupting from a volcano with an incredible view of the world backdropped perfectly by the Milky Way.
This area of California is also a great spot for capturing this kind of image due to the dark night skies.
“Some of the darkest skies in California are along Hwy 395 on the eastern side of the Sierras. This particular location, near Mammoth Lakes, is a unique spot where the vertical alignment of the Milky Way’s Galactic Core sits perfectly over a mountain peak and a creek with natural hot springs flowing into it.”
Around dead trees
Dead trees and a living, growing universe. An excellent juxtaposition full of colours and intrigue.
This view of Java, Indonesia certainly shows a beautiful part of the world surrounded by a magnificent night’s sky.
In this image an old church sits peacefully in a paddock in the Hunter Valley of NSW, Australia. In the sky above is a wonderful Milky Way arch stretching impressively across the sky.
A truly wonderful view which required clear weather in order to capture.
An absolutely staggering view of the water’s edge on the Pacific Coast. A beautiful beachside scene made all the more impressive by an unfathomable number of stars.
“If I had to choose my favorite place on earth, this might be it. Located on the Pacific Coast near Big Sur, it really has everything: a beautiful cove filled with emerald waters, an 80-foot waterfall that falls directly onto the beach, a palm tree that makes you feel like you’re on a tropical island, and a perfectly dark sky that shines bright with stars at night.”
From incredible locations to places where it looks like the land is dying, these award-winning photographs certainly have it all.
Photographer Phil Sisto spoke passionately about the location of this photo.
“Utah is a place that captured my heart from the beginning of my journey as a Milky Way photographer. Living in the light-polluted Midwest (I’m located in northeast Ohio), it takes three to four hours of driving from my home to arrive at any place where you can get an even satisfactory look at the stars. Because of this, I make my way out West every summer now, seeking out the darkest skies and most epic locations I can find to do photography.”
This brilliant view of the Milky Way was taken by Antonio Solano and shows the observatory at La Palma in the Canary Islands.
We enjoy this image because it shows a taste of what the telescope in the tower must be seeing.
This photo by Victor Lima required special permission from the local environmental agency in order to pull off.
It was taken at one of the National Parks in Brazil and shows a fantastic waterfall backdropped by Saturn and a mass of other stars seemingly stretching off into infinity.
Victor Lima spoke about the difficulties and the results:
“In the area closest to the main waterfalls, the big challenge was to make long exposure images with the strong water spray from the more than 1.5 million liters per second that fall through the waterfalls. Working with exposure times longer than 10 or 15 seconds became an almost impossible task and the lens was never dry.
In this image, we have one of the main waterfalls of the Iguazu Falls complex, the “Santa Maria Jump.” Right over the fall, we can see Saturn and the zodiacal light illuminating the horizon. Further up there is the Milky Way Core. We can also identify some of the main emission nebulae present in this region of the sky.”
At first glance this image looks like it was taken on another planet, but it was actually snapped at the Bisti Badlands in New Mexico.
Another astounding view from our magnificent planet of potentially millions more in the skies above.
Writing by Adrian Willings.