PHLEARN MagazineHow Chung Hu Captured This Panoramic Milky Way Crescent

How Chung Hu Captured This Panoramic Milky Way Crescent

After gaining experience as a wedding photographer, software developer Chung Hu began looking for opportunities to combine his passion for technology with his love of photography – and found himself drawn to precision involved in capturing the perfect landscape.

An avid traveler and eager adventurer, Chung said he is always searching for dramatic, vibrant scenery to shoot. And what could be more dramatic than the spectacular curve of the milky way?

“I picked up a panoramic leveling base a few months ago, and I was itching to give it a test run,” said Chung, adding that the timing of the purchase perfectly coincided with the appearance of the milky way arch, which is particularly visible from the Northern Hemisphere during the early summer months.

In search of the ideal location, Chung said he made a trip out to rural Texas. Not only was he hoping to find a relatively unlit area that would make the stars stand out against the velvety blackness of the night sky, he was also on the lookout for a specific local landmark.

“I’ve heard that this oak tree is getting very popular among Texas photographers,” he said, “but it was just me shooting that night. In fact, I think I was the only person in the campground.”

After scouting the location and planning his shot with PhotoPills, Chung decided to place an F&V HDV-Z96 LED light behind the tree to create enough backlighting that the twisted trunk would still be visible in the dark – and then climbed on top of his car to do some light painting to brighten up the front of the tree.

Equipment & Settings

Canon 5D Mark IV

30.4 MP full-frame CMOS sensor, Up to 7.0 frames per second continuous shooting speed, 4K video recording

View on B&H   View on Amazon

Rokinon 24mm f/1.4

Fast f/1.4 Wide-Angle 24mm Lens, Manual Focus & Manual Exposure, Multi-Layer Coating to Reduce Flare

View on B&H   View on Amazon

Really Right Stuff TVC-34

Load Capacity: 50 lb, Max Height: 68.8″, Weight: 4.7 lb

View on B&H   

Really Right Stuff TA-3 Leveling Base

Lever-Release Clamp and Hook, Load Capacity:25 lb, 30 Degrees Total Leveling

View on B&H   

F&V HDV-Z96 LED Light

Daylight Balanced: 5600K (3200K w/ Tungsten Filter), Dimmable (0-100%),

View on Amazon

Using a Canon 5D Mark IV and a Rokinon 24mm f1.4 lens, mounted to his Really Right Stuff TVC-34 tripod and Really Right Stuff TA-3 leveling base, Chung got to work shooting the many individual shots that would eventually make up this stunning capture.

“This is a seven-slice panoramic,” he said. “Each slice is made from eight identical images for noise reduction – with the noise-stacking images, this image is composed of 56 individual shots. The end result was over 100 megapixels.”

And, according to Chung, the leveling base came in incredibly handy. Once the level is set, he said, doing the panoramic capture was a breeze – even in complete darkness.

More of Chung’s photography can be found on his website. His portfolio is impressive, showcasing his ability to use his technical background to achieve the ideal timing and lighting for capturing stunning landscape shots from destinations around the world. His work can also be seen on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and 500px.

Jessi Gowan

Jessi Gowan is an award-winning writer and photographer who specializes in rural landscapes and fine art abstracts, with a focus on form and composition. Her photography has been included in a variety of publications, as well as in exhibitions in Canada and the United States.

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