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Milky Way Shoot (Part 2), Isle of Wight

Updated: Sep 3, 2022


It's another serving of milky way photography for you all, which is from another nightly outing on the Isle of Wight. It was early September 2021, during our annual stay on the island, when I decided to check out a new location on West Wight, near Brook Bay. It's just off the Military Road, which I've driven along hundreds of times. If you're looking for an enjoyable, picturesque coastal drive, they don't come much better than this. When the weather is on point, a daytime drive from Freshwater Bay to Blackgang is something special, with golden sands and white chalky cliffs, it's every bit the holiday brochure front cover. A straight road and a steady away attitude is all that it involves. Seeing is believing!

It was during one of these coastal drives that my wife pointed out a thatched roofed house. It was situated on the end of a row of houses, near Brook Bay. It had so much character and it typified the traditional houses that are scattered around the island, so it was a kind of 'Light Bulb' moment as far as astro photography is concerned. As you know, I place important emphasis on eye-catching foreground and the thatched roofed house definitely fitted into that category. At that moment I began to plan in my head a return visit at night, to place the house right under the night sky, with billions of stars and the milky way providing the main attraction.

I parked up at the entrance of Brook Bay Farm, then made my way along the path that ran through it. As you can imagine, it was pitch dark and it was only 9pm. As I was setting up my tripod I noticed fireworks going off behind me. It was the last display of 2021 from Needles Park, Alum Bay. What a display! I didn't bother shooting the firework display, as it was away in the far distance and I had much bigger fish to fry. The earlier cloud cover has now passed and the sky was completely clear and void of any moon. I'd call that and ideal opportunity to photograph the nice sky. Oh yes, it was game on. The milky way looked immense as it towered over me as I got ready to fire off my first test shots. Unlike the previous night at Culver Down, I was using my Canon R5 body, coupled with a Samyang 24mm prime lens. Again ,there was barely a breeze. I must admit, before I took my first shot I took time out to stargaze and take it all in for a couple of minutes. This was a true night sky I was looking at, with zero light pollution and 360 degrees of crystal clear clarity.

To begin the session, I grabbed the thatched roof shots that I wanted. It was a lovely scene, with a path offering a nice lead in, plus lit up windows, which I love on shots like this. The only downside was a transit van parked right in front of the house. How very dare they lol. I felt like banging on their door and asking them to move it back a few yards, but decided against it, as I didn't fancy a clout in the gob! Ah well, you can only wee-wee with the tail you've got, eh.

The detail in the galactic core was immense and this was probably the best and most photogenic I've seen of the milky way. The Isle of Wight is the most amazing dark sky area and quite possibly the best the UK has to offer. I felt quite privileged to be stood where I was and I was determined to make the most of it.

I spent around 45 minutes on location, before heading back to the car and calling it a day. By this time the Military Road was very busy with traffic, all heading away from the firework display at Alum Bay. My work was done and it time to head back to our base at Newbridge, for the usual late night review of my images, accompanied with a beer or two. Another great night with the camera. I loved every minute of it, despite being out there alone in the pitch dark. You become so engrossed in what you're doing that you never stop to think about anything else but the job in hand. That night sky does a hell of a job keeping you transfixed!!!

Here is a map showing the Military Road on West Wight...

I'd highly recommend the Isle of Wight for a staycation. It's a photographers dream during the day, and when night falls, it becomes alive once again, in a very different way. It's a total win win. The Mrs is more than happy to wind down and chill out in the holiday home for a couple of hours while I'm out with the camera at night. As the galactic core begins to dip below the horizon, I'm out of there. Another productive night has been ticked off nicely. I'm not finished yet though - I've got one more location on my radar before we head back home. It's St. Catherine's Lighthouse, near Niton, on the most southern tip of the island. I've seen some brilliant night time images of this place and it's time to put my spin on it and get it ticked off.

That's next up, so stay tuned for that, folks.

Until then, Stay safe and I'll catch you soon. Thanks again for dropping by!


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