How I shot a Milky Way moonrise from an airplane seat

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How I shot a Milky Way moonrise from an airplane seat

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A couple of weeks ago I was blessed with a sight that truly left me in a state of awe. Shortly after leveling off onboard United 534 from Honolulu to Los Angeles, I tried my luck with some astrophotography over the crisp Pacific Ocean skies.

Having had some experience with these types of images in the past, I frantically began setting up. I mounted onto my window a LensSkirt lens hood (basically a black cover that blocks out reflections) and began taking a series of images. Unfortunately for me, the Boeing 777 was going through a light area of turbulence, and my images were blurry and revealing some cabin reflections. I packed up my stuff and opted to get some rest, but without success…

About 10 min later, the flight conditions had improved, so I setup up the hood again and mounted my Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art lens onto my Canon 5D Mark IV.

At this point, I began experimenting with exposures between 2-10 seconds (handheld with the lens glued against the window). Despite practically none of the captures being useable (to my standards), I was amazed as to how clear the galaxy was in this part of the world. I continued my efforts and stuffed the complimentary blanket between the small cracks of my hood as to further minimize cabin reflections.

Suddenly, at around 22:00 PST, I started seeing a light glow off the left of the horizon. Confused as to whether the sun was rising or not, I kept on shooting the incredible sight I was witnessing. It suddenly occurred to me that I was viewing a moonrise. In this instant, my determination rose immensely in hopes of capturing something that could eventually be shared with the world.

ISO 8000, f/1.4, 04 seconds, manual focus, and not breathing were the ingredients to this image’s success.

The silhouette of a window frame from a few rows ahead of me appears on the PW4000’s cowling. I realized how oblivious the passengers onboard the aircraft were to this indescribable view. Had it not been for the kind gate agent who had given me a window seat upon my request, none of this would ever exist. It was truly a highlight to my photography career as well as my appreciation towards God’s planet.

About the Author

Jan Jasinski is aviation, landscape, and real estate photographer based in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. You can find more of Jan’s work on his website and follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Flickr.

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