Capturing the Milky Way Over Lake Ozette

This weekend we’ll be treated to a new moon and with Sagittarius making it’s way to our northern skies this will be the perfect time to attempt to capture the Milky Way. I’ve done some night photography and have capture a timelapse of the heavens marching across the night sky, but this will be my first attempt at snagging the Milky Way.

How to Capture the Milky Way

Now from my research we need a handful of things to fall in place to make this successful.

  • Fast wide angle lens (I’ve got a manual Minolta 1.4/f for the Sony A99)
  • Interesting foreground (The lake should do nicely)
  • Lack of light pollution (Again, there is no light pollution out here)
  • Clear skies (This may be the deal breaker; the coast often gets fog even when the forecast calls for clear skies)

From what I read the trick is to use manual focus and not let your exposure last longer then 30 seconds. This dictates that you’ll want both a fast lens and a high IOS. I’ll be using the application Sky Guide to help locate the Sagittarius constellation.

This trip will also give me a chance to visit some of the beaches and see what condition they’re in since filming this section of coast back in 2012

Lake Ozette

Depending on your source the lake is either the 2nd or 3rd largest lake in the state, but it is apparently the largest unaltered lake. For those you like statics, and I count myself in that group, the lake is eight miles long, three miles wide and 331’ at it’s deepest point. Quick side note. For any budding treasure hunters out there, there’s a Garmin Rino at the south end of the lake; Return to Lake Ozette.

In the 1890’s this area was open to homesteaders. Life on the lake was exceeding hard. Supplies had to be either canoe by hired Makah’s down the coast or loaded on wheel barrows that had their wheels removed so as to be drug over the Salah 27 miles from Clallam Bay. Despite the hardship at it’s height the lake had roughly 130 homesteads, schools, stores,  post office and church.

Capture Milky Way at Lake Ozette
Fawn hiding in the grass on the edge of Lake Ozette. Photograph by Steve Weileman (www.xexplore.com)

But these hardy Scandinavian settlers were far from the first to occupy this area. Archaeologists have found evidence that the local Makah have been using the area for at least the last 2000 years. The Makah name for the lake was Kahouk which translates into ‘large lake.’ The coastal Ozette village which was discovered back in the 1960’s and makes up the majority of the displays at the Makah Museum, was found to have been built some 300 years ago.

Wedding Rocks

Brad and I’ll will also take some time to hike out to Wedding Rocks on the coast. Besides being a beautiful spot it’s the profusion of petroglyphs that really set this place apart. Orca, fisherman, dogs, and even a European ship under full sail are all represented here. I’ve never been able to definitively determine the source of the name for this headland. If anyone knows the origin I’d love if you’d leave a comment.

Beach Survey

This trip will also give me a chance to visit some of the beaches and see what condition they’re in since filming this section of coast back in 2012. I’m interested in seeing whether they, like some of the beaches further north, have a large fluctuation in the amount of debris deposited on them. Check back next week and I’ll have an update on what I find in my casual surveys.

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