1. Could you tell us all the countries in which you have taken pictures of Milky Way? (Hawaii, Switzerland, Japan… and any others?)
Yes of course. The first milky way I’ve taken was 2013 close to a gulf place in Koka (Shiga). There was much light pollution from the town behind the forest but the yellow/orange tones from the city lights gave the picture a very nice mood (please find the example picture in the attachment). You can see the big yellow glow under the milky way from the city lights behind very well. So even though it’s difficult to take clear milky way pictures in Japan because of the high light pollution and humid it’s possible to take the milky way in many artistic ways anyway. You can play with the light pollution and you can use it for creative works like my example picture here. After my first success of photographing the milky way in Japan I’m very obsessed with watching and photographing the milky way and the night sky. So I tried to use every chance to travel around the world and to capture the milky way at new locations in different ways. I tried to shoot the milky way without foregrounds then with foregrounds, without light pollution with light pollution, from mountain peaks, to shoot through caves, through water like artificial rain, through clouds and much more..In 2014 I went to Hawaii and it’s true in Hawaii was the most clear sky I’ve ever seen. I could see the milky way shadows with the naked eye and normally it’s not possible to see the shadows without the camera. Normally you just see the white „star-street“ in the sky without any shadows and colors. Here an example picture the view through the camera and with the naked eye (please find the example picture in the attachment). I got there my best milky way shots with wonderful details. So my favorite location to take the milky way is still Hawaii. I also went up to the biggest volcano in Hawaii called Mauna Kea. At the mountain top of the Mauna Kea is the most clear and dark sky our planet has to offer. You can visit the largest observatory in the world up there too. Japan’s awesome telescope (the Subaru) is a part of this observatory too, here another example picture of it i took (please find the example picture in the attachment).
In 2015 and 2016 I kept shooting the milky way wherever I went.I also really like to shoot the milky way in Switzerland and Austria because there is almost no light pollution when you are shooting between two high mountains.My next goal is to take nice milky way pitures with my photo colleagues and friends from america and england in the most famous mountains of Italy called Dolomites. So all in all I already took milky way and night sky pictures in Japan, America, Switzerland, Austria, Hawaii, Italy, Germany, Thailand, Malaysia, Czech and Croatia.And there is one more country I would like to tell you a funny milky way story. My sister visited Greece in 2015 but I was at this time in Austria and I explained her through the internet how to shoot the milky way. But there were 3 problems. As an amateur she never tried to shoot the milky way before, she had just an amateur camera with the standard lens and no tripod. But she followed my instructions and we created this awesome shot together. Then she sent her milky way picture to me and I processed it for her. And here is the result (please find the example picture in the attachment).
2. Can you specify your favorite Milky Way picture from each country? (We could not tell in which country each picture on your website was taken…)
Yes of course because to create a milky way shot is not only like to go out for a shooting and to press the shutter button! It’s more like planning an adventure and there is a lot of work associated with it. It takes a lot of planning and a great effort. After I come back from a milky way shooting I choose from for example 100 raw frames just one to edit. It depends on the shot but normally I need 5-10 hours to process just one of my shots. I spend much time on each photo so it’s very easy to remember and to specify every single photo I took and where I captured it. But for the viewer it is not possible to specify, because the milky way actually looks the same everywhere.
3. About the Milky Way pictures you took this time:
a) Why did you decide to take pictures in Yasugawa Dam Lake, Koga, Shiga Prefecture? (If there are other places you went for Milky Way pics this time, please tell us the reason why you picked those places as well. )
Since I’m on homestay in Koka (Shiga) I searched for the darkest locations next to my house here. Via the light pollution map (https://www.lightpollutionmap.info) I found the Yasugawa Dam Lake is one of the darkest places around here with a nice foreground the dam and lake. Unfortunately the weather was not good. It was very cloudy and rainy so I had to cancel the Yasugawa Dam Lake shooting. But one week later during the golden week I went to another dark place (Tosashimizu) and got a wonderful clear sky over the ocean there. I got a nice dramatic shot at the Tatsukushi coast. I used a photo technique called „blending“ to create a clear foreground of the coastline during the twilight (blue hour). An later I took another shot of the sky to put (blend) the foreground and sky together. It’s a technique to get a crisp foreground to the milky way shot. Because it’s not possible to get a very crisp shot of the foreground in the dark without any light.After the Tosashimizu photo tour I went to the Naruto bridge in Tokushima. It’s the opposite of a dark place… It’s full of light pollution but as I explained before sometimes I really like to play with the light pollution and to create nice artistic milky way pictures. I decided to take milky way pictures in Naruto because now the milky way rises exactly over the bridge and I wanted to capture the whole milky way bow hanging over the bridge.
b) What do you find especially good or fit about Japan for taking Milky Way pictures (compared to other countries)?
For me Japan is one of the most beautiful islands our planet has to offer. You can find beautiful forests, amazing coasts, caves, beautiful buildings, volcanos, lakes and nature here. Actually Japan isn’t a good place to shoot the milky way because of the high light pollution and humid. But if you plan very well it’s still possible to create wonderful milky way pictures. But the main reason why I love to take pictures in Japan is because you can find amazing foregrounds like the japanese coastlines and special rocks (please find the example picture in the attachment).
c) Could you tell us about some difficulties and/or memorable stories in photographing Milky Way this time?
At the Tatsukushi coast were so many aggressive mosquitos it was impossible to take pictures without gloves. Unfortunately I had no gloves so I decided to find shelter in a cave and to shoot out of the cave. A few days later when I arrived in Naruto the sky was so clear I could see the milky way with the naked eye even though the light pollution was incredible high over the Naruto bridge. I noticed some clouds come up and I immediately ran to the photo spot to catch the milky way. I prepared my camera for the shooting as fast as I could. But when I started to shoot a big cloud covered the milky way already. So the weather changed in just 2 minutes. Then I waited two more days and nights at this spot in my car but unfortunately the weather didn’t change it was just sooo foggy and cloudy. Well… that’s landscape photography sometimes you just wait for nothing but sometimes you catch some great moments. I always tell people to take a great picture is not just to go out and to press the shutter button… you have to invest everything to create something unique… it’s like an extreme sport… or rather it’s a way of life!!!So I decided to come back to Naruto around the 26.05.2017-05.06.2017 for the next try.
d) Could you send us the Milky Way pictures you took this time?