When a photo gets over 100 shares and almost 300 “likes” on facebook, I guess it deserves a blog post. This is a view of the night sky and the Milky Way galaxy over South Hole Sound in Little Cayman. The image was made with a single 30 second exposure and the camera on a stable platform. I say “stable platform” because I didn’t have a tripod handy; so I improvised with a fish cleaning table, a Grey Goose vodka cork, and a small piece of brain coral. Whatever it takes, right? So, the picture isn’t fake; but is it Photoshopped? Yes, but only a tiny bit. I tweaked the levels to add contrast and removed some unsightly debris from the beach. That’s not cheating, its just getting the most out of an exposure. Even Ansel Adams used to shoot for the darkroom. If he made a straight print from his negatives, his photos would have appeared flat and uninteresting. The manipulation he did in the darkroom turned his photos into the beautiful works of art we admire today. People think these photos look fake because they never see images like this appear on their own cameras. But it isn’t because I took a NASA image of the Milky Way and pasted it into my beach photo. That would be much more difficult. Its because there are a lot of other things going on during that 30 second exposure. Without giving everything away, I can tell you that I was out of breath. To be fair, most people will never have an opportunity to take a photo that shows the night sky in such detail. I live on Grand Cayman Island and can’t get star pictures like this on Grand. Little Cayman has less light pollution. so the stars are much more visible in the night sky. The orange glow you see on the right side of the image comes from the few street lights we have in Blossom Village. If there were fewer street lights, the night sky would be even more impressive and, if I had things my way, I’d remove every street light from that little island. That would sure make the turtles happy.
After making the image above we took a drive over to the north side of Little Cayman where my wife and I own a piece of paradise on Bloody Bay, home to the best scuba diving in the Caribbean. This second image (using almost no photoshop) is of a few friends standing on my cabana. By chance a 400 pound green turtle has nested right under the cabana! Turtles nest on our beach every year precisely because there are no lights nearby. We hope to keep it that way and hope to see the eggs hatch in the coming weeks.