2019 Milford Sound, South Island New Zealand
Melissa swatted away the bugs that surrounded her despite the repellent spray and cream that she’d applied liberally. She hoped that, as night fell,she might get some respite. She’d brought a folding stool, a thermos flask and some food from the hired campervan, anticipating the hours of waiting ahead. She’d set up her tripod and camera some hours before,
The weather looked as if it would hold for once, and the cloud cover was minimal. She’d been lucky with the shots she’d taken earlier – some spectacular reflections in tidal pools on the beach. All she wanted now was nightfall and a jaw-droppingly beautiful capture of the Milky Way over Mitre Peak, reflected in Milford Sound.
Tonight looked likely to be her final night in New Zealand’s Fjordland. So far, she had several hundred images that she expected to be able to sell when she returned to the UK. Life was looking good. She shivered – time to add an extra layer for warmth. So far, her shots tonight included a gorgeous sunset over the Sound. She’d be checking focus shortly using an early star, but first she moved to set up her camera for a foreground shot. That photo would be merged in software later with her images the Milky Way and its galactic core among tens of thousands of stars. Her attention was diverted when she heard the notification from her smartphone. Her caller ID told her it was Jamie.
‘Hi, Mel,’ he said, ‘Where are you?’
‘Why, Jamie? What’s up?’ She was a bit annoyed. She was supposed to be on annual leave.
‘There’s something I think you should know,’ he said, then repeated his earlier question, ‘Where are you?’
She told him, looking at the time above the App’s screen. It would be nine in the morning UK time.
‘It’s my last night here in New Zealand, Jamie. I’ll be at Milford Sound until midnight or later. Is it urgent?’
‘My mum’s in a coma in hospital,’ he told her.
Today’s image is one that I’ve used before. Obviously it’s not Milford Sound in New Zealand – we never got that far South. The image is of Twr Mawr on Ynys Llanddwyn, Anglesey, Wales – my first – and so far – only attempt at Milky Way photography. Not as cold as Fjordland but damn cold anyway at that time of night , even in August.
I took the photo on an entry-level 16 MP Pentax K50 dslr – all I had in August 2018 when I took the shot at close to midnight. I was using the camera with a Sigma 10-20 mm f/3.5 lens at 20 mm and f/3.5. The shutter speed was 25 secs and the ISO 6400.