I think I’ve talked about this before, but I really love going to the beach with my family each year, however I always sort of struggle to do photography there.  So much of what I like to shoot are landscapes, and frankly the flat horizon a the beach just doesn’t do it for me.  I definitely need to diversify what I’m shooting (or hang out with someone that shoots there regularly to catch a vision) I think.  Anyway, I decided to try something different this year.  You guys may remember when I was on my star trails kick (which I still enjoy doing), well I’m on a bit of a Milky Way kick these days… though it seems like we have fewer clear-sky days than we did several years back.  We lucked up with some nice clear skies while at the beach and since the moon was in its late rising stage, it was the perfect time to be out shooting the Milky Way.  I decided to give it a go, and the above image is what I came away with.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  The giant glow you see down the beach is Panama City beach, which is over 30 miles away from where I was standing, and this image represents a significant effort on my part to reduce the light pollution so that you could see the Milky Way (by the way, the big starburst is from a truck driving up the beach with its high beams on).  Looking out over the Gulf of Mexico, it should be pitch black, but instead it is orange from all our lights.  So, next time you hear someone going on about dark skies (and the fact that the US is losing them at a rapid rate), this is what they’re talking about.  Image what the night sky would look like if we all turned off our lights!  That would be incredible.

Next week I start on my Japan images, which I’m completely excited about.  I actually brought home more images that I love than I typically share from a single destination… so I hope you guys don’t get sick of them.  Also, Holly and I have a very special announcement tomorrow, so I hope you’ll humor us one more post this week!  🙂

–Dan Thompson

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125 Stallworth Blvd, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459, USA

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