Try telling anyone that it’s still possible to see the Milky Way with your naked eye in Singapore and see their epic expression. So I was really contemplating if I should post this because I know I can’t reveal the location in exchange for the permit to take these shots there but nonetheless, I decided to write about the possibility to quench the thirst of those curious minds out there and to prove the belief that one can’t see or take realistic images of Milky Way in Singapore wrong, just so you don’t have to waste another 20 years of your life to know that it’s even possible. Below image shows my very first Milky Way shot taken at another location where I could see the Milky Way with my naked eye on 28 Feb 2014.
If you’re one of those who love to see the Milky Way as it is in your RAW file without doing anything, then you might want to know that it’s still possible to do so in Singapore. There are a few places in Singapore which allow you to see the Milky Way in your camera without overexposing your shot and Sentosa is one of them. But if you are interested to learn how to make your realistic Milky Way images pop, click here.
If seeing Milky Way in the camera isn’t your thing, then you might be pleased to know now that it is still possible to see our very own galaxy with our naked eye in Singapore and since I can’t project what my eyes saw, I will try to prove the possibility using some RAW images.
Honestly I would say it’s easier to shoot the Milky Way here than to produce a REAL-ly nice star trails image in Singapore because the search for the darkest spot in the light-polluted city to see stars rising from the horizon is much more challenging than trying to unveil the Milky Way that’s obscured by the extreme light pollution. So here I am presenting you my very first real star trails image taken in Singapore on 25 June 2014.
All the RAW images you see below were taken (using an unmodified DSLR camera and a normal tripod, without any filter) from my favorite observation site in Singapore till date.
The above image was a result of stacking 94 photos taken over a period of about an hour. Check out the animated GIF below. The file order was reversed and so the stars appear to be setting in the GIF file which in reality, it’s not. The image quality was also set to lowest to reduce the file size.
I also took some images after the end of my imaging session at the same site on 25 June 2014 using different exposure times.
With an exposure time of 10 seconds, the image is very much underexposed but we can already see the elusive Milky Way right out of the camera!
When I exposed the camera for 15 seconds, the image is still slightly underexposed but we can see more details of the Milky Way now.
The image is properly exposed with an exposure time of 30 seconds and this is the setting I normally use when I’m shooting Milky Way at dark locations. At this juncture, we can make the Milky Way pop easily by adjusting the sliders alone, without using ETTR.
I then continued to push the histogram to the right using an exposure time of 60 seconds and after normalizing the ETTR image, you can see that the RAW file is still able to retain most of the details.
With an exposure time of 90 seconds, the image started to lose some details near the horizon on the right but it’s not a big deal to me.
Finally I concluded the experiment with an exposure time of 120 seconds and I am surprised by the amount of details the RAW file was able to retain with that exposure time. I could have exposed my camera longer than 2 minutes to push the histogram further to the right but I think you prolly get the idea of how dark the site is now.
Once again, nothing is impossible and as a matter of fact, Singapore offers locations with varying degrees of light pollution and so there’s really no better place than home to hone your astrophotography skills. Let the hunt for the darkest spot in Singapore begin!