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5 Tips for Photographing the Milky Way

How to Plan a Milky Way shoot with PhotoHound

Photographing the Milky Way At Ynys Llanddwyn

“The money shot”: Milky Way over Ynys Llanddwyn by PhotoHound CTO & travel photographer, Mathew Browne

5 Tips for Photographing the Milky Way at Ynys Llanddwyn

Capturing the Milky Way above Ynys Llanddwyn had been at the top Mathew Browne’s “to do” list for several years. Here he shares 5 tips for photographing the Milky Way above Ynys Llanddwyn including how he used PhotoHound to get this dream shot.

Ynys Llanddwyn – by PhotoHounder Adrian Wright

Isle of Anglesey – a star gazers’ paradise

Llanddwyn Island (Ynys Llanddwyn in its native Welsh) on Anglesey is a magical place and offers one of the finest views in Wales. Anglesey is renowned for its dark skies and lack of light pollution, which means it’s a coveted location for capturing the Milky Way. However, this is definitely not a ‘stroll up and hope for the best’ kind of destination! Careful planning, including checking weather conditions and tides, is absolutely crucial to staying safe. It’s the difference between a lucky snap vs creating a brilliantly executed, once in a lifetime shot like this one.

Here’s how Mathew planned the shot he wanted. And the good news; there’s still time to try it out in the next few days if you can!

1) Know your location before you go

Mathew used the PhotoHound map to find the exact spot and plan as much as possible before setting off. Navigation tools within the app were useful for the 4 hour trip and guided him straight to the parking spot.

“I was grateful for the information shared by PhotoHounder, Elgan Jones, in his Anglesey photo spots.  I knew exactly where to park and that I needed to allow for for a 40 minute walk from the car. The gallery of photos already added by 6 other PhotoHounders to this spot was useful for inspiration. I had my own shot in mind, but photos shared by the community gave me a good sense of the location. I knew what to expect before I arrived so I could hit the ground running.”  

2) Check the weather conditions

6 day weather forecast and live web cams in PhotoHound desktop

Although you can shoot here in pretty much any conditions and get some great images, you need clear skies for astrophotography. Mathew used the weather forecast in the desktop version of PhotoHound and then checked the web cams at the location a couple of hours before setting off. (A little teaser for you – at PhotoHound we’re working on a new weather feature for the app that will have even cooler forecasting tools!)

3) Look up sun, moon and tide times

Ynys Llanddwyn is located at the far end of a beach near Newborough Warren. This narrow finger of land is not quite an island – it remains attached to the mainland at all times but at high tide is completely cut off. It’s crucial to check tide times before heading off, otherwise you might find you’re cut off or need waders to get to the spot! Mathew got himself on the island by 6pm and back to the car by 1am confident that he only needed wellies as a back up.

Ephemeris data for the spot allowed Mathew to know exactly where moonrise would happen and plan the best evening to shoot the Milky Way.

View ephemeris date in the app as you move around the map
Moonset at Ynys Llanddwyn by Mathew Browne

4) All light is good light

Mathew arrived at this location with one very specific shot in mind, but that didn’t stop him making use of the changing light in the run up to the main event.

“I allowed myself enough time to set up for the night shot, but along the way I looked around for other opportunities. Because I’d planned so carefully I had time to capture some other scenes as the light changed and dusk set in.”

Waiting to shoot the Milky Way at Ynys Llanddwyn by Mathew Browne

5) Make it your shot

Mathew recommends making your plans, be inspired by others who have been to the location before you, but try to visualise the shot your way. Then decide where you want to place your tripod to compose your shot.

“I was in situ about 2 hours before sunset and was accompanied by about 15 other photographers. There was a feeling of mutual respect as we’d all put the work in to get to this location. It was a shared experience but we all allowed each other space to make our own creative choices. There were no egos; just a nice camaraderie.”

Mathew checked Live View in PhotoPills to see how the Milky Way would look juxtaposed with the lighthouse before making his final compositional choice.

There’s still time this month to have a go at photographing the Milky Way at Ynys Llanddwyn this month. Be quick as conditions could be ideal between 23rd and 27th of September. The good news is you now have all you need to get that shot.

Download the PhotoHound App before you go if you haven’t already. You’ll find this and more great locations in our guide to photographing North Wales. Don’t forget to share your results on PhotoHound and tag us on social media!

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