180 degrees and everything changes. After shooting the partial Milky Way minutes before, I turned around 180 degrees (more or less) and saw the Big Dipper. Despite keeping the same camera settings and almost using the same post-processing techniques, the resulting photographs have notable differences.
The partial Milky Way image is here: New Melones Lake (CA), Milky Way, Ridge Silhouette
(Click thru the image for the 700px view)
First off, the Milky Way is absent in this composition as it is to the right at about the 2 o’clock position. Second, and unbeknownst to me at the time, the moon had risen but was still obscured by the ridge ahead. The additional light from the moon drowns out a few stars.
This is also a good test for our computer monitors too. On a calibrated monitor (where I do all of my Lightroom post work), the glow above the ridge is more prominent. While on my newer, but not-yet-calibrated monitor where whites are more bright and darks are really dark, the light above the ridge is barely discernible.
One of the main decisions I had to make in post was whether to increase the contrast and suppress some of the stars in order to have the Big Dipper stand out or show as many stars as possible but drown out the Dipper. The secondary effect of this decision is what happens to the multiple satellites (or maybe they were shooting stars) captured. On the raw image, I could easily see the one main satellite (that is not the International Space Station because it passed a few minutes before in a different direction) along with two satellites/shooting stars and one plane. In the final image here, due to my processing choices, we only see the one satellite in the top right.
EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center weighted metering mode, ISO 6400, 18mm, f/3.5, 20 sec
New Melones Lake (CA), Big Dipper, V Ridge, Satellite(s). New Melones Lake Vista Point, California. August 24, 2013. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.