Milky Way, St Govan’s Head, Pembrokeshire
St Govans Head, located near St Govan’s chapel in Pembrokeshire. A location that is closed off at some parts of the year due to firing from the ranges nearby. It is one of the best sites in the area to capture the Milky Way without getting too much light pollution that affects images when capturing the Milky Way or general astrophotography. It is not listed as a Dark Sky Discovery site but it should be. Broad Haven South nearby is designated as one. When travelled here, i first stopped off to Broad Haven South to see what I could get, I was mildly disappointed. The weather was very hazy with heavy moisture in the air. I did bring a lens heater with me but lazily kept it packed away as this was a fleeting stop. My main aim for the evening was at St Govan’s Head.
I then headed over to St Govan’s Head to see what was on offer. It is an excellent location with a good view of the sky. However, the wind was howling when I turned up here. Something to be expected in that particular area. I ended up taking a couple of single shots then followed by a panorama. I walked away with what I wanted (Milky Way) however the wind and heavy moisture in the air were not ideal for the session.
The following is directions for St Govan’s Head, not Broad Haven South. Getting to Broad Haven South is pretty much the same way to arrive from Pembroke except for a separate turn off in Bosherston village.
- From Pembroke, take the B4319 until you reach St Petrox.
- Carry on for another mile until you see a sign for Bosherston. Do not take the turn for Stackpole.
- Follow the road until you get into the village of Bosherston.
- Carry straight on past the village & continue on the single lane road.
- After driving for roughly two miles you will see a car park. This is your destination.
- If going to Broad Haven South, take the signpost in the village. continue for two miles until you reach a car park.
How to Capture the Milky Way
If you are looking for any starting points should you happen to read this and want a try yourself at grabbing the night sky or capturing the Milky Way, use a DSLR camera as these are the better types compared to bridge cameras or mobiles and the reason is the sensor size.
DSLR’s can also handle noise and picture quality a lot better than the other types. You will have something if you do use anything except a DSLR, but expect to be disappointed until those types of image devices are improved immensely in the future such as the sensor etc.
Settings/Equipment to get you started into astrophotography & capturing the Milky Way:
- Around iso 1600-3200 will get you started, if your camera can handle noise well such as a full frame camera, then you can increase this further. you can also in some extreme cases go as high as iso 6400+ but quality will be an issue.
- A lens with a wide aperture is recommended such as f2.8. I have shot with an f3.5 lens and have had pleasing results. But the wider the aperture, the more light that will enter into the sensor. You can also use a 50mm lens with a wider f1.8.
- Get a stable tripod. One that is heavy enough or designed to stand up while being battered by the wind.
- Get a remote shutter button. This prevents camera shake or any unnecessary movement, causing blur while capturing the Miky Way.
- Switch off settings on your camera such as prolonged exposure iso reduction and anything else the camera uses to enhance the image. A lot of the work will be done in post-processing. Long exposure iso reduction will also increase exposure time causing star trail.
- Bring some food & drink including entertainment such as music etc. It will be a long night, especially when waiting for any clouds to clear.
- Use the rule of 600. This varies for different camera brands due to sensor size and lens focal length being used. Use the calculator below for a guide of how to obtain the right exposure time for the Milky Way.
- Bring a torch, it will be dark!
Rule of 600 Calculator for Astrophotography & Milky Way
Simply enter the details of your camera & lens for a guide of how long to shoot.
Images Taken at Broad Haven South of the Milky Way
Images taken at St Govan’s Head of the Milky Way
All images ©Chris Ball. Copyright to the photos will remain with the photographer (Chris Ball), and therefore any reproduction without permission would be an infringement of copyright. If you wish to use any images for publication or use, you should first obtain approval from me before using my work.
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