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Milky Way Express

Alexis Birkill

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Milky Way Express Photograph  - Milky Way Express Fine Art Print





Tags: landscapes photographs, milky way photographs, train photographs, night sky photographs, stars photographs, landscapes canvas prints, milky way canvas prints, train canvas prints, night sky canvas prints, stars canvas prints

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Ouderkerk Aan De Amstel, No - Netherlands

Hi Alexis, very nice composition! The light effects give a special dynamic touch to the composition. Usually lens flare is what one wants to prevent, but you turned it into a great asset - whether you were lucky or not :). Also many thanks for your nice story around the picture, great to see how much knowledge is needed for a picture like this. Voted!

Vancouver, BC - Canada

Alexis, I am thrilled to have you as a member of Visions of the night and cant wait to see some more of your gorgeous work on our home page! Welcome:)f/v/tw

St. George, UT - United States


Wakefield, RI - United States

this is amazing

Mevasseret Ziyyon - Israel

Looks like a scene from a Spielbreg's film; beautiful shot (vtd)

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Milky Way Express


Alexis Birkill




At Porteau Cove, at least in the summer months, there is regularly a freight train that goes through at about 11:45pm from Vancouver to Whistler. You get a little warning that it's coming, because about 15 minutes before it arrives, they send through a pickup truck converted to run on the rails, presumably to check that the track is clear of obstructions.

Unfortunately, being a freight train, it is fairly poorly lit from anything except right at the front, and as it's usually going in the same direction I'm looking, I've never managed to get a good shot of it with the stars (despite frequently trying).

However, this time the pickup truck came in the other direction -- from Whistler to Vancouver. I wasn't sure if it was simply returning home, or if this was a sign that for once the train would be going in the opposite direction. Once I heard the sound of the train horn about 15 minutes later, I couldn't get set up quickly enough!

I knew the front lights would be bright, but I didn't really know how bright, so I scrambled to level the camera, compose the shot, and guess at some settings, opening the shutter just as it rounded the corner. As the light seared my retinas, it was immediately clear the shot was going to be significantly overexposed -- but I hadn't expected this stunning (unedited) lens flare, especially from a lens that is usually very resilient to flare.

I would love to take credit for the lens flare lining up with the Milky Way in the sky above, but this was really just luck!


August 12th, 2013


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