Shooting the Milky Way

We arrived just before 5pm and the sun was just setting and we were capturing the pink horizon before it disappeared. I was an amateur photographer surrounded by loads of knowledge and an impressive landscape.

I was attending my first Instameet with Dad in tow as my porter and bodyguard. We were at Bombo Quarry but how did we get here?


A couple of months back I was looking for new adventures and things to try. I decided I wanted to experiment with my photography and try to grow my Instagram following. I had heard of instameets before and attempted to go to one last year but never made it. I had a google to see what instameets were out there.

The only local instameet that came up was the Veterans Instameet at Bombo Quarry held last night.

Bombo quarry is half an hour south of where I live and they would be shooting the Milky Way. I have been interested in the Milky Way since seeing loads of pictures on Instagram.

And I decided I would go!


There were a few problems with going.

  1. I only have compact cameras or a Samsung phone.
  2. I knew nothing about shooting the Milky Way let alone shooting at night.
  3. The good thing was we own a tripod.

So, I did a lot of googling and reading on shooting the Milky Way. I knew what settings I needed so now I had to try and replicate them on my Dad’s Nikon S9700 or even my Samsung phone.

After a lot of reading I decided I had to give it a go. So I went out on the driveway and started shooting. I had all the right settings, there were stars in the sky but nothing would come out on my camera screen. The camera was not powerful enough and it wasn’t letting in enough light.


A couple of nights before the instameet I remembered that my cousin uses a DSLR for his gym selfies. So I started quizzing him on his camera. I checked it out online and judging by the specs I had a better chance with his Canon 1200D than anything I had.

So I borrowed it.

Game day came and Dad and I headed down to Bombo Quarry. We had never been there before and I must say it was pretty impressive.

Steel Wool Spinning
Bombo Quarry is a fortress of sorts. You are surrounded by rocks. The large rocks are protecting you from the elements of the ocean which cannot wait to leap the walls and fill the large Quarry. The ocean is like white foam just trying to climb the walls, it comes in loud and fast crashing against the rocks. The spray is refreshing and the ocean adds to the impressiveness of the Quarry. The western and northern edge protects you from the elements of the sun and provides a darkness to the sun setting over the houses.

With the sun setting behind us we positioned our tripods, set our cameras up and started capturing the pink horizon through the rocks. Once the lovely horizon disappeared we set our sight on the crashing ocean.

By this time I was glad that I had borrowed the DSLR because I would have looked like a joker if I was using a compact camera or my phone.

The stars
Once it got dark enough our host Matthew Bell set us up for Steel Wool spinning. Which again was another first and it was amazing just to see it.

So you are wondering what I am meaning by the Steel Wool spinning. Mat had a piece of Steel Wool, he stood near the end of the rocks, lit the Steel Wool and spun it above his head. Once lit the Steel Wool sparks up like a sparkler and as it is spun the sparks come flying around you. The sparks were going over our heads. It was so light and very different from what the pictures show.

We then moved to the northern corner of the Quarry and captured the Milky Way. Which crosses off number 19 on My Illawarra Bucket List.

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset
The Milky Way

The Milky Way is a series of stars that form a path in the sky. When you are staring at the sky it looks as though the stars are on top of clouds. It is very different than just looking up at the black sky and seeing stars scattered. You need to have a low light pollution and a very dark night to see the Milky Way. The Milky Way started appearing around 6:30pm.

In all, the event was amazing. I learnt a lot of new tricks in the leading up to and on the day. It has made me want to focus on my photography more and am now on the lookout for a DSLR.

If you have any tips on buying a new or second hand SLR please drop a comment below.

To view the pictures took by all who attended head to instagram #veterans_instameet.


P.s. The Blue Mile


6 thoughts on “Shooting the Milky Way

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