Milky Way Over The Barragem de Odelouca

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Before the Galactic Core of the Milky way dips below the horizon for the Winter months, I thought I’d get out and grab a photo, continue reading below if you are interested in how I planned for the shot.

{Click image for a higher resolution, click Flickr Link in caption to view photo on Flickr}
Galaxy Over Lake - D810, AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, f/2.8, ISO3200, 20sec - {Flickr Link}

So after some investigation work on Google Maps, I decided to try a location on the edge of the Barragem de Odelouca. Barragem is Portuguese for Dam, but is also used as a collective term for a reservoir.


I also checked out the status of the nights Moon using Sundroid, an excellent Android App which provides Sun/Moon data and tracking. This App has been removed from the Play Store for some reason, however, as a previous purchaser, I still get access to the App.

As you can see from the screen shot, the moon was absent from the night sky.

The one issue with photographing the Milky Way in the Algarve is that the southern night sky, even right up here in the dark north of the Algarve, has a some light pollution from the coastal towns which is amplified by the camera. Shooting north is an option, but the “Galactic Core” would not be in shot. The pollution is from Portimão even though its a fair way. I look forward to heading north to Alqueva in the Alentejo region which has some of the world’s darkest skies.

PhotoPills Milky Way AR

A 15 minute trip to the water’s edge armed with PhotoPills on my mobile to confirm my thoughts of timings.

PhotoPills is fantastic, amongst the many tools is an AR (Augmented Reality) Tool which allows you to overlay the night sky onto a live camera image. Then adjusting the time you can predict the position of the night sky, including of course, the Milky Way.

As the screen shot shows, the Milky Way was going to be aligned with the valley later that evening. Visit for more information on this awesome app.

Checking the framing
The dead tree (which is usually submerged when the water level is higher during the winter months) made the perfect foreground for the shot, I took the camera and lens combination I was expecting to use (D810 and 14-24mm) and made a test frame shot.

I returned later in the evening, around 25 minutes before the perfect line up of the Milky Way as predicted by PhotoPills.

Checking with PhotoPills
Finally, here’s a selfie of me checking the alignment and timing with PhotoPills. Taken with my Nikon 1 AW1.

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