For one of our first projects “in the wild”, we went to visit the Havelte hunebeds D53 and D54, our favourites. These 5000-years structures provide scenic views of the Drentsche landscape during the day, and we thought they would make an excellent foreground for capturing the Milky Way. It was a moonless Saturday night, and we were very excited because we just acquired a fantastic fish-eye lens, the Samyang 8mm f/3.5. We parked our car in the parking place near the Theehuis ‘t Hunebed and crossed a tiny bit of forest in the pitch dark. Getting close to D53, the second-largest hunebed in Drenthe, we realised we are not alone: a small group of young people was hanging around in the dark. Hoping for the best, we just passed them and targeted D54 about 150m further away, at the footsteps of the Havelte hill (reaching a staggering height of ~17m!). The skies appeared clear at first, but the first pictures immediately showed cirrus clouds at high altitudes. The Galactic Centre was not visible because of light pollution on the horizon in the South-South-West direction, from the nearby town Meppel. We turned the other way, to capture Perseus, Cassiopeia, and up to Cygnus together with D54.
While we were setting up the equipment the other group was moving around and became quite noisy as well. We made a few shots and sincerely hoped they would not start bothering us. The skies were not completely clear even in this direction, and it was very dark for the hunebed as well so we tried to illuminate it with our flashlights. At some point, while we were shooting, we heard a car moving towards us on the dirt road. It was heading towards the forest and lit up the whole scene for us. An opportune moment for a great picture, and indeed it was great! Later I was astonished to see that even the Perseus Double Cluster and the Andromeda Galaxy are visible even with an 8mm lens, already in the unprocessed image. It was an interesting adventure, but because later we found ourselves in a similar situation with young, drunk people during a weekend, in the middle of a forest, we decided to avoid visiting remote dark locations on Friday and Saturday nights!
22 August 2020, Havelterberg
Canon EOS 600D,
Samyang 8mm f/3.5 UMC, Fish-eye CS II
Omegon Minitrack LX3, tripod
60s exposure, ISO1600