Culture

This Shot of the Milky Way Over Mt. Banahaw is Breathtaking

And it was the photographer's first attempt, too.
IMAGE Ijy James Lomibao
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There’s something about images of outer space that is inherently inspiring. The vast night sky serves as a reminder that in spite of all the chaos in the world, there is still a sense of order and beauty in the universe.

Ijy James Lomibao had been interested in outer space ever since he was a child, and astrophotography was always on his bucket list. On his way to Manila via motorcycle, he often passed Majayjay-Lucban road, which offered a perfect view of Mt. Banahaw. At night it was almost pitch-black—there were no streetlights, and houses were few and far between, so he knew it was an ideal location for a night shoot.

“It was just me, the camera, and my brother apart from the occasional passing cars. So there we were at around 9:40 in the evening looking like really suspicious individuals on the highway (both of us were afraid people might mistake us for doing something illegal),” Lomibao recounts. “I had a little difficulty setting up my tripod. After all, I couldn’t shoot on the road itself because it would be dangerous for both us and the passing vehicles. So I decided to climb this elevated area on the edge of the rice field which is about a meter or so in height.”

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Lomibao shot the Milky Way using a Nikon D5100 with an 18-55 mm kit lens. He had to turn off his motorcycle’s headlights to minimize light pollution, so while he set up, his brother Ira made sure they were visible to motorists by flashing lights. Afterwards, Lomibao edited his photos in Lightroom. The raw photo, however, looks just as stunning.


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This just goes to show that driving out of the city to go stargazing can be well worth the trip. “Urbanized areas, with their high levels of light pollution, are not desirable locations for stargazing,” Lomibao says. “Aside from natural weather conditions like clouds blocking the night sky, the level of light pollution can decrease the amount of stars noticeable and it can also lower the quality of pictures taken under it. Sources of light from natural and man-made objects must be taken under consideration for those who want to make the most of their stargazing.”

Interested in seeing the Milky Way for yourself? Groups like the Philippine Astronomical Society organize stargazing trips several times a year.

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Angelica Gutierrez
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