The Crows' Feet of the Hautes-Alpes

May 16, 2024

Milky-way-in-french-alps

PhotographerJeff Graphy  
Summary Author: Jeff Graphy

The image shown above was taken in the French Alps (Hautes-Alpes) from the summit of Morgon at approximately 7,546 ft (2,300 m) altitude. I've named it "Crows' Feet of the Hautes-Alpes." The orientation is, from right to left, southeast, east then northeast. Serre-Ponçon is the lake in the mid-ground.

I've been waiting two years for the right conditions (climate, avalanche risk, accessibility, astronomical alignment, motivation) to create this composition (panorama of 20 photos of both the sky and the mountains). Indeed, with the starry sky being different each season, it was necessary to anticipate the part of the Milky Way which could enter this visual field; only the winter season met my demands.

So, with snowshoes on my feet and 53 lbs (24 kg) of equipment on my back, I headed towards the Morgon peak, via the Boscodon Forest. In winter, you need an approach walk of 5.9 miles (9.5 km) for the 3,740 ft (1,140 m ) of elevation gain. A wind of 18-25 mph (30-40 km/h) blew all night without stopping for a single second. Even though the temperature was only 36.5 degrees F (2.5 degrees C), the wind played on my mind until a little before dawn. This is when I set up my equipment and capture the magnificent vista shown here. In total, the expedition took me 20 hours, not including the car travel time. Photo taken on February 4, 2024.

Photo Details: Sony A7S + Samyang 35mm f/1.4 unfiltered lens on simple tripod.  Sky: Panorama of 20 photos. Each photo is a single 8-second exposure at f/2.5 and ISO 6400.  Foreground: Panorama of 20 photos. Each photo is a single 30-second exposure at f/2.8 and ISO 3200.

Pic de Morgon, French Alps, France Coordinates: 44.491988, 6.397657

Related Links:
View of the Saint-Véran, Paul Felenbok Observatory in the French Alps
Swiss Alps, Milky Way and Zodiacal Light
Jeff's Website