Hakai Magazine

Coastal science and societies

milky way with waterfall

One Great Shot: Hunting the Milky Way

On a secluded beach, Nic Annau combines an earthly feature with an astronomical marvel.

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by Nic Annau

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the milky way with a waterfall in the foreground

As other locals from Victoria, British Columbia, might know, the best views of the Milky Way can usually be found far from city lights, down the West Coast Road. The night I took this image was a special one. After keeping a close eye on the conditions, some friends and I decided to visit Sandcut Beach in late spring 2018 for some Milky Way hunting. This location is known for its waterfall that tumbles over a low bluff to a cobblestone beach. Once I located the waterfall, I delicately balanced my tripod behind it—being careful not to get my camera wet or let it fall in the pool at the waterfall’s base—and aligned the falling water with the galactic display. We left shortly after this photo was taken, to beat the rising tide. On the way out, we watched the waves a little longer and realized the white foam crashing onto the beach was notably bright for a moonless night. One of us shouted “bioluminescence!” and with childish excitement, we spent the next 15 minutes throwing rocks into the ocean to watch the splashes illuminate. It was the perfect cherry on top of an already memorable evening.