About Lonely Speck

On Photographing the Milky Way on Ian’s Vimeo.

Hello and welcome to Lonely Speck! We are Ian Norman and Diana Southern, a couple with a passion for photography and travel. Lonely Speck is the home of our night photography and astrophotography adventures. It’s a project to help us learn as much as we can about photographing the Milky Way and sharing those experiences with others so that they can learn how to do it, too.

Here you will find our best efforts to impart our own knowledge of dark sky photography to you. We pride ourselves on the hundreds of images all of you have created and shared with us using the tutorials and articles on Lonely Speck. We hope that you will find as much satisfaction using the tools here as we have had creating them.

We hope that you will join our small community and share your experiences with us. Check out our sister photography site, Photon Collective, share your images on our Flickr group, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, check out Ian’s Instagram or 500px and read about our daytime adventures and Diana’s musing on travel and fashion at our travel blog and stylishtravelgirl.com.

Wishing you clear dark skies and happy photographing!

–Ian & Diana


Diana and Ian in Bergen, Norway

30 Responses

  1. Jeff Roettele July 10, 2017 / 3:08 pm

    Ian, No Trona Meetup this year?

  2. Lorretta Clarke May 4, 2017 / 2:50 pm

    I cant get the backing of the filter. Is there an easy way?

    • Lorretta Clarke May 4, 2017 / 3:01 pm

      Never mind soap and water worked.

  3. liam dennis February 10, 2017 / 1:20 am

    ian, just want to make sure it is okay if I use you for my GCSE project and use your images in my course, obviously im not going to say your pictures are mine I just need a photographer to base my project on.

  4. David J McGeachie January 5, 2017 / 6:34 am

    Hi Ian

    Just bought a new 24mm Rokinon Nikon Fit lens with metering, and also just received my Sharpstar2 focusing filter, cannot wait to travel to the Dark sky park here in Scotland hoping for some clear skies.


  5. Jim H December 31, 2016 / 5:35 pm

    I would like to know the best way to capture using a camera that has a full spectrum modification. I tried to capture the California Nebula, and its red, the sky is red, and I can barely see it. I have ordered a 630nm filter think it will pass the 656nm red of the nebula and I’m hoping that the sky will not be as red. The HA filters aren’t available in sizes needed by cameras and lenses. I am using the Rokinon 135mm f2.0 and it certainly pulls in a lot of stars without annoying distortion. But I want to see the nebulas.

  6. John December 24, 2016 / 1:27 am

    Do you plan to test canon EFs 10-18mm IS stm?
    it looks cheap, but very good in this focal lengths ( in any case – for daylights), and i suppose, it may be not bad for large night sky panoramas too?

  7. MLopes May 12, 2016 / 11:14 am

    great site! congrats 🙂 and all the best

  8. Rick Costea October 28, 2015 / 2:19 pm

    Hi, live in the Yukon Canada ,and unfortunately we have not much for photography clubs or groups. So any information would be appreciated .
    Best Regards

    • Jim Radford October 29, 2016 / 7:03 am

      But you have ooodles of dark light. Lucky you!

  9. George September 10, 2015 / 5:35 am

    Thank you heaps for doing lonely speck, it is a great help

  10. Shan Crow May 11, 2015 / 7:48 pm

    Hi Ian and Diana

    Thanks for sharing all your expertise on this fantastic website. Everything in here is so helpful while I’m figuring out all this night photography. Keep up the great work and if your ever over New Zealand, I would love to take you out to some of the cool night time scenes we have around here.
    regards, Shan

    • Ian Norman June 12, 2015 / 5:43 pm

      Thank you Shan!

  11. JP April 30, 2015 / 11:42 am

    First off, congrades on Discovery Channel. I purchased the Soloshot 2 I’ll post when completed. And thank you for your tuturails they are lifesavers more than you know.

    • Ian Norman June 12, 2015 / 5:42 pm

      Cool thanks JP!

  12. Jade February 16, 2015 / 5:59 pm

    Ian, I have been looking all over youtube for weeks now trying to find good, well developed, amazing quality tutorials for long exposures and astrophotography and FINALLY I FOUND IT! your channel is top notch. love it. on my journey to finding you guys i stumbled upon a few others and they all say that the iso should be at the lowest possible…like 100. but on yours you say keep it at the highest 6400. so now I’m confused as to which method is the best?

    • Ian Norman June 12, 2015 / 5:42 pm

      Keep the ISO high for milky way shooting!

  13. Bruce Thomas January 6, 2015 / 4:41 am

    Love this website, have learned so much, keep up the great work guys, if you ever get to Australia, look me up !!

    • Ian Norman January 6, 2015 / 10:54 pm

      Bruce, thanks!

      We may travel down-under around August/September 2015!

  14. Jeff H. December 26, 2014 / 4:32 am

    Here is a link to a picture I shot last night of the Super Nova Remnant M1 “Crab Nebula” in Taurus using the Pentax GPS module and Astrotrace.
    I used a cheap old screw mount 200mm f3.5 lens with a 2x converter bringing it to 400mm on my Pentax K50. The aperture was wide open and I used a 40 second exposure at ISO 25600 with no significant star trails thanks to the GPS controlled shake reduction sensor in the camera’s body.
    40 seconds was close to the limit I could go with a 400mm lens in that part of the sky. I could technically go up to an 800mm lens with this Pentax system and still get about a 20 second exposure but trying to aim that very small field of view at a nearly invisible object would be an exercise in extreme patience… that I may yet try one day.
    M1 is not an impressive object to look at since it is over 6,000 light years away and only 10 light years across at magnitude 8.4 making it invisible to the naked eye. But I think it’s cool that you can see (and take a picture of) the still expanding remnant of an explosion first seen on earth 960 years ago in 1054AD.
    I also got up early this morning and shot this picture of M51, the “Whirlpool Galaxy” just off the end of the handle of the “Big Dipper”.
    It was shot with just the 200mm f3.5 lens wide open at ISO 1250 for 110 seconds. Of course long exposures like this invite the occasional satellite flying by like in the bottom right.
    Both of these shots were taken from South Central Pennsylvania with moderate light pollution. I’m still figuring out the best settings to use and hope to get a better but used 400mm f5.6 lens sometime and go find some seriously dark skies.
    All the best!
    PS: if anyone has trouble finding the M1 Super Nova remnant here is a link highlighting it:
    And M51 Whirlpool Galaxy…

  15. Jeff H. December 12, 2014 / 7:16 am

    Ian and Diana,

    Thanks for sharing your passion and expertise with us all. I have a Pentax K50 and I’m looking forward to adding the hotshoe mounted 0-GPS1 to use the astrotrace feature. This would allow longer exposure times without star trailing made possible by the in-body stabilization. What are your thoughts of this capability that Pentax offers?

    I am hoping to use it to overcome the short exposure times that longer focal length lenses require on fixed tripods. This should allow for brighter more detailed shots of small deep sky objects… especially with some of the 60mm-75mm clear apertures available with old 135mm, 200mm and 300mm fixed focal length lenses.

    • Ian Norman December 21, 2014 / 11:13 pm

      Jeff, the tracking feature built into the Pentax system is pretty unique. I think the biggest benefit is definitely for longer lenses and I’m intrigued by the capability for capturing some of the more distant sky objects. The only similar product I have used is a Vixen Polarie star tracker mount. I would definitely say that a tracking mount of some kind is necessary for the very best results using long lenses so it’s pretty damn cool that you can do the same on the Pentax system with just a simple accessory. If you get any good results, I’d love for you to share them. Maybe I’ll look into trying out a Pentax setup myself in the future…

  16. Kenny October 6, 2014 / 2:04 pm


    I don’t suppose you run workshops in the field do you? I live in southern California and I have always been better learning hands-on when it comes to photography. Mostly, I’d appreciate the company since I’ve been to Joshua Tree late at night by myself and it’s kind of creepy when the bushes start rustling.

    P.S. I bought the Rokinon 12mm f/2 on the strength of your endorsement. It’s a fine lens and, for what it does, is excellent value for the money. I’ve spent way more on lenses I’ve used a lot less.

    • Ian Norman October 6, 2014 / 9:38 pm

      Kenny I am currently not hosting any formal workshops since June. My focus has been strictly on the website content rather than organizing workshops so I’m putting them on hold. That said, if I’m in the area out shooting, I would love meeting up informally to shoot together. I’m currently on the road and might not be back in So Cal until the winter just as a heads up. Maybe shoot me an email and I’ll keep you in mind: [email protected]

  17. Roland Penttila October 3, 2014 / 9:40 pm

    I met Hal Meurlin at a PSA convention here in Albuquerque and saw some of his photographs. One in particular was his shot of the Milky Way. It was (lonely)Specktackular! He credited you for helping make this great image. I’m bookmarking this page and hope to make a similar (but obviously inferior) version of his shot here in New Mexico real soon using your information. Thanks for publishing this.

    • Ian Norman October 4, 2014 / 1:02 pm

      Roland! Yes, Hal attended one of my workshops in early 2014. Be sure to shoot real early in the night! The Milky Way is setting earlier and earlier as we approach the December Solstice.

  18. sally September 17, 2014 / 11:57 am

    Your information was excellent, comprehensive yet easy to understand. Thank you!

    • Ian Norman October 6, 2014 / 9:40 pm

      Thanks Sally!

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