Behold the Ghostly Glow of a Bioluminescent Coastline Under the Milky Way

By Maddie Stone on at

Astrophotographer Adam Woodworth’s exquisite shots of the aurora borealis and the Milky Way have lit up Gizmodo before. But he’s outdone himself with his latest reminder that Earth is the most beautiful planet you’ll ever live on: An electric blue strip of bioluminescent coastline under a dazzlingly starry night sky.

Behold the Ghostly Glow of a Bioluminescent Coastline Under the Milky Way

Bioluminescence, the production of light by living organisms, is found across the tree of life from marine invertebrates to mushrooms to fireflies. Paradoxically, the most spectacular chemical light shows nature has to offer come courtesy of teensy tiny microbes. You can’t see these critters individually, but by the billions, their shimmery waterways are a sight to behold.

According to Woodworth, long exposure shots helped bring out the brilliant blue critters that colour this particular stretch of Maine coastline:

This is a blend of 10 exposures for the sky and 2 foreground exposures. 10 shots for the sky were each taken at ISO 10,000, 10 seconds, f/2.8, and then stacked with Starry Landscape Stacker for pinpoint stars and low noise. The 2 foreground exposures were taken at lower ISO and longer shutter speeds for a cleaner foreground, 1 at ISO 1600 for 20 minutes and another at ISO 6400 for 2 minutes, both at f/2.8. The exposures were then blended in Photoshop to create a single image with low noise and sharp focus. All shots were taken with the Nikon D810A and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens at 14mm.

While the glow in the photo is brighter and much more blue than it was in person due to the limitations of human vision, and the fact that that camera can see more with long exposures, it was still intense to see in person and the photo doesn’t do the experience justice.

Image courtesy of Adam Woodworth and reproduced with permission. You can check out more of his work on his website, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.