Rodney Campbell's Blog

Stockton Dunes under the Stars…

by on Jul.06, 2014, under Life, Photography

Huddling under some tiny trees on Stockton Dunes in the freezing cold with bitter winds and rain wasn’t a whole lot of fun…

The rain did however surprisingly clear after about half an hour and we decided to make a dash for that lone tree Gerry had seen

Once there we could see that it was placed nicely, sort of on the side of a large dune with lovely wind rippled sand sculpted around it and a nice shape to photograph

Note: These images (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

Twilight light was dropping fast and we wanted to use some of it before we were left with totally black skies (we’d come here on an evening with no moon)

A lazy 200 second long exposure at f/5.6 with a touch of low light painting with Gerry’s uber torch from the side and a kiss on the tree and we have…

The Tree

The Tree

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 202 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100

We moved to the other side of the tree and started shooting up the dune toward the tree so we’d just have the sand dune and the sky behind it but we only had black skies to contend with now looking away from where the sun set over an hour ago. We continued trying various light painting combinations using both white and coloured light and even some steel wool spins behind the tree

What we started to notice however in our long exposures whilst light painting were trailing stars in the sky and wouldn’t you know it the skies were really clearing (it was still quite windy). It’s milky way shooting time!!!…

The Fire Bush

The Fire Bush

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 372 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100

and this enabled us to start seriously trying some shots of the stars. It was really really bitter cold so we were no longer considering doing star trails (for which we’d need to hang around doing nothing for hours plus it would have been much better if we could have done a nice twilight shot beforehand for the foreground). We could however but do high ISO single static starfield images including the milky way so…

This final image is actually a composite of two (along with near zero photoshopping skill :))

– one 394 second long exposure shot at f/7.1 and ISO 100 – Suren lighting the dunes with low sculpted light from the far sides (most on the right and a touch of fill from the left), and a touch of white light on the tree, me with a red light torch shining up into the tree from below along with a burning steel wool spin behind courtesy of Gerry
– combined with a 31 second shot wide open at f/4 and ISO 6400 to capture the stars in an almost clear sky (just a few whisps of clouds left)

Each of the two individual shots actually look pretty good – however even the 394 second (over six minutes) long exposure shot had essentially a black sky with a few trailing stars – but together they just give you more of everything good 🙂

Heavens Watching

Heavens Watching

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, (394 sec @ f/7.1 & ISO 100 + 31 sec @ f/4 & ISO 6400

and another composite of a steel wool spin (171 sec @ f/8 and ISO 100) with the starry night (26 sec @ f/4 and ISO 6400)

Galactic Fire

Galactic Fire

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, (171 sec @ f/8 & ISO 100 + 26 sec @ f/4 & ISO 6400

We were getting really really cold so we started making our way back towards where we came into the dunes and stopped at a few interesting places on the way to try some light painting and steel woolage

Nothing else really worth posting from here (although watching Gerry struggle through the bushes to reach the top of a mound to do a what has to be said was a pretty epic horizontal steel wool spin was entertaining) – until we got back to this interesting clump of trees that we first saw much earlier on when we were just starting to get rained on – more in the next installment…

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