Rodney Campbell's Blog

Startrails over Bondi…

by on Oct.11, 2014, under Life, Photography

Having shot some test star trails shots at North Head the previous weekend looking westwards out to sea, Gerry and I figured that shooting decent startrails in Sydney itself (probably the most light polluted city on the continent) was probably going to be viable.

Normally startrails requires dark skies to be successful and shooting the typical southward facing shot towards the centre of the galactic rotation is indeed an extremely difficult thing in Sydney with light polluted skies everywhere until you are far west of Sydney itself.

Shooting eastwards from the coast however gives us the opportunity to shoot out over the ocean where the skies are much darker and we figured might produce usable results.

So it was we headed to Bondi (Bondi Golf Course in fact) to this location where Gerry had spied this large ventilation tower (Ben Buckler Stack) right on the cliff edge at the coast (you really don’t want to know what it’s for :)). We were hoping for clear cloudless skies this evening and we weren’t disappointed.

Galactic Stack

Galactic Stack

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 61 sec at f/4, ISO 640 x 154 Frames

So after sunset we setup right next to this path leading towards the stack and prepared. The ventilation stack is actually very tall (rising more than 100 feet above the ground).

We tested various exposures for the trails and even some attempts at some single frame starfield shots (which didn’t work – no milky way goodness here) and settled on 60 seconds at f/4 and ISO 640

Before starting the intervalometer to capture the huge number of startrails source images we shot some foreground shots to blend in with the stacked trails later. We shot these at ISO 100 and more stopped down (f/8 to f/7.1 for me). I tried a number with my orb making tool (Gerry isn’t a fan :)). We did some coloured light painting of the path (red worked best) and even tried lighting the stack itself with coloured light (this didn’t work – we couldn’t compete with the ambient light from all the nearby street lights).

We then changed back to the startrails settings and set the programmable intervalometer on it’s way. Almost two and a half hours and 155 frames later we stopped (actually Gerry’s camera ran out of juice).

In the interim we decided to get some dinner – for some strange reason the Pizza place doesn’t deliver to some dark location on the cliff edge in the middle of the Golf Course – go figure!!… So Gerry went for a drive and did pickup 🙂

The image above is the result of blending three final images:

– the stacking of the 155 source startrail frames (with some healing brush work to get rid of planes and other lit objects moving through some of the frames (we had some people walk through at one stage)). I left in the shooting star 🙂
– one of the frames with the orb in it (for the orb and the tower and most of the ground)
– one of the frames with the nice red path courtesy of Gerry

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