Rodney Campbell's Blog

Streaky Malabar…

by on Oct.15, 2014, under Life, Photography

A streaky star trails session at Malabar. We’d been to these bunkers once before and figured they would provide a nice foreground interest to the streaky stars. Plus they were right on the cliff edge at the coast so might hopefully have reduced light pollution from the city.

Malabar is in Sydney’s eastern suburbs (just south of Maroubra beach). So I met Gerry around 8PM one evening for the walk out to the bunker. We didn’t remember it being this far, plus the sand on the beach is killer, and the wind!… my god it was blowing a gale (which isn’t so great when you’re trying to shoot something for hours and want a stable platform). Frankly we were expecting a bunch of zig zaggy wavy lines…

Note: These photographs (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.

Freakin’ Out

Freakin' Out

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 20 mm, 61 sec at f/4, ISO 640 x 117 Frames

The upside…

– it was dark
– there was no moon out
– there weren’t any clouds

We checked out the area for some likely spots to setup – we were hoping for somewhere somewhat protected by the wind – but alas no suitable compos with that.

Facing southwards would give us a nice centre of rotation above the bunker and we’d get a nice aspect on the bunker and rocks as well.

So we setup with the tripods down very low for maximum stability and started with some light painting and steel wool experiments. After three goes with the steel wool Gerry was sick of being singed 🙂 so we started our streaky star trails frames. Intervalometers set – 60 seconds @ f/4 and ISO 640.

Started the sequence at 9:20PM and we figured 2 hours should just about do it (moonrise to the east was due just after 11PM). We headed around to the other side of the bunker to wait… and we waited… and waited… and waited… sigh…

The downside…

– it was a fairly long walk to the location
– it was sooo windy – we were expecting lots and lots of blurry photos 🙁
– it was a sandstorm – my hair, clothes, gear bags and places you don’t want to know were soo full of sand when I got home
– there was no pizza 🙁
– even though we were fifty metres up on the cliff above the ocean we were still getting some salty sea spray whipped up here by the ferocious wind so add our gear getting salty wet!
– it was cold and windy and wet – we couldn’t just sit and wait in a nearby warm car and eat pizza
– we must remember next time NOT to face the cameras towards where the airport is before the curfew – I had to manually clone plane light trails out of about 50% of the frames!!

So Gerry – criteria for next time:

1) close to car
2) close to pizza
3) no planes
4) east or south facing to dark skies
5) no clouds
6) no moon
7) no wind
8) no sand
9) no sea spray

11:20PM couldn’t come quickly enough and when it did we were out of there…

Back in Lightroom it was some global adjustments to all the frames – sync the white balance, a little contrast, clarity and vibrance and then off to photoshop to stack.

The result posted here is the stacked streaky trails blended with the EL wire light painting of the foreground plus green light inside the bunker plus a touch of the red coloured torch from another frame.

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