Rodney Campbell's Blog

Starry Sunrise…

by on Oct.21, 2014, under Life, Photography

I’d not managed to shoot the starry sky the night before (the half lit moon in the sky and clouds had conspired against me) so I was hoping a sunrise shoot at the same location would satisfy me.

It was just a five minute walk from where we were staying so I set the alarm for 4AM the night before planning for a 5:20AM sunrise and arriving at the location my usual one hour before.

What I hadn’t factored in tho was that the change of daylight savings in New South Wales happened overnight so in fact sunrise was going to be at 6:20AM (effectively an hour later). I didn’t really know this till I got to the location and after about half an hour of shooting – thought to myself – man it’s still very dark with no hint of light on the horizon – whats happening with sunrise :).

Still the sky was very dark and there was very little cloud in the sky so I figured I could try some of those shots of the starry skies I was hoping to do the night before 🙂

Jagged Milk

Jagged Milk

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 25.00 sec at f/4, ISO 4000

Above we are at 4:25AM and I’ve lit the distant rocks and the tree stump in the foreground with some low extreme side lighting with my zoomable torch and a 25 second exposure wide open at ISO 4000 with the 16-35/4 at 16mm

Below we have a similar composition this time with the Sigma 15mm fisheye – 30 seconds at f/3.2 and ISO 3200

Showin’ the Way

Showin' the Way

NIKON D600 + 15.0 mm f/2.8 @ 15 mm, 30 sec at f/3.2, ISO 3200

I shot some other compositions for another 20 minutes or so and seeing it was still very dark with no hint of sunrise – finally grokked that I was an hour early 🙂

Figuring I probably had a little time to try some starry trails before twilight came in too strongly I headed over to where I’d shot some interesting southward facing test shots the night before. I climbed up the landward rock pillar once again and setup a shot southward over the seaside pillar of Wellington Rock.

I knew I didn’t have a lot of time before twilight so I quickly worked out a good exposure for the individual star trails shots (60 seconds at f/4 and ISO 1000) and programmed and started the intervalometer. I figured if I was lucky I might get half an hours worth of frames which I was hoping would be enough to at least give a promise of what might have been given a few hours here in the dark.

At 5AM when I started the sequence the skies were nice and dark and the milky way was clearly visible. Just over 15 minutes in I could see the sky was getting noticeably lighter so I stopped the sequence – quickly dropped the ISO to 800 and started the intervalometer again. Ten minutes later I again adjusted the settings down to ISO 500. Just after 5:30AM twilight was really starting to show with clearly deep blue skies and fading stars so I stopped the sequence and hoped that the 29 frames I’d taken would be enough to show the starry trails.

Finally before moving on I did another frame to use for my foreground in the final shot – 61 seconds at f/8 and ISO 400 with some light painting of the rock pillar in front of me. Unfortunately this is where I needed a second person – there is only so far I could reach out from my position to give angled light on the rock. Some side lighting would likely have been more interesting but I was cramped up on a thin ridge on the pillar I’d climbed.

I stacked the star trails in photoshop as per usual (see previous posts for the technique) and blended in my foreground light painted layer for the final result. This is a promise of what starry nights could be and a definite reason to return here someday and do the job properly.

The Promise

The Promise

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 61.00 sec at f/8, ISO 400

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