Rodney Campbell's Blog

It’s Remarkable under the Stars…

by on May.28, 2015, under Life, Photography

Ever since I knew I was going to be staying on Kangaroo Island I was hoping and praying that I’d get the chance to shoot the remarkable stars over the Remarkable rocks.

Calling Home

Calling Home

NIKON D600 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 25 sec at f/3.2, ISO 6400

Unlike the skies in Sydney where I live, there light pollution makes it almost impossible to see the heavens clearly. Kangaroo Island is perfectly suited to shooting the stars. This is the epitome of “dark skies”, with minimal light pollution at this very remote location in the most south west corner of the island. There is nothing south of here till you reach Antarctica.

Unfortunately the skies had been overcast every evening of our stay so it wasn’t looking good. However on the second last night the skies looked clear just after sunset so there was hope.

I’d been shooting at Admirals Arch with a newfound friend and photographer (Jarrod Koh who was over here with his family from Adelaide). We decided to head to Remarkable Rocks in the hopes of using starry skies. Jarrod was aiming to get some shots of a comet with the clear dark skies and I was just hoping to get some shots of the milky way over the rocks and then later setup for some star trails.

The Milky Way wasn’t really in a great position at this time of year. The core of those remarkable stars and galaxies remained over the horizon and most of the star band ran sort of south to north almost directly overhead. Still it was very dark and clear and so the stars were very visible.

Whilst Jarrod setup his tracker for his Comet, I went wandering looking for compositions I could work with and light paint.

The first image above was one of my first (around 10PM) and probably my favourite from the evening. This is looking from the south side facing northward up at the Remarkable rocks with those remarkable stars in the sky.

This one from the northern side facing more south east and including the milky way with this fabulous rock shape.

Reach for the Stars

Reach for the Stars

NIKON D600 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 25 sec at f/3.2, ISO 6400

Faces in the Dark

Faces in the Dark - Remarkable Stars

NIKON D600 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 25 sec at f/3.2, ISO 5000

I think the secret with shots like these – other than the composition and the technical aspects of the shot (shutter, aperture and ISO) – is the light painting. Both the remarkable rocks and the remarkable stars as their name implies are quite remarkable, but without the light painting you essentially have some stars in the sky over a black silhouette. The silhouette can work (as seen below) but only if you work the silhouette into the composition.

It’s also not about just adding flat fill light either. Sure you can light the rocks like it’s daytime but personally I don’t think it generates the right feel for the scene. This low more directed lighting with lots of shadow, lines and texture I think produces a much more interesting and satisfying look.

… and one where the shadowed silhouette can work 🙂

The Howling

The Howling

NIKON D600 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 25 sec at f/3.2, ISO 5000

Then at around 11PM the heavy clouds came through from the south west and completely covered the skies :(.

The remarkable stars were done and unfortunately star trails were right off the menu. Still I was very happy for the hour we did have here with these amazing sculptures of nature. Truly those remarkable stars were just that and I was satisfied with what I had in the can.

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