Rodney Campbell's Blog

Galactic Winds…

by on Jan.28, 2016, under Life, Photography

I’d done a little research before heading to South Australia on our road trip and I could see that we’d be arriving there the day of the new moon. Since we were staying for a few days on a farm quite a fair way from the nearest major city I figured we’d have a few days of pretty ideal conditions for continuing my love of astro photography. Now if only the other required weather conditions would fall into place.

Besides a lack of light pollution (no moon and a remote location far away from cities) we also need clear skies.

Unfortunately it had been cloudy and overcast all day so it wasn’t looking promising. The winds however were picking up and by early evening they’d managed to blow away just about all traces of the clouds.

Drive to the Infinite

Drive to the Infinite

NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 30 sec at f/2.8, ISO 5000

There was a spot at the corner of their property I’d seen earlier in the day where there was a nice crossing of farm tracks with two fields on either side of the main track coming to the crossing and one of the pine plantations in a third quadrant behind me.

Checking out Photo Pills on my phone I worked out that this might be a good spot to setup for an arch of milky way stars over the crossroads.

So as soon as it got dark enough I headed out there and setup for some shots of the milky way. Around 10PM it was dark enough to take my sequence of frames for a stitched panorama.

Unfortunately as I’m composing each of the source frames manually, in the dark – I didn’t quite get enough of an overlap between some of the frames and I couldn’t get a successful stitch.

This is the central of those frames looking straight up that main track into this spot – with a little low light painting to pop the white dirt of the road in the foreground.

I didn’t linger long because it was getting late and I wanted to move onto a spot where I was hoping to do a set of star trails behind an old windmill at the top of a small hill on their property.

Fifteen minutes later I was at the windmill and testing a number of compositions to work with the stars.



NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 30 sec at f/2.8, ISO 5000

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.

Unfortunately looking anywhere even slightly east of south meant facing towards one of the larger cities in the far distance and even though it was perhaps three quarters of a hours drive away it still lit up the horizon as you can see in the frame above.

So it looked like a more vertical composition facing more west of south would be the best bet. Again using an app on my phone (StarTracker or SkySafari) I determined roughly where the celestial south pole would be and tried to place it just above the centre of the windmill.

Galactic Winds

Galactic Winds

NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 61 sec at f/2.8, ISO 1250 x 78 Frames

I took a few more test shots with some foreground light painting I might use later on to blend with the stacked star trails and then set the intervalometer to take my shots.

With chill winds blowing across the paddocks it was a very cold night, and it was just past 11PM by the time I stared the star trails frames. So I headed back to the car to wait it out in comfort and read some magazines on my iPad whilst I waited.

It was a little after midnight when I decided to start making my way back to pull the plug. Before stopping the camera however I pulled out my coloured torch to try a little impromptu light painting of the foreground whilst the intervalometer was still running. I figured if I screwed up these last few frames it wouldn’t matter since I was about to stop them anyway.

When you are shooting star trails source frames there’s no image review because the next shot starts immediately (0.1 sec) after the previous shot completes. So I couldn’t see the results of my impromptu light painting to see if I was grossly under or over exposing them. It’s a little hard to estimate when shooting at ISO 1250 and f/2.8.

As it turns out my red and green frames were both pretty spot on so I decided to include them both in the final stacking and thats what you see here on the windmill and tank in the final result (a little of the red and green lighting mixed with the white lighting).

So the final star trails image is the result of stacking 78 x one minute frames.

Comments are closed.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Copyright © 2015 Rodney Campbell

Images contained on this web site may not be used or reproduced in any way without prior permission.