On the western side of town is the Coolah Cemetery. It might be a dark and scary place, lets hope the zombies are not out tonight!
Truth be told I was just looking for somewhere dark to shoot the night skies. A place where I could also include something in the foreground and midground of my images.
NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 25 sec at f/2.8, ISO 6400 x 12 Frames
Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger. To see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer click any of the images.
This cemetery at the edge of town seemed a potential choice.
I setup for a stitched panorama again in this semi open space with this large obelisk in my foreground and headstones receding over the nice grass into the distance.
It was obvious that there were some bright street and house lights on the other side of the cemetery. They were going to cause problems in the high ISO images but I was here so I figured I’d wing something on the fly.
I couldn’t stop the lights so I figured I’d run with it. Adjusting my position so the lights would be behind and backlight my chosen obelisk. Little did I know it would turn out this well however.
So this is the result of panorama stitching two rows of six (6) vertical frames (12 in total). I’d placed my obelisk on my eventual right third with the arch of the milky way going across the middle.
I could see the clouds coming in fast so I only managed one set of frames before the clouds started taking over the sky.
Even still I kind of like the result of the long exposure streaky clouds being slightly lit by light pollution. It even looks like the milky way and the green airglow behind it is backlighting the clouds in the sky.
And those annoying tungsten street lights and house lights – what can I say… Awesome – looks like someone has fire bombing the cemetery with napalm. It’s all that can be done to hold back the horde of zombies scrambling out to get me!
Time to quickly exit this Zombie Apocalypse…
A phenomenon I was aware of with taking night sky images is known as airglow. It’s actually pretty common but I hadn’t seen it strongly in many of my images thus far. The two images I took this night however had a very strong green airglow. It can be seen clearly here as the bright green in the sky above the clouds on the right side.
Airglow (also called nightglow) is a faint emission of light by a planetary atmosphere. In the case of Earth’s atmosphere, this optical phenomenon causes the night sky never to be completely dark.
Emerald green, and visible on dark nights everywhere on Earth, airglow pervades the night sky from equator to pole. Airglow turns up in our time exposure photographs of the night sky as ghostly aurora-like light about 10-15 degrees above the horizon. Its similarity to the aurora is no coincidence. Both form at around the same altitude of around 100 km and involve excitation of atoms and molecules. Unlike the aurora, airglow does not exhibit structures such as arcs and is emitted from the entire sky at all latitudes at all times.
A photochemical reaction occurs high in the atmosphere. Airglow is the result of various atoms, molecules and ions that get excited by ultraviolet radiation from the Sun and then release that energy as visible (& infrared) light when they return to their “normal” state. It’s not entirely unlike glow-in-the-dark toys :). Most of visible airglow comes from oxygen atoms and molecules, which glow green.
And as luck would have it, for me this bright green airglow just adds to the zombie feel of the whole scene :).
There is something which you probably can’t see on these small for web versions of these images. It’s something I unfortunately didn’t notice till I got back to the house and was packing away my gear. The Samyang 14mm is a manual focus lens and I must have bumped the focus ring at the start and it was set to focus around 1m. This is too close when shooting wide open at f/2.8 and so the depth of field didn’t extend even to the midground let alone the stars.
So alas the stars and even the trees in the midground are out of focus :(. The images still look pretty good at screen resolution. However zoom in on the interactive 360˚ view or if I zoom to 100% on my stitched pano and it’s obvious. Sadly no printing of these images for me :).
As an FYI I’d normally set the focus to somewhere between 2 and 3m for these night shots with this lens. My handy DoF calculator says the Hyperfocal distances at f/2.8 for 14mm on my camera is 235cm so my usual guess was pretty spot on 🙂 – lucky no…