Rodney Campbell's Blog

Mount Hope Crescent…

by on Oct.23, 2016, under Life, Photography

Out alone in the dark once more… here on the road heading towards Mount Hope on the western side of town.

I’d done a little forward planning before my family headed out to Coolah to stay with relatives. I mean we were staying out in country New South Wales. My chances for dark skies were much more favourable than my usual Sydney locations.

Coolah is fairly close to places like Coonabarabran (where the Mopra Observatory and Radio Telescope is).

Mount Hope Crescent

Mount Hope Crescent

NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 25 sec at f/2.8, ISO 6400 x 16 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.

I hadn’t actually planned it this way but it turned out the New Moon was in the middle of my stay here :). Excellent news if only the weather would accommodate.

Unfortunately it wasn’t looking good – it had been overcast and rainy the first two days here. However around sunset this our second evening here it looked like the sky was clearing nicely.

After dinner I headed out to look for a place to shoot. I hadn’t really planned anywhere specific to shoot but I had a few places in mind.

Checking on Photo Pills I looked up what the astro conditions were going to be. I noted that the arch of the milky way was going to be visible. Not only that the core of the milky way was going to be out. Excellent news!. The arch was going to run sort of north south. It was also going to start more overhead at astro twilight and then lean over to the west during the early evening.

There was this really nice set of silos I’d been eyeing off during the day to include in a shot. However they were on the east side of the main road into town. When I got there at night there were also street lights all around behind it. Scratch that off my list :(.

I figured it best to head to the west of town. That way I didn’t have to deal with the bright lights of town and the light pollution. Coolah is only a very small town but when taking astro shots even the faintest of lights can really mess up your shots at high ISO’s.

One of my relatives farms is up on the hills above the town to the west so I headed up that road. I was hoping to get somewhere high enough to see the sky clearly. All without going over the top where any light pollution from any distant towns to the west might interfere with my shots.

This is the intersection of three roads near the top of the hill. To the left is the road heading down the hill to Coolah. To the right a road I’ve never travelled which goes to Neilrex and Mendooran. Finally the road in the middle is Mount Hope Road.

It wasn’t a great location but I figured I was out here so might as well give it a try.

My first attempt at a stitched panorama bombed. A car came half way through and I had to get off the middle of the road :).

This is my second attempt. I took enough shots for two complete rows (one horizontal and one 45˚ angled up). With the Samyang 14mm vertically these two rows of eight (8) images gives me enough to build a near complete 360˚ by 180˚ spherical panorama.

So in addition to the cropped panorama which leads this post I give you a full 360˚ spherical (equirectangular) panoramic projection.

Mount Hope Crescent

Mount Hope Crescent

NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 25 sec at f/2.8, ISO 6400 x 16 Frames

and finally a version in an interactive 360˚ panoramic viewer. Here you can pan around left and right and up and down in the scene.

Focus Fail

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…

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.