Rodney Campbell's Blog

Archive for November, 2018

Universal Doorway

by on Nov.15, 2018, under Life, Photography

I guess we’ll just have to call this astro month. Time for a universal doorway to the stars

Universal Doorway

Universal Doorway

NIKON D750 + 12.0 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, 46 sec at f/2.8, ISO 640 x 118 Frames

OMG – after numerous location failures this evening we now needed a Plan D!!..

Gerry remembered a stone arch from our last trip here 7 years ago. So it was back up the gorge and around the coastal track a bit to this slightly less impressive than anticipated stone arch off the boardwalk

We had wanted to shoot star trails and the environmental conditions were actually pretty damn good for them. The minimal clouds had basically completely cleared now. It was 9:30PM, sunset was 2 hours ago and the moon was just a small 15% crescent behind us and would set within an hour anyway

Now it was time for me to stand motionless in the doorway whilst Gerry light painted up a storm. Half an hour and a number of takes later we’re done and it was time to start the trails shots and wait, and wait…

Sydney’s light pollution doesn’t allow shooting with more ideal dark skies style settings (like ISO 1600, f/2.8, 60 seconds). So we had to make do with Sydney dark skies settings (ISO 640, f/2.8, 45 seconds). Actually we should really have shot at 30 seconds to kill more of the ambient. Because we couldn’t be stuffed having 50% more RAW frames to deal with in post we went with the longer exposures 🙂

11:40PM and we’d had enough (of the waiting and the smell :)) so we packed it in and headed home…

Comments Off on Universal Doorway more...

Diamond Gap

by on Nov.13, 2018, under Life, Photography

This wasn’t actually our plan for the evening. Gerry and I had mad a last minute plan to shoot star trails over an amazing weeping tree on the Bondi golf course. Alas when we arrived the tree was now gone… First of all who’d cut down this epic little tree – one of the few trees in this area

Therefore it was Plan B time. We drove to nearby Macquarie Lighthouse. On the way we stopped at Dudley Page Reserve to shoot some silhouettes of the people awaiting sunset. The view was very nice – the photo’s… meh…

Taking in the Warmth

Taking in the Warmth

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/250 sec at f/16, ISO 100

At the lighthouse the pastels had come out so it was time for a few quick shots and a pano. Gerry had brought his rail which made things easier. Me – nada – therefore mine’s a manual botched job 🙂

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.

Macquarie Pastels

Macquarie Pastels

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 1/4 sec at f/8, ISO 100 x 6 Frames

… and then the spotlights came on – consequently Plan B is dashed. Time for Plan C. The last time we’d shot here was back in 2011 or something. We’d gone to Diamond Bay – which is not so much a bay as this cavernous cut in the cliffs you can scramble down. We figured it would be reasonably protected from light pollution

When we got down to the bottom and out to the ocean we weren’t really feeling it. A composition to include the stars and anything remotely useful in the foreground wasn’t coming to mind

So we did some shots with the narrow gorge and some light painting just in case :). Our intent was to light the gorge with some interesting side and back lighting and then do a steel wool spin down the middle. Alas tho I’d brought the light painting bag it had everything but a lighter to light the wool 🙁

Diamond Gap

Diamond Gap

NIKON D750 + 12.0 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, 217 sec at f/2.8, ISO 200

Backlighting Gerry would have to do instead. Now we know this is Gerry because of the ever present shorts and the very long legs – made super extra tall in this case courtesy of the 12mm Laowa lens 🙂

We had to change composition to make this work, so this is the only single take we did… Plus I was sick of stumbling over these boulders in the dark to light paint from afar 🙂

Comments Off on Diamond Gap more...

The Boab Universe

by on Nov.10, 2018, under Life, Photography

The main event for the evening was to take the frames for a star trails composite image. Standing here feeling alone in the universe is a humbling experience. Out here in the absolute darkness with the universe of stars above filling the heavens with sparkling diamonds. Oh too many to count or fathom

The first task was to select a suitable composition. I wanted to include these three fantastic Boab specimens (perhaps the rule of odds at play :)). I aligned my location and composition so that the boabs would be reaching up into the heavens with the centre of the rotation of the stars being aligned with the right hand tree. At the time I possibly would have preferred to align with the centre tree but it wasn’t possible to do that and include the three trees cleanly. In the end having it on around the third probably works better anyway

The Boab Universe

The Boab Universe

NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 61 sec at f/2.8, ISO 1600 x 89 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.

First some test shots with some light painting of the foreground (including one of yours truly :)). This to potentially later use to blend in as the foreground image

Then it was time to let the intervalometer run. I was taking frames at 14mm, 61 seconds @ f/2.8 and a staggering ISO 1600 (it was so amazingly dark skied out here and still the background was dark!)

The sequence started at 8:30PM and I let it run for 89 frames. By 10PM I’d had enough of sitting alone in the dark with all manner of strange noises in the dark. All sorts of animals and birdlife out in the darkness moving about. Plus I was camped here in the absolute darkness right next to a likely crocodile infested river. Strange thoughts do eventually creep into your mind 🙂

Comments Off on The Boab Universe more...

Savannah under the Stars

by on Nov.07, 2018, under Life, Photography

This Savannah scene was ideal fodder for a Milky Way arch and star trails behind a giant Boab. It’s another day, another perfect location, and perfect conditions for stars

So where are we… well… about half way between Katherine and Kununurra in the Northern Territory at East Baines River. Literally alone in the remote wilds 🙂

I played with a few compositions with the grassy foreground, and some Boabs all being light painted with the lowest setting of my awesome Zebralight headlamp. These boabs look like they are literally dancing under the stars! 🙂



NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 36 sec at f/2.8, ISO 6400

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.

Eventually I opted for the arch of stars over these three main Boabs for my panorama composition

My final panorama is the result of stitching five (5) frames taken with the Samyang 14mm – 30 seconds @ f/2.8 and ISO 5000

Savannah under the Stars

Savannah under the Stars

NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 30 sec at f/2.8, ISO 5000 x 5 Frames

Comments Off on Savannah under the Stars more...

Road Train to the Stars

by on Nov.04, 2018, under Life, Photography

OK… as I have just posted my “most recent” astro session (taken over 18 months ago !!) I figured I’d continue the trend…

Waaaay back in 2015 (over three years ago) I went on an epic seven week adventure with my youngest daughter and my grey nomad parents. We travelled around the remote north west corner of Australia (from Darwin to Perth). During that trip we were in some incredibly remote locations – some of the most remote and unpopulated in the entire world. The dark skies were soooo amazingly filled with stars. It was an astro shooters dream come true…

My parents have once again invited me to join them on what is “apparently” their last big trip around Australia. So next year I’m going to be back here once more, shooting those magical star filled skies

There were many images from our previous trip that I had never published. Therefore in anticipation of the upcoming journey I’m going to begin posting some of them now… a cosmic celebration of all that is astronomical…

Road Train to the Stars

Road Train to the Stars

NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 36 sec at f/2.8, ISO 5000 x 5 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.

So here we are – our first night out of Darwin and definitely out in the wilderness. A small rest area (called Vince Connolly Crossing) on the side of the Victoria Highway in the middle of nowhere in the Northern Territory

This is a stitch of five (5) vertical frames using the astro fiend Samyang 14mm f/2.8 prime. The great thing about this lens is that it is fabulously sharp even wide open at f/2.8

I also did a little light painting of the foreground during the frames to just slightly lift them out of the darkness. Out here it is so dark and quiet it is almost deafening 🙂

There are very few vehicles along the road at night but we do get some massive road trains

The road train is an interesting thing. It consists of a relatively conventional tractor unit. But instead of towing one trailer or semi-trailer, a road train pulls two, three, four or more of them. It’s one massively long chunk of momentum…

Anyway it is so quiet you can hear any vehicle coming many minutes before it arrives. I heard the road train coming a long time before I needed to get off the road. However with 36 second exposures and fiddly manual recompositions between frames it takes a long time to complete the frames. I was facing up the road when the light came into view far far into the distance

Not wanting to be smashed to oblivion like so many ‘Roos on the side of the road I left the road in plenty of time 🙂

Even still, moving off the road and back to roughly the same spot, thankfully (or rather remarkably!) didn’t appear to cause any issues with the stitch

Comments Off on Road Train to the Stars more...

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.