Rodney Campbell's Blog

The Quarry and the Swirls

by on Dec.14, 2018, under Life, Photography

My daughter was very keen to shoot some star trails. This was primarily because she wanted to convert into a timelapse movie rather than a static star trail image

With a little planning we’d decided to get out of the city and spend a few days around the new moon to optimise our chances. We headed down to the Shoalhaven on the South Coast of NSW

We looked at the cloud forecast on Cloud Free Night. Cloud Free Night is an excellent online weather forecast information service (in particular cloud predictions and astro visibility at night). It’s designed for the Australian and New Zealand astronomy community

Magellanic Clouds

Magellanic Clouds

NIKON D750 + 12.0 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, 27 sec at f/2.8, ISO 4000

It appeared that the current night was going to be our best bet for cloud free conditions. So we decided to head out immediately :). As we were leaving Sydney late (around 9PM) we decided to stop in at Bombo Quarry (near Kiama) on the way down. The location is pretty good for astro work and we arrived around 11PM:

– it’s in a dark area away from street lights and strong light pollution
– it’s right on the coast (the ocean is directly on the other side of the rock)
– it has these really interesting hexagonal basalt columns and still water for reflections
– the downside was that the township of Kiama was directly south of here but the headland blocks much of the direct light

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.

We took a few static image tests with some simple light painting to refine our composition

Once we’d decided on our composition for the trails images we first captured a number of light painted exposures for potential later blending into a final image. This included a couple steel wool spins, and various light painting of the rocks (from different directions and in different colours). This was to optimise things like the reflections in the water, the play of light and shadow on the rocks for a more 3D effect and so on

Just before 12:30AM we were ready to start our trails sequence. We changed to optimal settings for that and let the intervalometer run. 239 x 36sec frames later (just before 3AM) we’d had enough waiting 🙂 and packed up for the night

Here we have the result of stacking the 239 star trail frames blended with some of the more natural light (warm daylight) light painting frames

The Quarry and the Swirls

The Quarry and the Swirls

NIKON D750 + 12.0 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, 36 sec at f/2.8, ISO 800 x 239 Frames

It was just after 4AM when we finally got to the grandparents house and hit the beds 🙂

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