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A Loo with a View

by on Dec.27, 2018, under Life, Photography

I’d already had a fantastic day shooting these amazing gorges and natural beauty here at Dales. Still there was no time for sleeping – with such spectacular opportunities on offer how could I let any chance slip by

Moonrise wasn’t till 9:37PM tonight and we were so soo sooo out in remote dark skies territory here. No time for shooting star trails yet but some static milky way action was on offer. I didn’t have the energy to do something spectacular (or crazy) like shooting stars from within one of the gorges. However I could forgo sleeping just a little and step outside and shoot from next to the van 🙂

The milky way was almost vertical in the sky at this time (of year and time of night) and the galactic core was almost directly above us. I wanted to do another arch of stars over… something… but it was going to be incredibly difficult.

A Loo with a View

A Loo with a View

NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 30 sec at f/2.8, ISO 8000 x 6 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 took some vertical frames for a horizontal archway of stars (over the only thing I had in the clearing near us – the loo building :)). My aim was for the loo to be in the centre with the arch going high overhead and I’d call it “A Loo with a View” 🙂

Alas I took these frames like I’ve done most of these off horizontal panoramas with the 14mm. By hand and by eye – guessing the actual framing and overlap. Finally my luck ran out – I’d been doing so well so far. I think when I took the frames at the time I had an inkling they weren’t going to work properly.

The six source frames didn’t successfully stitch properly. They also didn’t really extend up far enough to cover the top of the arch properly in all but the centre frame.

Flash forward 3+ years and Lightroom still couldn’t deal with the frames. However the new Photoshop has done a better (albeit pretty horrible) result. I’ve had to drastically massage the resultant stitch and lost most of the resolution. It’s at least somewhat presentable now tho 🙂

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Blood Rain

by on Dec.24, 2018, under Life, Photography

In my previous post I showed the result of blending the stacked 123 star trail frames with a more sombre blue light painted frame

Here we have the same result also blended with deep blood red lighting instead for a completely different mood

Blood Rain

Blood Rain

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 51 sec at f/2.8, ISO 800 x 123 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.

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The Cave and the Stars

by on Dec.20, 2018, under Life, Photography

I’d previously shot from within this cave almost five (5) years ago. However it was the one and only time I’d shot here at Cathedral Rocks near Kiama

There are two main draw cards at this location. Firstly the rocks spires out in the ocean just off the coast. Secondly this fabulous little cave with a water channel snaking it’s way into the cave

I have a long exposure photo looking out from within the cave shot before sunrise hanging up in my hallway at home. My daughter having seen this often was very keen to shoot at this location. As we were doing night/star trails shoots I thought this would be a distinctly unusual take on the location. Looking out from the cave with star trails in the sky

However the tide and swell conditions are definitely something to consider when shooting at Cathedral Rocks. Access to some of the best spots like the cave and in between the two main rock stacks, is really only possible at low tide. Unless you are willing to get very wet or risk drowning inside the cave 🙁

Checking out the tide times we found that there was a high mid tide at around 9:30PM which was about an hour and a half after sunset. We figured we’d take a punt and arrive approximately on sunset. If the water inside the cave wasn’t too high around that time it should hopefully not rise too much more. Plus after it got dark enough to start the trails (around the peak of the mid tide) it would only drop after that

Seeking the Stars

Seeking the Stars

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 64 sec at f/2.8, ISO 800

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.

Once onsite we appeared to be in luck – the water was definitely inside the mouth of the cave but the higher area at the back of the cave was dry

We spent the next hour and a bit doing some preparatory shots. Refining our compositions and taking some test shots. Then doing some light painting exposures. Finally some shots with ourselves shining our headlamps into the sky for scale. All of which we could later blend with our star trails

Besides lighting the inside of the cave and the rock channel with warm white and various coloured light. We also did an EL wire shot (unfortunately I stepped into a deep water hole in the rocks in the dark) so one was definitely enough 🙂

One thing you may note here is that instead of using my typical 12mm or 14mm for shooting the stars I’ve chosen instead to use a longer 24mm focal length. The main purpose of which was to keep the rock pillar and people in the frame relatively larger

The Beacon

The Beacon

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 51 sec at f/2.8, ISO 800 x 123 Frames

At 9:30PM it was dark enough to start the trails exposures. Most importantly it was high mid tide so hopefully we were seeing the peak of the waves. However every now and then an unusually high rogue wave would surge in and come partway up the tripod legs 🙂

We then waited inside the back of the cave for our shots to run. Normally I’d aim to shoot for about two hours worth of rotation. Unfortunately just before 11:15PM another photographer who’d been shooting further around was coming back and into the cave. A bright headlight shining into our camera’s and that was that – end of the evening. Thankfully we were only about 15 minutes short of the two hours so no big deal

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 51.00 sec at f/2.8, ISO 800

Stacking the 123 x 51 second frames and then blended with a few our of preliminary light painting and setup shots we have our final result

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Infinite Worlds, Infinite Possibilities

by on Dec.17, 2018, under Life, Photography

In my previous post I showed the result of blending the stacked 239 star trail frames with some of the more natural light (warm daylight) light painting frames

Here we have the same result also blended with one of the steel wool spins for a different spin (no pun intended) on things

Infinite Worlds

Infinite Worlds

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

and for something a bit more crazy here it is blended with the rocks and water light painted in red

Star Carnage

Star Carnage

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

I personally prefer the original shot with just the simple warm light. It’s less busy and well… simpler. Though I am a little partial to this striking red version and the way I was able to do the lighting. However I would be very interested to see what the general public thinks – which do you prefer?

Blue Poles

Blue Poles

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

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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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