The sky was quite clear last night and from the balcony I could make out that wonderful white cloud that signals the milky way is lurking above, so I roamed the garden for a couple of hours shooting a few sequences that I could stack and bring out the full image.
While catching the Milky Way shots I set up another camera over in the corner of the yard shooting a star trail sequence. I tried a new angle with some trees in the foreground but don't really like the finished product as it's not particularly interesting.
I'm really pleased with the results of the Milky Way shots given the amount of ambient light in the area, I might have to start venturing out to make some nightscapes in the mountains.
The aurora is predicted to be very good later this week, unfortunately so is the cloud cover. So I thought I would stay up late and shoot the aurora last night just in case it's too cloudy later in the week. As an experiment I set up one camera and 16-35mm lens for a star trail shot and used a different one and 24-70mm lens for the aurora shots. As it turns out the aurora wasn't great but it did make for an interesting addition to the star trail image. Low clouds to the left of the shot erased some of the star trails but the combined glow of more than a hundred images stacked together made the aurora 'pop' on the right to distract away from the darker area opposite. There's a long satellite trail in there too but I really couldn't be bothered searching it out and erasing it for this shot so it remains. As I was packing up the star trail camera I thought I'd make a few more aurora shots and was lucky enough to see and capture a nice shooting star on the horizon which can be seen the last image on the gallery below. If you're interested in making your own star trail images you can click here for more information on how to do it.
A couple of weeks ago I made my first ever 'star trail' shot, I liked it but thought it would be better with a foreground of some sort to enhance the overall image. Tonight was a lovely clear night so at 10pm I went out to the back garden and set up my gear to make my second star trail image. Tonight I wanted a wider angle than the last time so I could get in the north star and the city together. I set up with my 16-35mm F2.8 lens at 16mm with an ISO of 100 and shot 136 images using a remote release, I then stacked these in photoshop and adjusted the brightness of the foreground to provide the finished image. I really like the finished shot and think it's something I'll do more of, I can imagine some nice shots of desert, mountains, buildings or many other things as foreground interest with perhaps some different angles on the stars (Achieved by not centering on the north star) Watch this space......
Since the turn of the year I have been 'confined to barracks' with some sort of miserable virus that saw me coughing uncontrollably and losing my voice entirely. The constant coughing meant I got very little sleep which I think prolonged things due to lack of rest. Anyway, whatever it was has subsided considerably and I'm looking forward to getting out again very soon. Tonight with mild conditions and a clear sky I made my first ever 'Star Trail' photo and I'm very pleased with the result. I only ventured out onto the balcony so there was no foreground to include as the lights of the city would prevent that. I used Ursula Major to point me to polaris (the north star or pole star) and centred the image on that tiny point of light in order to make a neat circle with the movement. I confess that trying the star trail shot was just to cure me of my camera withdrawal symptoms, I needed to shoot something. I set up the camera with a 24mm f1.4 prime lens at ISO 100 and used a remote release to make 116 exposures, each 30 seconds long which took about an hour. I then stacked them on top of each other in photoshop to get the final image. It's not the most engaging photo I've ever taken but I think I'll try a few more of these on a clear night when I can get out to the mountains and give myself a nice foreground, I'm still not sure about star trail shots but they are a new and interesting challenge if nothing else.
We arrived in Calgary, Canada on 29th December 2011 to continue our journey. This blog is intended to keep our family and friends informed whilst we explore Canada.You can use the RSS feed below to stay updated.
The Shaman, West Texas