Day 227 – Seeing the Stars (Chasing the dark part 4)

Now is suppose to be a great time of year to view the Perseid Meteor shower – so I thought why not have a go, and I discovered that it really was down to a certain amount of luck – the weather had to be right – a fairly cloud free sky, I had to choose my spot – somewhere dark with relatively little light pollution, I had to set my camera up on in the right direction and then I had to have a star shoot past the lens whilst the shutter was open.

I have done a variety of night time images before, but to capture the meteors I had to consider:

  • Shooting wide – so I could include as much as the sky as possible
  • A wider aperture to let as much light in as possible – and a shutter speed of less than 30 secs on my wide angle lens so that the stars were stationary.
  • The higher the aperture the more light I could collect… so the more stars that appear in my final image – but if it is too noisy the photo would be no good anyway.
  • Foreground interest, to give a sense of scale and a feeling of place
  • Trying to ensure the composition was balanced in the dark, the horizons were straight, that I was not spooked by forest animals and I did not fall over the legs of my tripod in the dark… it is surprisingly easy to loose it!

Disappointingly although I saw a few meteors, I did not capture anything on camera. I did however capture these images at Cadnam’s Pool.

ISO6400, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO6400, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs

I started shooting with a high ISO so that I could make sure that I had the camera in focus. The skies looked dark, but it was amazing how much orange glow could be detected on my sensor. This was a great place to start as I realised how wide the lens was and needed to adjust the location of my camera so it was further away from the car – in the lower left you can see the reflection of the car’s mirror.

ISO100, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO100, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs

ISO 100, and only the brightest stars are detected, it would be great to a meteor to shoot across the sky, but it lacks interest.

ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs

I moved around around the area – and experimented with ISO – ISO800 worked well, allowing some additional starts and not too much light pollution. It was amazing how the dark pond was lit up by reflected light from the sky, however this meant that my image did not include enough sky to capture the occasional meteor.

ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs

I worked out where the meteors were occasionally going accross the sky and moved the camera so it was pointing in that direction. This meant I had a less interesting foreground, and above being much closer to the car park … when a car draws into the car park whilst the shutter is open it is amazing how high up the trees the headlights create light.

ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs

I thought about changing the format of the camera and shooting portrait, this way by including my car and a small part of the pond and a huge area of sky, there was more chance of capturing something of interest, but as you can see the clouds are arriving quickly and really reflect the town lights, and the movement of the wind can be seen in the trees to the right.

ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs

This final shot is in a different direction, I included it cause I can clearing make out one constellation in the sky. It is the one most people learn to look for first I think – I perhaps should have had a slightly shorter shutter speed, but I think I have managed to capture the stars relatively stationary.

ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
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