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08 Dec 2019. Stones and Stripes 💫🤷🏻♂️ My image for you today is the result of having set out to shoot a time-lapse sequence of a meteor shower in May of 2019. The Eta Aquariids shower usually shows up near the top of lists of “the best meteor showers to see in 20xx” [insert the year as you see fit]. In my attempts to photograph the heavenly fireworks show, though, I’ve not yet seen it live up to expectations. 💫✨ I did capture some short meteor trails in the 178 photos that I shot on this night, but they were so small and dim that they didn’t warrant the work required to make a time-lapse video. Instead, I opted to create a star-trails composite for you to view. At the top right-hand corner of the scene, the trails are forming tight circles indicating the point in the sky close to where the South Celestial Pole is located. Moving to the left from there, you see the trails start to form larger circles until they reach a place where they scribe straight diagonal lines on the image. Moving further left from there, you see that the stars’ trails are now describing more curved paths that are arcing towards the lower-left vanishing point, where the North Celestial Pole lies. There are a few satellite trails to be seen in the photo, and the keen-eyed might be able to see the points where meteors briefly flashed into oblivion. 📷 For each of the 178 photos that I shot to make up this final composite, I used a Canon EOS 6D camera, fitted with a Samyang 14mm f/2.4 lens @ f/2.8, shooting for an exposure time of 20 seconds @ ISO 6400.
06 Dec 2019. Beautifully Bent 🤷🏻♂️ Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is estimated to be home to at least 100 billion stars. If you or I could travel at the speed of light, it would take us close to 100,000 years to make a trip from one side of this "island universe" to the other. I think I'm not the only person who feels overwhelmed when trying to comprehend the immensity of these kinds of numbers. Perhaps it's because I can't grasp–or mentally "conquer"–the almost divine scale of astronomical objects that fascinates me and drives me to keep pointing my camera heavenwards. 🌌 This panoramic view of the Milky Way arching across Tuross Lake, on the southeastern coast of Australia, is one of my attempts at bringing together the enormity of the astronomical and the familiarity of more terrestrial objects. Although the green, red and yellow navigation lights on the lake are bright and conspicuous, I find my eyes quickly drawn to the Magellanic Cloud galaxies (the white blobs in the sky at the left of the frame), and the grand arch of the Milky Way that dominates the majority of the photo. Almost directly above the yellow navigation marker near the centre is the white glow from the planet Jupiter, and you can see its reflection as a little white squiggle down where the water and sand meet. 📷 I photographed this scene in July of 2019, by shooting thirty individual images (in two rows of 15 shots each) that were then stitched together in software to create the final panoramic rendering. To snap each of those frames I used my Canon EOS 6D camera and a Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 lens @ f/2.4, using an exposure time of 13 seconds @ ISO 6400.
06 Dec 2019. Hope Through the Smoke 🔥 💨 For a few weeks now, my city of Sydney, Australia, has been affected by smoke from bushfires burning on the city’s outskirts, and beyond. The daily cycle has become that of a deep red sunrise, followed by hours of yellowed skies, brought to a close by a setting sun that is even redder than when it began the morning. On a typical day, the Moon only takes on an orange hue when close the horizon, beaming with a distinctive white glow for the majority of its hours overhead. For many on Australia’s eastern coast, though, we now see an orange-red moon while ever the rocky satellite is visible in the night sky. 🌓 Tonight (5th December), I took a short drive and did my best to shoot some photos that showed off this smoke-stained visage of Earth’s nearest neighbour. Wanting to capture images that weren’t merely the orange Moon against the hazy sky, I spent time looking for something to bring some perspective, and hope, to the scene. These lights on the Christmas tree at the St Andrews Anglican Church at Cronulla were happy to emit their lively colours to brighten the eerie night. 📷 For this single-frame photograph, I used my Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Sigma 50-500mm f/5.6 lens @ 500 mm @ f/16, using an exposure time of 1/100 of a second @ ISO 6400.
04 Dec 2019. Windmilky Way 👋 🎄 With the Milky Way’s galactic core now in the part of the sky where the sun is, it’s time to edit and post photos that I’ve shot throughout 2019 but not yet published. I will still try to get out and photograph the night magic of our southern summer, but with the craziness that leads up to Christmas, I’ll probably have lots of family and work commitments to keep me otherwise occupied. 🚙 During one of my trips to the farmlands of Goulburn, Australia, back in April, I shot the twelve photos that make up this vertical panorama of the Milky Way rising over and dwarfing the old windmill on Braidwood Road. I’m still surprised at how much of the fine details of our galaxy’s dust lanes and dark nebulae I managed to capture with exposure times of only 6.0 seconds per shot. I didn’t use any image stacking, but I did make sure that my lens was focussed as sharply as I could get it! 📷 Rather than post the tall and narrow pano on its own, I used the iOS app “PNGRM” to create the zoom-and-pan effect video. I photographed the original twelve single-frame images using my Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Yongnuo 50mm f/1.4 lens @ f/1.4, with an exposure time of 6.0 seconds @ ISO 6400. For the photo nerds, no, I didn’t use a panoramic head, I used good old guestimation to get the right coverage of the field of view.
01 Dec 2019. The ISS over the cemetery ✝️ One night late in October of this year, I made one of my epic nightscape photography journeys to the Southern Tablelands region of my state of New South Wales, Australia. The first photo location for the night was at the St Bartholomew’s Anglican Church at Windellama, southeast of the rural city of Goulburn. In the past few weeks, I have posted some photos of the church itself, and the World War I memorial that is located in the churchyard. There is also a cemetery in the grounds, covering more of the plot of land than the church and war memorial combined. The oldest headstone inscription dates to 1854. 🛰 As I was setting up my tripod and camera to find a composition that would include the Milky Way and some of the gravestones, I noticed a slow-moving and bright light climbing up the sky from the northwest. A quick check of the “Sky Guide” app on my iPhone confirmed that this was the International Space Station on its way over my part of Australia. It shows in the photo as a bright, white streak of light, up and to the right of the central monument. 🌌 On the horizon to the left of the monument, you can see an intense white glow, indicating the position of Australia’s capital city of Canberra, around 75 km (46 mi) away. This bloom of light pollution reaches up and blends with the astronomical phenomenon known as the Zodiacal Light, continuing up and to the right through Jupiter and the Milky Way’s core area. 📷 This photo is a single-frame image that I shot with a Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Samyang 14mm f/2.4 lens @ f/2.4, using an exposure time of 13 seconds @ ISO 6400.
30 Nov 2019. Skydance 🌙 I’ve been keeping watch on the lovely celestial show in the western sky after sunset in the closing days of November. After commencing a new cycle on the 26th of the month, the Moon has been dancing its way through the gathering of naked-eye planets in that part of the heavens. On this night–28th November–I photographed the Moon when it was only 1% illuminated and a mere sliver of light pushing through the haze of bushfire smoke that marked the sky near Nerriga, Australia. ✨ The pinprick of light that you can see above and to the left of the Moon denotes the position of Jupiter, our Solar System’s most massive planet and also the second-largest source of gravitational disturbance in our planetary nuclear family. High above, its light at once diffused and brightened by the endemic smoke and cloud, the planet Venus unmistakably telegraphs its location to those on the lookout for such wonders. 🩰 To quote the late Leonard Nimoy from his role in “The Simpsons”, Season 4/Episode 12, “The cosmic ballet goes on”. 📷 For this single-frame photo, I used my Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Tamron 70-300mm lens @ 200 mm @ f/5.0 using an exposure time of 6.0 seconds @ ISO 1600.
26 Nov 2019. Rocks And Reflections In The River 😫 Oops! It wasn’t my intention to light up the rocks for this photo, although I did mean to light them up. I kind of forgot that I was shooting a time-lapse, while I was flicking about with my torch to see if there were any fish swimming around the rocks. Yes, I did see some fish swimming around the rocks. [Oh, for those who still use Imperial units, a “torch” is what you’d call a “flashlight”… even when it’s not flashing]. This shot is one of the 440 images that I captured for the time-lapse, which I’ve posted here recently. 🌌 The photo worked out OK, showing off the rocks under the surface of the Shoalhaven River at North Nowra, Australia. I also captured the stars reflected on the water’s surface; the slightly moonlit shore on the western bank of the river; plus Jupiter and the Milky Way hanging in the sky, just above the tree line. It was a peaceful scene to take in as I sat listening to the water moving with the outgoing tide. 📷 I shot this single-frame photo with a Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Samyang 14mm f/2.4 lens @ f/2.4, using an exposure time of 20 seconds @ ISO 6400.
23 Nov 2019. To Honor The Memory 🌌 I don’t want to say much about this photo of the Milky Way and Jupiter ruling over the St Bartholomew’s Anglican Church at Windellama, Australia, and the war memorial that stands in the church’s grounds. Instead, I’ll give you the words that are inscribed on the face of the stonework. They remember and try to convey the love for country, and the sacrifice, of those who heeded the call. The men all died in France, about the furthest they could have been from this quiet rural area in Australia. ✝️ ERECTED BY THE RESIDENTS OF WINDELLAMA TO HONOR THE MEMORY OF THE DISTRICT BOYS WHO MADE THE SUPREME SACRIFICE GREAT WORLD WAR 1914 – 1919 ✝️ The stars look down in honour. 📷 I photographed this scene with my Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Samyang 14mm f/2.4 lens @ f/2.4, using an exposure time of 15 seconds @ ISO 6400.
21 Nov 2019. From the corner of my eye ✝️ At rest in the Lowther Cemetery in the Blue Mountains region of New South Wales, Australia, are approximately 160 souls. The verdant tract of countryside stands out starkly against the otherwise parched paddocks that are typical of too many parts of Australia right now. Dedicated descendants of some of the departed, or perhaps the caring hands of other locals, look to be regular visitors to the site to water the grass, trim the yard and bring dignity to the dead. 🚙 I stopped to shoot Milky Way photos at the cemetery on a one-night road trip in late October of this year. The graveyard hadn’t been on my location list for the outing; I noticed the site in my peripheral vision as I zoomed past. On the return journey from the highlands town of Oberon, I took the turnoff into the short dirt road leading to the gravesites and disused church. 🌌 The gas giant planet Jupiter looms large and luminous in the sky not far above the horizon, its orb inflated by the diffusion from a thin layer of cloud towards the southwest. The core of the Milky Way and its filigrees of dust stretch from left to right, soon after to be obscured by the horizon as our planet turned steadily on its axis. 🌌 To create this photograph, I shot three individual and overlapping frames, which were then blended using a process known as “stitching”. For each one of those three images, I used my Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 lens @ f/2.4, with the camera’s ISO set to 6400 and the shutter left open for 15 seconds.
19 Nov 2019. Agar's Lines 🐄 I have photographed the night sky set against this dead tree near Berry, New South Wales, Australia, on a handful of occasions over the past four years. The tree is hard up against the edge of the asphalt strip named Agars Lane, a narrow and mostly straight rural road in the region. 🚙 🚘 At a rough guess, I’d reckon that I’ve only ever seen five or six cars pass along the road while I’ve been lurking in the dark with my tripod and camera. In one of those “what are the chances of that” moments that life sometimes serves up, during the hour that I was shooting photos on this particular night, two cars drove along the road and passed each other right near the tree. Their headlights seemed to be set for “kill” rather than “stun”, with my night-vision being their target. It can take up to half an hour for a person’s low-light sight to reach full sensitivity and I didn’t want to have to set my internal timer back to zero and start over, so covered my eyes until the much dimmer tail lights were all that I could see. 💡 When reviewing the photos, later on, I saw just how intensely the headlights had lit up the area. Three pictures were so bright and washed out that they were unusable, but a couple of shots either side of those were images showing only a few of the tree branches illuminated. I used those photos to make up this star-trails composite, as well as the remaining darker frames, to give the tree its half-dark/half-lit look. The gaps that you can see in the trails show where I had to leave out the overcooked shots, but they don’t take away too much from the concept of stellar inscriptions on the night sky. 📷 My final, edited image here was created from 200 individual photos, and I shot each of those with a Canon EOS 6D camera, a Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 lens @ f/2.4, using an exposure time of 15 seconds @ ISO 6400.
17 Nov 2019. Trials and Trails 😡💨 My visual offering for today is this star-trails image that I created from 218 still-frame photos that I shot in late April of 2019. During the 100 km (60 mi) drive from my home in Sydney, Australia, to the rock shelf at Black Head at Gerroa, there was no hint of any clouds overhead to obscure the stars. As I looked at my test shots, though, I could see that there was a haze of cloud over towards the west, right where I’d pointed my lens. Still, I’d driven so far and didn’t want to pack up and head home straight away, so set my camera the task of shooting a series of images to create either a star-trails shot like today’s, and/or a time-lapse video sequence. ⭐️ The clouds are what caused the breaks in stars’ trails, and also made it difficult to get the exposure settings right so that the ground and the sky were exposed correctly. In fact, the reflections of the star-trails in the rock pools show more colour and definition than the originals up above. The bright yellow blob of light towards the right of the scene is from the supergiant star Betelgeuse, whose broken streak you can see heading towards the distant mountains. 🌊 During the period that the photos were being taken, several waves broke on the rock shelf’s edge, and you can see their plumes of spray frozen in time in my final composition. I also captured the light trails from a few Melbourne-bound aircraft, and the water’s surface mirrored two of them. 📷 I captured each of the 218 photos using a Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Yongnuo 50mm f/1.4 lens @ f/1.8, using an exposure time of 6.0 seconds @ ISO 800.
15 Nov 2019. Ruins & Sky 🤷🏻♂️ Smoke from bushfires, the need to wake for work early tomorrow morning (I don’t usually work on Saturdays) and a few other conspiring circumstances kept me from getting out tonight for some nightscape photography. As disappointing as that was–there are only a few days left in 2019’s “Milky Way Season”–this gave me time to edit and post another time-lapse movie for you to (hopefully) enjoy. It has taken me a little over a year to get around to working on this piece, having captured the photos for it in early November of 2018. 🚙 The abandoned stone house is located on the grounds of the Gullen Range Wind Farm near Crookwell, Australia, requiring over 220 km (136 mi) of driving for me to visit. This outing was my last Milky Way shoot of 2018, in fact, so it was a relief to travel that far and find skies free of clouds and haze. 🌌 As the video starts, you can see the Moon beaming from behind the trees, low in the southwestern sky. Once the Moon had set, I was left to photograph the riches of the Milky Way’s galactic core region as it, too, sank into the night. The sun had been below the horizon for a few hours by this time, but its light was still available hundreds of kilometres above the earth, evidenced by the shiny trails traced on the sky by orbiting satellites. If you look closely, you can see at least two points in the clip where satellite-pairs flash across the sky. I hope that the farmhouse is still standing when I revisit the location sometime in 2020. 📷 To create this time-lapse video I shot 354 still images with my Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 lens @ f/2.4, using an exposure time of 13 seconds @ ISO 6400.
12 Nov 2019. The Milky Way, Jupiter, and a crazy guy in a boat 🎥 One Friday night in August of this year (2019) I returned to a location that I hadn’t visited since 2016, on the Shoalhaven River at North Nowra, Australia. I have already posted a couple of still images from this trip, and have a few others that I’ll get to eventually. Something else that I shot on the night was this time-lapse video of the Milky Way and Jupiter setting over the river. The sequence is made up of 440 single images that my camera took while I was shooting stills, plus grabbing a few stretches of sleep. The camera and my sleeping self, plus my massive backpack of gear, were all perched on a rock that only offered about 60 cm (24 inches) of solidity between the natural wall behind and the drop to the river below. 🌌🛰🚀✈️ The laser-beam-like flashes that you see moving across the sky are aeroplanes making their way from Sydney to Australia’s next-largest city, Melbourne. The competing airlines’ planes leave from Sydney in quick succession and follow parallel flight paths south, thus providing the lights that look like blasts from the X-Wing fighters in Star Wars. The time-lapse sequence also caught some meteors as they flashed to their deaths in the Earth’s atmosphere, and a few satellites as well. The “crazy guy in a boat” shows up pretty close to the middle of the movie, and I slowed down the video there to show how brightly his hand-held spotlight lit up the river and the bank. The stillness of the river’s surface was upset by the boat’s wake, causing the crazy reflections of the stars and Jupiter. 📷 🎥 As mentioned above, this time-lapse sequence was created from 440 individual photos, each of which I shot with my Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Samyang 14mm f/2.4 lens @ f/2.4, using an exposure time of 20 seconds @ ISO 6400.
08 Nov 2019. Shots fired, photographer scared! 🌌 The shallow valley near Nowra, Australia, where I captured this photo is isolated, sparsely populated and very, very quiet when there’s no wind blowing. On the night that I visited, in late October of 2019, the lack of wind rendered the area still and silent. The clear air gave me fantastic conditions to photograph the Milky Way and Jupiter as they began to merge with the southwestern horizon. 🐕 🐶 There is a farmhouse out-of-frame on the right, on the far side of the valley from where I set up my camera. The people who live in that house have at least two dogs, and those dogs have EXCELLENT hearing, I discovered. Any time I made a noise, like when I scraped my tripod’s leg along the road accidentally, the dogs would bark. They would bark, and keep barking, and then bark some more. 🔫 After around five minutes of the dogs continually barking, I heard the owner’s voice bark back, telling them to shut up. When the dogs kept at it, the owners’ voice barked some more, too. A moment after that, I saw a muzzle-flash and then heard the delayed report from the man’s gun. Was he shooting at me? Was he shooting at the dogs? Whatever the guy was doing, another muzzle flash and its accompanying blast let me know that he was doing it again. What should I do now? Should I duck, or run, or bundle my gear into my car and leave? 📷 The gunshots had the desired effect and quieted the dogs, so I waited a few minutes and went back to my kind of shooting. For this “shot”, I used a canon rather than a gun. That “canon” was my Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 lens @ f/2.4, using an exposure time of 15 seconds @ ISO 3200.
07 Nov 2019. Green 🌲 Despite the drought that’s afflicted most of my home state of New South Wales, there is a lot of green in this photo. The poplar trees that had been bare during winter and earlier in our southern spring were well dressed in their foliage, and the paddocks behind them seemed to have had enough water to keep them looking just as green. On this night the sky was showing a lovely shade of green, too. That colour in the background sky comes from the atmospheric effect known as “airglow”, a feature of the night that our unaided eyes cannot see. 🌌 The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds–companion galaxies that are travelling through space with our Milky Way–are the two distinct, fuzzy objects that are hanging in the heavens between the two poplars. Although they’re visible all year round, the summer months down here below the equator provide some of the best opportunities to see and photograph the two stellar sidekicks. 📷 Photographed near the rural city of Nowra, Australia, in late October of 2019, I shot this single-frame image using a Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 lens @ f/2.4, with an exposure time of 15 seconds @ ISO 6400.
05 Nov 2019. Navy and red 💡 Several months ago I got it into my head that I’d like to photograph the Milky Way, low in the southwestern sky, setting over the antenna installation atop Nowra Hill, Australia. The site hosts an aircraft radar antenna as well as some small communications towers. Behind the hill is the facility known as HMAS Albatross, aka Naval Air Station Nowra, serving as a military and civilian airport. 👌🏻 I had my opportunity a few weeks back, with the weather, the moon and my availability all synching to beckon me to make the 150 km drive for probably my last Milky Way shoot for the year. For once I had enough time before dark to scout the location, so I used the “PhotoPills” app on my phone to line up exactly where the Milky Way would be setting. 🌌 Despite my planning–and even having time for dinner before the shooting was to start–I didn’t account for one thing. The airfield itself, behind the hill, has lots and lots of bright, white lights that provide visibility for humans. That light shines in every direction, including upwards, I realised after looking at some test shots. Even the lights installed to point towards the ground contributed to an enormous light bloom in the sky, as their beams bounced off of the white concrete and back upwards. So, although I managed to get some Milky Way detail in my photos, most of the good stuff was lost in the light. 📷 This photo is a single shot image, taken with my Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Canon 40mm f/2.8 lens @ f/3.2, using an exposure time of 8.0 seconds @ ISO 1600.
02 Nov 2019. Windellama Milky Way ⛪️ Based on the countryside surrounding the inland city of Goulburn, Australia, rural life in the 19th century seems to have included building a lot of small, local stone churches. As with this image’s subject–St Bartholomew’s Anglican Church at Windellama–photographing these sanctuaries holds my interest for a couple of reasons. 💡 Visiting these old, purpose-built community focal points gets me thinking about what life in the localities that they serve might have been like, and what place worship would have had in the lives of the church members. The church that I attend in Sydney meets in a building which used to be the testing labs of an international industrial adhesives company. Our church is built around people, of course, and our facility serves its purpose well, but I still like to consider what Sundays were like for those long-passed rural Australians. 🌌 The other attractive facet of photographing these stone structures is the contrasts inherent in the idea of the “heavens”. From a spiritual perspective, the word brings to mind the place that the Divine inhabits. The heavens are a place–a space?–outside of time. Through the view of astronomy and science, however, that word “heavens” refers to something else. It is the realm of the stars and the planets; of asteroids, meteors and comets; and the beautiful and intricate clouds of interstellar dust and gas that I love to photograph. There is no heavenly physical realm without time–or, more accurately, “spacetime”. 📷 OK, I might have lost a few of you there, so I’ll recap and say that I love photographing the Milky Way in the sky over old stone churches. For this single-frame image, I used my Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 lens @ f/2.4, using an exposure time of 15 seconds @ ISO 6400.
30 Oct 2019. Invincible invisible 💨 🌬 The motionless blades of this towering turbine give no hint of the force that the wind was flinging at me as I tried to photograph the Milky Way last Saturday night, 26th, October. With the turbine locked into its “stowed” position, the structure looks to be in a peaceful and serene location. In reality, the wind was gusting at around 40 km/h (24 mi/h), making it difficult for me to steady my tripod. After driving about 160 km (100 mi) to get to the spot, near Oberon, Australia, I couldn’t bear the thought of going home with no shots at all, so put up with the southwesterly blast. 😡 ☁️ Despite the forecast of a cloudless night, some of the dreaded fluffy floating fiends had started to move in not long after astronomical twilight ended. Along with the discreet clouds, a higher level of moisture in the air, in general, did its best to filter out a lot of the colours that are usually evident in my Milky Way photos. 📷 For this single-frame photo, I used one of my favourite gear combos, made up of my Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Samyang 14mm f/2.4 lens @ f/2.8, using an exposure time of 20 seconds @ ISO 6400.
24 Oct 2019. Arboreal Silhouettes 🌲🌌 I love it when atmospheric airglow and the light of the stars are bright enough to silhouette terrestrial objects like these bare trees, which I photographed near Nowra, Australia, in May of 2019. 📷 Movie 🎥 I shot the two photos used to make this video with my Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Yongnuo 50mm f/1.4 lens @ f/1.8, using an exposure time of 6.0 seconds @ ISO 6400.
20 Oct 2019. Remains ✝️ Dead and decimated, the remnants of a pine tree sit atop the small hill in the grounds of the Pomeroy Uniting Church. Out of shot, a stand of pines acts as a windbreak for the stone sanctuary and a few nearby farms. Low, very low in the southwestern sky hangs the remains of another season of Milky Way chasing, an obsession that has captivated me for the past five years. The bright and white planet Jupiter will kiss the horizon ahead of our galaxy’s central band, seemingly dragging the mass of stars, dust and gas in its wake. 🌌 Although my photo looks like it’s a single-frame image, I used two overlapping shots to create the final composition. The 50 mm lens that I used is like a giant vacuum cleaner that sucks photons out of the sky and onto the camera’s sensor. However, the framing that I had in mind for the image couldn’t be achieved with a single photo, so using this lens required a two-shot overlapping and stitched image. 📷 That lens is my Yongnuo 50 mm f/1.4 unit, which was attached to a Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera. I had set the lens to a little less than its maximum aperture at f/1.8, using an exposure time of 8 seconds @ ISO 6400.
19 Oct 2019. Magellanic Moonlight Moon 🌓 Only a minute or two before I took this photo, the moon had started to make its appearance for the night. Although not yet clear of the horizon, the Earth’s silvery companion-in-space was already beginning to brighten the sky with its light. ⛪️ The Milky Way’s core was very low on the southwestern horizon when I shot this scene. I had quite a few shots of that part of the sky already “in the can”, so opted to snap off a few frames with the Magellanic Clouds featured over this old stone church. The stones are old, for sure, with locals having completed the building in 1859. I but I think I’m right in guessing, though, that the plastic water tank and corrugated metal roof might not be of the same vintage as the bulk of the structure. 📷 This photo is a single-frame image that I captured using a Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 lens @ f/2.4, using an exposure time of 13 seconds @ ISO 6400.
16 Oct 2019. A Little Church under the Big Sky ⛪️ The St Stephens Anglican Church at Wayo, in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia, has become one of my favourite spots for shooting nightscape photos. I first visited in early October of 2018 and have been back several times since. The site was donated by a local landowner for use as a church and cemetery back in 1866. The current building’s stone structure was erected in the 1880s. 🌌 As enduring as the stony sanctuary may be, it is dwarfed and humbled under the immensity and timelessness of the Milky Way. This image was one of a number that I shot during a visit in May of 2019, on a night when the atmospheric airglow was a mix of green and orange. Those colours are evident in the background sky in my photo. 📷 To create this vertical panoramic image, I took eight overlapping photos. After a few adjustments in Adobe Lightroom, I used the stitching software “Autopano Pro” to merge those eight frames into the final composition. For each of the single images, I used my Canon EOS 6D camera, a Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 lens @ f/2.4, choosing an exposure time of 15 seconds, with the 6D’s ISO set at 6400.
15 Oct 2019. North by Northwest 🧭 Since reviving my interest in the nightscape photography craft, back in late 2013, I've shot over 95% of my images at locations south of my home in Sydney, Australia. As I live on the southern outskirts of my city, it makes sense to head south for my shoots. 🚙 I do break out of that mould sometimes, though. Early in October, I drove northwest of Sydney to a rural location called Bilpin, in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. The main reason I visited there was to get photos of the Andromeda Galaxy, the comet C/2018 W2, plus Jupiter and the Milky Way. 🌌 A small, thin cloud wafted across Jupiter's place in the sky as I started shooting. This misty morsel gave the planet a wider and brighter appearance in this photo than it seemed to my eyes. The Milky Way's core was following Jupiter towards the western horizon, grazing the tops of the tall eucalypts at the edge of the Mountain Lagoon. 📷 I could have captured this scene with a single image, but opted for a 5-shot vertical panorama, using a 50 mm lens fitted to my Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera. I set the aperture to f/2.0 and exposed the photo for 6.0 seconds. I had the camera's ISO set to 6400.
13 Oct 2019. Messier Magic 😱 Did you know that if you discover a new comet in the night sky, you will have the comet named after you? A fellow Australian, Terry Lovejoy, has six comets that bear his name. 🇫🇷 In 1771 the French astronomer Charles Messier published a catalogue listing 110 nebulae and star clusters. He did this to help comet hunters discern between fuzzy blobs in the sky that were new comets, or already-discovered deep sky objects. Messier listed each object with the letter “M” (for Messier, of course) and a catalogue number. Unknown to Messier at the time was the fact that some of these “nebulae” were discreet galaxies like our Milky Way, located millions of light-years from us on Earth. 🌌 My photo today brings you three of these Messier objects, M31, M33 and M110. Apart from their dry catalogue names, two of these galaxies have the common names of the “Andromeda Galaxy” (M31) and the “Triangulum Galaxy” (M33). Next to the clean photo is a marked-up version, showing you exactly where in the shot these “island universes” are. Their distances from Earth are 2.5 million (M31 & M110) and 2.73 million (M33) light-years. 📷 I captured this photo without the use of a telescope or telephoto lens. I shot nine pictures of the foreground and sky, plus twelve “dark” frames, which were combined in software to reduce the amount of digital noise present. For all of the twenty-one images, I used the same equipment and settings. These were my Canon EOS 6D Mk II camera, a Yongnuo 50mm f/1.4 lens @ f/2.0, using an exposure time of 6.0 seconds @ ISO 12800.