We recently had a Scavenger Hunt photo walk around the University campus, where participants were given a list of 12 topics to inspire their photos at the start of the walk. The plan had originally been to take these photos anywhere between Dunedin and Lawrence over a few hours, but the weather was so wet that we decided to stick to somewhere where we could find shelter quickly! We hope you enjoy the results.
The NatMAT group have organised an Astrophotography trip, open to all members, which should be a great night out! Judith Swann has also put together some very handy information to look through before the night, so have a read and start preparing 💫⭐✨
When: Meeting at 1800h on Saturday 12th June 2021 depending on the cloud cover. We will have another look at the weather on Saturday morning and if we need to cancel we’ll let you know, otherwise see you Saturday evening.
The new moon is on the 10th June, so on the 11th and 12th it will still be basically moonless and dark. On the 11th and 12th sunset is at 1658h; moonset is at 1718h and 1805h; and the tide will be falling. High tide is at 1520h and 1600h.
Safety: Think about your safety. Bring a RED LIGHT torch our eyes take longer to adjust to the dark after looking at white light compared to red light. It is also very easy to get temporarily blinded by white light. Put fresh batteries in your torch. Remember Sea Lions use the sand and they don’t leave just because it is dark! Check before you take a step backwards. Lights: Folks around you may NOT want your torch on just so you can make adjustments to your camera. Practice beforehand so you can change your camera settings by touch. Talk to each other about putting lights on. Focus: Focusing in the dark is really hard. Find out if your camera will do focus magnification and turn it on. Teach yourself how to turn on manual focus by touch! On site, find a star and manually focus on it until it is crisp pin point of light.
Cold – More than likely it will be COLD
Layers: Taking astro photos can involve quite a lot of standing around, in the cold, doing very little. You will get cold. Wear some warm layers, bring more, including a wind-proof layer. Hat, scarf, gloves, chemical hand warmer pouches, something to sit or kneel on if you think you’ll need it. Camera & Batteries: Your camera gear will get cold, and cold batteries don’t work so well. Take some spare batteries and keep the spares in a warm pocket. Putting a cold camera into a warm car risks inducing condensation inside the lens and/or camera. A Ziploc plastic bag or dry-bag with a silica gel sachet in and a plan to warm up your camera slowly will reduce this risk. (https://www.photographymad.com/pages/view/how-to-protect-your-digital-camera-in-cold-weather)
Movement – The subject (the sky) moves and your camera is at risk of movement
Subject movement: Actually it is the earth that is moving (turning) while the sky stays still! We perceive this as the stars moving. Photographing this movement is how you get star trails. If you want points of light for stars your exposure time needs to be less than about 25 seconds. Camera movement: The long exposure time means you have to hold your camera completely still so a tripod, bean bag or similar is essential. Remember your cable release, or work out how to use the timer on your camera. Work this out in the light and warmth of home before you set out.
These articles are good backgrounders to taking images of the stars. Read about wide open aperture (f/4 or lower if you can get), higher ISO (1600 and up), longer exposure times (10 – 30 seconds), and white balance to 3200Kelvin (if you can). Then also read the pros and cons of each of these variables in this situation.
Star trails use very similar settings but are taken for longer so your camera captures the movement of the stars OR you take a number of star photos and stack them together to make the star trails.
The techniques and settings for stars usually work for the Milky Way as well. One difference is learning where the Milky Way will be, at the location you’ll be at and at the time you’ll be there. The videos on this site (https://www.davemorrowphotography.com/p/tutorial-shooting-night-sky.html) describe using free apps and programmes (Blue Marble, The Photographers Ephemeris (TPE), Google Maps, Stellarium) to work out where the Milky Way will be. The Milky Way should be just to the seaward side of Taiaroa Head at about 1900-1930h on the 111th and 12th June.