by Carmen Therriault for the Art of Birding Community
Congratulations to everyone who participated in the August Challenge of Astrophotography... which has plenty of challenges -technical, weather and sleep deprivation. There were many beautiful images posted throughout the month, both from seasoned night shooters as well as beginners to astrophotography.
In week 1, we learned how to achieve sharp focus on the stars. Carolyn Stewart shared a fantastic image shot in her backyard. You don’t always need to travel far to practice your night photography and capture the wonders of the night sky.
In week 2 we covered some techniques for lighting your foreground subject, but Tony Hickland demonstrated that sometimes it is as simple as using unexpected and uncontrollable car headlights.
Gayle Beveridge amazed me with her image for the week 3 topic, Star Trails. Although this was an archive image, there is so much to learn from Gayle’s creative, composited image. Thank you for sharing this image as well as your process, Gayle!
I thought I'd do a star trails image since we had clear night skies on Friday and Saturday but it was too windy to leave the camera set up outside sooooo...begs the question - can I photograph star trails through a double glazed window. The answer - Yes I can! I did some shorter trails on Friday and experimented with settings. On Saturday night I set the camera up in the spare room and went to bed. The battery lasted from 10.15pm to 1.58am but unfortunately clouds rolled in at around 12.30 so I could only use 2 hours and 25 minutes of images. Then I changed settings for the 'foreground' which in this case is the inside of the room. Rather than just having a picture of star trails through a window I wanted my image to tell a story. (And yes, it is a selfie.)
Nikon D7500 & Tamron 18-400mm f/3.5 to 6.3 lens
Star Trails: 391 photos, f/3.5, 20 seconds, ISO-400, 18mm.
I kept the ISO lower so as not to overexpose the stars as I wanted to capture some of their colour.
Stacked in StarTrax
Colours brought out with post processing in GIMP
Inside shots: In a darkened room with closed blinds and lighting from a bedside lamp and a candle.
f/7.1, 30 seconds, ISO-100, 18mm
Panorama of 3 landscape photos stacked vertically.
Bringing it together: In GIMP I replaced the closed blind from the foreground photo with the stacked star trails image.
Since August had 2 full moons, our week 4 spark was to capture the moon in a landscape. Andrew Underwood’s beautiful image shows the best time to capture the moon - blue hour! Tony Hickland shared his dramatic image of the moon rising over the ocean. The black and white edit makes this image so eye-catching.
I commend all of you for lurking in the dark, even if it was completely out of your comfort zone. I hope that the challenges and the many amazing photos that were shared, have inspired you to get outside to enjoy the wonders of the night sky.
Do join us in the Art of Birding, Wildlife and Nature Art and Photography Community. https://www.artbyjlm.com/joinaob
The voluntary challenges are suitable for all ages, abilities, and gear. All you need is a camera or a mobile phone and some enthusiasm.