Blog entries from March, 2010

Two ways to shoot star trails

Thursday, March 18th, 2010 at 11:24pm

Last weekend a couple of us from the camera club went down to Wilsons Promontory. Apart from shooting landscapes of the coastlines and beaches, the sunset from Whisky Bay, we also shot some star trails.

The first method I tried was new to me: shoot a number of 30 second exposures and then combine them later using software.

With my camera in continuous shooting and set at 17mm, f/4, 30 seconds and ISO1600 I locked down the shutter button on my cable release and left the camera alone for a while. By locking down the button (and having long exposure noise reduction off) the camera would keep going until I stopped it, the battery went flat or the card filled up.

My third attempt of the night resulted in 70 images, which when run through the Startrails application gave me this:

Tidal River star trails (70 x 30 seconds)

If you look closely you can see that the trails are not smooth lines, and that I should have been able to setup the camera better.

A bit later in the night we moved down to Tidal River itself where I switched back to the traditional single long exposure. I took two shots (this time at ISO100), one for 10 minutes and another for 17 minutes. This is the 17 minute one:

Tidal River star trails (17 minutes)

As I was doing such a long exposure I turned the noise reduction back on. Which meant that this 17 minute exposure needed a second 17 minute exposure. Coincidentally a total time of 35 minutes, the same as 70 x 30 seconds.

Next time I’m shooting star trails, I am going to go with the multiple exposures.

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Point Cook Air Pageant 2010

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 at 11:51pm

For the past three days I have been up at Halls Gap in the Grampians with the camera club. Although I returned home yesterday, I took an extra day of leave because I knew that in addition to the long drive, the weekend itself would be tiring because of late nights and early mornings.

So today I didn’t do much, except some photo sorting. Although I did do a little bit of sorting through my photos from the weekend (mostly getting them off the laptop I borrowed) I decided that it would be better to return to the backlog.

The previous weekend I went out to Healesville Sanctuary on the Saturday, and then to the biannual Air Pageant at the Point Cook RAAF Museum on the Sunday. It was the Point Cook photos that I turned to.

This day really made me regret selling my 75-300mm lens when I sold my Canon 400d. Although it was the kit lens, by definition cheap, it would have given me reach that my 17-85mm lens just does not have. I also could have thought ahead and asked at the camera club. Borrowing a 28-300mm would have been excellent as I would have only needed one lens, but borrowing a 70-200mm f/4 would have been good as well.

The big downside of having a maximum focal length of 85mm was that most of what could have been good shots were just too small in the frame which meant that when cropped down they were too noisy with not enough detail. I shot 2000 photos on the day and my first pass brought the count down to 262. My efforts today brought that down further to the 58 that are now up on Flickr.

The weather was a bit ordinary for an airshow. Mostly overcast with patches of blue sky. That worked for some shots as it cast a moody feel:

CAC P51 Mustang

Miss Imogen wants to fly

While at other times the break in the clouds gave both lighting and a contrasting backdrop:

Harvards coming in

Spitfire, Sabre and Mustang

See Point Cook Air Pageant 2010 for all of the images.

Something else that I have done with this set is to try to give each image a unique name, not just “Place/Event (#)”. This did take extra time, but it is something that I should be doing. Plus it makes the subject of the photo much easier to identify.

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I don’t shoot in monochrome …

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010 at 11:06pm

… so finding entries for a ‘monochrome’ topic meant I needed to find suitable photos to desaturate.

After lots of experimenting I ended up with four images that I submitted last month, one of which was awarded a merit tonight:


This is a photo from the club outing to the Blue Lotus Water Garden earlier in the year. The flowers were originally pink/white and after converting to greyscale I spent a lot of time removing distracting spot from the leaves. It turned out to be worth it.

My other printed image was of the cooling towers at Loy Yang Power Station, also earlier in the year:


By changing the greyscale mix I was able to increase the contrast on the towers, as well as making the bright blue sky quite ominous.

I also spent a large amount of time fiddling with one of my images of the Murray 1 hydro power station to get:

Murray 1

My final image was taken by combining a Lego Technic figure, a seamless white background and a flash:

Over here!

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