Monday, 30 July 2012

Knowlton Church

Tonight I did a quick run to Knowlton Church.
An old ruined church situated in the middle of a barrow henge.

The decision to go out was very last minute as the sky just happened to seem very clear and I'd noticed the next weeks worth of whether was going to be very poor. The site is quite local to me relative to some of the other locations I've been visiting lately so I didn't feel like I was risking much by just having a look.

As it turned out there was a very bright and almost full moon in the southern sky which, while interesting to see how much of an effect it has on the sky, was a bit inconvenient as that's precisely the direction I wanted to face and completely blots out that whole area of sky.

What it does do however is nicely illuminate the subject of the photography. These photographs were shot in the dead of night at 23:00-02:00.
With exposure lengths of thirty seconds the moon-light appears to do as good a job as the sun in lighting up the area.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Scribble of the week #014

My sketch books are forever filled with random mind-scrawlings and scribbles that will otherwise never be used for anything or be seen by anyone, because of this I bring you "Scribble of the week".

Scribble of the week is a weekly feature(well, bi-monthly at best at the moment) where i'll be posting a random sketch, scribble, design or element from one of my various sketch books. These will always be unfinished pieces of work and will often, most likely, be very random.

This weeks scribbling is another in my series of character concept.

Her name is Rose. She is a hitman/assassin type who likes to wear bowler hats and go bare-foot.
I've worked on this one on and off for months and just decided to clean a couple of lines here and there and go ahead and post it. I was going to try more than one outfit, specifically on the duplicate pose from behind on the left but I got lazy.
If I do more work on her concept I'll probably start a new piece.

In retrospect this work pretty much sums up my sum ability to draw guns and feet...

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The return to St Aldhelms Head

So the jet-stream moved north, the clouds cleared and my first truly 100% clear night since I started this astro-photography mission happened upon me almost out of nowhere.

Typically this clear night is on a work night of course. Ignoring that though Shaun and I ventured out in the dead of night to catch falling stars in camera boxes on the cliff tops of the Jurassic Coast.

The trip went much the same as the last one with the exception that we knew where we were going and what we were aiming for only this time armed with a perfectly clear night. The shots below will be familiar, the only exception being that there are no clouds to obscure the view of infinity and it's heavenly bodies.
Next up is the resulting time-lapse video of about two hours shooting.

A bit noisier than I'd like so I tried using a program called Deep Sky Stacker to use the photos in the sequence to stack into a noise-free super single image.

My first attempt at using it(with some post-processing) can be seen below the video. It does give some nice extra detail in the galactic core of the Milky Way and along the band but it also causes other distortions, or emphasizes existing ones. I will need significantly more practice with it but it makes for interesting viewing as a first experiment.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

St Aldhelms Head Strike 01

The weather has improved a bit.
Several nights have now been forecast with no clouds and I think I might need to completely re-fabricate my sleeping patterns to make the most of it without wiping me out in the daylight hours for work and parenting.

This evenings location of choice however was a place called St Adhelm's Head.
Once again a location within the Purbecks. It drew my eye as it had the statue seen above. A memorial to the Radar research conducted in the area during the second world war. I felt it's overall design, coupled with it's location, if unlit at night, would lend itself perfectly to the sort of shot I was after and I still believe that would be the case. The only downside was that it was just a little too cloudy. Sadly the forecast for the evening, whilst broadly speaking accurate, did not reflect the reality of events and though a clear night was to be expected a sufficiently inconvenient volume of clouds rolled into shot. As can be seen below.
This above shot is a very noisey shot that I took as a compositional example but turned out to be the best view of the galactic band offered all night.
This shot is an edit-together of a string of five shots that show the trajectory of a satellite.
Eventually the unfortunate cloud cover coupled with a cold wind forced us to move location, slightly disappointed. The location will need revisiting on a clearer night I think.

The resulting time-lapse.

In the Purbecks however, when all hope is lost, I return to an old friend.
Corfe Castle.
This time I've done it a bit more justice than previous trips and even attempted a bit of a photo-stitch.

Monday, 16 July 2012

A night at Horton Tower

Another clear-night's sky.
It had been forecast by the met-office to be clear between 22:00 to 01:00.
I tend to take the forecasts with a pinch of salt these days with a 60% probability that what is stated to occur will happen as expected.
Accepting there is a 40% chance that the weather will change for the worse is good preparation for disappointment.

On this trip I brought an assistant (Mark), camping chairs, my D50 to play with while the D90 shot the time-lapse images and a backup plan.
The main site I wanted to see was Horton Tower, a tower built in the 1700's but if the weather was too poor for shots or we couldn't get near enough to the tower I had alternate locations to scope out light pollution and accessibility for future shoots.

One surprise was that the tower is lit on the inside which worked out quite well in the end as it gives some shape to the silhouette. Unfortunately though as most of the clear sky was during the lighter hours of the evening I didn't get as much of the stars as I'd like and in retrospect I'd rather have angled the shot further east.

The time-lapse video is best viewed if you click on the youtube button and view it on youtube itself.
Once there you can view it in fullscreen which helps compensate for my idiotic error in shooting in portrait but you can also up the resolution of the images.
It's a silent 13 second clip of clouds rolling in/over basically but still another test run that I'm fairly happy with.

Whilst the time-lapse was being shot my friend and I used the D50 to play around painting with light and got the following results.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

...Taking notes and talking to your ghost and still staying up all night...

Another night-time visit to the Purbecks on essentially the only clear nights sky for weeks.

This time I went to a place called Creech Hill so I could use the Grange Arch folly as an interesting foreground. I've not been there during daylight before so I was a little concerned about accessibility but I needn't have been.
The only thing I needed was my torch as the footpath approaching the Arch was well trodden and the area around teh Arch was nice and clear. My preferred angles were on a steep hillside but otherwise problem free and a good evenings photography was had.