Saturday, 28 June 2014

Sunsets and Milky Ways over the Durdle Dor

It's been very wet lately with some very cloudy weather so oppurtunities to get out and about have been elusive.
However a convenient friday night was forecast to have minimal clouds during sunset where it was going to clear up around midnight and cloud over again between 01:00 and 04:00. It would've been a waste not to take advantage and so we(Shaun and I) opted to return to Durdle Door to make up for the previous semi-failure.

It became apparent shortly after arriving that Durdle Door, whilst beautiful at sunset, at this time of year at least, was limited by having the sunset behind the cliffs as opposed to over the horizon. I Should have checked stellarium. As it happens Shaun had checked Stellarium and mentioned that the Milky Way should be in view tonight, I was pessimistic about the weather but you'll see how that turns out later.

Here's some photos of a sunset.
Look the sun is setting! You can see it! There are rays breaking out over the cliff-top and everything.
... and then it was gone...

The old way down to the beach. Fenced off and no longer used since the land slipped.

We moved down to the beach to get some angles on the door itself whilst there was still some colour in the sky.
Now the weather was windy and the waves were rough, I rather in advisably tried to capture the waves, up close and, failed really to get what I wanted. Some of the images are quite nice but not what I was after.

Also my attempts at shooting the waves had some regrettable but considered consequences.

This is a shot of some seagulls floating on the updraught by the cliffs.

Here is the consequence of my attempts at shooting the waves.
A completely spattered and filthy lens which had a direct impact on the following shots where you can see the light is glaring through the misted areas. (Around the cliff edges on the right most noticeably.)

I gave the lens a clean down and decided, as the sky was still quite bright, to try some long exposures with a high f/stop, a low ISO and a very long shutter speed with a mind to getting the water to go a bit creamier. It was windy so I knew the foreground grass would be affected but still.
Shaun's camera in the foreground for this shot. You can see quite clearly some of the brighter stars are starting to appear in the darker patches of sky.

I then set the camera rolling for a time-lapse facing vaguely in the direction of where the Milky Way would be over the door. It was still too light when I started it and I couldn't see it on camera either at the end but on review in post-processing it's quite clear.
The following shot is the last frame in the time-lapse.

Once I was finished with the timelapse I started playing around with different angles. The following shot shows the torch lights of some other late night photographers, they came and went after spending a short time in the surf. I'd be interested to see what results they got.

A bit later/darker still and the Milky Way is visible to the naked-eye it is so dark.

I played around with my camera settings further and got this following shot of the Milky Way contrasted by the harsh light pollution from Portland!

We then packed up to leave but because we were so happy with our shots so far and the weather, whilst still uncomfortably cold/windy, was fairly clear we decided to move up the cliff and shoot the other-side of the door where there are some large rock formations jutting out of the sea.

By the time we got there I believe the sky was properly and fully dark, this was when I got the following shots.
This last shot, with Shaun's foot and back-of-camera-preview-glare is probably among my favourites for the night and it was also my last. The Milky Way is just so very clear and having the human element in the foreground sort of tells a story, puts things in perspective.
For further perspective why not read Shaun's version of events where he talks about using his Nikon D90 and doing HDR for the first time.

Anyway with that we packed up and commenced the long hike back up the cliffs and to the car on the far side of the camp-site.