A message from my good friend Steven Hanna yesterday about heading out to shoot the night sky prompted me to whisper ever so nicely into my girlfriends ear about heading down because I’ve no car after selling it for my trip to Finland. Of course after she huffed and puffed for an hour about going down she finally gave in said yes. Success, it was off to The Giants Causeway we went.
A quick stop off at the shop on the way down for some coffee and we were all set for a few hours of shooting.
We arrived shortly after 8pm and for the first hour I was messing about with some LED lights extending the wire, bunching all the LED’s up so that we could create a device to make some LED orbs. If the police had of landed they would of thought I was making some sort of bomb as I was cutting wires, adding new wires and duct taping things together ha!
Georgie had seen a picture over on Instagram over the weekend and really wanted to try it out and to be honest, I was quite excited to try something new as well. I can really see me creating a collection of images with the orbs in the future, just to do something new and different.
When it comes to astro-photography ideally it’s best to be shooting the sky when its at its darkest point and that’s during the new moon. I would agree completely with this but this also brings it’s own set of problems and that is a dark landscape. You’re then having to shoot at higher ISO’s to lighten your foreground which in turn creates more noise in your image. The other way to do it is to shoot multiple exposures. Your normal 500 rule exposure for the sky, and then a longer exposure for the foreground which you can then blend together during post. Another way of lighting the foreground is to paint your foreground using a light source of some form, but unless you’re doing this right, it just makes the images fake.
What if ye didn’t want to take multiple exposures, you didn’t want to light paint because you’re like me and hate it’s absolute fakeness. Well just use an already available natural tool and that is the moon!
Personally I prefer shooting astro-photography around when the moon is at waxing crescent or the first quarter. It lights up my entire foreground evenly and naturally, it turns the sky a nice blue color but you’re still retaining a lot of the stars in the sky. So yes the moonlight will wash out a lot of stars, and the milkyway, and pretty much any chance of seeing and photographing the Aurora Borealis from Northern Ireland, but the images you get with the moon are just so much more cleaner, nicer, less noise and better all round.
After climbing up the cliff side to look for a different composition than the normal I heard what can only be described as a dog houling from near the points at the waters edge. Honestly it sounded like a dog was crying and naturally I had to go and have a look and see what the noise was. I came back down the cliff face carefully making sure that I didn’t slip as I’m quite confident it would have hurt when I landed!
I walked out towards the point with my head torch expecting to find a dog lying hurt near the waters edge but I couldn’t see anything. I did notice that there was an exceptionally low tide and you could get out further than normal, plus the very calm waters made it as safe as it could be at night, and I knew that it would be a great composition and make for a great photo of done right.
I headed back up towards the car again to grab my camera and tripod (I left it up there as I was down looking for that dog ye know) and I noticed an even better composition. There was a rock pool on the hexagonal columns and it was covered in green moss/seaweed and when the moon came out from behind the clouds it light it up just right. You could also see the reflection of the stars – this one was a sure winner!
A few quick test images, a few compositional changes and I really liked what the LCD screen was showing me. I waited for about 15 minutes until the moon came back out from behind the clouds so it could light up the foreground for me and voila I got what I wanted.
Anyway that’s enough chit chat from me, here’s a few of the images with settings that I took last night. I think the portrait one is probably the best one of the lot from last night.