This is last night’s very clear sky – but as seen through an out-of-focus camera. First of all I have to say it’s based on an award-winning picture by Steve Brown; all credit to him for thinking of the idea.
It is actually 24 pictures of the bright star Sirius, taken a few seconds apart. Photographed in-focus, Sirius is a brilliant white dot although to the naked eye it is often twinkling. The out-of-focus images reveal the varying colours of the star as seen through our atmosphere. They also reveal that my lens isn’t as clean as it might be; the amoeba-like circle in each dot is dust somewhere on or in the lens.
This is yesterday’s full moon. And it’s got other names too! Like “supermoon” because it’s about 7% larger than an average full moon. And “pink moon” in folklore; but something to do with pink flora rather than the colour of the moon. In fact this one does look a little pink; that’s because it’s not too long after the moon rose over the horizon, and the sky was full of thin cloud; together these gave a pinky rosy glow. I did look up “Pink Moon” on Wikipedia; it’s a 70’s album by Nick Drake.
Last night was supposed to be the last night (!) the ISS was visible from these parts. And it was a clear evening. But where was it? Not visible to me. I hope it’s still up there somewhere!
As a consolation there was a great view of the moon and of Venus adjacent to the Pleiades; so it wasn’t a wasted night out in the garden.
In taking the lunar picture I learned the value of using the mirror lock up; even at 1/250th of a second on a tripod the shaking mirror had an effect so I selected MuP (mirror up) and got much sharper results.
At the moment the ISS is very prominent in the UK’s skies. This is 2 minutes’ worth of the ISS tracking across the sky last night. Not a great picture but you can certainly see it. Also the bright blob is the moon, and the Orion constellation is visible bottom centre – the stars have become lines showing how far the earth has turned in the 2 minutes.
At the moment we’re all stuck at home so photographic opportunities are limited. But you can look at and even photograph things miles away if you (as is becoming a theme in these posts) look upwards. Here are some pictures taken on this last Wednesday evening…
First, two birds silhouetted in a tree about 100ft away just after sunset.
Then a DHL A330 high above and looking like a space shuttle launch. Still sunny up at 12,000ft.
The ISS (International Space Station) flew over about 250 miles away. It’s very bright and very easy to see, but I was surprised that I was able to get a photo that showed it’s actual shape albeit very fuzzy. This was using a DSLR + lens + converter that worked out (in 35mm terms) as equivalent to 630mm. In fact all the pictures in this post were taken using this lens combination.
You should also be able to get a picture like this with a superzoom compact camera like the Lumix TZ series or some of the Canon PowerShot or Sony CyberShot cameras. Use it on the most zoomed-in optical zoom setting.
The important thing is that you need to find a manual mode on the camera as the auto-exposure will see just black and be unable to cope; the ISS is actually in very bright sunlight. Set your camera to a low ISO (e.g. 200), a high shutter speed (faster than 1/1000th sec) and a medium aperture (maybe f/8). If it struggles to focus then try to focus on a distant streetlamp and keep that setting. Basically it’s a fight against the camera’s automation! Take lots of pics and download them to your computer. Amongst the blurry ones there’s hopefully a sharp one.
Following on from a couple of posts ago I’m looking straight up again; this time outdoors into the canopy of trees in autumn. Converging lines look good in a photo and trees will give you this effect when looked at upwards. Moving around even a little can make a big difference; the only real problem is not falling over backwards while refining the composition in the viewfinder.
A different point of view makes a picture stand out, although one can’t help feeling the architect always intended to make his staircase look beautiful when looking up at it. An advantage of this type of picture is that the camera can simply be placed on it’s back the ground. No tripod required!
If you Google gormley another place you’ll get many thousands of images of this artwork/installation/sculpture. “Another Place” is 100 cast-iron, life-size figures spread over more than a mile of beach, and about half a mile out into the sea.
This picture is I hope a bit different to most; it’s almost ‘straight out of camera’ but looks nothing like the actual view which was a bright blue cloudless sunny day. It’s looking almost directly into the sun which has made the picture all highlights and shadows and not much in between. I think the AWB auto while balance got confused by this and went for an average grey so the picture is almost monochrome. Fortunately it’s just what I wanted. And congratulations to my inexpensive 55-200mm Nikon kit lens for not showing flare or low contract, even with no lenshood.
Here’s a question – should the gull be in the picture? It’s the work of a moment to clone it out. Does it add or detract from the overall scene?
The tagline of this website has always been “photography is art” and hopefully the picture above proves that. It has just been accepted for the 2019 Chester Grosvenor Open Art Exhibition. Almost all the other exhibits are paintings in one medium or another; my picture is a cyanotype on fabric.
That means that while it is a photograph, it’s really a one-off and can’t be copied – the photo of the image (above) doesn’t have the same feel as the original. But it is a photograph that has succeeded against paintings, so it does sort of prove that photography is art?
The exhibition is free and is open till the 18th of September so there’s plenty of time to pop in and see my picture and all the other artworks in the exhibition.