A composite shot showing seven stages of the total lunar eclipse in 2018

Monaro wilderness - hidden corner of New South Wales Australia, road trip 20 October 2022


Wednesday morning on October 20, 2022 was a bright blue sunny day in Canberra, a real contrast from the cloudy conditions we are experiencing in the eastern side of Australia fuelled by our current La Niña conditions. I suggested to friend David Marriott that we take the opportunity to do some imaging of the Milky way core in the Cooma area even though it was mid week. At this time the core is setting at around 11 pm and the trip could be made without returning at a ridiculously late hour. David was happy to go on the trip even though there was a risk the clouds could prevent astrophotography.


By mid afternoon the clouds had built up again and I was concerned. I looked at the Bureau of Meteorology satellite images and noticed using a timelapse that the clouds had grown over the evening. Based upon previous experience, I thought there was a chance the clouds would clear on nightfall as it cooled again. Also, a clear corridor established over the Nimmitabel area seemed to offer much promise and possibly better chances for clear skies then the excellent suggestion made by David to try the Kalkite area which promised shots of the core with possibly snow covered mountains in the picture and lake reflections. 


We left at 5:10 pm with cloudy skies over Canberra but as we travelled south it got clearer and clearer. We checked the clouds again and the corridor referred to above was still evidence so we headed to Nimmitabel. We ended up finding some great futures sites and started heading back to Canberra taking quiet side roads to try and locate some interesting foreground. I was also mindful of the large number of natural freshwater lakes in the Monaro and David wished to take shots of the setting Milky way core over one of the lakes.


We ended up stopping in two spots. It was quite cold and damp and I was glad I had brought two jackets. This is the first spot. It was a magnificent gum with white bark that lent in a pleasing way towards the Zodiacal light when photographed against the setting Milky way. There was a strong orange glow under the Zodiacal light but the stars were clear in the damp skies.


This image was taken by taking a number of shots of the same scene from the exact same position on the tripod, using six foreground light painted shots set at f8 and focussed on the tree at ISO 1000 and lit with a lorch from the side which were blended in with 8 star shots which were stacked in Starry Landscape Stacker.


The image and the colours were not what I was expecting but faithfully recorded what I was seeing on the back of the camera that night. 


We did a quick check of the odometer after our trip and discovered we had covered 383 km in our trip just a few km before we got to my place. 

By mid afternoon the clouds had built up again and I was concerned. I looked at the Bureau of Meteorology satellite images and noticed using a timelapse that the clouds had grown over the evening. Based upon previous experience, I thought there was a chance the clouds would clear on nightfall as it cooled again. Also, a clear corridor established over the Nimmitabel area seemed to offer much promise and possibly better chances for clear skies then the excellent suggestion made by David to try the Kalkite area which promised shots of the core with possibly snow covered mountains in the picture and lake reflections. 


We left at 5:10 pm with cloudy skies over Canberra but as we travelled south it got clearer and clearer. We checked the clouds again and the corridor referred to above was still evidence so we headed to Nimmitabel. We ended up finding some great futures sites and started heading back to Canberra taking quiet side roads to try and locate some interesting foreground. I was also mindful of the large number of natural freshwater lakes in the Monaro and David wished to take shots of the setting Milky way core over one of the lakes.


We ended up stopping in two spots. It was quite cold and damp and I was glad I had brought two jackets. This is the first spot. It was a magnificent gum with white bark that lent in a pleasing way towards the Zodiacal light when photographed against the setting Milky way. There was a strong orange glow under the Zodiacal light but the stars were clear in the damp skies.


This image was taken by taking a number of shots of the same scene from the exact same position on the tripod, using six foreground light painted shots set at f8 and focussed on the tree at ISO 1000 and lit with a lorch from the side which were blended in with 8 star shots which were stacked in Starry Landscape Stacker.


The image and the colours were not what I was expecting but faithfully recorded what I was seeing on the back of the camera that night. 


We did a quick check of the odometer after our trip and discovered we had covered 383 km in our trip just a few km before we got to my place. 


A fabulous big gum tree on a quiet road in a secluded corner of the Monaro High country

The Milky Way core sets over one of the Monaro's many natural lakes, filled to capacity by our big rains

Milky Way setting over a natural Monaro lake

The rugged beauty of Namadgi - Yankee Hat area 17 September 2022


In 2022, clear skies have been rare. On this occasion, I headed out to Yankee Hat with a friend David fully expecting the high cloud to cover the night skies just on nightfall. In fact I had cancelled a workshop on this belief based on the forecast of various apps. The high cloud could be seen coming in but surprisingly I cleared to a beautiful clear night. I took the opportunity to image some gnarly Snow gums, one still clinging to life the other two still proudly reaching their branches to the heavens. I was delighted with the results, Leaving the camera on the same site I took foreground images focussed on the trees and then star shots (usually about 8) which were then stacked to reduce noise in the stars.


What do you think about the images? Would you like to see more? Then feel free to drop me a note via contact me.


Ian

"Hanging in there"

"Reaching to the heavens"

Granite Tors of Namadgi National Park and stars 17 August 2022


The Namadgi National Park occupies more than 50% of the area of the Australian Capital Territory. because there are no major towns to the south of it, the skies are very dark, Bortle 3 or better particularly to the south.


One of the features of the park are numerous granite tors, all uniquely marked with special patters of lichen etc. These make wonderful sillhouettes or foreground objects to be light painted according to taste.


These images were taken on the same night after a friend of mine David Marriot and I had enjoyed a dinner cooked on one of the rocks before starting our night shoot. It was cold dropping to minus 3 degrees and the coffee made a huge difference. We could hear the occasional ground from Kangaroos up the valley as we set up our equipment.


I was keen to image the Zodiacal Light together with the vivid orange red sunset colours caused by the volcanic eruption near Tonga. These are a selection of images taken on that night. The first image was taken using a Sigma 14 mm Art lens stopped down to f2.8 at ISO 1250. Four consecutive images were stacked in Starry Landscape Stacker to reduce noise for the background star shot. A single foreground shot of the rocks focussed on the rock was taken without moving the tripod at f8 (to increase depth of field of the rocks) at ISO 640. This image was blended in Photoshop with the start shot. The second image was created using 12 star shots taken using the same lens at f2.8 at ISO 3200 stacked for the star shot and then blended with a single foreground shot of the rocks focussed on the rocks at f8 to create the image showing the amazing colour of the rocks. In the third shot, no light painting was applied. Do you prefer the light painted rocks or the silhouette? I'd love to hear your comments!


#Namadgi

Display of the Zodiacal light

Magellanic Clouds, Yankee Hat Tors and Southern Cross

Zodiacal light

Moonset behind Castle Rocks 18 April 2022


Castle Rocks are granite tors that are about 10 - 12 metres high situated just off the Summit of Castle Hill which is situated on private property near Tuggeranong ACT. The rocks make a fantastic subject for astrophotography, particularly when the Milky Way Core sets behind them. The walk is a tough one involving an ascent of about 300 me from the parking spot with some very deep pinches.


The first image shows the setting Milky Way core over the rocks. 5 star shots were stacked which brought out the movement of high clouds. These were combined with 3 long exposure shots focussed on the rocks which were lit by the light pollution from Canberra's suburbs.


On 18 April 2022, David and I decided to try and capture the setting moon behind the rocks. David had taken a shot previously where he had done that the day after a full moon but this time we decided to try it with the full moon. I had utilised Photo pills to work out the place along the road where we needed to be to be properly positioned to image the full moon as it set among the rocks, suing a 200-500 mm lens at f8. At all times I maintained the exact same position with my tripod and using a remote so as not to introduce any vibrations.

Milky Way over Castle Rock


The Milky Way core is setting over Castle Rocks. Five star shots were stacked which brought out the movement of high clouds. These were combined with 3 long exposure shots focussed on the rocks which were lit by the light pollution from Canberra's suburbs.


Moon setting behind Castle Rocks


The rocks silhouetted by the full moon. Single shot at 500 mm at f8 at 1/500th of a second.

Composite shot of moonset behind Castle Rocks

In this image I have combined 3 images of the full moon were added in the exact position against a long exposure foreground shot which brought out the colours of the rocks in the increasing predawn light.

Planetary alignment


This image is a vertical panorama of four shots with a 24 mm lens at f1.4 and shows the amazing alignment of 4 of the naked eye planets viewed at around 5 am on 18 April 2022.

Planetary alignment 18 April 2022


This is what it looked like with the approaching dawn. No photo can do justice to what it looks like with the naked eye!

A near all-nighter at Mt Brogden, Cocoparra National Park, NSW 4-5 February 2022

On 4 - 5 February 2022, David and I after some difficulty located the start of the track, a 5 km round trip up Mt Brogden in the Cocoparra National Park. The climb involved a 200 m ascent, some involving steep sections with steps.


I decided to lighten the gear I was carrying including not taking a spare battery, a decision I was partially to regret later.

It turned out to be a bit of adventure. After locating the terminus for the track on the internet, we thought the track was pretty vstraightforward with the first bit around 400-500 m along the adjacent state forest to the south. The walk started well with davi locating a Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko as we walked along in the darkness. David managed to grab a shot of the lixard with his mobile phone.


We then started to hit a snag, suddently the track branhced into two with the right hand side a bigger track. I consulted my map and saw a line where out GPS put out location branching off the left so all good. Then about 150 m later we saw another fork in track which wasnt on my map, so we opted for the bigger one to the right. I rermarked to David, "surely we should be doing some climbing now". I noticed that we had been following an old fence which I thought was the boundary to the National Park.


I was getting a little concerned about getting lost so marked the return track to be taken with some sticks to form an arrow.

We kept on going. We decided to check out positon on the mark which seemed to correlate with a track we expected to start heading west back to where the track up to Mt Brogden went up but we encountered yet another fork which did not correlate to the map I had down loaded of the walk or our location on a GPS with the marked tracks.


I said to David, I think we should go back, the thought of spending 7 hours out in the dark fumbling around did not appeal. So we retruned following our direction sticks. It was then at this juncture, david showed me our position on the GPS, it appeared we had backtracked (we don't know how) to a point where the route up the mountain was supposed to start an yet on the way earlier we had not seen a track. By this time I was about 20 m behind David trying to look up my map again when suddenly I noticed a turn to the right and signage which indicated the start of the walk. It really needed to be marked on the track we had started on but I guess the assumption was that you would seee it - but not ncessarity if you had not done the walk before and decided to do it in total darkness! I said to David game on lets go so we took the hour to do the climb passing two fabulous lookouts lookouts, one showing Griffith and Yenda to the south and a sea of lights. When we reached the summit, I made out easily the lights of Leeton about 45 km to the south east.


We set up our gear on rocky ledges near the lookout and started taking photos. David has a timelpase of about 3 and half hours of the rising Milky way, my one is much shorter as I wanted to take the rising Milky way with first light but my battery ran out just before 5 am.


This is one of a number of shots showing the full extent of the Emu which encompasses the Milky Way core with the Southern Cross to upper right. Venus can be shown rising just above the horizon to the lower left. It is a single image as I did not want to loose the detail of the delicate cloud patterns. It was quite misty in the sky and incredibly windy which blurred some of the tree branches in the image. It was getting cold I estmated at around 15 degrees but upon relfection it was probably closer to 13 with it sittig on 17 degrees down at Griffith. Unseasonably cold conditions fort early February.

It was an epic night and we were stuffed retiring to our tents to be woken up by the heat at around 9:30 am.


Queensland Bottle tree, Orion, Larger Magellanic Cloud and Eta Carina

A beautiful bottle tree stands proudly against the majesty of the night sky in Summer

Bokeh Bottle Tree,and Dingo fence, Jimbour area, Queensland

Blue hour at RedRock Gorge

The MilkyWay core with its distinct glow sets over Castle Rocks, Australian Capital Territory, 7 October 2021

"Resilience" A Gnarly Snow Gum clings tenaciously to a west facing rock ledge in Australian's High country

Gnarly Snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora) and star trails of southern sky

The sweep of the Milky Way 1 August 2021 Namadgi National Park

Moon and Milky Way rise over Glass house rocks, Narooma, NSW

The delicate patterns of the the Milky Way core near Scorpius as it rises over The Rock, NSW on 28 May 2021

View of a bushranger - Melville Caves, Victoria

Milky Way, Jupiter and Saturn and Zodiacal light over the Molonglo River, NSW

The Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea australis) is unique to Australia. This group is ideally placed to silhouette the rising Milky Way despite its location near a busy road.

Old shed, Milky Way rising and Venus, Narooma area, New South Wales

Jupiter, Saturn, Milky Way, Zodiacal light over Taemus Bridge, Yass area NSW

Summer star trails above Taemus Bridge showing stars north and south of the celestial equator (the opposite curves seen north and south of the constellation Orion

Eclipsed moonset and Mars over Murrumbidgee valley, Point Hut area July 2018

Rising moon and Milky Way rising over 1830s dairy, Braidwood area, NSW

Mars (to left), Milky Way and Jupiter (to right) Thala Beach, North Queensland