A huge 270hp Case Optum Tractor under the core of the Milkyway. Astrophotograhy by Australian Landscape Photographer Murray Fox
Serious planning brings huge rewards, and the end result of this astro photograph of this stunning Dodge simply blew me away! Read the story now.
I started out this winters astro photography season with a simple goal. Get some great photos and improve my skills. Little did I know I was going to strike so much gold out in those cold nights. Coming across various locations with beautiful old buildings and machinery, remnants of rural life, and being able to capture them under the core of the Milkyway is the stawberry on top of the icecream for me.
So much so that I’ve decided I will will make this a series and have I’m calling it “Forgotten Things”. I expect this to take a couple of years as astro season is pretty much half way through now. I found last night shooting to the east is no longer a real option, all shots from now will have to be to the west, which puts the core in a much more horizontal view.
I’ve been itching to get out all week to get this shot but the elements were conspiring against me. Calm conditions led to the various rural fire brigades back burning the build up of fuel on the ground in preparation for summer. There was far too much haze, especially to the west to get the core where I wanted it. It ended up being a bit of a race against time. Once the haze cleared, the clouds closed in for a day, and the moon was getting brighter and brighter, and higher in the sky each night.
Finally, I made the run for it last night. Leaving home there were still some clouds in the sky to the west but had just moved off when I went to shoot, thank goodness. My plan was to arrive on location right around 1:45am, which was moonset. I ended up being about 15 minutes early which is just fine, it allowed me to work on my composition a bit. I tried various setups, directions, orientations, I ended up going with landscape orientation for this. As I had to shoot side on to the truck, the width worked well, so now it was just a matter of waiting another 20 minutes for the core to get to the right spot. Easier said than done as the temperature dropped below freezing.
Finally things were good to go. For the stars I used an ISO of 5000, F/2.8 for my aperture and 15 seconds long exposure at 12mm on my Olympus lens. This is great dark sky country, and only 45 minutes from home, really letting me crank that ISO to get as much detail in the core as possible.
For the foreground shot, I swapped my camera over into Live Composite mode, dropped the ISO to 400 for a lot less noise, increased the aperture to F/4 for a little more depth of field and sharpness. Then activating live composite via my mobile phone and the Olympus App, I was able to walk around the truck, painting it with my torch, watching the updates on my phone. I just love Olympus technology so much. For those who don’t know, Live Composite is an in camera feature that takes a base exposure, then at an interval you set, updates that exposure with new light only, it’s the gold standard in technology for light painting, nothing does it better.
Back on the computer it was really a matter of opening both photos as layers in photoshop, and using a simple mask, blending one into the other. Once combined I then polished and processed to my taste, and here is the final result :
I’ve added this photograph to my Astro Nightscapes Portfolio. Once I have around 10-15 photographs in this Forgotton Things Collection, I’ll create a separate page for those. Detail wise, I think this is my best astro photo to date. I’m totally confident in my skills and techniques now. Its really all down to waiting for the next dark moon, and finding the next forgotten thing to capture. What do you think about this new series I’m working on? Comment below, I’d love to read your views.
Here is a list of the gear I use. These are affiliate links, by following them and making a purchase you help support my photography at no extra cost to yourself.
* Camera : Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II Body Only – Silver
* Canon FD to M43rd Adapter : K&F Concept Lens Mount Adapter for Canon FD Lens to Micro 4/3 Cameras
* My Goto Landscape Lens : Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-40mm f2.8 PRO Black Len
* My Favourite Tripod : ZOMEi Z818C Carbon Fiber Camera Tripod With Quick Release Plate and Ball Head (Blue)
* Best Budget Filters Ever : Zomei 10 in 1 Square Z-PRO Series Filter Kit
* Best Budget Portrait Lens Made! : Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 45mm F1.8 (Black) Lens
* The Perfect Walkaround Lens : Panasonic 20mm F/1.7 Pancake Lens
* A great CPL for your 12-40mm : Manfrotto MFESSCPL-62 62 mm Essential Circular Polarizer Filter
* The Best Aftermarket Battery Kit : DSTE 2X BLN-1 Battery + DC133 Travel and Car Charger Adapter
All of my photographs are available for purchase as Fine Art Prints in A2 and A3 size, as well as ready to hang Canvas Prints. Just contact me for pricing.
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