In this tutorial, learn how I use 2 apps on my phone to plan all of my Milky Way astro photography photographs. Links to the apps as well as a 10 minute video tutorial showing the basics on how I use the apps from the comfort of my home and on location scouting.
Sometimes the stars align, literally! I headed out with my good friend Craig Bachmann Photography and we met up with the owner of this fantastic private property. He had told us he had a great old shack we could photograph and we had no idea what we were in for. As soon as I saw the shack I let out a whoop, then I saw the tree and instantly an idea formed of how I wanted to frame this.
It took a few minutes for our eyes to adjust and really locate the core of the Milky Way. OMG! Straight out from the tree! Quickly we set about shooting, getting the multiple shots for the stars to stack and reduce noise, and one of them captured a meteorite! Geez talk about winning.
Next we set about light painting, and this was the first test of my new Lumanzi L1 light cube, WOW! This tiny little thing puts out a tonne of light, and it has gels. We used an orange one to light up the inside of the shack.
Combined with the air glow in the distance, passing cloud and some haze, there was colour everywhere in this photo. A few hours on the computer brought all 21 frames together to create the final image I had envisioned. Love it!
Thank you again to the owner for not only telling us about this location and opening your gates to us, but for running around with my light, painting the scene at my direction lol! Gotta love a free recruit 🙂
This photograph has been added to my Nightscapes Gallery where you can purchase it for your wall in many different formats, easily and simply all directly online. Custom work available, just contact me with your interest.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read, leave a comment below if you think this really is a great Aussie landscape 🙂
Gear used : Sony A7 and Samyang 14mm, Lumanzi L1 Light cube, Manfrotto Tripod, Shutter Boss cabled remote trigger, and one property owner! 🙂
A huge 270hp Case Optum Tractor under the core of the Milkyway. Astrophotograhy by Australian Landscape Photographer Murray Fox
Well wasn’t this a challenge! My self and my good friend Craig had been in contact with a local farmer. He advised us his sunflowers were in their prime so we arranged a visit for Sunday afternoon to shoot it through sunset.
The massive problem was Tropical Cyclone Oma was approaching through the week and ended up sitting off the coast for a few days. The rain didn’t happen but boy did we get the wind. Capturing a stitched panoramic photograph can be challenging at anytime, throw in very strong winds with a close subject that moves around a lot, add just a sprinkle of low light as sunset occurs and I almost didn’t get a shot.
Thankfully, my previous experience with panoramas this year is really paying off and the final result, well, not blowing my own horn here but wow! This is the best panorama I’ve captured so far.
Timing was a bit rushed too as we first did a quick portrait shoot for the lovely couple who own the property, always great to give something back for being graciously granted permission onto their property. I’ve photographed in this area for nearly 10 years now and never have I captured a sunset with such a wonderful view as this.
Post production putting the final image together was also a super challenge. I ended up spending well over 5 hours putting all the pieces together and checking pretty much down to each flower everything joined up correctly. Hard work, but well worth the results.
Hopefully the rains come soon, everyone needs a drop so much.
I’m doing a bit more portrait work lately, it’s a change from the normal and being the obsessive technical type, a great challenge with lots of new things to learn. My first love is still landscapes and now panoramas however, so I may even explore the possibility of combining the two for something truly unique, stay tuned!
I’m very happy to let you all know I received a commendation for my entry into this years Australian Photographer of the Year. My entry was 4 photographs from my Nightscape portfolio entered under the title, Rural Nights. With thousands of entries all competing, I’ve very happy with the result.
Astro season is starting again now, I look forward to capturing many more creative photographs using all the techniques I devised and put into practice last season. I have quite a few ideas already planned, as for me if I’m not out there taking the photos, I’m thinking about taking the photos.
Here is a copy of the award I received, and the photographs I entered. All of these photos are available for purchase as an open edition print on Acrylic, contact me for pricing and details (free shipping Australia wide!)
Let me know in the comments below which is your favourite photo!
I’m out hunting for more panoramic landscapes this weekend as we finally appear to have clouds. This morning was a failed attempt but I’ll keep trying until I get the photographs I want. That’s the fun of working with mother nature, you can never truly predict what happens next. Until next time, thank you for reading.
A friend first shared a photo of these trees with me a few weeks back. Ever since then I’ve been chomping at the bit to get out and shoot them at sunrise. The location, the vista, the rolling hills behind and the simplicity of the scene just fired my imagination. This was perfect for a panorama and I couldn’t wait!
The last two mornings have had nil cloud, a 3:30am start saw me heading to Fernvale to meet up with my mate who was going to be my guide for the morning. Thankfully permission with the landowner was organised and after parking and walking in we began to work the scene. From one vantage point, the two trees appear to be intertwined and I really liked that view point.
Lots of moving around using my panorama tool to work out framing (this “tool” is a piece of cardboard with a window cut out of it in the 3:1 ratio). This makes it super quick to work out the best angle to shoot from. I’ve yet to find an Android Phone app that can do the same ratio (if you know of one, let me know please! Most get close but not 3:1).
This was the first photo I took, very early dawn light and colour. The clouds were clearing up quickly and the next few photos didn’t really work out for me. The sun is rising to the left of frame, this causes the colour to darken across the sky, giving a lovely change in hue as it goes.
2 Rows of 8 photographs were captured to make this panorama. The end result is very big file that can be printed exceptionally large, which is my goal for all my panoramas.
There are many more spots on this property to investigate, and I think once Winter is here, add some fog, or even some Astro is definitely on the cards, magic spot.
I’ve added this photography to my Landscape Portfolio.
You can find the in the field video for this photograph here : https://murrayfox.com.au/in-the-field-video-photographing-the-together-panorama/
I’m a very technical photographer. I tend to research a lot before venturing into the field and sometimes you can focus on these things too much, rather than just getting out there and taking photos. This weekend was a little like that. I had a photograph in mind that I wanted to capture. Wyaralong Dam in the Scenic Rim can be stunning if you get the right sky.
Friday afternoon and there were high clouds north, but they needed to come south a few hundred kilometres in order to be where I wanted them. 10pm, I’m watching the sky, I ended up being so fixated on it I was still awake at 3am, the time I would have to leave if I wanted to get a photo, but the clouds never came so I finally slept, thinking about the photograph I haven’t captured yet.
Saturday night I took a different tack, I ignored the clouds, I got my gear ready to go, set my alarm for 3am and slept. Waking up and walking out the door, the clouds looked like they had potential, but regardless, I was going to go. Worse case this would be a good practice session to work towards mastering panoramas.
Arriving at the dam it was still dark but light would approach soon. I spent a good 30 minutes working out a composition, checking my settings, checking the tripod was level, and taking a few test series of shots. The light came through it’s various stages, from nice blue hour, to the pinks and reds of sunrise. However I had a problem. A bank of low cloud had moved across and was breaking up the great high clouds that had the colour. The end result was a bust, but I learnt a lot and was happy with that.
On the drive home, the sun had broken over the distant hills finally, some fast moving fog was rolling between the hills. Coming up over the rise of one hill I hit the brakes and quickly pulled over. The scene looked fantastic to me, the beautiful orange of golden hour was glowing across the sky and ground. Thankfully my gear was pretty much ready to go, put camera on tripod, level, focus and shoot.
A photo like this takes a long time to edit on post for me. Why? Because it’s 2 rows of 8 photographs, that is 16 full size photographs merged to one gigantic image. This will print MASSIVE and I think will look fantastic on anyone’s wall that loves a view like this. I’ve learnt that shooting two rows allows me to get more of either the sky or ground in the photograph (com-positional choice / ground for this one) and that really gives this photograph a great sense of depth. At full resolution you can see the cows feeding in the morning light way down the hill, the detail is amazing.
So my lessons this week are don’t sweat it so much, just make sure you get out there and shoot. This was a completely random location and it was about being there when the light was good, and finding a scene to suit.
Let me know what you think about this photograph in the comments below, I always love feedback good or bad. Until next time, stay safe and thank you very much for reading.
Olympus OMD Em5.2, Olympus 45mm. F8, ISO 200, 1/200 sec. 2 Rows of 8 Photographs
I’ve added this to my Landscape Portfolio that will gradually all become panoramas as I move towards the format, which I just love.
Well a very Happy New Year to you all. For me the start of any new year is a great time not only for a well deserved break, but a great time to reflect on the previous 12 months and have a bit of a mental review of how I saw my photography progress. The main aim of this is to work out my direction for 2019 and I’ve set myself a nice challenge as a result. I’m very happy with how my Astro photography has progressed. My weather photography is in a lull due to simply there being no storms so I’m concentrating on my landscape photography.
I’ve set myself a challenge to only shoot panoramic landscapes in the 3:1 format for 2019. Oh I’ll still get the odd normal 4:3 framed photo, but purely for Instagram. Any dedicated landscape photograph I capture in 2019 is going to be a panorama. Why? Well several reasons. I love to follow other photographers works and over the years I’ve come to admire two photographers in particular. Ken Duncan and Mark Grey, both incredibly successful Australian landscape photographers. Ken has been at it for Decades, Mark is relatively new to the scene, both having extraordinary success. It’s more than that however, it’s the resulting photographs they get. There is something about an amazingly well captured panorama that draws you in. The photograph when seen large envelopes your entire field of view, you are put into the scene with the photographer at the moment of capture.
This is what I want to explore and it actually means relearning a whole lot about photography. Composition is different by necessity as the frame is now very different and balance, viewpoint, elements all come into play in different ways.
So my journey into this field has begun and I find it very exciting. To kick off the new year with a bang I met up with my great friend Craig and we headed west to areas near Toowoomba in search of Sunflowers as word is out, they are blooming.
PLEASE NOTE : I won’t disclose the exact location of this farm at the farmers request. However, if you are looking for Sunflowers the area of Clifton on the Darling Downs between Warwick and Toowoomba has them in flower right now.
Thankfully Craig has scouted this location only the day before, also gaining us permission from the farmer to access the land fully, simply awesome work mate. 3:30am saw us standing in the back of the ute, Tripods at the ready, watching the light slowly appear. This first panorama was captured around 15 minutes before sunrise, the high cloud getting hit with the awesome colours of the approaching sunrise, that light also reflecting down onto the sunflowers. My composition here was to be very simple. Lines leading you through the fields.
Next it was time to really head into the fields. Another section of this farm has a great windmill surrounded by Sunflowers, well how could we resist photographing that? This field was full of bees making their merry way from flower to flower, and we did take the time out here to really just soak up the atmosphere, work our compositions and try different things.
Capturing panoramas is a bit of a challenge. The hardest part I find is framing. As you are stitching together multiple photographs to take one large one, you can’t see the final result in the field. Specialist panorama cameras exist but are far beyond my budget so this is my option in order to get the best quality and result. So far I’ve worked out that by setting the height of my view and ensuring I capture 5-6 photographs across I can usually get pretty close to the result I’m after with minimal loss of pixels in post production on the computer.
This final panorama was the only time the sun actually fell directly on the flowers. We had stopped to have a chat with the property owner when the sun broke through, but only on the ground, the sky was not being directly affected, awesome light! Excusing myself for a minute, I quickly setup and captured this image of the farmers old parents house, now not lived in but still maintained, which is surrounded by the wonderful sunflowers, not a bad view in my books. I think this is my favourite from the morning and I know my wife agrees with me.
I’ve found I’m quickly falling in love with the panorama format for both the challenge and the results. The quality end result I’m getting allows me to print a 60inch wide x 20inch high photograph at full 300dpi resolution (no loss of quality at all). I love to see my photographs purchased and hanging on peoples walls. Panoramas seem to lend themselves perfectly to being displayed, they work well in many different styles of rooms in peoples homes and in businesses. That’s my end game as a photographer, while I love taking photographs, and sharing them with the world, to create images that people love enough to hang in their own home to me is the ultimate.
So I’ll keep working at it, continuing to find new subjects in amazing conditions and share them with all of you. If I can get a nice portfolio of maybe 20 photographs by the end of 2019 I’ll be in heaven, and maybe a few of you will have such a connection with my work that you’ll want to own a copy for yourselves.
Finally, a quick single photo I took “doing it for the gram”. This will be up on my Instagram Feed.
Thank you everyone for following along with my photography for 2018, I really look forward to what 2019 is going to bring. I think the photographs will be released a bit slower, but the quality should be another level higher as I continue to learn and challenge myself.
On this morning I loaded up my Mamiya 1000s 645 medium format camera with a roll of Fuji Acros 100 Black and White film. Now sadly discontinued, this is a beautiful fine grain film that I find perfect for landscapes.
I’ve posted a full video of the morning on my facebook page, please be sure to watch, comment, like and share.
Below are the photos from the video in detail for you to view. I developed the film myself at home using R09 Adinol which is a modern version of Rodinal. Using a semi stand development time of 18 minutes and 30 seconds. I then scanned the photos into my computer using an Epson V550, did some clean up of dust and final tweaking in photoshop and done.
This first photograph, I love the sidelight coming across the scene. It’s a simple rural view that could be anywhere.
With this next one, I love the contrast between the tree and the sky. I’m going to have to invest in some orange and red filters I think, they would really make the blue in the sky pop out as well.
I just love this photo of the sprayers. I had a vision when I saw this scene and it came out exactly as I hoped. Minimal depth of field, gives such a cool feeling to a simply but great scene.
I cropped this next one to a panorama, the whole view just looked amazing to me, light breaking through in patches, cloud hugging the top of the range. Being medium format film, I can still print this huge with a good scan, some things Digital can’t fully compete with yet, for the same cost at least.
I love love love this one, printing it now, wall hanger. Just waiting for the light to come across, checking my exposure every time it did change, the anticipation, and then nailing the shot, but you don’t know it until the film is developed, dried and scanned…wow, what a rush. Really nothing more to say about my thoughts on this one 🙂
Another one for the wall, again, it came out exactly how I hoped. Mind you, I thought I’d lose detail in the trees. Nope! The film captured the full dynamic range of the scene, blew my mind.
I always love a walk through Purga reserve, it’s such an interesting place and doesn’t take long to get through but you can spend hours here checking it all out.
And the last shot of the morning, again, it came out exactly as I hoped, really minimal focus area, light making the fallen tree pop. Happy.
I’m so happy with the results from this morning. These photographs look amazing, I’ll be printing out a couple of these for my wall at home, if you’d like to purchase a copy for yourself, simply contact me and we’ll make it happen.
Again, thanks for watching and reading!
Well another roll of Kodak Ektar 100 Film in 120 Medium format done and dusted. I was very much looking forward to seeing how the shots on this roll came out. I actually had quite a variety of shoots on this one, a few photos I bracketed, or forgot to lock the mirror up and retook and one I completely stuffed it up by setting the shutter speed wrong..and still managed a recoverable shot, blew my mind! With my Mamiya 645 Medium format camera I get 15 shots per roll and with this one I got 6 photos I absolutely love and a few others that came out nice as well. I think it’s my best hit rate to date on film.
Starting with an overnight stay up at Redcliffe Peninsula north of Brisbane for my wedding anniversary back in October, I took the opportunity for an early start to capture sunrise over the water. I was really looking for just simple compositions here, nothing fancy at all. My thoughts at the time was if I got a good one, I’ll have it printed and matted and send it to my Parents as a gift, they have very much an ocean theme through their house.
This first shot was captured well before sunrise, when the first colour of dawn was hitting the sky. I used a 2 stop Graduated ND filter to keep the brightness of the sky close to the water. Those colours were just amazing, but I could have exposed a little bit longer to get more detail into the rocks.
Next I waited around until the sun actually rose. There was some great cloud around the horizon and it was filtering the sun, throwing out colour. Again I used the 2 stop hard grad ND filter, exposed for the water and just let the Ektar 100 film do it’s thing. It has an amazing ability to get so much detail into the highlights even if they are many many stops brighter. I really liked how this one came out, and those colours, wow! Pretty sure I’ll be sending this one to Mum & Dad for Christmas. I’ve added this photograph to my Landscapes Portfolio, it’s simple, but I really like it.
Next it was time to head back to the country. This time I was experimenting with time of day, a different lens here and there. This next photograph was over some corn almost ready to harvest near Kalbar in the Scenic Rim. I used the Mamiya 80mm lens at F4 (think I will try F2.8 next time) to focus only on the closest corn and let everything behind fade into blur. It kinda worked but not 100% the result I was aiming for, I think my biggest issue was I was too low, need to get higher and show the depth in there to give that blur a more noticeable effect. Still, the early morning side light was wonderful and I like how peaceful this photograph feels.
This next one was the same morning but during dawn and I think is my favourite photo from this roll. I was really hoping for clouds, but now the film is developed and I see those colours, wow! Eye popping stuff. Kodak Ektar 100 is a very saturated film, and I’m finding the dawn light, before the sun gets up, has slightly lower contrast, but simply amazing colour results. Definitely need to shoot more at this time of day with this film. Again I used a 2 stop ND grad to control the brightness of the sky, this was around a 90 second exposure at f/16. I’ve added this to my Landscapes Portfolio. This location is Kents Lagoon north of Kalbar in the scenic rim of South East Queensland Australia. I’m standing on quite an old, single lane wooden bridge to get this photo, praying the locals all decided to sleep in so I wouldn’t have to run off the bridge with my gear, and then set it all up again! 🙂 Except for one fella plowing his field, I was car free for an hour thankfully.
Finally I decided to try this film at night. The results were good, at least my metering was right and I didn’t stuff up the photos lol! That’s the hardest part, you have no idea of you got it right, so you check, double check, check again, think about taking the shot, wait for a car to move that just pulled up, start again in case the light changed. Honestly, I loved every minute of it, it’s so much fun, and you really REALLY slow down and think about every press of that shutter button. All of that happened with this first one, but finally everything was clear and the shot taken. This is a pub not far from home, right next to the highway at Haigslea. Very happy with how much latitude I captured between the dark shadows and the bright highlights. I think I need to revisit this one, maybe with some Portra 160 film which has a much more soft pastel pallet, and do it at sunset for some colour and go wider with the view.
Finally I dropped into Marburg just up the road the same night. The post office there is very quaint and I quite liked the look of it at night. I had to shoot a fairly tight crop to avoid the parked vehicles from the pub goers. Again, I used the 80mm, around f/11 to keep some depth of field. Ended up being around a 80 second exposure. I just love the bail of hay out the front, really lets you know this ain’t no city post office!
I’m going to get my hands on some Cinestill 800T film soon, that stuff looks just amazing for night city and architecture photographs, it blooms around light sources with a super interesting colour pallet.
I’ve got plenty of film in the fridge now to shoot. This roll was really about trying different things and gaining confidence with the equipment and the results. I’m extremely happy with how it all went, and I can quite confidently now go out and shoot on film and not be too concerned with the results as long as I remember to do all the steps. It’s a very manual process, and I absolutely love it. Looking forward to doing some more black and white film soon too.
Let me know in the comments below which is your favourite shot!
Thank you so much for reading and getting to this point, I really really appreciate it. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date, and visit again soon. I sell all of my photographs as Fine Art Prints, Canvas prints and Prints on either Acrylic or Metal, if you’d like one for yourself, simply contact me and I’ll send you pricing details.