Milky way hunting

So since getting my Nikon D700 I have been wanting to go out and get some shots of the milky way. I have played with star shots before in the field at the back of the house but wasn’t able to find the right time or place for an epic milky way encounter.

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Stary sky shot from the field behind the house. 

I have been reading some magazines which mentioned the PhotoPills app and how great it was for planning sunsets, sunrises, milky way and star shots so thought I would have a look for it. On google play store it is about £10 and well worth it from the results I got. It took a lot of watching and replaying the tutorials to get my head around how it actually worked but I got there in the end.

In the middle of July I started planning my shot, I wanted to get a photo of the milky way at the top of the hill behind the house. On the app I had planned it all and wanted to double check I had actually done it right so took Skylar on a walk up to the spot I had chosen and using the AR function I could see that I had planned it right wooo!

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AR of the shot I had been planning 

All I had to do was wait until the new moon and a clear night! I had about a 1 week window to get the best results before the moon was too bright or high in the sky. I finally managed to get out on Monday 24th, I left the house about 10:30 in order to get set up and ready by 11pm. I did a few test shots and once I was happy with my settings got snapping away!

I stayed until 12 as I was starting to get cold (it was a bit windy up there which wasn’t helping) On the way back I saw a couple of badgers which was quite cool, and loads of bats under a bridge hunting.

I processed my images in lightroom and photoshop on the Tuesday after work. I also got to use a technique I had been wanting to try of image stacking. I am very happy with my results and am definitely going to try and get out on the next new moon to get some more!

 

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Scotland 2017

So I am just back from our annual trip to Scotland (we’ve been 3 years running, sure it can be classed as annual now). We drove up and stayed at our usual spot on the Argyle coast, it took all day to drive up and we arrived just in time for a beautiful sunset. It’s a great spot for this as you can watch from the end of the damaged pier.

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The next day the weather was AMAZING! I got up before Tim and Skylar and I walked along the shore line of the loch. I brought a new filter for my kit, a Formatt Hitech Firecrest 10 Stop ND filter. I am so glad I invested in this as it doesn’t produce any colour cast and is just totally epic for long exposure shots.

I was out for a while and on the stroll back to the car the clouds were getting really moody and stormy looking and I managed to get some shots of Skylar looking majestic.

The sun  came out and again Skylar was my model looking beautiful (totally not bias at all…not even a little…)

We then decided to walk to the pub, this brought into play my inability to calculate how far anything is away. (It was Tim’s suggestion but I agreed) For some reason I had in my head it was just over a mile away and off we went. On the way we stopped so I could photograph a partially sunken boat. I took a couple shots here with the circle polarising filter and with the ND filter so I could capture a long exposure. It was sooooo windy I had the tripod set as low as possible and eventually got one I wanted. We did finally get to the pub, where we could use the Google how far we actually walked, it was 3.8 miles! Needless to say we ate loads so we could face the walk back to the car!

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The next day or so I took some more landscape photos which I am really proud of.

we then headed further north to Fort William where we had a trade stand at the second stage in the downhill mountain bike world cup. We did manage to get out of the stand on the Sunday to watch a bit of the racing which was awesome as I got to test my photography skills on some of the riders.

After the race we packed up and started heading back home.

Overall I am really happy with my photos and how much my skills are growing. Still need a bit more practice on the mountain bikes but I am looking forward to it.

 

 

 

Rhiwargor Waterfall, Lake Vyrnwy

So as you may have read from my last blog I was supposed to be going here on the Bank Holiday Monday but had some car related issues. The car needs a new engine and is waiting to be fixed so in the meantime we have a higher car. I had Saturday off work so decided I would make attempt 2 at going to the waterfall!  After layering the hire car in towels to protect it from Skylar’s hair we were off. I got to the car park for the Rhiwargor Waterfall trail just after 10 am and there was no one else there – brilliant!!

We started off on our walk to the waterfall, it is such a nice walk to do and I really enjoy taking Skylar on this one. She is a bit funny about getting into water and will only go in if she can walk in and will never jump in (which is actually quite handy!). So she had a fun time on our walk up.

Once we got to the waterfall I set out climbing up to get some nice shots of it at all the different stages. I have never walked up it before, it is such a beautiful waterfall, and each stage looks totally different from the last. I don’t have any filters for my camera yet so had to make do with shorter 1/4 second exposures as it was so bright. I am quite happy with the results I got and am ordering filters asap! I also found a really helpful guide on long exposure shooting without filters, so I can practice that in the meantime.

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Us at the top!

On our way back Skylar had a fun time chasing birds and doing some more swimming in the stream. It was such a beautiful day, we were out for just over 2 hours and she slept most the afternoon! I will defiantly be going back here as soon as I can to practice what I have learnt.

Easter Adventures

Adventure one

So it’s the Easter weekend and I have actually got time off! I had 2 adventures planned for Skylar and myself this weekend, the first was exploring by our house.

We moved into this house about 1 year ago and I haven’t really ventured past the lonely tree to the back of the house or  through the woods from the front of the house. I was armed with my OS map and spent a while online making my route via footpaths and bridle ways so I knew where I was going (pretty much). We set off about 10 am and started through the woods and up the hill. We then followed the bridleway to the next valley over.

Once out on the road we walked about 1/2 a mile to get to the next footpath, there were loads of wild flowers in the hedge rows and verges which I love. Also some nice views across the Welsh country side.

We got to where the next footpath should be and that is where things started to get a bit difficult, most of these footpaths marked on the map were unsigned from the road and were unkempt. I tried to follow these as best as I could but unfortunately the way was blocked so I had to back track and go the rest of the way home by road. When we made it back to the town, I took the back road home and found a nice stream for Skylar to play in (she had a lot of lead time due to the road walk), I was also able to practice some long exposure shots which was awesome!

Adventure two

On the bank holiday Monday I had planned our second adventure. My plan was to go to Lake Vyrnwy and photograph the waterfall there. I was all packed and ready to go and after dropping Tim off at work we were enroute. The clouds were clearing and it was setting up to be a beautiful morning. I was about 4 miles into my drive and the car cut out!! Disaster!! I could not get it to start back up so had to call for recovery, when they arrived they couldn’t fix it by the road and suggested it was a terminal problem. I got recovered back to Tim’s work and spent the rest of the day in that area. My grand plan for shooting the waterfall on the back seat I went on a local footpath that I knew had a stream so I could practice my long exposures.

I managed to snap this one which I am quite pleased with. So not an entirely wasted day.