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Ok so this is the 11th year I have done this, my aim is to try to get a semi-decent astro image each month. 

While some months its really simple, with far too many shots which would work, while others moths are a bit more complex as the weather contrives to thwart all views.

Anyway, this is the trawl for 2018 :)

·         January – Super Moon over Hay Tor. I had been after one of these for a couple of years, the trick is to try to balance the moonlight with the natural light on the landscape.

·         February – A selfie taken on the Lizard looking out at the Milky Way on the horizon

·         March – An 8mm shot, hence the round image. This was an opportunistic shoot after a day in Bristol. A very bright moon gave too much light, but it was great to add detail to the Ashton Windmill, at Chapel Allerton on the Somerset levels.

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·         April – a shot at Orcombe Point, Exmouth. The Geoneedle marks the start/end of the Jurassic Coast. The Core of the Milky Way was on the horizon to the South, the Lyrid Meteors were putting on a grand display - a composite of several exposures taken at the spot.

·         May – One of my favourite locations, Burgh Island at Bigbury-on-Sea, this is a panorama made up from 5 x shots to give the spread across the island.

·         June – another favourite location Booby’s Bay at Trevose Head, North Cornwall. This was taken just after sunset and showed a couple of satellite glints flashing in the sky. Another

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·         vertical panorama of 3 x shots.

·         July – I had a wonderful time in Pembrokeshire with Paul McLoughlin. We had stunning weather, every night was clear and we were totally spoilt. This was one of the best of the week, Church Rock at Broadhaven.

·         August – This was an opportunistic shoot, we were trying for the sea cave at Redrock, Dawlish, but the tide was coming in, so we tried getting the Penzance – London main line in an astro shot. Again, a panorama to get the sea view towards Berry Head, in the distance.

·         September – This was a shot I have been wanting to do for many years the old cross at Windy Post, Dartmoor. This was taken after a grand evening at the Firework Championship at Plymouth. The weather kept changing, the site is 15/20 mins into the moor from the road and standing in the rain was truly miserable. Thankfully the clouds cleared and I was able to get the icon shot of the small waterfall, cross and the milky way, the passing Perseid Meteor was a real bonus.

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·         October – A trip back up to Hayne Down to get the iconic Bowerman’s Nose. The trick is to try to get the orientation with the rock stack and the milky way – thankfully this still shows the classic shape of the stack – this again was a panorama made from 6 shots, stitched together.

·         November – Our annual trip to Cyprus, this time we went for 2 weeks. I was able to get out a couple of times, this is the classic Petra tou Romiou or Aphrodites Rock. While there was a bright moon, it was glorious to see this location with Orion in the sky

·         December – This was a shoot at St Lawrence Castle, also known as the Haldon Belvedere. I was keen to get Comet P46/Wirtanen with a more iconic backdrop. Unfortunately, the comet is now quite high in the sky. This is a 15mm shot showing the tower, comet, milky way and a nice view of the Pleiades and Andromeda.

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I will add a couple of the extras, as there are far too many to include in a simple set of 12  - happy for questions, comments, suggestions...

Happy New Year to all on here and wishing all clear skies for 2019 :) 

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Beautiful pictures. I'd say mission accomplished!

Love Octobers. It looks like an Easter island figure. 

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Fantastic pictures @John Baker- very inspiring... 

Having been to Burgh Island on holiday, I like that one especially.

Could you give me some tips on how you got the milky way and lights on the island correctly exposed? Is it two whole panorama mosaics at different exposure lengths spliced in PS (or similar)? 

Thanks

Ady

 

Edited by adyj1
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44 minutes ago, adyj1 said:

Fantastic pictures @John Baker- very inspiring... 
Having been to Burgh Island on holiday, I like that one especially.
Could you give me some tips on how you got the milky way and lights on the island correctly exposed? Is it two whole panorama mosaics at different exposure lengths spliced in PS (or similar)? 
Thanks
Ady

Hi Ady, ok so the panorama was simply the camera in portrait mode mounted on a panoramic head, I then rotated the camera to get the wider shot - I have just checked and it is actually 11 shots, merged, I think I was shooting at 20mm to give lots of overlap - re exposure, the trick is the main security lights on the island go off at 01:00, unfortunately there are still a few around which can cause problems.

This was another shot, this was a 3 x shots of the ISS going through, each shot at 30", then blended to get the longer streak, you can see my wobbly footprints through the sands and my colleague shooting a different angle. You can clearly see the impact of the lights on the shot, 

407712249_JohnBaker-JFBX3371-ISS3xMergeplusTIm-Small.thumb.jpg.4cc1e8e27edbcd14cd1acfb3e83effac.jpg

 

The other sort of thing I am now doing is a lot more stacking, so this is 5 x tracked shots to get more detail in the milky way, then combined with a single shot with the tracker off to get the foreground

1831924187_JohnBaker-JFBX3303-CombinedTrackerandFixed-Small.thumb.jpg.d750472f11080eec35efdfb91e29a07f.jpg

 

The only real downside, was I had one of my shots picked up by the Daily Telegraph and used as a picture of the day. My friend shared his with the hotel & was given a free night, I am not sure who got the best one there - it did cost him as it was good he & his wife stayed for an extra night & that cost them a fortune :) 

 

Edited by John Baker
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48 minutes ago, ShrewView said:

Beautiful pictures. I'd say mission accomplished!

Love Octobers. It looks like an Easter island figure. 

It's a great stack, its not quite so impressive from other angles, here are a couple of the alternatives :) 

JFBX3994.thumb.jpg.39fb4b576fc12368c10997be9883386d.jpg

JFBX3997.thumb.jpg.d719a51e3045e33da380b573194567b2.jpg

This was the one I went with, it was 8 x panorama

JFBX4013-x-8-Pano.thumb.jpg.a7f1dd700810e094dbd46635bad3f65b.jpg

I have been several times, here are some other versions

Looking up his nose :) 

JohnB-JFBX3603.thumb.jpg.80d07438b252b75b4cd704781ae984a7.jpg

This is the postcard version, but did not really work with the MW

JohnB-JFBX3560.thumb.jpg.8da8a84b500d5fd1301214cc0c74d9a5.jpg

 One from further back 

JohnB-JFBX3617.thumb.jpg.dc4940c913b16a6c4e2f0911fca2e980.jpg

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1 hour ago, John Baker said:

Hi Ady, ok so the panorama was simply the camera in portrait mode mounted on a panoramic head, I then rotated the camera to get the wider shot - I have just checked and it is actually 11 shots, merged, I think I was shooting at 20mm to give lots of overlap - re exposure, the trick is the main security lights on the island go off at 01:00, unfortunately there are still a few around which can cause problems.

Ah, your patience paid off then.

Ive been reading up on panorama shots (and mounts), and I understood the bit you say about panorama in portrait but lost you when you said rotated to get wider... Is the mosaic a mixture of portraight and landscape shots? Apologies if I'm missing something obvious.

Oh, and what was the exposure length did you get for each shot.. 

Thanks for your help, 

Ady

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I always look forward to seeing your images John. Once again I'm impressed by all your hard work and skill.

My favourite has to be October :)

Dave.

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Another inspirational series John, I must get out to see the nose again myself in 2019. The problem with the moor is there's so much to visit, so little time to visit it in.

Edited by johnfosteruk
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13 hours ago, johnfosteruk said:

Another inspirational series John, I must get out to see the nose again myself in 2019. The problem with the moor is there's so much to visit, so little time to visit it in.

Agree, but there are some places that just work for this sort of thing.. I really must try to get back down to Bodmin Moor to re-do the Cheesewring, mines & Minions - too much to do, not enough clear skies :)

18 hours ago, adyj1 said:

Ah, your patience paid off then.
Ive been reading up on panorama shots (and mounts), and I understood the bit you say about panorama in portrait but lost you when you said rotated to get wider... Is the mosaic a mixture of portraight and landscape shots? Apologies if I'm missing something obvious.
Oh, and what was the exposure length did you get for each shot.. 
Thanks for your help, 
Ady

Ok for the panormas I try to shoot at around the 21 or 24mm focal length, much wider and the distortions gets more complex to deal with. Ideally you need to use a 50mm or telephoto, but then you are into the realms of multi rows which is time consuming.

The real trick is to give a very good overlap of images, this then gives you more of a chance of dealing with the wide angle effects - this is not my shot, but this is how you would do 2 rows and shows the level of overlap needed.

 

Image result for how to shoot astro panoramas

 

Re exposure, I normally use the 500 rule (500/focal length) to get the max shutter speed I can use, then go down a stop to be safe, aperture tends to stay wide open - e.g. f2.8 then adjust the ISO to get a decent exposure.

If there is a bit of light around I will normally tweak the shutter speed as that is the killer for the movement in the stars.

I try to keep the exposures the same. However, I have also done several vertical panos, for those I may do a longer exposure to get detail in the foreground if needed. I am also starting to do multiple-tracked sky shots and combining with a static foreground to get more detail in the sky

:) 

 

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John, 

Thanks very much for the detailed tips - now to get out and try it!

Ady

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