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AstroLandscapes #58 - A Cold Night at Wicken Fen


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Last week during the cold snap I headed to Wicken Fen nature reserve in Cambridgeshire, a wildlife haven comprising a few hundred acres of unspoilt fenland.  It's a location I've shot from a few times before but I've never been wholly happy with the results.

I had the place to myself and so the evening was spent in the company of owls, the distant shriek of muntjacs and the occasional unidentified shuffle from the reedbeds.  It was a 50% moon, and its silvery glow sparkled on the droplets of frost that adorned the long wooden boardwalks and the fronds of the reeds that swayed gently in the breeze.  It was bitterly cold, but I was well wrapped up and I could simply enjoy the night.

My aim for the night was to capture some shots of Orion over the pretty old windpump - a feature of the Fen - and over one of the boardwalks that we'd scouted out earlier in the week.  With a relatively unambitious plan, I was able to spend the time to get some higher quality sky shots using the tracker and to use the h-alpha filter to bring out some of the lovely nebulosity in that part of the sky.

For those interested, I also made a video journal of the night, which you can find linked at the bottom.

Overall it was a really enjoyable night and I'm pleased with the images I made.  I wish I'd had the foresight to place myself in the scene in "Boardwalk to the Stars", to give it a human element; without that it seems possibly a little sterile.  That said, I was dressed up like the Michelin Man, so it may not have been as effective as I'd have liked!

Hope you enjoy, and always welcome feedback and suggestions. 😊

Guarding the Fen

20240118GuardingtheFen.thumb.jpg.0d204c14a5873edef8274f2ee56661c8.jpg

📷 Canon 6D (astro-modified) with Sigma Art 24mm f/1.4 lens
🔧 Foreground: single 6s exposure at f/3.2 and ISO 3200. Sky: 29x60s tracked exposures at f/5 and ISO800 (plus dark frames) and 14x300s tracked H-Alpha exposures at f/2.8 and ISO800.
🎞️ Stacked in Sequator. Edited and blended in PhotoShop and Starnet++

 

Paddle me to the Stars

20240118WickenBoatunderOrion.thumb.jpg.1cc41d3cbd79b90705e3141319b33774.jpg

📷 Canon 6D with Samyang 24mm f/1.4 lens
🔧 Foreground: single 30s exposure at f/4 and ISO 800. Sky: single 15 exposure at f/2.8 and ISO1600 (with starglow filter)
🎞️ Edited and blended in PhotoShop

Boardwalk under the Stars

20240118BoardwalktotheStars.thumb.jpg.c146b09f9e41d98c820fd71619cab6d2.jpg

📷 Canon 6D (astro-modified) with Sigma Art 24mm f/1.4 lens
🔧 Foreground: single 20s exposure at f/4 and ISO 1600. Sky: 29x60s tracked exposures at f/5 and ISO800 (plus dark frames) and 14x300s tracked H-Alpha exposures at f/2.8 and ISO800.
🎞️ Stacked in Sequator. Edited and blended in PhotoShop and Starnet++

The Plough, the Lion and the Wind Pump

20240118ThePloughtheLionandtheWindPump.thumb.jpg.432c6d0b2732cd2a009d2cf477b716e9.jpg

📷 Canon 6D with Samyang 24mm f/1.4 lens
🔧 Foreground: single 6s exposure at f/2.8 and ISO 3200. Sky: single 6 exposure at f/2.8 and ISO3200 (with Starglow filter)
🎞️ Edited and blended in PhotoShop

 

 

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58 minutes ago, Mark at Beaufort said:

Fantastic photos Paul. I particularly liked your first photo with Orion showing off the Nebulae. Well done.

Thanks Mark - that's definitely my favourite too (and I've now got my answer to "what on earth's that?" nailed down!)

47 minutes ago, Mr Spock said:

Amazing set of images 👍

Thank you Michael - appreciated.

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Really amazing pictures. 

I live 20 minutes away from the Fen and regularly take the dog there for a walk (swim). It is really great to see a place I know well in a very different light, thank you. 

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Very nice once again. I too particularly like the boat image and the wind pump looking north east.

The amount of detail from the moon light was wonderful and it made the frost and dark wood really stand out.

Nice idea to include the owl singing along in the video 🙂

Dave.

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4 hours ago, clarkpm4242 said:

Excellent work!  My personal taste veers towards the boat composition. 

I may have taken off a layer prior to a selfie, in the past...

Thanks Paul. I think I agree with you. I like the pop in the h-alpha images, but the boat has something about it. Ha ha - I think I would have needed to take several layers off!!

3 hours ago, davew said:

Very nice once again. I too particularly like the boat image and the wind pump looking north east.

The amount of detail from the moon light was wonderful and it made the frost and dark wood really stand out.

Nice idea to include the owl singing along in the video 🙂

Dave.

Thanks Dave - appreciated. It was a very obliging owl!!

8 hours ago, Vash said:

Really amazing pictures. 

I live 20 minutes away from the Fen and regularly take the dog there for a walk (swim). It is really great to see a place I know well in a very different light, thank you. 

Fantastic! It’s a lovely place to go to. Thanks for your comments - very kind.

7 hours ago, Sp@ce_d said:

Love these.. been around that way when staying with friends down there 

 

Thanks very much - very kind.

 

3 hours ago, geoflewis said:

Fantastic images and video diary. How does that star glow filter work, I’ve never heard of that before?

Thanks Geof. The Starglow is a bit like a fog filter, and it applies a slight blur that makes the brighter stars pop and their colours come through a bit more. It’s similar to the effect from a sky with a thin layer of high citrus. It looks like a small pane of glass and I simply wave it in from of the lens when I take the images.

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On 26/01/2024 at 09:47, FenlandPaul said:

Last week during the cold snap I headed to Wicken Fen nature reserve in Cambridgeshire, a wildlife haven comprising a few hundred acres of unspoilt fenland.  It's a location I've shot from a few times before but I've never been wholly happy with the results.

I had the place to myself and so the evening was spent in the company of owls, the distant shriek of muntjacs and the occasional unidentified shuffle from the reedbeds.  It was a 50% moon, and its silvery glow sparkled on the droplets of frost that adorned the long wooden boardwalks and the fronds of the reeds that swayed gently in the breeze.  It was bitterly cold, but I was well wrapped up and I could simply enjoy the night.

My aim for the night was to capture some shots of Orion over the pretty old windpump - a feature of the Fen - and over one of the boardwalks that we'd scouted out earlier in the week.  With a relatively unambitious plan, I was able to spend the time to get some higher quality sky shots using the tracker and to use the h-alpha filter to bring out some of the lovely nebulosity in that part of the sky.

For those interested, I also made a video journal of the night, which you can find linked at the bottom.

Overall it was a really enjoyable night and I'm pleased with the images I made.  I wish I'd had the foresight to place myself in the scene in "Boardwalk to the Stars", to give it a human element; without that it seems possibly a little sterile.  That said, I was dressed up like the Michelin Man, so it may not have been as effective as I'd have liked!

Hope you enjoy, and always welcome feedback and suggestions. 😊

Guarding the Fen

20240118GuardingtheFen.thumb.jpg.0d204c14a5873edef8274f2ee56661c8.jpg

📷 Canon 6D (astro-modified) with Sigma Art 24mm f/1.4 lens
🔧 Foreground: single 6s exposure at f/3.2 and ISO 3200. Sky: 29x60s tracked exposures at f/5 and ISO800 (plus dark frames) and 14x300s tracked H-Alpha exposures at f/2.8 and ISO800.
🎞️ Stacked in Sequator. Edited and blended in PhotoShop and Starnet++

 

Paddle me to the Stars

20240118WickenBoatunderOrion.thumb.jpg.1cc41d3cbd79b90705e3141319b33774.jpg

📷 Canon 6D with Samyang 24mm f/1.4 lens
🔧 Foreground: single 30s exposure at f/4 and ISO 800. Sky: single 15 exposure at f/2.8 and ISO1600 (with starglow filter)
🎞️ Edited and blended in PhotoShop

Boardwalk under the Stars

20240118BoardwalktotheStars.thumb.jpg.c146b09f9e41d98c820fd71619cab6d2.jpg

📷 Canon 6D (astro-modified) with Sigma Art 24mm f/1.4 lens
🔧 Foreground: single 20s exposure at f/4 and ISO 1600. Sky: 29x60s tracked exposures at f/5 and ISO800 (plus dark frames) and 14x300s tracked H-Alpha exposures at f/2.8 and ISO800.
🎞️ Stacked in Sequator. Edited and blended in PhotoShop and Starnet++

The Plough, the Lion and the Wind Pump

20240118ThePloughtheLionandtheWindPump.thumb.jpg.432c6d0b2732cd2a009d2cf477b716e9.jpg

📷 Canon 6D with Samyang 24mm f/1.4 lens
🔧 Foreground: single 6s exposure at f/2.8 and ISO 3200. Sky: single 6 exposure at f/2.8 and ISO3200 (with Starglow filter)
🎞️ Edited and blended in PhotoShop

 

 

Excellent, thanks, the boat is my favourite. Also thanks for adding the exposure details, they may not work in all cases but it's useful to have a starting point.

I've subscribed to your YouTube channel so looking forward to catching up on the previous content as well.

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7 minutes ago, John_D said:

Excellent, thanks, the boat is my favourite. Also thanks for adding the exposure details, they may not work in all cases but it's useful to have a starting point.

I've subscribed to your YouTube channel so looking forward to catching up on the previous content as well.

Thanks John - appreciated. I should probably start adding the exposure details on the final images on my YT channel, but I’m not especially talented at the graphic overlays so it adds quite a bit of time at the moment. Hopefully that’ll change at some point!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you Paul for another wonderful trip out on your vlog. All the images are amazing but I especially like the boat shot with Orion and the wind pump centred with the night sky, simply brilliant.

I'm looking forward to milky-way core season soon, I'm anticipaing around very early April to start to try a pano arch image again. Though last year was up until end of May here. Will try flats this time (when I've perfected how to take them with this lens) to hopefully avoid join marks when stitching because of the vignette of the samyang 14mm f2.8. Thank you again for a wonderful vlog and teaching us how to get even better and more natural ways Widefield astrophotography

Lee 

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1 hour ago, AstroNebulee said:

Thank you Paul for another wonderful trip out on your vlog. All the images are amazing but I especially like the boat shot with Orion and the wind pump centred with the night sky, simply brilliant.

I'm looking forward to milky-way core season soon, I'm anticipaing around very early April to start to try a pano arch image again. Though last year was up until end of May here. Will try flats this time (when I've perfected how to take them with this lens) to hopefully avoid join marks when stitching because of the vignette of the samyang 14mm f2.8. Thank you again for a wonderful vlog and teaching us how to get even better and more natural ways Widefield astrophotography

Lee 

Really glad you enjoyed it, Lee. Very excited to see your arch pano - wishing you clear skies for that!! Hope you’re still enjoying that Samyang 14mm!

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7 hours ago, FenlandPaul said:

Really glad you enjoyed it, Lee. Very excited to see your arch pano - wishing you clear skies for that!! Hope you’re still enjoying that Samyang 14mm!

Thank you Paul. I am still enjoying using the samyang 14mm when I can, it's my most used lens now and my best dslr buy. 

Clear skies for the core season too and looking forward to seeing your images and vlogs. 

Lee 

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