Flailing In The Dark On A Clear Night. November 11, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
Tags: Canon intervalometer, light painting, night photography, star shots
Tonight’s cold, crisp air was a harbinger of things to come. Winter in these parts really clears the air, if you know what I mean – low humidity, less smog and so on.
Expecting a fine display of stars, I headed up to Windsor, a hill-town half an hour south of here, to a high meadow which has given me some of my more memorable photos.
My intention was to take a few shots of the starry night, then try out an intervalometer I’d purchased back when I was employed (yeah, that far back.) I was committed to sitting around for perhaps three hours while my camera dutifully snapped several hundred long-exposure shots of moving stars, which I would then stack into a night-time landscape of star trails with (I’d hoped) something of interest in the foreground so you-all wouldn’t fall asleep on me.
I’m sure you see where this is going.
I parked not far off the road in a grassy field, just far enough to be out of direct sight of passing cars – I was hoping not to be interrupted half-way through a three hour exposure by the incoming lights of concerned police. Then, with what I hoped would be all I needed for the night’s activities, I headed out across the broad hill to a barn which I knew to be just over the horizon.
The star shots were something I’d done before and, predictably, came out as viewable photos, though the barn presented unforseen challenges. With visible sides facing both west and south, and some important points being considerably farther away than others, it complicated the light-painting beyond what I was really ready for. I spent the thirty-second exposures running around like a mad fool, lighting the barn with varying intensities of light as their distance from the camera necessitated, and came up with this:
…which is, sadly, the best of a half-dozen shots I took, and soooo far off the mark that I’m reluctant to share it.
Oh, but wait, that’s the good news – the bad news is that my star-trail photos never happened. I’d planned to spend two or three hours compiling one-minute exposures to be assembled into beautiful circular star trails, but when I set the process in motion I sat and listened to the camera’s mechanisms of shutter and mirror, and didn’t at all like what I heard. Where I expected minute-long silent captures punctuated by clunky one second turn-arounds, I was hearing shutter action alternately at thirty second and one minute intervals. Clearly, this wasn’t going as planned, so I stopped the process and packed the whole mess back to the car. Seems like the learning curve is steeper and twistier than I’d prepped for.
That’s OK, though- nothing worth achieving comes easily, and I don’t mind doing a whole lot more research and going back there better armed. I suspect the primary problem is in my camera settings, as my intervalometer has many less parameters to set and get right.