A NIGHT AT THE BEACH - BEHIND THE LENS

This isn’t the star trails photo that I set out to take.  Fortunately I made a mistake with the tide times which meant I couldn’t shoot where I’d intended.  This is the result.  Although I normally prefer the natural landscapes with cool geological features, I like this a lot.

I think that the bright colours of the first beach hut go well with the blue/purple tint of the light polluted sky.  The wind turbines out to sea also fill in the right third of the photo nicely.

What I like most about this photo is that the location, which is crowded by beach goers on a summers day is completely abandoned on a cold spring night.  No matter who goes here, the stars continue to fly by.

THE WHAT, WHEN AND WHY?

I’d actually intended to walk along the beach to a point where there had been a rock fall.  But as you can see, the tide is all the way in.  My mistake getting a.m and p.m mixed up.  I stand there with Amy for a little while thinking where we can go.  There’s a lot of light pollution in Thanet so options are limited.  We eventually decide that these beach huts look pretty cool!

I do a few test shots and although the light pollution by the cliffs is pretty bad, it’s workable for star trails.  

THE CAMERA, THE SETTINGS?

I always take my Nikon D800 out for astrophotography.  It’s so good and I love using it with my grandad’s old tripod.  The lens is my only wide angle astrophotography lens… a Samyang 14mm (cheap but good).

I set the camera up and take a few test shots to get the composition right.  After setting the focus I take a long exposure of the foreground.  The long exposure noise reduction setting on the camera takes a second exposure straight after the first one but doesn’t raise the shutter.  This captures nothing but noise which is then subtracted (in camera) from the first exposure.  It’s a pretty effective way of reducing noise on long exposures.  Of course this can be done when editing to; just depends on your preferences.  I’ll do a blog post on noise reduction at some point.

For the sky, I took a whole load of photos one after the other for just under an hour.  You can potentially keep photographing until the end of astronomical twilight.  However, you get longer trails the further away from the North Star you aim, and I think they look long enough in this shot.   

Anyway, even though it’s not my usual style of shot, I do like this one.  I hope that you do to and I want to hear what you think.  Be sure to let me know your thoughts. 

All the best, Joe.

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