URSA MAJOR - BEHIND THE LENS

Some photos grow on me, this is one of Ursa Major is one of them.  When I first took this shot I wasn’t that keen on it.  But the more I look at it the more I connect.  On the night this photo was taken it was freezing cold and I was exhausted from work.  Seeing the icy water and the seaweed covered rock pools reminds me of this and I’m instantly back there.  This time without the frozen toes.

I find photos with an obvious subject more easy to view initially.  Perhaps that’s why this one didn’t instantly hit me.  There’s no remarkable geological features or focal points and the rule of thirds has been completely ignored.  Sorry, I guess.

The lack of an obvious subject doesn’t stop me getting lost in the starry sky though.  Some shots are better kept simple.

THE WHAT, WHEN AND WHY?

I’d just bought my new camera and really wanted to get some astro shots on the go.  The weather was terrible though!  After a week of being eager to get out shooting there was a short break in the clouds scheduled.  Sweet!

I head down to the local beach and the tide is all the way out.  I find this rocky outcrop and go out as far as I can and set up.  The area around me is quite badly light polluted so every few meter out to sea counts.  Ursa Major is just about the only constellation that isn’t badly affected by light pollution so that’s where I aimed.  The light pollution that you can see is actually coming from an offshore wind farm on the right of the shot.  The pollution to the left is from some cargo boats.  In this photo I don’t think the light pollution is a bad thing.  It’s actually quite nice to look at when there’s not too much.      

THE CAMERA, THE SETTINGS?

This was shot on my second hand Nikon D800. I really love this camera.  It was so cheap compared to buying new and the conndition is great.  Big up to Wex for stocking top notch second hand cameras.

After a few test shots I settle on ISO 4000 and take a few photos for stacking to reduce noise.  I do the same with the foreground but with a longer exposure, wider aperture and lower ISO.  I think it was around ISO 2000 for this one.

Obviously shot on a tripod (my Grandpa’s old one that’s still going strong).      

I used to use remote triggers on my Nikon D5300 (they cost about £5 for a pack of two).  However, the equivalent for the D800 was way more!  So I’ve started using a cable release for these kinds of shots.  It cost about £10 and works just fine.

Like I said, this photo’s grown on me so I hope you like it too.  Let me know your thoughts (about the photo, not generally). 

All the best, Joe.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Danielle

    Hi, very nice website!

    1. Joe Vary
      Joe Vary

      Thanks a lot Danielle! Hope you enjoy the photos 😀

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