Posts Tagged 'stars'

Star Stack

Just a quick blog post while we’re checked in here at Sault Ste Marie – this is what I got after stacking all 116 of the shots from last night :)

Star Photography ©Shireen Nadir 2012

North Ontario Road Trip – Day 1, Manitoulin Island

Manitoulin Island ©Shireen Nadir 2012

Well, actually Day 1 was Tobermory, but we arrived so late at night and left so early that we really didn’t get to see much. This morning we drove down to the ferry docks to catch the Chichiman Ferry to South Baymouth. It was a great ride – bumpy and queasy and we both fell asleep :)

Manitoulin Island ©Shireen Nadir 2012

Manitoulin island is gorgeous, and fall is in full swing here. The colours are out of this world. Even with the on/off rain we got some amazing shots in. We drove around, visiting Bridal Veil Falls and the towns of Gore Bay, Mindemoya, and Little Current.

Manitoulin Island ©Shireen Nadir 2012

Tonight we drove out and sat in the cold for 2 hours testing out the new timed shutter release I bought for the camera. The release let me take a photo every 45 seconds, after which I strung them together, and finally purchased the video upgrade for my blog so my first video is at the end of the post!

What I find the most fascinating is not only getting to watch our movement through the Milky Way, but the change in the sky colour and brightness that occurred as the moon rose – proving what a huge difference moonlight makes to your camera settings. We can’t wait to try this out with (hopefully) northern lights!

Manitoulin Island ©Shireen Nadir 2012

Manitoulin Island ©Shireen Nadir 2012

You can bet I’m collecting leaves for jewellery :)Manitoulin Island ©Shireen Nadir 2012Manitoulin Island ©Shireen Nadir 2012Manitoulin Island ©Shireen Nadir 2012Manitoulin Island ©Shireen Nadir 2012Manitoulin Island ©Shireen Nadir 2012

And now – the video!

Photo-Take-Outter Friday #4 – Star photography

Star photography and northern light hunting is a favourite hobby of ours. I love long exposure shots (and that feeling when you hold your breath and wait to see what the photo will look like). Here are a few of my favourite images, and what I did to get them:

To avoid repetition: all of these photos are taken using a Canon 7D, tripod mounted and using a remote release to make sure

  • that I didn’t move the camera at all, even just to press the shutter button, and
  • that I had the ability to lock the shutter down for extended periods

Nobel, Ontario – just north of Parry Sound.

Star Photography Tips

This shot got me freshly pressed – thanks wordpress! I lied earlier about all of them using tripods – believe it or not this was dashboard mounted instead. By mounted I mean propped up using mittens and knitting. It was so windy that I didn’t think the camera could be still long enough, and yes, I am shooting through the windshield.

  • Exposure time: 20 minutes
  • ISO: I’m using an ISO of 100 – anything higher and the shot would have blown out over such a long period.
  • Lens: Tokina 12-24, f4.0 wide angle
  • f-stop: Wide open baby! As it should always be for long exposure star shots. On my lens this meant f4.0
  • White Balance: Set to auto – there was a slight glow on the horizon from aurora and I didn’t want to compromise that.
  • Camera Mode: BULB. Bulb means that the shutter is open as long as you have your finger on the shutter button, or as long as you have your remote locked. On other models you go to MANUAL and roll right on past the 30 second shutter mark, the next increment will just say ‘bulb’.
  • Post Production: Almost none – the stars were so clear already, and there was no noise thanks to the 100 ISO. I used a high pass filter just to pop the stars a bit more and that was it.

Tobermory, Ontario

Star Photography Tips

For this shot I had the luxury of being in a beautiful B&B living room with a huge picture window facing west. The camera is on a tripod and shooting through glass. When you shoot through glass always make sure nothing on your camera is causing a reflection – in this case I had to use a toque to cover up the red shutter lamp on the back.

  • Exposure time: 20 minutes
  • ISO: I’m using an ISO of 100 – anything higher and the shot would have blown out over such a long period.
  • Lens: Tokina 12-24, f4.0 wide angle
  • f-stop: I squeezed it down to f6.0 for this one, because I knew I was going for a long exposure and I didn’t want the shot to overexpose.
  • White Balance: Set to tungsten. I was trying to compromise for the lights of a house near me and the result was this gorgeous blue.
  • Camera Mode: BULB.
  • Post Production: None. I was absolutely delighted when I saw the shot :)

Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

tips on star photography

This shot is a 3 photo vertical stitch of the Milky Way. It was beautifully clear that night and I had to get as much into one photo as I could. This was taken from the grounds of Fort Anne.

  • Exposure time: 3 shots at 20 seconds each. Because I was stitching afterwards I didn’t want the stars to ‘streak’.
  • ISO: 500 – I needed to get them as bright as I could without needing a really long shutter
  • Lens: Canon 24mm f2.8 prime
  • f-stop: f2.8, again because they were such short shots.
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Camera Mode: Manual
  • Post Production: 3 photo vertical stitch (no tricks needed for the stitch, photoshops default was perfect) Noise reduction was also needed because of the ISO 500.

Hopefully that was useful to aspiring star photographers out there – if you take your own star pics and feel like sharing I’d love to see them :)

The Hunt for Winter

This is the winter that wasn’t. At least, here in TO it wasn’t. We’re not used to this total lack of winter and last weekend Tito and I drove out in search of ice and snow because, dammit, we miss it. We ended up heading north into Parry Sound – as a bonus the northern lights made a surprise appearance!

We passed a frozen lake covered in skidoo tracks. It reminded me of a cute story my dad told me about coming to Canada in 1972. He had worked in India as a motorcycle repairman, so when he moved to Ottawa he looked for the same kind of work. Finally he got his first job in Canada. He showed up on his first day and they took him to his first job and it was … a skidoo. He stared blankly at it for a few minutes before looking at his boss and saying “What the %@!* is that?”. The story always makes me laugh :)

What a great day for a road trip, the sky was that endless sort of blue that you feel you could fall up into.

At blue hour I took this shot – the 2 bright things in the sky are Venus (the lower one) and Jupiter.

We went northern light hunting at night without much hope of success – but then there they were. I remind myself that sometimes the shot you want happens when you least expect it. They were faint, true, and visible to the camera more than to our eyes, but they were there. This was a 15 minute long exposure.

This was a 20 minute long exposure, and yes we were cold ;) but it was worth it. The angle of everything was so perfect, I was able to get the tilt of the stars and the northern light glow into one shot. Reason enough to stand freezing out in the middle of the night. At least for crazy people. And photographers.

Then we did some star photography. Did I say we? My bad, I meant I. Tito, being more practical than me, was staying warm in the car ;)

What a perfect, clear night it was! This was all done just off the 400, north of a small town called Nobel, on a side road. The night sky was just stunning.

Thank you Tito – for doing all the driving and getting me out of town when I really needed it :) The star photography was just the icing on a really great day !

Does it count if you didn’t see it yourself?

I just got back from the east coast and I think I’ve taken some of my best photos ever. I’ve shot Canada coast to coast, and though the mountains in the west coast are lovely, give me the maritime provinces any day; the warmth of the people and the beauty of the landscape are incomparable.

Without further ado here is the first of a few posts on my trip. On this post I’d like to get opinions on a photo I think is of the northern lights. I was shooting the milky way from Annapolis Royal at night when I decided to take a shot due north and this is what showed up in the camera….

Reasons for believing these are northern lights:

  • It was late September
  • It was midnight
  • It was totally clear out
  • Recent solar activity
  • The other side of that ridge contains only small fishing communities, nothing that could produce that kind of glow.
  • It looks like them.
Reasons to be not so sure:
  • I couldn’t see them myself – the camera at it’s highest sensitivity picked it up
  • Annapolis Royal is not known for frequent sightings
  • I’d hate to believe I’d accidentally stumbled onto my life goal.
  • It just doesn’t seem fair.
The next night I went out and shot the same pic, same time, same settings and the lights weren’t there. To me this kind of confirmed it, I feel like if they were there 2 nights in a row I might need to look for some other explanation.
So I’m curious – what do you guys think? Feel free to post a comment or send an email my way :) This doesn’t change my plans to drive to North Ontario this winter – to me it doesn’t count if I didn’t see them!
Before I sign off here are the photos I was trying to take when I stumbled onto my nemesis – the milky way was especially lovely that night :)
This one was taken off the end of the Annapolis Wharf.
And this one was taken from Fort Ann – most pics coming soon!

Ice and Stars on the Bruce Peninsula

This past weekend Tito and I drove up to the Bruce for a quick city getaway. We stayed at the Round House – an absolutely beautiful B&B in Tobermory. The lady was really sweet, the living room was huge and had beautiful picture windows that faced the lake – we couldn’t have asked for better! We loved it so much we booked another weekend right away – we’re going back for Tito’s birthday.

Tobermory and the surrounding area are beautiful in winter – the trails are pretty much empty, everything is frozen over and there are some spectacular photos to be taken – Here are a few of my favourites!

On the Cyprus Lake hiking trail.

Cyprus Lake

This is the area known as the Grotto. It’s a popular spot in the summer time, and starkly beautiful in the winter. Pictures don’t convey this, but the water was icy and the waves were huge. The result of all that spray hitting the area had created a beautiful coat of ice on every surface.

Tito in front of some trees that show the effect of the surf. One side is totally covered in ice, the other side is normal.

The Grotto itself

I couldn’t get enough of these ice formations…

Georgian Bay

Of course, long drives are also solid knitting time; I made excellent progress on my first sweater…

And I just had to include two more – Tobermory is a dark sky reserve. We took many stunning star shots, but these are my favourites;

In this shot you can almost really see the Milky Way…

But this shot was my favourite. Taken in complete darkness, out the B&B window, with a 45 minute long shutter. It looks like an evening shot filled with shooting stars.

Lunar Eclipse 2010

First blog post in a while! I’d like to say I’ve been taking a break since the show and PATH are now done, but I’ve actually been madly crafting everyone’s Christmas gifts. I can’t blog about any of my finished objects because I don’t want to ruin any surprises! At least I’ve got plenty of blogging material for the New Year ;o)

We did take time out last night to shoot the Lunar Eclipse. This one was special – the timing of the eclipse coincided with our winter solstice – the longest night of the year. While it made no difference in the actual appearance of the moon it’s been almost 400 years since this happened, so I thought that was pretty neat. We shot from about 1:30 til about 4:30. We’re totally exhausted at work today of course, but it’s worth it!

Lunar Eclipse 2010It’s hard to tell but there are some stars visible in this one. This is just before the moon went fully red.

Lunar Eclipse 2010This was taken zoomed in as far as I could go – on a really cheap 100-300mm lens that I got a few years back from the used section at Henry’s. We don’t use this lens often, but it really came in handy last night!

Lunar Eclipse 2010I love this shot; this was a series of timed exposures from a stationary tripod that I later combined into one image. Not only can we see the progression of the eclipse itself, but also the movement of the moon across the night sky.

Lunar Eclipse 2010

This was another timed series of exposures, taken while the moon was fully red. I love how other-worldly it looks; reminded me of Mars.

Being tuckered out won’t stop us from freezing our toes off again tonight – it’s the annual Festival of lights in Kensington Market – to celebrate the longest night of the year. We’ll be out there shooting, more pics to come tomorrow!


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