Attempts at Night Sky Photography

Fuji X-E1 Samyang 12mm 30 seconds F/2 ISO 1250 outside of Watton

Photographing the night sky has been another type of photography I have been wanting to try for sometime as I enjoy learning new skills and pictures of the night sky can be quite interesting and have a wow factor.

I suspect because images of the night are more difficult to photograph in terms of being up later and patience make them not as common and therefore they get noticed more than say landscapes.  

A previous attempt using Nikon D7100 using 18-105mm F/3.5 25 Seconds ISO 3200

Like with anything it takes time to learn a new skill. While its still photography, photographing the stars requires a different approach to other genres of photography in terms of different equipment and techniques which I am still learning and acquiring more specialised equipment. 

I own two camera systems, Nikon D7100 and a Fuji X-E1 and are now a few years old and been succeeded by at least one model and they are not the latest and best equipment.

The lenses I own are not the most expensive pieces of equipment that can easily be many £1000's, thankfully I like to research my options and with looking at tutorials and reviews on equipment to see whats available at all price points.

Thankfully a lens available for the Fuji was on sale at WEX photographic secondhand department a was a Samyang 12mm f2.0 selling for £140 which I thought was a bargain being half the price of a brand new one and knew that I wanted it especially at that price making it remotely affordable. From my limited time of using the lens I have been very happy with the results when taking images of the stars and general landscape images I have taken so far.  

The general philosophy of taking images of the stars is that wider and "faster" the lens is the better. Using the 500 rule the maximum time the shutter should be open for is about 27 seconds before the stars start to blur. The image at the top was taken with an exposure time of 30 seconds but if you look closely enough the stars are starting to blur a little and next time I will try 25 seconds to eliminate this flaw. 

To work out the maximum shutter speed you divide the lens focal length by 500. The Fuji is whats called a crop sensor with a modifier of x1.5. The 12mm lens on the Fuji is actually 18mm (12x1.5=18) so 18 / 500 is 27.777.... or 25 seconds to play it safe. The micro 4/3rds have a crop factor or x2.

I am currently obsessed with this type of photography and hope to take many more if there are any clear nights which is the difficult part and also the moon.

The Yellow Star of Bethlehem

During the last week I have been spending time in Wayland Wood as it has started to wake up from winter. 

I have been focusing too much on bluebells which isn't a bad thing but it would be too easy to miss other beautiful flowers that are currently in bloom such as The Yellow Star of Bethlehem which was pointed being a rare plant and only appears in a small number of locations in the UK and Wayland Wood is one of those places.

Macro photography to me is very rewarding as I find a sense of achievement when I can capture something beautiful that you would otherwise not even notice.

Using a Nikon D7100 with a Sigma 105mm lens I was sitting down on a bin bag and using a tripod to get a rough position. With the wind and the size of the flower being not much bigger than a 5p coin taking a picture that was usable was very difficult. I carry a small water bottle to create water droplets on flowers to create a more interesting picture.

I often see small insects around flowers which I find fascinating and fun to watch and getting any detail from them is even more of a challenge.

As spring is well on its way im sure many more will popup on here, so please visit often to see the results.

Printing Update & Weekend Activities

Printing Update

Last week I posted this comment on Facebook which made me a little stupid, picture frame sizes and aspect ratios have always confused me.

I dont understand why its difficult to find frames that fit the standard image ratio of 3:2 like 12x8 / 15x10 / 18x12 / 30x20.
This is important because I try and produce print that people can easily find frames for but the ones commonly found in shops are for 8x10 / 12 x 9 / 20 x 16.

Most cameras will take pictures in a 3:2 ratio which are not common picture frame sizes. This can be an issue because for an image to fit a frame you need loose some of the picture by cropping it into a suitable size. This may not always be appropriate  as you may loose a key bits of an image.

A way around this issue is to mount the picture. I have been purchasing mounts from picturemountsonline  which produce a good quality products with a good service.

I made the assumption that because my prints of 12 x 8 was non standard the mount of 16 x 12 was also non standard. This turned out to be incorrect. When looking at the purchase options for the mounts you can purchase 16 x 12 that is produced to fit pictures sized 12 x 8, 14 x 10 & A4 and 16 x 12 picture frames are readily available.

I am currently awaiting my recent order from Photobox to see if I can recreate the mounting look without actually mounting the image by including a border with the view of selling them online directly sent by the printer. 

Wayland Gallery Spring Exhibition

28th March saw the start of The Wayland Gallery Spring Exhibition where 17 Artists in Norfolk showcase their artwork over the next few weeks. I went along to take pictures of the event which was great fun.

Carleton House

Carleton House is a care home for the disabled just outside of Norwich where the Facebook group Norfolk Countryside Photos arranged to meetup. The weather forecast for the day was to be very wet and I almost didn't go. Although it was a little wet I had a good time and the photographic opportunities were unexpectedly good. The rain began on the way home where is some places the visibility was reduced to zero.