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Flimston Chapel Star Trails

February 20, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

St Govans, Star Trail, PembrokeshireSt Govans, Star Trail, Pembrokeshire

 

Flimston Chapel is a mediaeval chapel set in the middle of Castlemartin ranges, Pembrokeshire.  Is is accessible at weekends and is still a working place of worship.  So....what was i doing there? - shooting with Challenger 2 tanks, great fun but that's a different blog!

 

The ranges provide a great dark sky park (when looking SW) and I would imagine that the Milky Way is pretty good when visible from late spring.  The location provides various vantage points, I took this shot from inside the chapel grounds with a wide angle lens.  It was a beautifully clear night with no moon so the only ambient light was from an oil refinery in the north about 5 miles away.

 

After setting up in low light with a sturdy tripod and playing around with the shot angle i settled on the shot above - 1 min @ F2.8 with a 1 second interval over 78 minutes (using a Pixel wireless intervalometer).  The key here really is to prepare early and then come back to it.  Image stabilisation and AF were both switched off and i used Live View to manually focus.

 

Post processing was fairly straightforward, I loaded all the shots in RAW and made global adjustments, I then used an automated batch program to layer them all together.  Saturation and contrast were adjusted and then I added some selective sharpening, finally saving as a large JPEG.

 

Night shooting is great fun but requires practice and patience.  Here's a few tips:

  • Everything takes longer in the dark.  Get to know all of the controls on your camera.  This will save ruining your night vision with white light.  Likewise know how to use your tripod.
  • No matter what time of year, you will be exposed to the elements.  Consider taking some warm clothing (even in the summer) as you will be waiting around for a while.  A flask of tea is a god send, but if like me you enjoy the outdoors, take a jetboil or cooker and make it fresh!
  • Preparation is everything.  Ensure your batteries are fully charged and take some spares.  Memory card will fill quickly so make sure you have formatted them.

I really enjoyed this shoot, although it was a bit creepy being there by myself (too many horror films seen I think!)  I really recommend giving it a try though.

 

Matt

 


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