Archive for the 'star trails' Category

Into The Night

Been meaning to write this post for weeks now, but until the realism of its subject actually gathered pace I have been holding off a bit! After what seems like forever, countless emails badgering people etc,  I have finally managed to get an exhibition arranged at Font Bar, New Wakefield St. Manchester.

The Exhibition commences this Sunday, with an opening night 6-9 and the images will hang for 3months. These last couple of months have really amazed me and what I have been able to achieve once securing the venue. I have of course had lots of help from friends and family, without whom it wouldnt be possible.

On the opening night there will also be guest DJ spot by the very talented Mr Air Adam and hopefully PA permitting a very exclusive acoustic performance by Mutineers, who are close friends of mine and have photographed them on many occaisions.

So lots and lots of planning will finally come to fruition this Sunday, still much to be done and I am nervous as hell (!) but really looking forward to it. I set out with one key goal this year and that was to exhibit and finally I am about to achieve it, I cant wait. All are welcome so if you are nearby and interested enough to pop in, please do so, the pieces will hang as I say for 3months so if you cant make the opening dont worry. Also it would be great to get some feedback let me know what you thought, get in touch drop me a quick mail or a comment here or on facebook or my website.

Hopefully see you there! :-)

Exhibition Layout

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I have a dream

F7.1  / 36mins / ISO200 / 10mm

Ambient light apart from torch at the bottom of the steps (doh, although I quite like it!)

More of a re-con mission than a serious attempt at shooting, I have wanted to visit this monster statue for sometime now. After seeing it get the go-ahead on Channel 4’s “Big Art” program I immediately contacted St Helens council, who based on my previous night photography work have commissioned me to take some night photography of the statue. Last nights effort was just really to go have a look see what I was dealing with exactly with this 20m high statue, quite possibly the largest thing I have ever tried to capture seriously.

Watch this space for more ;-)

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There’s More, There’s More…

Bugsy PT2

Ok Ok so that was technically Jimmy Cricket not Bugs Bunny, I can imagine him saying it anyways I didgress on with the update…

The tail end of May saw me attend a a launch for a new Vodka Mixer from Schweppes, the interesting “Russhcian” – it does actually taste quite pleasant, yes I drank quite a few between grabbing people shots and taking incidentals at Ithaca Sushi Restuarant in Manchester. This rather plush venue offers the photographer some unique opportunities to capture great shots and interesting angles, I was facinated by the sparkly wallpaper and stairwell, that looked like some kind of nuclear spaceship engine bay, it also changes colours…

Schweppes Russchian Launch

Finishing things of in May, although chronologically slightly out of order, was a gig from Fulham based rapper Example, whos “We Didnt Invent The Remix” was introduced to me a year or so ago and made me laugh like an idiot. He had taken current and well known pop-songs and riffed over the top of them to humorous and devistating effect. Sadly not much of this material was on display as he went for newer more mainstream, yet still amusing up-beat material to stir the young croud who had gathered to see him. Mad me feel like a grand dad actually and you needed a wrist band to buy a drink at the bar to prove you were 18+ – I had a coke just to be on the safe side! ;-)

Moving into June, mid June in-fact, we headed way out west to Borth on the Welsh coast. A friend of a friend owns a house there that litterally opens onto the beach, albeit a stoney one (until the tide is out) we couldnt have asked for a nicer setting to get away from the smoke. Wont go mental with the pictures as there are a few good-uns and there were more than enough local features to exploit at night too!!

Whilst there the weather was extremly kind as you will see from the above shot of Ynyslas dunes, we spent a whole day chilling and playing boule here and can highly recomend it, IF you happen to be in the Aberystwyth area. The Sunsets back at Borth where we were staying were pretty epic too as you will see below, as always if you click on any of the shots it will take you to a whole load more on Flickr.

Wouldn’t be right if I didnt include some night photography, so have a butchers at these…

Whilst there I also had a dable at some more stop-motion video, best attempt to date, what do you reckon…?

Finally before I finish off this lil section best show you some lil strobism experiments I made whilst we were there; now normally whenever Gideon and I get our cameras out amongst friends, its not always audible but I am sure there is a little collective groaning, however add a few flash guns, some remote triggers and the tiniest bit of alcohol and it produces great results…

Bye for now ;-)

Hogging The Lime – Light!

After two trips now to this once thriving yet hidden piece of industry in the Derbyshire countryside, it has captured my imagination. Both times I saw and captured uniquely different scenes, primarily because I shot with different formats on both occasions.

The first outing to these former lime kilns all the shots were on 35mm colour film, on my trusty sidekick the Olympus OM10. The below shot by far the best of the handful of shots I took that evening and its fast becoming one of my favorite shots to date, the grass of course isn’t really red! That was achieved by flash gun gelled red and the interior of the old building lit with lime green (ironically)


Ever since I saw images of this place I have longed to come here at night, as the architecture is so strangely disproportionate to the original indented use. The buildings are a strange blend of super urbanistic future army base cum prison crossed with Myan / Inca temples from the far off rain forests of South America.

My second trip was admittedly more positive photography wise, not only cos we arrived pre darkness but I was accompanied by someone who knew where most of the sites buildings were situated, last time it was a case of follow ones nose in the darkness and see what we find which all be it was fun and I captured the above image, which I am extremely happy with, its pretty much always better to “be prepared” (eh scouts!) Anyway the following shots were taken on said second outing on a beautifully clear night…

Bridge of Cy (an) s

Bridge of Cy (an) s

Middle Thirds and sheep Turds!

Middle Thirds and Sheep Turds

Temple of Bloom

Temple of Bloom

Tonights Light Painting Was Bought To You By The Letter "A"

Tonight’s Light Painting Was bought to you by the Letter A

Under The Bridge

Under The Bridge

Coming Back To What You Know…

Ok so a couple of posts are long over due, so here goes. I’m glad to say I didn’t waste the long weekend bank holiday brought, as we headed off to the Lake District for the weekend. As soon as I shut up shop at work on Friday afternoon / evening it was straight up the motorway to the wonderful Wasdale Valley.

Friday evening was grotty to say the least but after arriving and pitching up once the drizzle had subsided we settled into the swing of things and food was soon underway. On the menu that evening was spaghetti bolognaise and dressed salad, prepared by top camp chef Gideon (pictures later). After eating and a glass or two of vino and several cans, spotting that the weather was on the turn for the better, we headed out for a spot of night shooting.

Have to say I wasn’t overly pleased with the shots I captured and wished I had brought along my film camera for our first foray into the darkness but hey ho. Here’s a couple of shots for you to judge…

By no means my best work but there you go, we live and learn. As we stumbled back to camp, quite literally at times, we got a little lost but soon managed to locate the sound of the river that runs along the back of the campsite and back to camp. After dumping gear and kinda cursing digital as it wasn’t really playing fair with me that evening; so I got out my trusty Olympus and left a shot going for twenty or so minutes of this cracking 2CV Special whilst we downed another beer and chatted into the small hours for a while.


Only lighting I used here was literally at the start of the exposure to focus, as it was knocking on a bit and didn’t want to arouse suspicion or disturb anyone, needless to say I was busting to know what it turned out like but had to wait over a week to see the results, I was pretty pleased when I finally did!

Saturday soon sauntered through the door and begun with a hearty breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs, black pudding, toms and mushrooms and the occasional fresh coffee. What more could one want to start the day and wipe the slate clean of the previous nights excursions! I had already pre-planned that we would walk to Kirk Fell circular and was most impressed when my girlfriend threw her hat into the ring for the challenge. Its not an overly strenuous trek for the experienced walker but the initial climb, I have decided is tough on anyone in any weather, particularly a smoker (me) and my girlfriend who is not a keen walker and had to take regular breaks. That said the rewards are great and the views spectacular. Gideon even manged to post a photo to flickr, as he stormed on ahead, via his iPhone.

That said this route pails in comparison to going straight up the nose of Kirk Fell, a route only attempted by idgits in my opinion.

Anyway once to the top of Beck Head which nestles between Kirk Fell and Great Gable (with routes up to both) after a short break and a sarnie we headed left up a craggy section that leads onto Kirk Fell. Once on top its a short haul across to the first (false) summit. I was deceived by this on my first trip up here, well actually my second but the story of my first trip up here is best reserved for friends! I digress, anyway the views from up here are stunning, with a completely different perspective of Gable…

Great Gable

After the initial yet forewarned slight disappointment of the false summit we headed over to the (real) summit which is nicely and very necessarily topped with a shelter, its very blustery and exposed up here. We stopped here for a quick (very smug) brew with the aid of the Pocket Rocket™ . This always proves invaluable and often has other walkers stomping off in green envy. As a friend and I once discovered when whipping up some curried Chinese noodles with fresh chilies and dried prawns up at Esk Hause shelter. Mmmmmmmm whats that lovely smell!

There was just time before we set off from the shelter for a quick shot, to celebrate my girlfriends first summit! From the summit and indeed all the way across Kirk Feel right from Beck Head to the crags at the back side are metal fence posts making it nye on impossible to get lost, again something else I wish I had known the very first time I came up here, unprepared and badly clothed. As you reach the far side of the Fell you are presented with what is probably one of my favorite descents. The initial clamber being about 5 or so feet vertical drop. I the cragy view from up here is pretty spectacular.

We all made it safely down (some slower than others) had a brief rest and then trudged off through Mosedale Valley in the direction of the pub, for a well earned beer / coke depending on your persuasion!

"I Did'nt Watch My Buddies Lay Face Down In The Mud For Nothing..."

Once back at camp, we had a wonderful BBQ of lamb burgers, sausages, potato salad, chorizo kebabs along with other culinary delights, prepared mainly by chef G and the misses, cos I was too busy p*ssing about taking photos apparently! However don’t worry I didn’t escape light handed and ended up doing the washing up all weekend and was chief brewer – upper!

Long exposure of the campsite, don’t know why I never thought of doing this before the blown out section above the tent to the left is the shower block, which shines brightly through the trees to guide weary campers and “crazy three peakers” back to their tents / cars throughout the night.  I love the torch lights that steam fro one side of the frame to the other. I think this was all we managed on the Saturday night as we over indulged on red wine round the barbie that evening and it was probably a wise move as (apparently) it rained most of the night but sadly I slept through it all :-)

There’s all Sunday to tell you about still but I think I’ll leave it for now as I have said / shown you more than enough for now, you can see “Britain’s Best Loved View” more light painting, including my first waterfall at night and more besides here

Summit and iphone accent photos by Gideon Foster

All Star “Line Up”

All Star Line Up!

All Star “Line Up”.

Stacking method used to create this shot, 1hour 12mins = 144shots (F5 / 30secs / ISO 100 12mm) 1dark frame and one frame exposed for the foreground, flashed several times natural flash. More details to post when its not 2:50am!


Ok am a bit more awake now, so here’s some more details…

I have to be fair that one of the first things that attracted me to night photography, was star trails. Its definitely one of the things that makes this field of photography so exciting and also exceptionally beautiful. Normally when I am out light painting, shots are taken in one exposure, one of the main reasons for this being that there are plenty of people out there who are ready to dismiss this form of photography as mere photoshop fakery, so anything that can be done to reduce the doubters and minimise the need for post processing is fine by mean. Besides this means less work for me ;-) Regardless of this most exposures are between 3 and 5mins, at very max 10, so any stars are a bonus and probably only tiny streaks. If I am looking to get some stars in the frame at the same time and even then this means an exposure of 25mins or so. The problem with this is the amount of time needed afterwards to noise reduce (usually the same as the length of exposure) and secondly lighting needs to be continually built up, to avoid fading or washed out colours.

So I was extremely pleased when I learned recently of a process called stacking, the best tutorial for this I have found was on a fellow photographers blog / site. Dan aka Liquid In Plastic has used this technique to great effect and a link to his very well explained tutorial can be found on the side of my page, under tutorials.

You should check out Dan’s work generlly as it is exceptional. The method he employs and indeed I did too, works a treat. I’m not gonna try to replicate his tutorial as I havent the patience and his explanation doesnt need adapting. The only thing i did differently was shoot RAW instead of JPEG as my 20D is a little old now and can get a touch noisey. Also I was shooting in a built up area with lots of nasty Orange Sodium Vapour lighting which can mean lots of light pollution, so wanted to be able to have some control over this.

Recent Exploits

Little write up about what I got up to over Bank Holiday, certainly not everyones cup of tea but what the hey the results are pretty good. We visited the following sites…

Former German work camp not far out side of Crewe. Very little info to be found on the net but as of June 16, 1945 the U.S. France and the U.K. held a combined total of 7,500,000 German POW’s and DEF’s. During the two World Wars many hundreds of Prisoners of war were lodged in Shropshire’s 18 POW camps. These were not all in occupation at the same time or during both wars. We had permission to shoot this site, so was a nice relaxed wander about.

Nissen Skyline

F7.1 / 25mins / ISO100 / 10mm

Grass, green gel flash multiple times from behind camera and to right of frame. 1st hut lit blue multiple times from inside, the same for the doorway and windows of the second, purple and yellow respectively. Each lighting type was repeated twice during the exposure to build up colour.


Next up was Doddington Castle, or Delves Hall, I believe its also known as. In a pretty shabby state.

“This fortified tower was built by Sir John Delves in 1364, on the site of a former moated manor house. The tower was initially free-standing and was probably intended as a place of refuge for the family. In the 17th century it was incorporated into a range of domestic buildings which were known as Doddington Hall.[3] In the Civil War the hall became a garrison for the parliamentary forces. It was taken for the king by Lord Byron in January 1644 but retaken shortly after.In 1727 the house and estate passed to the Broughton family. The house was demolished around 1777 and replaced by the new Doddington Hall, leaving the tower as a landscape feature which was possibly used as a gazebo or a banqueting pavilion. The external staircase to the former house was retained when the house was demolished and it was attached to the tower.” From Wikipedia

Doddington Castle

F7.1 / 11mins / ISO100 / 10mm

Not a long enough exposure, when we arrived the stars were everywhere so I slapped on my battery back and was gonna do a mega long trail, sadly it wasnt to be as not long after I’d set it going it soon clouded over again! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!


Following this was a nearby ramshackle house, owned by former quarry magnate Jim Barry, here again have struggled to find out anything concrete about the place. The house is a strange one and the first of two we would visit tonight where the house is separated into two and without leaving the house its only possible to get from one side to the other by going upstairs, not advisable I would say as there are bowing ceilings and at one stage a clear view right in the attic from the ground floor. Access to the actual house is tricky as most of the entrances have had huge piles of earth shoveled up in front of the doorways, so much so that at the front of the building it would be possible to gain access by a first floor bedroom window. Despite going in and having a mooch about couldn’t be arsed lugging camera in and gear in take shots so here’s a few exterior shots…

Green Meanie

Green Meanie

F5.6 / 3.5Mins/ ISO100 / 16mm

Garage exterior lit from behind camera and to right with green gelled flash, interior lit by orange gelled flash, both fired multiple times during the exposure. Red tyres lit by Rachel, playing with flash triggers, nothing like free lighting, with out have to fire a flash ;-) Moon to rear of garage…


Jims Garage

Jim's Garage

F5.5 / 5Mins / ISO100 / 10mm

Composition is poor but the colours are nice and the painting was tricky with three light painters. Each of three former garages at Jim Barry’s house were full of deep thistles, nettles, brambles and the odd tire thrown in for good measure, guaranteed to trip you up kinda stuff. Couple of minutes into the exposure and in position after Nocturne, as he put it, took one for the team, finally being the person to trip over, a chair of all things, we began to light the garages. Th3g lighting the red  then runs out of batteries and only begins lighting his end after Nocturne and I have stumbled back out of the hellish undergrowth this end.

Blue – (Myself) Fired multiple times, at ceiling and wall.
Green – (Nocturne) Same I presume!
Red  – (Th3g) A little late but as above.


Finally on the list tonight was another abandoned house, with the same strange quirk as the last, that one side was on accessible from the other via the first floor, agin not a great idea as I nearly found out later! This was a bit of a strange place this, what with [b]This is hell[/b] written above the fireplace, birds, bats, doors shutting, huge gaping holes in the upper floors, shotgun cartridges litter the floor, topped off by an eerie breeze drifting gently through the rooms. There were a few more shots I would have like to tried here but Sunday was rapidly turning into Monday and we had already lost three of our party to tiredness and we’re ready to call it a night after this.

Now Who Would Live In A House Like This?

Now Who Would Live In A House Like This?

F5.6 / 1min20secs / ISO100 / 10mm

Fireplace lit by two tea tree lights, left hand window lit multiple times with red gelled flash after negotiating, yet more holes, brambles, nettles etc for the second time this evening. Not amazingly lit but like the sinister feel to it.

Down The Dark Dark Steps In The Dark Dark House...

Down The Dark Dark Steps In The Dark Dark House...

F6.3 / 1min 25secs / ISO100 / 10mm

Accidental shot this really, I had tried lighting the stairs with tea tree lights and strobing the stairs from the landing, but that was well overexposed so thought I’d have one more pop, without candles before we left. I was supposed to be shooting with a green gelled flash but when I got to the landing for the second time I had picked up a naff steel blue gel and I may as well have been shining a high powered spotlight down the stairs. I got fed up and a lil freaked, as behind the box on the landing (old boiler I think) was one of several large holes in the floor. So coming down the stairs in the pitch black, I fired the flash a couple of times so I could see where the hell I was going.

Heading back to the car, even the two cans of Relentless I consumed during the evening were struggling to keep me awake and it was a hard trudge back to the car, through long grass. Finally reached home at around 6am or so. All in all an enjoyable little jaunt with some sites definitely worth further inspection and investigation. my profile


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