You can see from left to right: Pleaides star cluster, Constellation of Orion with the Great Orion Nebula, Sirius the brightest star in the sky (alsocalled the Dog Star due to it’s location in Canis Minor and the Large Magellanic Cloud (the light coloured cloud thing!). Distant light domes/colours on the sky are caused by Kellerberrin (centre-left), Tammin (right) and green airglow. My friend Dave is using his telescope in the foreground.
As you can see the night was partly cloudy. What you can’t see is the ominous cloud appearing on the left of frame was a small storm cell with a few flashes of lightning and rumble it decided to unleash while directly above us!
I love the open spaces and peaceful nature of the Wheatbelt, so I really like this photograph combining so many elements.
As I look at this image more over the days since having finished it I’m drawn more and more to it’s dreamy look – the mix of wind swept bushes almost as if blurred through time and distance as the Milky Way bends towards the horizon, and the pathway leading to Venus from the one sharp piece of foreground bushes forming a link to the physical landscape.
Technically: This nightscape photograph shows Venus under the central bulge of the Milky Way as it sets in the west. The path in the foreground heads out to the Red Bluff lookout at Kalbarri, Western Australia. I like the little touch of the grass which is in focus right near the camera. The more distant grass is blown by wind during the exposures.
Prints are available upon request (rolled, canvas, acrylic).
I have been working on-and-off with several shots like this, both individual and panoramics much larger than this one, trying to find the right balance between the extreme natural reds and browns of the Kalbarri gorges and the night sky. Of course there in person with no torch or other light you see a darker scene than this. But as an artist I am trying to bring the different elements of the landscape together, the beautiful dark night sky and the amazing vibrant layers of sandstone, and attempting to end up with an attractive balance. I may yet revisit this one as I continue with other images from the 4 nights at Kalbarri.
Shown are the Small Magellanic Cloud (left) with the Milky Way extending from horizon to top right. The Southern Cross and Pointers are visible not far from the horizon in the Milky Way. Antares is the bright red/yellow star near the top right corner surrounded by a little pink nebulosity. Saturn is at the bottom right, almost directly below Antares and appears fainter than Antares and the Pointers.
This nightscape was taken in the Kalbarri National Park. The foreground is illuminated using flashes with specifically chosen gel filters to best approximate daylight colours, giving you this great combination of the gorge and the night sky.
Standing here in the dead of night at the top of 100m cliffs, with large waves pounding the coastline and strong gust 60km/hour winds, a ghostly feel is given to the “Shipwreck Coast” of the Kalbarri National Park. Being there in person it is easy to imagine the horror of coming to grief on this coast some 200 years ago, in the dark of night. Now the light pollution of Kalbarri gives some sense of civilisation, but then there would have been nothing but the daunting cliffs.
This night was plagued by very strong winds, preventing me from photographing at some of the other gorges. Where I did capture successful astro photo’s I was solidly pushing down on the tripod with a steady stance for the duration of all exposures. Certainly the strongest winds I have attempted astrophotography in! The loud pounding of large waves below the cliffs was really something else.
The cliffs are illuminated largely by starlight. The light pollution of Kalbarri visible above the cliffs would have been having little impact on the cliffs in the foreground. I was surprised after 30 minutes of eyes adapting, how much of the waves and coastline was subtly visible on this moonless night.
It had been over 10 years since I last visited Kalbarri (mid-west Western Australia). Before that my family had regularly holidayed there during my childhood and teenage years. Returning now with astrophotography capabilities the 4 nights I was in Kalbarri was a bonanza for both daytime landscape photography and night astrophotography.
It was disappointing to discover in the time since last at Kalbarri urban sprawl has occurred including the introduction of many new streetlights in new housing developments, streetlights often on completely vacant streets (no houses, and obviously been that way for some time). Street lights which don’t point all the light down at the ground. Such a waste of electricity, money, and the town’s night sky which otherwise could have remained a tourist attraction. As a result it was hard to exclude light pollution from photographs at many of the gorges.
This photograph shows Venus setting over the ocean from the cliffs of Pot Alley on the 6th September 2013. Pot Alley is one of the many coastal gorges of the Kalbarri National Park. The red/yellow colours of the cliff are quite striking, lit in the foreground. This is the first of many astro photo’s I captured over a 4 night stay.
Below is a photograph showing the similar area and me during a sunset photography trip there earlier in the afternoon (photograph courtesy of my wife).
CAUTION – “DO NOT DO THIS AT HOME”! I advise against doing night photography in the gorges without proper precautions such as: Having someone else with you, other people knowing where you are, having long lasting and bright torches/lights and taking extreme care. The gorges are without doubt dangerous places especially at night, it is easier to slip at night on the dusty slopes and wobbly rocks, easy in the dark to become temporarily disorientated potentially losing your way, not see a freak wave approaching, and not realising how close you are to a cliff. The wind is also unpredictable and often strong.
Finally, here is one of many sunset photographs from the Pot Alley area: