It is not every day (or night) that you see the Milky Way erupting from the ground with an explosion of stars, dust and gas in to space! Well that’s what this photograph looks like.
Here the red earth of Kalbarri National Park with a peak resembling a Volcano and the Milky Way to finish it off as if to be the smoke and ash plume extending from the Volcano 🙂 Well, if use your imagination!
This popular photograph featured as a 30″ x 20″ photographic print in the Earth, Above and Beyond exhibition in December 2013, and in the AstroFest 2013 exhibition (later to be sold at charity auction).
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.