Natures Window (Kalbarri, Western Australia)
Natures Window wth the Milky Way astrophotography
Back in August 2016 I had family holiday up in sunny Kalbarri and managed to get out to do astrophotography on one night. Natures Window has long been on my target list but it has it’s challenges! So many challenges that I’ve been sitting on the images and processing them on and off over the last 3 months, still struggling with most.
If you think of doing astrophotography at Natures Window take precautions!
- There is no mobile reception
- It is VERY dark
- There are steep cliffs surrounding the window
- It is easy to trip on the undulating rock in the dark
- It’s quite a drive inland, some of it un-surfaced and bumpy, which you need to take carefully due to the abundant wildlife that can jump out in front of your car
To manage the risks I had my Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) with me, had a set time my family was expecting me home and used white light whenever moving around the rock feature near the cliffs, to easily see what was in front of me (I find red light can easily hide detail, especially hen the ground is red!).
Natures Window is difficult to photograph for astrophotography. The primary reason is that you cannot get away from it! Once near it, the cliffs drop away on either side after a short distance. This leaves you with limited framing opportunities and the need for a very wide angle lens.
I have many more photographs of it to process, but they are taking some time! Maybe another 3 months 🙂
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.