Last night Äsperöd had clear skies with a distant Aurora forecast so I headed up the hill after it eventually got dark. I was looking for a band of green on the northern horizon that merges into pinks and purples before the black of the night sky above. Uddevalla city lights put paid to seeing anything low on the horizon but I did manage to capture the soft pinks and purples.
It’s been exciting this past couple of weeks seeing everything start to take shape. There will be 19 large format photographs for sale either as limited edition prints or as digital images at reduced size and resolution. A further 20 images from Symmetry in Nature will also be for sale in digital format along with the remaining six copies of the limited edition print run of the book.
I compiled two mosaics of all of the images that will be on view at the exhibition so it’s easy to see what’s on offer.
Symmetry in Nature
The pictures have been printed and the framing has started. Here’s the first two images that were waiting to be collected yesterday from Classic Framers in Grahamstown.
Night photography allows me to make some unusual images. I lit the forest path below Dassie Krantz with three lights and, by chance, there appeared a blue phosphorescent effect on the thorn tree. Mirroring then gave me this lovely blue portal.
Forest path at night
Further along the path you have to bend double to get through a really dense tangle of creepers. It took me an hour of experimenting to get this picture. Placing the lights was very tricky and I did a lot of crawling under the creepers!
Tangle of creepers
I did the usual mirroring to get a richly textured, dramatic image but then I realized that duplicating and offsetting it would give an endless weaving pattern. I was surprised and very pleased with the result.
Images taken at low light have always been one of my passions but lately I have been able to take much better images at night. A new camera and lens have helped! So I’ve been taking milky way pictures and star trails – quite a few have been posted in Instagram using my @roddythefox account. A few nights ago I was taking some star pictures in the garden below our house and I swung the camera down and round to capture the vegetation. Here’s the picture I got – I was blown over by the glossy aspect of the leaves, the jungly shapes, the amazing violet-pink sky and the interesting composition.
I saw straight away there were lots of possibilities in the shapes to make some special images. So I enhanced the picture’s contrast, cropped out most of the right hand side and then mirrored it horizontally and vertically to get this dramatic image.
I’m pretty sure I will be using it for Portals. It’s such a great fusion of night imagery with mirroring to find a stunning pattern. I could see, though, that there’s the possibility of another great pattern using the almost vertical leaves on the left hand side of the original. This time I’ve duplicated it many times to arrive at a fantasy wallpaper/wrapping paper design.
I’ve been out from home to take night pictures around Grahamstown three times recently when the cloud (preferably no clouds) and wind (preferably no wind or light winds) forecasts were favourable. The moon isn’t such a problem as you can use the moonlight to paint the foreground of your picture. Night photos have been a dominant theme for me lately. I’ve had great results with the fantastic ‘live composition’ option on my new Olympus and I bought an expensive wide angle lens to catch as much light as possible.
The first picture’s taken looking down the Belmont Valley from the hillside below PJ Olivier School. I had to hide the lights of Grahamstown behind the burned out tree stump and rocks but that gives a nice dramatic composition. There was no moon but plenty of artificial light so I used a short two second exposure and took a live composition for 50 minutes. So the picture is actually 1500 images combined.
Belmont Valley Star Trails
The second picture’s from just below the high point of the Oldenburgia Trail – where is goes over Dassie Krantz – south of Grahamstown. This time the moon was full and I positioned myself so the moon, and lights of Grahamstown, were behind me – on the other side of Mountain Drive. The camera settings are almost the same as the first picture. You can see the ribbon of car lights snaking along the N2 and the dotted lines of the two light aircraft flying along the coast. There’s also a meteor – the thin diagonal flash in the centre-left of the picture (in the middle of the Milky Way). The sky’s blue because there’s much less artificial light.
Oldenburgia Trail Stars
The last picture was taken a week later and only a few metres further down the Oldenburgia Trail. This time I’ve pointed the camera south-east, looking down Featherstone Kloof, as the moon was just rising behind the crags to the left. There are a lot more stars and a brighter sky because this composite is one-hour of five second exposures and the camera’s sensor picks up light from the fainter stars. You can make out the glow of street lights from Bathurst and Port Alfred on the Indian Ocean coast 60 kilometres away.
As well as the northern lights I was able to take some lovely pictures of the stars wheeling across the night skies when I was in Sweden. Hundby is a good place to do this as it is right out in the countryside with very few city lights anywhere near. The first picture is a 45 minute exposure using my Olympus’s live composition feature. It was helped enormously by a car driving past during the shoot that lit up the whole of the foreground. The rising moon behind the trees also casts a lovely glow in the thin clouds.
Hundby 29/09/2015 20:34:34
The second picture is a slightly longer exposure of 50 minutes taken from the viewpoint up above our apartment at Äsperöd. It’s looking due north with the lights of Uddevalla to the west and the row of trees masking the bright lights of Äsperöd. A flask of hot coffee kept me warm whilst taking this shot as it was a cold frosty night.