Staying at 'The Resort'

July 28, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Earlier this year we were housesitting my sister's place.  We are pretty lucky to be able to do this, as it is a pretty awesome place.  When you stay there, it is just like being on holiday, so that is why we have nicknamed it 'The Resort.'

It has absolutely magic views across to the City, Mt Coot-tha and beyond to the Glasshouse Mountains on a clear day.  Needless to say, when I go around to stay there, my camera always goes with me.  My tripod also gets set up and doesn't move for the duration of our stay.

When we were there last, we got to witness some pretty spectacular sunsets.  Word on the street was that is was due to ash and dust particles up very high in the atmosphere from a volcano that had erupted in South America a week or so earlier.  I really didn't care what was causing it, it was beautiful.

In fact, on the first day that we arrived, we set ourselves up on the top deck with our beer and wine, and we just watched the sunset.  That's right, we just watched it.  Had our drinks.  Had our peanuts and just watched the sky glow for what seemed like an eternity.

Thankfully for me, the conditions were similar, if not better the next afternoon.  I couldn't pass it up two days in a row.  So I grabbed my camera and tripod and went to it.  Due to the distance to the city, I generally shoot with my 70-200 lens @ 200mm.  Sometimes I'll even throw my 2x extender on as well for a bit more reach.  The shot you see below is a big panorama, made up of roughly 18 frames.


The other image that I have always wanted to capture is a big star trail over the city.

I have tried this previously, but never had either the skills or the conditions to be able to carry it off.

This time, I think I achieved my goal, but not without a false start.

Two nights before my success, I had set everything up, taken my test shots, made sure that my settings were correct, taken my dark frames.  Everything.  I wanted my camera to be running for a minimum of six hours, so I knew that I would need fresh batteries.  So after going through all my set-up, I pulled the old batteries out and replaced them with two fully charged batteries.  I made sure I was extra careful not to bump focus or anything like that.  I then grabbed my intervalometer and hit the 'start' button and walked away.  I came back the next morning after waking up, eager to get the images on to the computer.  I took my camera off the tripod and headed downstairs.  It was at this point that I thought, "Did I turn the camera off just then?"  My question was answered rather quickly when I removed the card from my camera and hooked it up to the computer, to only see about 15 shots on the card!  After putting the new batteries in, I had forgotten to turn the camera back on!!!  AAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!  So no star trail!!!

Two nights later, I had clear skies again, so did everything I had done previously, except that this time I remembered to turn my camera back on!

What I ended up with was 374 x 1 minute exposures, so basically 6 1/4 hours of star trails over Brisbane City.  The post processing of the image took about the same time, as I had to manually remove each plane trail individually to get nothing but the stars.  But it was worth it!


A couple of nights later, I wanted to do another trail, and this time leave the plane trails in.  So I set everything up again and let the camera go about its business for the next six or so hours.

Well, after putting that sequence together, I decided that I didn't like the look of the image.  But what I did like was the frame that you see below.

It looks like Brisbane City took a direct hit from a meteor, with a bright green fireball appearing to be headed straight towards the CBD.  I wonder where it actually landed?


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