With the majority of my night photography I am looking for the clearest of dark skies. Usually this means very intentionally avoiding the moon and any sort of cloud cover where I can. I’ve been visiting family on the coast for the past few weeks and was excited to visit some of my favorite coastal spots. Knowing bad weather was due to set in for days, I took the opportunity to get out and take some shots while I had the clear skies. As usual, I scouted during the day with plans to return that night. The big drawback though was the 62% moon that was going to be present for the entire time I was out. I almost didn’t take my full kit, thinking the washed out sky was going to be too large of a degradation to do any serious photography. How wrong I was, it was so refreshing to get a different perspective on the night with the spectacular coast taking on a very different persona under the illumination of the moon.
While there was no getting around the moon drowning out the full impact the stars, what it did bring was a large scale illumination of the entire landscape. The impact of this may well have been lost on a featureless foreground, however on the huge rugged sandstone outcrops that surrounded me it made of a surreal landscape.
What I had planned as a 2hr outing ended up being over 5 hrs with 3 cameras capturing sequences (with varying levels of success). With so much light I was shooting my full frame cameras at around half their maximum untracked exposure times, I was even able to use my Panasonic GX85 M43 camera a time-lapse without even using an especially fast lens. Nearly 1200 exposures in total were taken during the session which I thoroughly enjoyed. Not often you get to experience such a stunning landscape without another soul in sight.
It was such an enjoyable day scouting and night shooting the stars I have put together a short video of the experience which I will be uploading to my YouTube channel as soon as I am able to get it finished (hopefully in the next week or so). So lesson learnt. While it is always a good idea to head out for a night shooting with a rough plan of what you want to shoot, never discard a night because it is not serving up the conditions you are looking for. Work with those conditions to try and produce something unique, if nothing else it will get you thinking differently about your subject matter and composition.