Monday, October 29, 2007
The Dark Arts 5
As British summer time gives way to GMT again I bet that a few of you out there in the interwebby spaces between my life and yours were pleased with the extra hour in bed. Probably unable to see any obvious downside to the prolonged snooze. Pity then the poor amateur astrophotographer. When all the others are grabbing shuteye and being smug, I have to get up an hour earlier than usual to get the same shot as the day before. I preferred the darker mornings.
So at four a.m. today I leapt like a salmon from the stream of unconsciousness. Dashing to the window it was with a special joy that I noticed that yesterday evenings rain had washed the sky to crystal perfection, leaving stars laser sharp. Mars and Venus both hung like exotic diamonds and the three quarter moon, hung high, was providing the perfect lighting for landscapes with stars. All this I observed aloud as a special treat for She Of The Townhouse, who shared the special joy of the hour with a hippopotamine grunt from the pit of those less fortunate than the early riser. Not that she is like a hippo you understand, its just the sounds.
I skipped lightfoot to the car. Loaded the ‘special equipment’ and left hot hooved for a mountain rendevous. It constantly amazes me how few others are around at that time of day, the roads were clear all the way to Tryfan but as I progressed deeper in to the mountains it became increasingly clear that thick cloud was going to blight the photographic prospect.
I am trying to build up a small portfolio of pictures for an exhibition you see. Constellations with a mountain backdrop, perhaps a noteworthy building or two. But these are tricky blighters to take. To get the shot you need a mountain in the right position in front of you, a constellation that you want to photograph and a reasonable amount of moonlight. The moonlight, if you are lucky, will illuminate the landscape. Being far weaker than sunshine it will allow you to take a long exposure (say 10 to 20 seconds) and have bright shiny stars as well as a clearly recognisable scene.
If you are lucky the conditions for this are right on three or four nights a month.
This morning though the cloud messed up the whole thing.
Giving up on the mountains I drove around for a while and eventually noticed a clearing sky over Llyn Gerionydd, a lake above the Conwy valley. Quite by chance I snapped this.
The cloud at the end of the lake has a little dispersed light from the valley town of Trefriw the only other light is moonlight.
I shall certainly be staking this spot out again.