Star Wine

The Vineyards at Pokolbin with the Milky Way setting.

The Vineyards at Pokolbin with the Milky Way setting.
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Legendary Award
Superb Composition
Lyssie414 AlinMihai cindysutter
Absolute Masterpiece
surendrachaturvedi SouthernRebel clownsonvelvet
Peer Award
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Magnificent Capture



Top ClassTM

Our World At Night Photo ContestTop 30 class
World At Night Photo ContestTop 20 class
Amazing Sceneries Photo ContestTop 20 class
Amazing Sceneries Photo ContestTop 10 class week 1
Rural Sceneries Photo ContestTop 10 class
Rural Sceneries Photo ContestTop 10 class week 2
ViewBug Image of the Year Photo ContestTop 30 class month 1
Rural Sceneries Photo ContestTop 20 class week 1
ViewBug Image of the Year Photo ContestTop 30 class week 3
ViewBug Image of the Year Photo ContestTop 20 class week 2
Light It Up Photo ContestTop 10 class
Light It Up Photo ContestTop 10 class week 2
Light It Up Photo ContestTop 30 class week 1
Gardens Photo ContestTop 30 class


Behind The Lens

The photo was taken at the Pokolbin Rest area next to Ben Ean Winery.
Nightscape shots do need a little planning, I needed to find a time where the Milky Way was going to be at the right altitude in the sky with no corresponding Moonlight. That allowed for a shooting window between July and November. Being on a busy road and at the top of a hill, I needed a time when the traffic would be lite. That narrowed the window to between September and October, any earlier and the Milky Way reaches that area in the sky too late in the night. The image was shot on the 20th of September at 10:02 pm
With large landscape night shots, I prefer to use the natural available light rather than light paint. It makes the image look more appealing to me. The location I had selected had the problem that a busy road pointed directly at the spot I was shooting, and to make it harder the road had a slight upward run pointing toward the crest of the hill. I wanted to use this light to help illuminate the scene. The challenge was to get the right amount of light. The car lights at that distance were cast wide but were also very bright. I had to time the shot so the car lights illuminated the scene for less than 5 seconds out of the 30second exposure. After several observations of cars approaching is was able to estimate the correct start time of my exposure.
I have been a Nikon shooter since the early 1980s. As a Wedding and Event photographer, I needed a camera that performed flawlessly in low light conditions. I decided to get the D3s as it has an amazing low light capability. At that time wide fast lenses were not as readily available as they are today. I had invested in the Tamron 14mm f2.8 for my landscape and nightscape photography. I had several Manfrotto tripods but in this shot I used the carbon fibre 190 with the 222 trigger ball head to easily compose the shot.
I have been into Astronomy from the age of 8 and Photography from 13. It was a natural progression to turn the camera on the night sky and took my first nightscape, a star trail image in 1983. Once I purchased the D3s in 2009, I realised the potential of that camera in taking some breathtaking shots of the Milky Way with the landscape. I was constantly looking for interesting foregrounds to shoot with the night sky, taking note of the directions I would need to shoot. The astronomer in me didn't need to consult an app or map to realise the potential of a location. I had visited this park several times with Bridal parties for couple shots. I quickly dawned on the that the setting Milky Way should look amazing there.
Nightscape images do require post-processing to reveal the Milky Ways details. By deliberate action, they are severely underexposed images shot at high ISO. This results in a RAW file with low image data and high noise content. The file needs to have the exposure adjusted, the contrast increased and some fairly heavy noise reduction. This can result in an overly processed looking image, so you do need to take care not to push the file too hard.
In my camera bag
My Bag changes depending on what I am shooting, that also includes the bag itself. As I mentioned earlier I am a Wedding and Event photographer and so I usually have the large shoulder bag from Lowepro which included the D3s and the backup D300. The lenses at that time were a combination of the 24-70mm f2.8, the 70-200 f2.8 and a 50mm f1.4 prime. I carried 2 SB900 flashes both with Gary Fong diffusers and the pocket wizard for off-camera flash. The landscape kit consisted of a Lowepro backpack, the Nikon D3s, a 14mm Tamron f2.8, the Nikon 16-35mm f4 and a set of Lee landscape filters. I always used Manfrotto tripods both 190's but one a silver aluminium and the other, a carbon fibre where I would swap the 222 trigger head between tripods.
Best advise in capturing a similar shot would be to plan plan plan. Get to know the night sky, that way you can realise the potential of a new location for nightscapes immediately. Take note of the surrounding countryside for potential problems with the planned shot. NEVER venture onto someone's property without first gaining permission from the owner, you don't want to be shot at or have the police called out on you. Always shot with a friend while doing this type of Photography, its dark anything can happen.

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