Photographing the Night Sky in Nova Scotia
Tuesday, April 12, 2016: The Bridgewater Photographic Society welcomed Barry Burgess to show some of his images and speak about photographing the night sky – including the Northern Lights – from Nova Scotia.
Barry has been photographing the night sky for many years – with film, and now with his digital cameras. Digital technology has been a boon to his hobby, making certain operations easier, and opening up new areas of exploration. Barry showed some lovely time-lapse series of the Northern Lights and the night sky that he captured using an intervalometer with his digital camera. For night-sky photography, he recommends using a wide to ultra-wide angle lens with an aperture of f/2.8 for best results. He gave a rule of thumb for choosing a shutter speed that won’t result in “star-trails”, and told us how he manually focuses his lens by doing test shots of the brightest star he can find, taken at the camera’s highest ISO. He also told us about an important accessory that astro-photographers should consider if they want to photograph over extended periods of the night – the electric dew heater, which keeps dew from forming on the lens. “Without one,” he says, “you’re done for the night as soon as the dew forms. You can’t just wipe it off, because it will be back in no time”.
Barry uses “apps” for getting predictions on the best nights and locations for shooting the Northern Lights, meteor showers, and other night-sky attractions. And he uses some post-shot digital processing to bring out the colour, brightness and contrast of his shots. Yet, his best known photograph was taken on film. His 2001 shot of a Leonid fireball was used on the cover of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s publication of its Observer’s Guide (2003).
Members also got to see photos from a recent field trip to Cosby’s Garden Centre in Liverpool, and the Western Head lighthouse. The garden centre features the “concrete creations” of Nova Scotia artist and sculptor, Ivan Higgins. After touring through the sculpture garden, club members got to meet and chat with Ivan about his art, and watch him work on his latest creation.