Astrophotography has been this year’s area of personal photographic development for me. If you come on one of our New Zealand photo tours, we always recommend at least one evening session of this, weather permitting.
Where In New Zealand?
New Zealand boasts a large area on the South Island which has the status of International Dark Sky Reserve. This protects the darkness of the region by controlling how housing and roading are lit and so on in order to minimise light pollution. Boasting the Mount John Observatory, the Lake Tekapo region is truly a night sky wonderland. On the North Island, the South Wairarapa region (about 80 kilometres from Wellington) is in the process of applying for the same status. It boasts a coastal landscape, too, providing further foreground compositions for wide field astrophotography in that region which the Tekapo region does not have.
What To Shoot
The most obvious thing on which to concentrate in wide field astro is the Milky Way. On a clear night in a dark place in New Zealand, the Milky Way is visible with the naked eye. This often amazes clients who have spent much of their lives in cities and have no idea that such a wonder stretches across the Heavens every night because they cannot see it due to the light pollution.
One of our recent New Zealand photography tour clients told me that she found the experience of seeing so many stars, planets and the Milky Way to be “almost religious”.
Modern cameras are far more sensitive to light than the human eye is. You will notice when you come to post process your night’s work that there are in fact at least twice as many stars as your eyes could see (if not more!) which is quite the revelation as well. I sat outside two nights ago and watched a meteor shower which was an amazing experience. Shootings stars and passing satellites are often spotted, as is the International Space Station. You will need a tripod and warm clothing for astrophotography, but it is worth it.
The image below was shot on an Olympus EM1X, at 7mm f2.8, ISO 2500 and shows the Milky Way rising over my house.
Get in touch to see how we can help you get images like this and show you around New Zealand on one of our amazing New Zealand photo tours.