Tag Archives: Chris Herring

Shooting Star Trails & painting With Light

Shooting Star Trails

Photographing Star trails is actually a relatively simple technique that can conjure up some wonderful eye catching images. As the earth rotates, the North Star will appear to remain fixed whilst the other stars appear to rotate around it. During long exposures we are able to record the motion of these stars in our images.

Planning plays a pivotal role in achieving successful star trail images. Before heading out I pay close attention to the weather forecast to ensure it’s going to be a clear night, I find websites such as Metcheck and Wunderground are particularly useful as they will give a cloud coverage breakdown for set times every three hours. Subject matter is a personal preference but I like to include subjects with a strong outline against the sky in my images such as a church, barn, lighthouse or windmill, by using a compass I can also work out which direction the North Star will appear and if possible include this in my images. Once I have found my location I try to set up my gear whilst it’s still light and make sure everything is in order. By arriving whilst it is still light it is much easier to focus and compose the image. I begin by setting up my tripod and composing and focusing the picture, a good solid tripod is essential here and its important to make sure that it’s on solid ground with no chance of moving during the long exposure. At this point I also like to check there is plenty of memory and fully charged batteries in the camera.

Its then a matter of waiting for it to get dark enough before I begin shooting, if I want to recompose an image or re focus in the dark then a large powerful torch is really useful. Its very difficult to see much through the viewfinder so once I think I have everything set up correctly I like to take a short test shot. To do this I select a high ISO setting on my camera, I then take a test shot of around one minute using the bulb facility and a cable release and examine the image on the LCD to check for distracting elements and to check the focus. At this point I also like to check the exposure is correct, the test shot is also a great way to gauge how long the main exposure will need.

A little bit of Maths is required here, but just remember that every time we increase or de-crease the exposure by one stop we are doubling or halving the amount of light coming into the camera. So if a an exposure of one minute is correct at ISO 1600 and we increase that exposure by one stop to ISO 800 then we are doubling the exposure time so the new exposure time would be two minutes, just keep doing this until you get to your chosen ISO and aperture settings to give you your final exposure time.

 Stacking Method Or One Long Exposure

To capture star trail images for the main image we have two options, the first is to shoot one long exposure and leave the shutter open during that time, the second process we can use is to shoot lots of shorter exposures and then combine these later using computer software. Both techniques have their advantages and disadvantages. If shooting lots of shorter exposures then exposure times of around 30 seconds work well here. Long exposures increase the amount of noise in the image so the shorter exposures of around 30 seconds stacked together will have less noise. The disadvantages of this technique are that you use more space on memory cards and hard drives, your post production work is increased and the major disadvantage is you have tiny gaps in the star trails. One of the real advantages of the stacking method though is the ability to remove images you don’t want stacked in the sequence such as a frame where a plane with lights has flown through the image or you can even remove a number of frames afterwards to dramatically reduce the exposure of the image. There are a number of software options available to combine the stacked images but one that I have found particularly good is a free piece of software available at www.Startrails.de.


Begin by composing your picture and making sure your tripod is on solid ground. I like to hand my bag from my tripod for extra stability. Composing can be a problematic in the dark so its best to take a test shot.
Set you camera to bulb mode, use a large aperture such as F4 and a High ISO speed then take a short test shot. Review the test shot and make sure you are happy with the composition.

So to begin shooting using the stacking method we need to set our camera to continuous drive mode, this means when we lock open our shutter when setting a sequence of 30 second exposures.Set your shutter speed to 30 seconds and select your chosen ISO and aperture settings, ISO 400 and F8 often work well.

We need to illuminate our subject with some light, I find a large torch gives off a nice warm light and offers you lots of control over what parts of the scene you illuminate. You can also use flash. I save this part of the process to the last five or six frames, this means if we over expose the areas we paint with the torch we can simply take a few of the last frames away.

For the final image of the day attach the lens cap to the camera and take a dark frame as the same settings, the stacking software can then use this to help reduce noise in the final image at the post production stage. All of the images will look very dark initially right out of the camera however this is perfectly normal.


To start the post production stage open up the star trails software, click file, Open images and then select all the frames minus the dark frame. Now select file, open and load in the dark frame. Now we have all our image ready simply click build and then star trails, we now need to wait a while and let the software do its stuff, when the image is completed simply click file and then save as and the image is complete.

 Star Trail Tips

Star trail images are always eye catching, but just like photographing images in the day we need to find a good subject and a good composition. Whilst pictures of a night sky alone will result in good star trails if there is no subject matter to the image then they will rarely work well. For stunning images try locating the North Star in your composition, as the earth rotates the other stars will appear to spin around it.

Clear skies are essential for photographing star trails so avoid nights when there is a chance or thick cloud blowing in during the long exposure.

Exposures for star trails can range from several minutes to several hours, the overall exposure length will depend on the amount of motion you wish to capture. One of the major problems with digital cameras during long exposures is there are power hungry, with this in mind I normally limit my exposures to less than 90 mins unless I am using a battery grip with the facility to hold more than one battery at a time.

To help aid with focusing in the dark shine a powerful torch on your chosen subject, once your camera gets a focus lock switch your lens to manual focus so that it doesn’t hunt when you press the shutter button.

Take a compass with you and work out the position of the North Star. As the Earth rotates the North Star will appear to stay fixed and the rest of the stars will appear to rotate around it.

It can get very cold at night particularly when standing around waiting for long exposures so warm clothing is essential.

Safety In Numbers

Night photography can be quite daunting, I like to photograph subjects in remote areas where you don’t attract as much attention. Strange noises & wildlife moving in the bushes can be quite spooky especially if you are on your own, but you soon get used to it. This does put a lot of photographers off from shooting night photography especially lone females. With this in mind I began offering one day workshops photographing at night in Norfolk, UK. I usually hold two or three one day Painting With Light & Star Trail photography workshops throughout the year, these are priced at just £50 and are offered on a first come first served basis. For more details on one day workshops offered in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex & Derbyshire please visit the workshop section on my website at http://www.theuklandscape.com/Workshops.htm

Latest Images From December 2012

I always seem to be a bit behind with processing my images by a month or two. Here are a few images captured in December 2012.

2012-0930LWBerney Arms Windpump on a frosty morning on the Norfolk Broads

2012-0779LWMuscles and rocks at Old Hunstanton with the Hitech 10 stop ND filter

2012-0864LWThe flat Halvergate Marshes on a frozen morning on the Norfolk Broads

2012-0805LWWinterton at first light on the Norfolk Coast

2012-0927LWBerney Arms Mill

2012-0792LWChristmas lights at Burnham Market in North Norfolk

2012-0908LWBerney Arms is hard to reach but it is such a fantastic location to visit, this was shot at first light on a frosty morning.

2012-0821LWFirst light on the beach at Winterton on the Norfolk Coast.

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Norfolk’s Underrated Stretch of Coastline (Winterton to Happisburgh)

My favourite stretch of the Norfolk coastline happens to be one that is often ignored by visitors and photographers alike. This 12 mile stretch of coastline and countryside is rich and diverse offering fantastic potential for photographers. Whilst most landscape  photographers head for the North Norfolk Coast to shoot popular locations such as Holkham, Wells or the picturesque Staithes at Brancaster & Blakeney. I love heading to this underrated and much quieter stretch of coastline. Here the Broads and the coast run side by side offer a great deal of variety all just a short distance away.

Winterton

2012-0821sssaWinterton has a wonderful beach and some wonderful Sand Dunes. It’s great to photograph at first light.

East Sommerton

_MG_2290wwwJust a short distance between Winterton and West Somerton is the tiny cluster of houses at East Somerton. Here there is a derelict church with a giant oak tree growing straight through the middle.

West Somerton

_MG_2305West Somerton has a wonderful example of a traditional flint built Norfolk round towered church.

_MG_0434West Somerton on the Norfolk Broads has a delightful chocolate box staithe with picturesque cottages and small boats.

Horsey Mill

_MG_1549Horsey Mill is great to shoot at last light, particularly in the summer when the boats add that extra bit on interest.

Horsey Gap

untitled-4259Horsey Beach is best known for the hundreds of Seals that have their pups on the beach every year. From November to the end of January its extremley busy with visitors that come to get a glimpse of the pups. At other times of the year it’s a fantastic peaceful beach with great sand dunes and beach patterns for the landscape photographer.

2011-7278A summer storm out to sea, viewed here from Horsey Beach

Brograve

2011-5232Brograve is one of the lesser known mills of the Norfolk Broads. Very few boats come down the narrow stretch of water named Waxham New Cut. Beacuse the mill requires a walk of about 45 mins from Horsey Mill or a 20 min walk over the muddy fields a lot of people don’t bother visiting. It’s a wonderful peaceful location and is excellent to see lots of wildlife.

2010-4886Winter is a great time to capture a sunset behind the mill

Waxham

2010-4933Waxham beach is located a short walk between Horsey and Sea Palling. It’s a great place to capture the rising sun.

Sea Palling

2010-4912Sea palling is best known for it’s sea defences that consist of high rocks placed out to sea. These can be see in the distance of this image. The location does have some nice sand dunes and is just a short stroll from the car. Here the beach was captured at dawn on a frosty morning with the sand and dunes coated in a white layer of frost.

Happisburgh

_MG_8744-Happisburgh (pronounced as Haze Boro) is a much-loved location with a fantastic picture perfect light house and a beach that is always battered by the sea.

_MG_5506-01-The sea defences at this location make for some fascinating pictures and add an extra element to the scene.

2011-7584

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Top 12 From 2012

Looking back at 2012 it was certainly a hard year to get out and do as much landscape photography as I would like, especially with our first (and last) child who was born at the end of 2011 . Lot’s of people wrongly assume being a professional landscape photographer photographer you can simply go out and shoot what you want when you want and because of this you can get the best light. The reality is finding time can often be a real challenge. Workshops and commissioned landscape photography left me with probably less than one morning or afternoon a week to get out last year to shoot what I want. So I was certainly more selective with the locations I choose, most being quite close to home.

With commissioned photography shoots I did have the chance to shoot lots of locations I had not shot before. Often with commissioned landscape photography you can be shooting those locations that are less photographic or those locations which are not really shot by many photographers, hence the shortage of material out there and the need for a photographer to be commissioned. Although I must admit I did get the chance to spot one or two really nice locations and I am looking forward to getting back to them for my own photography some time.

The plan for 2013 is certainly to continue being more selective about locations rather than just heading out for the sake of it. I am hoping to get in a few more trips to other locations in the UK this year, if the weather plays ball. And I must remember to shoot more panoramics as they always sell really well, but I am forever leaving the panoramic tripod head at home.

Throughout 2012 I invested in a large format A1 Epson printer which has been a fantastic, albeit expensive to run if you don’t use it lots every day. We also have a family friend who is a picture framer and he trained me up on framing throughout the year and before I know it I had invested in a full framing workshop. This has been great at handling my own orders, especially Christmas which was my busiest yet with framed Print orders. I have also been doing a bit of framing and printing for other photographers I know and will begin offering this service to other photographers over the next month or so. The website is almost built, it just needs a few last finishing touches.

_MG_9992Frosty Edge in the Peak District, UK

_MG_0108Frosty Ramshaw Rocks at First Light, Staffordshire, UK

_MG_0658Tulip Field in the Norfolk Countryside, UK

_MG_0740Standing out in a crowd

untitled-4204Barley At Last Light, Norfolk

_MG_4508-2CroppedSummer Storm at Happisburgh on the Norfolk Coast

_MG_0671More Tulips

2012-9883Autumn On The Norfolk Broads

2012-0007Stanage Edge in the Autumn

2012-0345A frosty dawn at Thetford Forest

2012-0821sssaWinterton on the Norfolk Coast

2012-0927One of the last shots I took in 2012 is Berney Arms on a frosty morning on the Norfolk Broads.

New Images From November 2012

Here are a slection of new images taken in November. All shot in Norfolk, England.

2012-0313LWDramatic early morning colour on a frosty November morning at Thetford Forest

2012-0320Frosty light at dawn in Thetford, Norfolk

2012-0327LWAutumn sunrise over Brettenham Heath, Thetford, Norfolk

2012-0345LWMorning sunrise in the Brecks

2012-0371LwFirst light on a frosty morning in the Brecklands, Norfolk

2012-0384LWAutumn colours at Rishbeth Wood, Thetford

2012-0390LWOn the 12thNovember I added a post on my facebook photography page about a dramatic sunset but unfortunately I didnt have a tripod with me. I couldn’t resist stopping for a quick shot anyway and this is the resulting image. The iso had to be pushed up to ISO 1600 and it was raining quite hard when this was taken.

2012-0434LWBacton Wood, Norfolk

2012-0593LWAutumn colours in Norfolk, UK

Chris Herring Photography
www.TheUKlandscape.com
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Autumn On The Norfolk Broads

The Norfolk Broads really comes alive for Photography at this time of the year, with fantastic autumn colours, misty & frosty mornings and the best thing of all is that all the ugly tourist boats have disappeared and it has a wonderful peaceful feel. Below are a few of my favourites taken at this time of the year.

Norfolk Broads Windmill Sunset
Turf Fen mill with a dramatic sunset on the perfectly still River Ant

Berney Arms
Berney Arms rising above the mist filled Halvergate marshes at dawn

Thurne Sunrise
The best sunrise I have ever witnessed was this stormy morning on the River Thurne

Ormesby Broard
A frozen Ormesby Little Broard at dawn


Rainbow at first light on the River Ant

Horsey Windmill
A calm afternoon at Horsey Mill on the Norfolk Broads

Misty Reeds
Reeds at dawn

Turf Fen Sunset
Sunset at Turf Fen on the Norfolk Broads

Berney Arms Dawn
Dawn on the Halvergate marshes captured with a tele-photo lens

St Benet's Windmill Norfolk Broads
St Benet’s Mill at last light on a November afternoon

Horsey Windmill
Horsey Mill

Cows Grazing At Dawn
Grazing at dawn on a misty morning

Brograve Sunset
One of the older mills that still survive is (Brograve) originally built in 1771

Thurne Windmill
A misty dawn start on the River Thurne

Summer Dawn
Sailing boats moored on the River Thurne

Turf Fen Mill
Turf Fen Mill at sunset

Winter Light
St Benet’s mill on a frosty morning at first light

Chris Herring Photography
www.TheUKlandscape.com
Facebook Photography Page

Autumn Update

Well it’s Autumn already, this year really seems to have flown by. The summer has been really busy with both workshops and commercial work and I have really struggled to do much landscape photography for myself at all. Luckily I have now finished most of the commissions and it felt really good to get out and do a bit of landscape photography in October, now with the shorter winter days I am hoping to make the most of November and December over the coming weeks.

 I had a really good October workshop wise with some fantastic weather for once on both the Peak District and the three day boat workshop. I changed the format of both workshops slightly. For the boat workshop I decided not to head up to Berney Arms Mill, as much as I love this remote location in the previous years when ever we have headed there we have always had rotten weather. I decided to keep the travelling down which made it a much more relaxed weekend. We ended up with perfect conditions photography wise, nice clear nights for star trails, nice light throughout the days and some fantastic stormy sunrises for two mornings in a row. Even I grabbed a quick picture below whilst no one was looking.

 For the Peak District weekend workshop the following week it was again a slightly different format to last years, I made the decision to reduce the numbers on this one and stay in a cottage in the village of Tideswell. Using a cottage in Tideswell would mean we were in a fantastic location to quickly reach excellent areas in both the Dark and the White Peak. The smaller group and the cottage ended up working really well and this is the format I have decided to use for next years workshop with a small group of just three or four photographers.

 Weather wise we couldn’t have asked for more perfect conditions. The first afternoon we met was  a bit overcast, however this ended up working well as we just photographed the nice waterfalls with the autumn colours at Padley Gorge. Day two saw a nice sunrise with a bit of mist on a very cold and windy Mam Tor, the light on Edale and Kinder combined with the Autumn colours made for some fascinating pictures though. Sunset didn’t disappoint either, we headed up to , but walked along the edge until we reached the wonderful autumn trees near the 2nd car park. I have a rule on workshops not to shoot images myself, however the light at sunset was fantastic and even I couldn’t resist two quick shots myself.

 

Day three saw another fantastic morning, we headed up to Curbar Edge and we were standing above a spectacular cloud inversion, the mist just didn’t budge for hours and there were endless shots to be had here. Eventually we headed back to the cottage for breakfast and a bit of a break before heading back out to the White Peak for an afternoon of shooting picturesque sunny skies and autumn landscapes. Sunset ended up being a strange affair, we were again greeted with a cloud inversion which made for some excellent images initially, but suddenly the cloud thickened a bit too much and called an early halt to the sunset shoot. The final morning we were greeted with light drizzle so I decided to take the group to Chee Dale near Buxton. The overcast light ended up working really well for this location and even though the weather and rain was awful I really liked the shots everyone captured here and am looking forward to heading back in the future to shoot the place myself.  Both the boat workshop and the Peak District group were full of fantastic people and certainly made for two really enjoyable weekends, so much so I am actually looking forward to next years already.

Hopefully the winter will be nice and cold this year as I really want to try to do more photography myself in some of the Peak District and Lake Districts more remote location, especially those on higher ground looking down with fantastic views.

 

New Images

It’s been a busy few months shooting mostly boring commercial images so I haven’t been out shooting as many landscapes as I would like but here a few recent ones from over the summer.

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A thunder storm over Happisburgh Lighthouse on the Norfolk Coast, UK

 

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Sailing on the River Thurne, Norfolk Broads

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Thurne Mill on a misty summer’s morning

 

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Summer harvest in the village of Martham, Norfolk UK

 

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West Somerton in the evening sunshine

 

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Happisburgh

 

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Summer fireworks over Wellington Pier at Great Yarmouth, UK

 

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Old Hunstanton at sunset

 

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The historic Hunter’s Fleet boats sailing on the Norfolk Broads

 

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Approaching storm

 

 

 

New images from May and June

Here is a small selection of my latest images from May & June 2012.

Field of Barley in the Norfolk Countryside


Wells Next The Sea at sunset on the North Norfolk Coast

Field of summer poppies

Burnham Overy Staithe at sunset on the North Norfolk Coast

Ancient Stone circle in the peak District UK

West Somerton Staithe on the Norfolk Broads

Summer Barley Field at last light

Sunset on the salt marshes of the North Norfolk Coast

Cromer Pier on a dull rainy day

Summer Light