Thursday, 19 December 2013

Viewing the sky

How do you view the sky in Shetland ? It may be that your eyes are good enough as there is less light and atmospheric pollution in the northern isles. Its amazing what you can see, stars, planets, comets and meteorites can all be seen, if you know where to look. That's the key to successful night watching - having a map of the sky is essential and a red light so after about 10 mins your eyes have adjusted to the dim viewing conditions.

This is all about the cones and rods in your eye. The rods are the ones to collect light in your eye, while the cones are for collecting colour. Therefore when looking at night try not to directly look at an object in the sky but slightly to one side where most of the rods are located. In night time mammals the rods are more common than cones as they need better vision in dark conditions.

Next move up to binoculars, either 10x50 or 8x40 these are great at gathering light. Don't bother with the high powered binoculars advertised in the newspaper , these 20x50 often at £25 rubbish. When I was about 12 years old i pestered my parents for a 20x50 binocular having been conned by the blurb and only used them twice to look at the moon, they gave a colour cast as well as a double image. Also don't forget that your arms will get tired very quickly and the will start to shake so you wont get very good views after a couple of mins even with a good pair.

And then you come to telescopes. Again its all about ensuring you get a good quality one,  you will be spending a few hundred pounds and  around £700+ for a Go-to scope which can find you subject without you needing to know which direction it is in. There are many good makes such as Meade & Celestron but go and have a look first. Its no good getting one so big you cannot lift it or get in the car
This is one of the biggest scopes in Sheffield, and even used by Aliens so you cannot ask for a better recommendation

You will also be an armchair sky watcher like everyone else as sometimes the weather is so bad you just cannot get outside to view. This is the time to be with your computer, working on some photos or researching for another perfect night

An armchair like this with a clear view of the sky

Is Father Christmas bringing you some extra equipment to make your Shetland sky watching even more pleasurable ? , I have sent him my list so I will let you know what happens after Christmas. Just one word of warning, when ever anyone gets some new equipment the weather turns worse so you cannot get out to use it- Sorry about that, so January is wiped out then !!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


Look up and you can see ..........................., well not very often but hopefully some stars. I know i have complained about the weather forecasts recently but will they ever get it right. Again prepared tom go out the other night only to find the weather had closed in an no stars visible, yet the weather forecast was still showing clear skies.

Well for me it makes every session more special, and yes you still have to cope with light pollution where we are and times when the moon is out reducing the dark skies with its torchlight. But when things come together I could stand looking up for hours, its so fascinating.

Now you may think all stars look white but when you take a closer look you see that some are Blue, Red and yellow. These colours are an indication of the surface temperature, just think of an iron bar heating up.First it glows red, then yellow then white hot.

White hot stars emit  at Blue and ultra violet wave lengths  so they appear Blue.

As the stars are so far way it doesn't matter whether you look through a powerful telescope or through a wide angle lens. They just appear as dots.
Don't forget the earth is moving so the stars need to be photographed within a few seconds, unless you want star trails ( I will cover the techniques in the next blog)

Our Milky Way is made up of 200 billion stars and is visible to the naked eye as a pale band across the sky. 
The brightness of a star depends on their true lumimosities and also distance from earth. A stars brightness is termed its apparent magnitude, or its true  brightness or absolute magnitude is defined as its magnitude at a distance of 32.6 light years away.

This may not mean alot to you but like all things I photograph i always like to know some information about the subject. One of the most important things about photographing the night sky is where on earth do you look?, well i mean where to look in the sky.You will need to start with a star chart and these are available on the internet, once you have these monthly charts its time to get outside and starting looking up. 

You will need to know which direction you are looking at then using your star chart you can plot you way around. When outside you would be best to use a red light as your eyes need to become accustom to the dark skies to have the maximum benefit. Start with the plough its one that most people know, you then can pick up Pole star and star hop to other interesting bits of the sky.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Going, Going Gone

After waiting for over a month to get out, we finally had a clear night on the 4 November. It was very cold but sunny all day so I hoped that it would be a good night. I met up with a friend Chris at 6 pm and headed straight into Derbyshire, its never going to be as good as Shetland for unpolluted skies but we have to make the most of it. With Sheffield at one side and Manchester at the other there is always going to be an orange glow.

                                                                                       Pleiades- Hot Blue stars found in Taurus

Setting up quickly in the dark we first found a reasonable foreground which helps composition and started to set the timer for a long exposure. I already knew that the moon wouldn't be a problem as it was new, so no extra light pollution from the source. But after about 15 mins we could see the cloud building over the Pennines  and with a strong wind the cloud was over us and obscured the stars. The following night was similar in every way, even though the weather forecast again said it would be clear skies.

This week it again promised clear skies on both the MET and BBC weather forecasts, so this time I thought I would give the Chesterfield area a try, but on arrival a blanket of cloud hid the stars and even the moon for large periods, which was nearly a full moon. Not the best time to be out photographing but I needed to get out. By 10 pm the clouds had departed and clear skies at last appeared but trying to find a sheltered spot away from traffic  was difficult around Chesterfield so i headed back to Coal Aston on the outskirts of Sheffield.

With the moon acting as a search light it made all the stars very subdued and even the plough was difficult to make out. So I gave up and will wait for another clear night. Only 6 clear nights (according to weather forecasts) have been evident in 7 weeks so far.
                                                                                       Cloudy moon skies
I will look for other dark sites, it is a big problem even going out into Derbyshire which is one of my favorite destinations as the glow is evident on all the photos.I intend to go out East next time and will look on Google maps for a location

The problem in Shetland is more to do with the wind than the light pollution, with vast areas that are not near cities, in fact any away from Lerwick, Scalloway, Voe, Sandwick would be ideal and these have low populations so less light pollution.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Astrophotography part 1- equipment

Have you ever tried to take photographs of night sky ?

You will need certain equipment to get some decent results. I don't mean using a telescope just your camera

1. Tripod
2. Cable release or preferably a Timer remote for longer exposures
3. SLR camera
4 .Wide angle lens
5. Lots of good clear nights
6. Patience
7 Warm clothing
8.Lack of wind

A solid tripod and preferably one with a hook on the centre column so you can hand a bag to help stablise it even further. Try to set it up on a solid surface and not on grass and if possible a sheltered area away from wind.

Cable release
Most camera setting will allow you to go down to a 30 second shot. What you need to do is to use a cable release to minimise the vibration, better still use a timer remote which allows you to set long exposure for up to 99 hours and number of photos to 399. I use the TC-2 for the Nikon D7000

As noise is a major problem when taking long exposures it is best to use a DSLR, the best but most expensive is a full frame camera but I usually get reasonable photos from a DSLR DX (cropped sensor camera such as the Nikon D300, D7000 and even the new D7100. It also has a good range of ISO settings and a good processor

Wide angle lens
You need as much light in the camera as possible, so a fast lens is preferred. I use the Tokina 11-16 mm f2.8 lens, which isn't the fastest but is very sharp when using it full opened. You will have to close most lenses down to say f/5.6 to get a sharp photo

Clear Night
This is the most frustrating, you can have all your equipment ready, but then you have no clear nights for days on end. Then when you do you are usually committed to something else. as Shetland is near the coast the weather systems seem to move quickly overhead, so although it may be cloudy now it could be clear in an hour. You will need a decent gap in the clouds to get some long exposures.As the nights are loner in Shetland you will have more chance of a decent spell.

Yes have lots of this, you will be stood about alot when you have set up the camera, so why not take your ipod with you to pass the time

Warm clothing
Its surprising how many people don't go out prepared, its going to be at least a few hours outside and the last thing you want is to be cold, you loose concentration and the will to be outside, so wrap up warm and take a hot drink with you.

Lack of wind
Shetland is not normally a good place for still weather, well it does happen some times. But you can find a sheltered spot and use a weight on the end of your tripod to help. Once you start a sequence of photos then it could be rattling them off for an hour solid. You could also use yourself as a wind break, if you position your self right.

You will need at least one , try a head torch will will free up your hands. You will need one to set up the focus and one to move about. A Red cover is better and you want your eyes to adapt to the darkness

Try to plan your shoot ahead and do a recce during the day to see whether things are. You don't want telephone wires crossing through the photo and if possible find an interesting object for the foreground such as an old croft or some large rocks or go near the sea

In the next blog we will talk about how to take the photos.

Friday, 18 October 2013

1 Billion pixel camera

Everyone seems to be hung up with megapixels these days. I even talked to someone the other day who thought his 12 Million pixel phone camera was better than a 10 million DSLR. They fail to take into account that it is the sensor size that influences the size of the pixel. The larger the surface area the larger the pixel is, so the phone sensor is very small, hence very small pixels which produce a lot of noise, not really noticeable until you look away from the screen and start to try and enlarge.

Everything is getting better but you also have to look at the processor as well, if the camera can take great photos then the processor is needed to get the information out of the image, which only the high ended DSLR cameras have.

So when I heard that a 1 Billion pixel camera was to be launched then it raised a few eyebrows. Reading further it was clear that this was special, very special if fact out of this world. Yes it was the new and largest camera to be launched into space. If fact this will take place next month.

To get to the 1 billion pixels, it is in fact 106 CCD cameras linked together, with a sensor size of 0.38 square metres, the largest imaging system deployed into space. Its lenses are in fact two telescopes and these will be all located on the `Gaia' . The European Space Agency's Gaia mission will be the most sensitive astronomy mission ever.

The plan is to study the structure and dynamics of our Milky Way. It will map the Milky Way in 3D, observing around a billion stars, which may sound alot but in fact this is only just over 1 % of the stars found in the Milky Way.

So the image size will be enormous, and to cope with the data an extensive pipeline of information will be analysed by centres in Cambridge, Germany, Spain, France and Switzerland. A bit bigger than my hard-drive  !!!!!!!!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Clear night, cloudy night

When we get to October I always look forward to photography trips out into the night air. Especially when it is cold, because then it is sometimes clear skies. Something so far we have not had a lot of recently. Just one so far, and guess what we had already made plans to go out so that was one lost. The weather forecasts always seem to get it wrong, often they indicate a clear night , then having made all the plans to go out to get some photos the cloud rolls in and another opportunity hits the dust.

It must be great to be in Australia or the desert area in America where the dry air gives rise to clear skies on many days, but we have to make the most of any opportunity in Britain.

When we do get a clear night it is often when the moon is full so the sky is filled with light, again far better when the moon is small. With general light pollution another problem you may well ask why bother.
I can only say that once you have been out, even to an area close to a city, which is not the best, the sky takes a hold on you.

You cannot avoid looking up and seeing a multitude of stars and hopefully planets if you can pick them out. It may take five minutes for your eyes to get accustom to the darkness then you see even more. So although I may get out on only a few nights but each one becomes extra special and you appreciate it even more and don't take it for granted.

With so much to see, and in Shetland with the chance of seeing the aurora you have got to make the effort to venture out. The time always passes so quick and having done so little photography its then a time to look back on what we have captured and what we plan to do next.

Friday, 27 September 2013


With the nights drawing in it is a great time to be out looking for meteorites. At certain times of year you may be lucky to see some , especially after midnight when they are at the largest fall rate.

The Draconids should be visible best on the 8/9 October 2013 , with a possible 100 meteorites visible throughout the night. The moon will be 16% illuminated in the region of Scorpius on the evening of the 8 October.

The Taurdis offers a good chance of seeing some , with the new moon on the 3 November it should be ideal viewing conditions with the highest rate again around mid night. often these meteorites are very slow moving compared to the rest of the year.

The Leonids will not be very good this year, as it coincides with the full moon, on the 17-18 November.These are fast bright meteorites with fine tails, associated with comet Temple- Tuttle

One of the best and highest rates of meteorites comes in December is the Geminids on the 7 - 14 December with over 100 per hour reduced to 70 per hour a few days either side. Although it can be very cold, often the skies can be clear giving a good chance to see and photograph this event. Unfortunately this year the moon will be a big problem being 89% illuminated.These are fast and bright with small trails

The Ursid shower will occur between the 22-23 December and with no Moon to talk about ,it may give the best chance for the later end of the year, again the best activity will be after mid night. Much will depend on cloud cover as ever.

Meteorites are caused by streams of debris entering the earth's atmosphere at great speed . Because meteorites travel in parallel paths they will seem to radiate away from a single point in the sky. Most are very, no bigger than a gain of sand, so cause no problems. A meteorite shower is the interaction from a planet such as earth and the debris from a comet. The debris from the comet is caused by water vapor drag, so each time a comet orbits the sun it will shed debris as ice vaporizes .

Meteorite showers are named after the constellations from which they occur. Good hunting!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Software - astrophotography

Adobe have just announced that Photoshop CS6 is the last one where you will be able to buy the software, currently around £650. They intend to have a monthly subscription of $20. Photoshop is used by many to get the best out of their astrophotography photos.

Registax 6 is a FREE software to merge and alignment of your photos

Avistacks similar to above and includes movie and image stacking. - Freeware

Stellarium is another FREE piece of software and a must have, it is regularly updated. download link here This is an open source planetarium showing realistic sky in 3D at real time, set from your home location

If you have a tablet why not download one of the following

1. Google astronomy sky pro free version
2. Mobile observatory (update due soon)
3. SKYORB runs on widows 8 Free version

Saturday, 7 September 2013


Everyone loves a sunset and Shetland sunsets can rival any in the world but do they get the appreciation they deserve? In some areas of America and in Ibiza people often gather on a pier to watch the sun going down and then give a round of applause. This should happen in Shetland !  (Ibiza applause for a sunset)

People capture superb sunsets and then share them on places like face book and its great to see them and for many see what they have missed. It may be that you cannot spare the time or it may be cloudy in your part of Shetland but the weather can change suddenly and give you a window of opportunity.

Every sunset is different, it is simply the sun going down in the western sky. In astronomy it is when the sun disc finally disappears below the horizon . North of the Artic circle and south of the Antarctic circle at least one day a year has no sunsets or sunrises.

Regarding the colour of each sunset, its all about the rays of light from the sun which are scattered by airborn particles / molecules , changing the colour that the observer sees. Greens and blues,  having a shorter wavelength, are scattered more widely and are therefore not seen in the beam of light. At Sunrise and sunset when the sun is lower it has to travel further through the atmosphere which removes the blues and greens, leaving the longer wavelength colours , Orange and Red hues the more prominent. The remaining reddened light is then scattered by cloud droplets to lighten the horizon Orange and Red. Sunsets are generally more brilliant than sunrises as more air particles develop throughout the day than first thing in a morning.

Ash from volcanoes tend to mute the sunset and sunrise colours , while volcanic ejecta that instead are thrown high up into the stratosphere can enhance any sunset or sunrise, these are called afterglows.The high altitude clouds tend to reflect the reddened sunlight down to the surface of the earth.

Some people believe in the sayings ` Red sky at night sailors delight, red sky in the morning sailors warning'. There is no doubting that people stand in awe when watching a sunset, the colour, the expectation, we feel something - What does a sunset mean to you ?

With ever changing colours it is set to inspire not just me with my camera but many more, along with artists, poets, writers, and those that just want to watch.

One of my favourite poems about sunsets

I wonder why when you say goodbye
beautiful colours paint the sky.
Shades of orange, yellow and pink too.
all come out because of you.
And though i hate to see you go,
i really do enjoy the show.
I've seen you leave so many times
and still it's a favourite sight of mine.
There'll be no sadness, be no sorrow
because my sun, you'll come out tomorrow.
I won't feel hurt, i'll feel no pain
because on your way down, your colors will reign.

and just two verses from this great poem:

Twenty-nine thousand four hundred seven sunsets
With one same sun on the one same sea.

At last, in these final days, each sunset is anticipated, craved
Regardless the mood of the sea, it will receive the sun.
No matter the face of the sky, it will let go the same.
The sun itself, always churning, always burning,
Swells with new brilliance, new radiance and splendor
Each time it approaches the sea,
Then morphs into a molten pool on the sea's surface
Before plunging from view-
Never more a sunset lost
Twenty- nine thousand four hundred seven sunsets
With one same sun on the one same sea
Then on glorious day, 
The day of my twenty-nine thousand four hundred and sixth sunset,
And I sat at my usual place along the shore,
Saw the sun rise out of the sea from where it had just set !
The sun rose back up into the sky, and
In the very next moment on the very same day, it set again.
I experienced my twenty-nine thousand four hundred and seventh sunset,
The second one in one day,
Oh glorious day !
A sunset gained.

So we don't need to join together to give applause to a Shetland sunset, but if you are the one stood on the west coast and then start to clap another Shetland sunset, then you are joining with many others that rejoice at this beautiful sight. So for now share these photos of Shetland sunsets, but make an effort to get out and find your own spot to admire the sun going down

Friday, 30 August 2013

Telescope or not

You can see alot with your own eyes once they have become accustom to the dark, but with a binoculars you can see more detail in the moon and the star fields are more apparent. With a telescope you can see detail on the planets. The first time I looked through a telescope was about 15 years ago when my brother in law bought a cheap telescope which had a flimsy tripod. From inside we managed to pick out Saturn and the image still remains with me today.

Move on another 15 years and this time i had chance to look through several telescope at the Sheffield Astronomers open night up in the Mayfield valley . What a difference, these had solid tripods and were guided, and with a choice of anything from a 6 inch to a 12 inch scope you could see the difference in quality as we viewed Jupiter and its moons.

Talking to the people that owned the telescopes it became clear that they only managed to use them around 12 times during the year, either due to other commitments or due to poor weather. That's the problem with Britain , - the weather. I know from trying to get out to photograph the night skies that it was over 3 months before viewing conditions were right and when I could spare the time over this last winter. On a couple of occasions i set off as the weather forecast said it would be clear only to find low cloud, or on one occasion fog. Unlike Australia where it seems that you could get out at least once or twice a week, for an all night session, it seems that time is very limited here.

Also when it is clear it might be too windy to keep the telescope steady, definitely a problem in Shetland, so for now at least I have decided against getting a scope which will give me more time to research the area. Many people I have spoken to have rushed in and found later that their choice of equipment was wrong. Its time to save a little more and get better equipment, especially as I would want to take photos through the scope.

We see many images today taken with then Hubble telescope and imagine that we can see this sort of quality from where we stand. We can take photos of reasonable quality but not the detail that the Hubble can bring. Even without telescope it is possible to photograph the night sky and this is what I aim to do over the coming months. Shetland has alot of very dark nights over a longer period of time than here in Sheffield, so as soon as we move to Shetland we can get started using our normal photography equipment.

I asked on Shetlink whether anyone in Shetland had a telescope.It was interesting that only one person responded saying he had a telescope (well 3 telescopes in fact). I am sure there are more !!

One thing you can do is to experience the night sky yourself by just looking up and being amazed at what can be seen throughout the year

It is worth keeping an eye on this website for the latest news and is full of hints for better observation

Friday, 23 August 2013


Being the closest planet to us the moon looks very impressive through binoculars and even better through a telescope. The wide field of view through binoculars is perhaps best and you can easily pick out craters. While the moon is full it makes looking for the fainter Nebula's difficult as it is really another form of light pollution.

Some people believe that no one has landed on the moon, but for me watching the moon landing back on the 20 July 1969 while at school started an interest in astronomy that still drives me on today.

The moons surface is interesting, on the near side areas looking like seas can be seen with the naked eye. These areas are in fact large lakes of solidified basaltic lava, these cover 31 % of the surface on the near side of the Moon. In addition several large extinct volcanoes can be seen, these are thought to have erupted about 3.5 Million years ago.The lighter coloured areas are called terrae, or highlands. The Moon has a large number of craters where asteroids and comets have collided. These are round 300,00 craters over 1 km in size on the earth side.

On the far side of the Moon, only seen from space by a few astronauts, there is a complete lack of lava pools.

The moon rotates about its axis at nearly the time as it takes to orbit the earth, therefore showing nearly always the same face of the moon. The distance from the earth varies between 356, 400 - 406,700 km. When it is the closest to the earth, this is know as a super moon, being 14% larger than when at its further limit and 30% brighter.

The phases of the moon can be seen here

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


We all know that we need rain but when it comes its depressing, often lasting many hours as it has recently in Shetland.

But just think , the photo below shows one drop of water which i managed to photograph and as it bounces back off the water surface, due tension on the water surface it has become diamond shaped. So think of this - when it rains you are getting showered with diamonds !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                                                                               Showers of diamond rain drops

We often refer to the rain as it is raining buckets or like cats and dogs, but this photo I am sure is it is raining in sheets . Looking over towards Sandwick, I was in the dry area watching the rain spread across. How many time does this happen, I always remember as a child standing on one side of the pavement in the sun , while people over the other side of the road were running to take shelter.
                                                                                  Sheets of rain in Sandwick

Rain droplets range in size from 0.9- 9 millimetres which tend to break up as they drop. Small drops are call cloud droplets and there shape is spherical , as the droplet increases size it become more oblate with the largest part facing the wind stream. Large droplets become increasingly flattened at the base, very large one look like parachutes.The largest rain droplets recorded on earth occurred in Brazil in 2004 when the measured 10 millimetres in diameter.
                                               Very rarely do we see a few raindrops, they usually come in their millions
                                                                                     Kingfisher caught in a rain drop

Intensity and duration in rainfall are usually inversely related ie: heavy intense rainfall is usually short lived, but short duration and intensity are long lived. When the thunder clouds form , these  are called -cumulonimbus.
              Ireland on the west side of the mainland

In  Shetland the average rainfall is 1003mm (39.5 inches), lower than many western parts of Britain and less than a quarter of the rainfall experienced in Fort William. Almost 3/4 of the annual rainfall comes in winter with April - September the drier months

Our friend Maurice Smith calculated the following

Just been doin a quick calculation. Wikipedia quotes surface area of Shetland as 1,466 square km. I reckon an inch of rainfall would put down about 36,650,000 tonnes of water on da Auld Rock. Amazin what raincloods will hadd up till dey get weary!

On Titan, Saturn's largest moon . infrequent methane rain is thought to carve the moon's surface channels

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Light Pollution

Everyone knows that the clearest views of the night sky can be found in the countryside well away from the city lights. The glow- light pollution- is a problem for astro-photographers and astronomers alike because light cast upwards from streetlights, billboards, shops reduce the contrast between the dark spaces above.

The darker the sky the faintest object become clearer, even to the naked eye. But even in our light polluted cities the larger planets can be picked out such as the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. The Moon even becomes a problem as it very bright when it is a full Moon, when moonlight enters our sky is gives a pale blue light that washes away all the faintest objects, so it is better to observe before the moon rises or better still when it is during a new Moon.
                                                                          Full Moon photographed from Levenswick

Some councils , including Sheffield are becoming increasingly aware  of the problem with light pollution and installing better `white lighting' pointing downward which minimises the amount of light spilling upward. Only one tenth of the UK has dark skies (CPRE) and you have to go back to the 1950's to when most people could see the Milky Way. As it stands the UK has no national law in place to stop light pollution, unlike the Czech republic which passed a law in 2002, this was quickly followed by Slovenia . Dark Sky legislation is in force in several regions of Italy and the US.

Just outside Sheffield , at the Surprise view in Derbyshire this has been classified as a Dark Sky Discovery site. This means that it is away from the worst of the light pollution, provide a good skyline and have good public access. Analysis of light pollution in Derbyshire between 2004-2009 found that areas of the National Park unaffected by Light Pollution dropped from 9% to 3%
                                                                                       Night time in Lerwick

 From the CPRE map you can see that Shetland is a Dark Sky area , the only light pollution of note coming from the Oil Rigs etc in the North Sea of the East coast. Keeping away from Lerwick, Scalloway, Sandwick and Voe will increase your chances of a superb nights viewing

Air turbulence is another problem when trying to photograph or to view at high magnification through a telescope.You all know the effect heat haze has, if the sun has been beating down on a concrete yard it will hold the heat the release it slowly as night comes along. But the air above is heated an creates a whirlpool situation. That's why it is better to pick a shaded spot to observe from. Also as heat rises from a house it is best to avoid viewing from inside. Likewise it is better to bring the equipment outside and allowed to cool down before starting o observe or photograph.

The Antoniedi scale can be used to classify viewing conditions fore the Moon and other planets. One is the best, being perfect without quiver, while 5 is the worst with serve undulations that don't allow features to be made out clearly

A cloudy sky will make it impossible to view or take photos, but a hazy sky heavy with water droplets  will also make it difficult. A halo around the Moon indicates that atmospheric conditions are poor.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Pot of Gold

Rainbows are fascinating and attract people's attention no matter what the age. Rainbows are created when sunlight is bent and reflected by raindrops. This takes place on a day of sunshine and showers so Shetland is an ideal location to encounter one.
                                                                                              One drop of water

The sun needs to come from behind while in front a shower occurs, This bending or refracting of light means it is split into the seven primary colours.

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, with red on the outside and violet on the inside. The brilliance of the colours is down to the size of the raindrops, with the larger drops creating the more spectacular rainbows.
I was fortunate to be at Kergord when I come across this one, using a 800 mm lens I was able to concentrate on a few colours which ended up filling the frame. Using the shape of a tree to reinforce the arch of the rainbow. I try to get out in all weathers, using a waterproof cover fro the camera and lens, on this occasion i had only just started a walk from my car.

Double rainbows are created when the raindrops are reflected twice inside each drop, this is when a slightly fainter second rainbow is seen. In this second rainbow the colours are seen in reverse so that the red in the second faces the Red in the first rainbow.

The rainbow is not located at a specific distance, but comes from any water droplet viewed from a certain angle relative to the sun's rays. A rainbow is not an object, and cannot be physically approached. It is impossible for an observer to see a rainbow from water droplets at any angle other than the customary 42 degrees from the direction of the sun. Even if the observer sees another observer who seems `under' or at the end of a rainbow, the second observer will see a different rainbow - further- off at the same angle as seen by the first observer

The most celebrated rainbow in NORSE mythology is BIFROST, which connects the Earth with `Asgard', home to the Norse gods. Bifrost can only be used by the gods and those who are killed in battle. It is eventually shattered under the weight of war. The notion that a rainbow bridge to heaven is attainable by only the good and virtuous such as warriors and royalty, is a theme often repeated in world myth.

The pot of gold that is said to be found at the end of the rainbow for me is being in Shetland !

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Everyone is drawn to looking at the sky, its lighter than the landscape and therefore our eyes are drawn to the lightest point in our view not the darkest.

The sky is ever changing, certainly in Shetland you could find yourself experiencing four seasons in one day. Over the coming years I hope to capture the Shetland skies in all their glory. With wide open vistas not bound by buildings or trees you can be drawn into natures greatest art form with the the skies ever changing colour and shapes.

In Shetland if you visit in late Spring / Summer you will also experience the Simmer Dim, when it is virtually light for 22.5 hours, except for an hour or so. The photo below, hand held was taken at 1.30 am just as the sun was starting to come up. One draw back is that you never ave enough energy to keep going

                                                                             Returning from a night trip to Mousa

Of course the clouds have names thanks to a thirty year old Quaker Luke Howard who in 1802 devised a classification for clouds. Hopefully with the aid of some books I hope to identify the photos i will be posting.
In addition, I have always been interesting in the night sky, the moon and planets and auroras (not seen as yet) and also astronomy so when the weather allows I hope to be out doing some night photography with a DSLR.
                                                                               Cumulus clouds over Sandwick

One of the main problems of night photography is the weather, well bad weather to be precise overcast and windy conditions make it impossible to photograph. Shetland is windy so shelter would help, especially taking long exposures. A problem in Sheffield is the light pollution, no matter where you go you get a glow, even in the darkest Peak District areas, so Shetland offers better DARK conditions where you can actually see the stars which are so obscured in cities.
My first astrophoto taken back in 1982 in Sheffield when film ruled the day, this is direct from a slide and shows a large amount of light pollution

This wouldn't be complete if I didn't include any other things that might be seen in the sky, this might be photos of aircraft, fireworks, birds and insects in flight all with a Shetland connection.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if I should name something incorrectly, I have only just started learning about clouds