I checked all the weather apps on my phone for the 50th time. Well maybe not 50, but you get the idea.
The forecast for Dale was 100% clear skies all night long! My opportunity to photograph the Milky Way as it was making a comeback to the Welsh skies had arrived. Whoop whoop!
The Galactic core of the Milky Way becomes visible around 4:00am and that’s the part you want to capture.
I was staying in Dale, Pembrokeshire for a family holiday and had checked the light pollution for the area and it was nice and low. Perfect!
So on Sunday evening I started making hints that I was planning to disappear into the night around 4:00 in the morning. Mum offered to come with me as she didn’t fancy the idea of me wandering off some cliff in the pitch black. Yea she’s a good mum!
So my alarm was set for 3:45am. But I was wide awake before it went off. Yea I was pretty excited! I snuck into my mums room to wake her up and I immediately received a thumbs up. Looks like someone else was keen to see the Milky Way!
So we set off in the truck and drove the 2miles to St Anne’s Head. The skies were crystal clear and the millions of stars shone brightly above our heads.
We parked next to the first lighthouse and stepped out into the chilly night air.
And there she was, the galactic core of the Milky Way!
Mum was on torch duty, and I set about setting up the camera for the first shot.
I wanted to grab a few starry photos with the lighthouse in the foreground before we set off across the field to the cliffs edge.
I tried a few angles and then once I had found one I liked and grabbed a few shots at a 20second exposure (f/3.5 and ISO 1600 for you camera geeks!)
Not wanting to wake anyone up in the cute little row of terraced holiday cottages on the cliff edge we kept our torches off. I mean there was a nice little path along the field so should be easy enough to negotiate our way along it?
The I heard the sound of cracking ice and a splash!
I quickly spun around, Mum!?
She had somehow lost her balance on the path and slipped down in a good sized puddle that was at least a few inches deep!
Thankfully she regained her balance and we trudged on, mum with slightly more soggy boots and myself keeping a much closer check on my mother!
I now know where I inherit my clumsiness from.
Once we got to the edge I set my tripod up, checked my focus, positioned my camera and pressed the shutter. After 25 seconds of waiting, my first Milky Way of the year appeared on my cameras screen.
I’ll just say we were both very excited and I would like to make a formal apology to those people staying at the holiday cottages if we disturbed you!
Once I had got all the photos I needed of the Milky Way, I set about get a shot of the smaller light house. But there was one small problem. A mesh fence.
This wouldn’t have been a problem, if I haven’t broken one of the extenders on my tripod!
While photographing Gwyne Fawr Reservoir last year, I some how managed to pull this extender a little too hard and pulled it out completely. And yea it’s never worked since!
So back to the fence issue, I tried getting closer and tried to get the shot through the fence, but that didn’t work so I tried getting the tripod on higher ground. That didn’t work either!
I looked behind me to the East and saw that blue hour was starting to take place. It was time to call it a day.
I got what I came for so I was happy!
We heading back to the truck both rather pleased with the results and we returned home without any more accidents!
We finished the night with a crumpet and hot chocolate, and then went back to bed to catch a little extra sleep before the day began.
I have to admit it was great to have my mum for company on one of my Astro shoots, as she hasn’t been out with me before. It was great to show her how I capture those starry shots and to just stand beneath the night sky in awe!