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Reaching for the stars

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(My first attempt at shooting the sky at night. The Perseid meteor shower also visible, centre frame. The line to the left is an aircraft. Also, the light on the horizon is not the moon but a cross channel ferry)

 So with yesterday being such a clear and beautiful day, come midway through the evening I decided it might be a good opportunity to try and capture the Milky Way. However, in my part of the world, finding a dark spot with little to no light pollution is hard to come by. The best place for me is about a 20min drive to Pett Level, situated half way between the towns of Hastings and Rye. Being on the south coast means that the most visible part of the Milky Way is seen looking straight out to sea.

A quick look at the weather report, showed that there would be a big bank of cloud coming through at around 1am, however, when we arrived at 11pm, the clouds were already beginning to push in. Even though this is the darkest location near to me, light pollution from the two towns was quite visible but was just far enough away to see the stars and Milky way with the naked eye.

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I pretty much knew which camera settings I would need to use and I wasn’t far off on my first couple of shots. 15 seconds, ISO2000 at f2.8 with my Sigma lens set at 18mm. After a few shots at this setting I then decided to increase the ISO to 2500. The most difficult part was trying to set the focus as best I could, as just selecting infinity doesn’t always get you the best results. I’m not entirely convinced the I nailed it on this occasion.

We we also very lucky to see a some of the Perseid meteor shower, with one really bright one going right overhead. Unfortunately not where my camera was pointing but I did manage to capture a few in some frames. ( See top image and one below, visible top right corner)

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The other factor reducing visibility, apart from cloud and light pollution, are the nights being currently at their shortest, so it’s doesn’t really get truly dark as it would during the winter months. With this in mind and looking at the results from this, my first attempt, I will definitely be returning at each new moon, when the sky is at its darkest during the winter months. Weather permitting of course.

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Pett Level Pill box revisit

Having set off from a successful shoot at Winchelsea beach I headed back towards Pett level and decided to make a return visit to the WW2 pill box. I had made a short visit here earlier in the year but only took a few pics of the pill box itself. The old magazine and gun emplacement still exists and can be found about 20 yards down to the left and it was here that I wanted to get a better look at this time.

As you walk across you can see the concrete roof and this walled trench linking one part to another. Moving down a little further reveals the entrance and steps down into the main areas where access is very easy indeed. The main thing I found was how dark it was in side the main room, taking me a good few minutes for my eyes to adjust.

As you can see by all the tagging there have been many visitors down here over the years. The exposures needed to get the shots from inside this room were quite long, ranging from 30 seconds to 2 minutes to get the brackets needed to make the HDR image you see here.

As you move on from the room pictures above you enter into the magazine area and then through towards the trench you can see from the second picture taken from up top. A you walk through there are two more small rooms/storage areas to your right and then straight ahead is a partial ladder which gets you back up top…Well at least it used to; this and a couple of other holes have been covered over with metal grates presumably to stop people falling down after dark.

There’s a fair amount of tagging covering the walls of this place, unfortunately nothing of any note.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little visit, thanks for looking.

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Pett level Pillbox

This past Tuesday our camera club met up at Pett level for an evenings spot of photography along the beach. However, even though throughout the day we’d been blessed with blazing sunshine it didn’t end up giving us (or at least me) that wonderful golden light I’d been hoping for. It just seemed a bit lifeless and just a little too hazy to get anything half decent. Heading up from the beach towards the houses I bumped into another club member and we decided it might be a better idea to head up towards the old World War 2 pillbox. A very good decision this turned out to be too, with just enough golden light hitting the bickwork.

This is one of my favourites from the eve but I took a couple of others both inside and out of this building.  The part you see here is the lookout, but there is also another section that was used for the gun emplacements that we didn’t get to. Another visit me thinks.

A very pleasant evening had by all, rounded off with a nice chat in the pub too. 🙂