Don’t be fooled by the video above….it’s actually a series of photographs. I took this timelapse of the Milky Way spinning through the Australian night sky while camping on the Roe Plains. After a productive day of diving, we returned to camp, stoked up the fire, and settled in to tell tall stories. Despite the crystal clear skies, it was a warm night and I wandered down the track to find a good vantage point for the camera. The warm evening meant I didn’t have to worry about dew settling on the camera, although I did use a small drybag as protection from any unforeseen change in the weather.
In this video you can see the shadows of the trees moving across the ground as the moon sets in the west, with the foreground illumination disappearing as it goes down. The nearest major town is more than 700kms away. Without the light pollution you’d normally get from human activities, an incredible number of stars can be seen. Unlike civilisation, where constellations are hard to find because very few stars show up in the evening sky, constellations out here are hidden in the billions of points of light scattered from one horizon to the other.
For those interested in the timelapse methodology, I used a remote intervalometer attached to my Canon 5DII. Each exposure was 13 seconds long, with a 37 second gap between them. I turned off the camera screen and the review to save power, as I was working off a single in camera battery. Between 8.20pm and 4.11am the camera took over 550 shots before running out of juice. The slight jump early in the video is where I changed the battery before retiring to my tent for the night.
After importing these shots into Lightroom and adjusting the exposure, I used a slideshow template at 25fps to watch the stars swirl across the sky. Lightroom allows you to export photo slideshows as a video, and voila!
I look forward to the starry night skies we get on these cave diving trips. After a day of hard work carrying diving gear through the bush and down over rocks, and swimming kilometers underground, the chance to sit around with your mates of an evening and check out something that can’t be seen from any city is magical.