This is the old North Room blog – the new one is at www.north-room.com/blog

Intergalactic Tour Update: the Milky Way and, erm, New Zealand

Posted in Landscapes, Milky Way, New Zealand, Travel by Mike on April 23, 2009
Our Milky Way, above the Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

The Milky Way above the Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo, New Zealand.

For Claire’s birthday, we spent the night star-gazing at the Mount John Observatory on New Zealand’s South Island. The Observatory’s location, in the Mackenzie basin, was chosen because it has very little light pollution and great year-round weather conditions (70% of nights are cloud-free).  A decent place to go star-spotting then!

The picture above, however, was taken a couple of km’s away on the shores of Lake Tekapo where the tiny Church of the Good Shepherd stands.  After we’d been shown around the night sky by the resident astronomers at the Observatory, we headed back to our camper and I set the big gun up on a tripod in the grounds of the church.  It was about 2am when I took this – if you’re interested, I dialed in ISO 6400, f2.8 on my 14-24mm and left the shutter open for 30 seconds.  The church is illuminated by the ambient light from the village nearby.

Then Claire waited patiently with me for the following 30 minute exposure.  The guy at the observatory had helped me to identify the southern celestial pole (there isn’t a star there like there is in the northern hemisphere, which is known as Polaris).  The trails you can see are attributable to the Earth’s rotation during a half-hour period.

 

ISO 6400, f2.8, 30 minutes.

ISO 6400 (should have been lower, rescued it in post), f2.8, 30 minutes.

The thing we both like most about these shots are that they contain 3 galaxies – our own Milky Way which is clearly identifiable, as well as the two Megellanic Cloud galaxies which you can make out to the right of shot in each photo.  There’s an estimated 400 billion stars just in our galaxy and we can only see a fraction of a percent of nearby stars because most aren’t bright enough to reach us.  Minds.  Blown.

Anyways, astronomy lesson over.  Hope you come to terms with it all faster than we did…

Lake Tekapo reflected in the window of the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Back down to Earth. Lake Tekapo reflected in the window of the Church of the Good Shepherd.

 

Spent the day cycling around the "grape bushes" of Malborough.

Spent the day cycling around the "grape bushes" of Malborough. (*snigger*)

 

Had a great afternoon here.

Recommended. Food was as good as the vino here.

 

The Havelock Mussel Festival's Mussel-Eating Competition Loser, 2009.  He kept them down though.

Although not everyone here was enjoying what they ate! This was the Havelock Mussel Festival's Mussel-Eating Competition Loser, 2009!

 

We've just clocked up our 10,000th kilometer.  We remember most of it being on this road!

Just clocked up our 10,000th campervanning kilometer. We remember most of it being on this road!

 

One that was spared the harsh realities of our windscreen.

One that managed to avoid the harsh reality of our windscreen.

 

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These shots were taken by our Rafting co.  Had a blast but it was flippin' cold!

These shots were taken by our Rafting co. Had a blast but it was flippin' cold!

 

One of NZ'z prized natural springs.

One of NZ'z prized natural springs.

 

Nice.

Nice.

 

Mount Cook.  We're guessing this is the Head Chef!

Mount Cook. We're guessing this is the Head Chef!

 

 

Milford Sound.  Yet another totally awesome place, dude.

Milford Sound. Yet another totally awesome place, dude.

 

And you've got Mordor just up the road.

And you've got Mordor just up the road. (And of course "Auckland", where Claire reckons the Orcs came from!)

 

(Something fishy about these mountains)

Je suis artiste.... (there was something fishy about these mountains...)

 

This was a deserted beach that Claire found in Abel Tasman (thanks Zara!).  And we had not one but TWO shags here!

This was a deserted beach that Claire found in Abel Tasman (thanks Zara!). And we had not one but TWO shags on it!!

 

Couldn't tell you what kind of shags they were though, any ideas anyone?

Couldn't tell you what kind of shags they were though, any ideas anyone?

 

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Unbelievably, our trip is now nearing its end.  We head to the land of the rising sun tomorrow and we’re home in less than a week.  So here’s a couple of things to mention before you desert these parts…

1) We’re blogging on… the blog will continue once we’re back home.  I’m enjoying doing it too much to stop and I’ve also got some inordinately exciting photo engagements + opportunities lined up that I’m going to be posting the results from.   So, if you’re interested, stayed tuned!

2) One of them is some one-on-one mentoring that I’ll be getting from Cliff Mautner.  Cliff is a world-class photography veteran with 6000+ assignments to his name and 700+ weddings. He’s Nikon’s Wedding Photographer-in-Chief and, to cap it all off, was just voted one of the world’s top 10 wedding photographers by American Photo.  Check out his site, he’s an absolutely amazing photographer and has some beautiful images there http://www.cmphotography.com.

3) As well as commercial portrait & wedding photography work, I’m looking to regularly undertake pro-bono work for good causes.  If you are closely linked to any charities or good causes, please hit me up in the comments/send an email to mike {at} north dash room dot com/send them here.  Also, if you know of anyone looking for a commercial portrait/wedding photographer, please help to spread the word – the official www.north-room.com website is currently in design!

4) Remember we’re having a few swallies at ours on Saturday 9-May, from 3pm – we’d love to see you all so please come round if you can!

See you soon!

Mike & Claire x

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