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LATEST SKY EVENTS

Updated January 17th 2020

Moonlit Ballintoy & Canon 5D Mark IV Video Test - NEW

I had an enjoyable photo shoot last Saturday night at the Co. Antrim coast with John Fagan. The moon was one day after full and the sky very clear so we decided to do a general shoot to get time lapsing and fresh coastal air. At Ballintoy Harbour we were shocked how high the sea was, with high tide and influence from approaching storm Brendan the sea was quite disturbed, in fact, the most active I have seen it here all Winter. So we had a very fun night using two cameras each, I shot four time lapse sequences, two with the Canon 600D at 10mm and two more using the Canon 5D Mark IV and 24mm lens. This is a star trail looking out from the car park beyond the cottage and stacks, the surf sure was far in, the bright trail to the lower left is planet Venus.

The harbour was action packed with big swells surging into the harbour wall and big waves crashing, in the bright moonlight the scene was quite spectacular to the naked eye. This is a long exposure of the big waves crashing in moonlight, naturally the motion of the water is smoothed out in the time exposure. We admired Betelgeuse which was still the faintest we have ever observed it in our lives and had a great chat about storms and photography as our cameras clicked away. Check out the time lapse from this shoot here.

I decided this would be a good time to test out the night time video capabilities of the Canon 5D Mark IV, I used a 50mm F/1.8 lens and maxed the ISO out at 25600, I was amazed to hand hold the camera and see bright stars in the sky and even the waves crashing so I took several sequences to try and capture the atmosphere. I had to brighten up the waves scenes slightly which revealed noise but with a faster lens and good noise editing software I feel its safe to say that this camera has amazing low light video recording potential, something I will be using for storms and perhaps vlogging. The above video begins looking at stars from my backyard then progresses to Ballintoy, make sure to watch at best quality and in a dark room.

Return To Sperrin View Glamping - UPDATE

I made a return trip to Sperrin View Glamping in Co. Tyrone, I teamed up with a mate for a night of shooting stars over these curious glamping pods. We met the owner and were given a tour of the interior then had permission to photograph for the rest of the night. I have a lot of images to go through and I'm still editing but for now here's a star trail I shot around one of the pods, this shoot will feature has my first image report of 2020 so stay tuned.

Sperrin View Glamping Pods & Benbradagh Sunset - UPDATE

I had my first official night shoot of 2020 on January 7th in Co. Tyrone. The shoot was arranged last minute as it looked to be the only clear night for some time. I teamed up with photographers Paul Martin (Tyroneskies) and John Fagan (Chasingtheelements) to go get a much needed night under the stars. It was a bright ambient night with a waxing gibbous moon present. The night began by time lapsing planet Venus setting over the stones at Beaghmore Stone Circles. I shot the time lapse with my new Canon 5D Mark IV however I ended up having some issues with the results, long story short, but it looks like it might be the lenses I was using which although compatible for full frame were not the best they could be due to being of old design. I will get to that another time, I'm still field testing the camera with my current lenses so I will have more to post on this matter soon.

We then re-located to the Sperrin View Glamping Pods located a little further down the road from Beaghmore on the right hand side and decided to take our first night images of this new location (we have permission to shoot here) which will be opening to the public shortly. The Pods are finished however the grounds are still being worked on so I will definitely come back another time for another go. These were with my 600D and 10mm lens, the moon helped illuminate the scene however it was in the wrong part of the sky for some of our angles, so I took images anyway even, in this case, with the moon in the frame, which I reckon worked out well. This is the larger communal area.

Another angle of the communal home

This time from the rear of the same location and facing NW

One of the glamping pods available to hire with stove and chairs. This was with the 5D Mark IV and 24-70mm F/2.8 lens at 24mm, however the lens was not wide enough to take in the entire scene, I could have backed up but I would have been in deep mud so I left it as it was, I need a fast wide angle lens for full frame soon. This location will look great when completed which will be in the very near future, I can't wait to return for another shoot before the pods get booked out.

First drone flight of 2020 was on January 8th, I spent the day on Benbradagh outside Dungiven, one of my favourite local viewing spots for storm spotting. It was a cold day on the mountain with a bitter wind blowing and much of the time was spent in the van waiting for squally showers and clouds to pass. Just before sunset the showers cleared and revealed a 15 minute window of fabulous golden hour light. I got my flight in and had a wonderful time filming the mountain, I took several stills which you can see on my flickr page and also acquired this 180 degree aerial panorama which I was delighted with. You can view the full video of this session on my youtube channel from January 12th onward.

'TENACITY' - 2019 End Of Year Video Presentation - WATCH

My 2019 end of year video presentation featuring my video and time lapse highlights showcasing various storm, weather, winter and atmospheric optics scenes all captured from N. Ireland this year. This is a combination of DSLR video, DSLR time lapse cinematography, Go Pro, Mavic 2 Pro drone and even mobile phone footage. 2019 was a strange year, much like 2018, it was fairly quiet during both winters and there were less thunderstorms and clear nights, also a lack of any aurora displays for me and I didn't get any funnel clouds on video despite chasing as much as I could or experience any proper night lightning or blizzards.

That being said 2019 still had its moments such as the beautiful snowfall earlier in the year which I documented over Binevenagh by drone and the late March thundersnow storm with shelf cloud at Benbradagh not to mention the Lough Neagh distant multicell thunderstorm convection time lapsed at sunset which was a nice moment. The NLCs or Noctilucent Clouds were superb with several exceptional specimens time lapsed from Cookstown and over Mussenden Temple. The video features other phenomena too such a 22 degree moon halo, lenticular cloud stacks and even an nocturnal storm surge which swamped my van within seconds.

I spent a considerable amount of time and effort to chase as much natural phenomena as I could and I'm certain that 2019 was my most active period for time lapse photography to date, often using two DSLRs at the same time. If only I could work out the hours, diesel and images taken to do justice to the amount of time I've spent out in nature to get this material, however it was always time very well spent, either solo or with good friends, and always in the company of Mother Nature. This video is really about those special memories. I hope you enjoy the video and I look forward to seeing what 2020 will bring. You can view the images and my write ups about the 2019 season on my website storm chase reports below...

http://www.nightskyhunter.com/Storm%20Chasing%202019.html

Thanks very much for watching and a happy new year to all my followers!

'Wild Ireland' Bears & Wolves - NEW REPORT

Wild Ireland Bears & Wolves - Report

I have always wanted to photograph Bears, I never thought it would happen unless I flew to Canada, however a dream suddenly came true when 'Wild Ireland' appeared on the television news. An animal sanctuary located in Burnfoot within Co. Donegal featuring rescued animals by Solicitor and Zoologist Killian McLaughlin. Roisin and I spent four hours at Wild Ireland on November 5th 2019 and had a wonderful time. This report features imagery of the three Brown Bears and Wolf Pack which was a dream come true for me. I will be visiting this place again in the future but for now these images document my first look at these marvelous animals. One page report with 24 images. - REPORT.

N. Ireland Storm Chasing Image Reports - Archive

Astronomy is not the only subject I'm interested in, check out my N. Ireland Storm Chasing section and view the chase reports and images which detail not only storms but other phenomena such as a moonbows, noctilucent clouds, aurora displays and exciting nature related photo shoots.

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Martin McKenna

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