Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Experiment with Star Trail Photography - @ Telbaila - November 25, 2012

Our senior photographer friend, Mr. Vivek Kale (we had visited Rajgad in September 2012), had organised a Star Trail Photography workshop. Location was Telbaila (तेल-बैला).

We started off from COEP, Shivajinagar at 12.15 pm. Vivek picked me up in his Santro. One more person Sandeep was also there. On the way we picked up Sam and Balasaheb.

We took the Old Pune-Mumbai Highway (NH-4). We reached Lonavala (लोणावळा). At Lonavla, we took left on a Railway Overbridge (the road that goes to Bhushi Dam and INS Shivaji).

The road goes by the dam wall (constructed on Lonavala Lake). A little ahead on the left one can see the board for parking for Bhushi (भुशी) Dam. Even ahead of that there is a Y-section. INS Shivaji is on right while the road uphill on the left goes to Sahara Amby-valley.

Cross the Tiger Hill (it is referred as Lion Point on Google Maps) a short distance from INS Shivaji. It is a good scenic view point. A photography pit-stop can be taken here to get freshen-up. After that, Fort Korigad or Koraigad (कोरिगड / कोराइगड) is seen on the left hand side.

Just after Korigad, a road turns towards right; straight road goes to Amby Valley. From here will start the real test for your vehicle. The road is extremely rough. Nothing to worry if you drive carefully. A village by the name Saalter (साल्तेर) passes by.

About 5 kms from here one can see the Tel-baila rock patch standing tall ahead.

We parked our car at the village. It was 4.30 pm. We set to explore the location in order capture some shots before the sun-set.

We had no plans to climb the hill. Our objective was to capture the Star Trail Photograpy at the backdrop of Tel-baila.

It is actually a hill till half-way. Similar to our Parvati (पर्वती) back in Pune, easier to reach. There is a small temple of Bhairavnath (भैरवनाथ) as well as a water cisterns. Presence of water may very well indicate that this cliff must have been used as a observation tower in the history.

But the real fun and adventure starts above that point. There are two large stone girders forming a rock patch; climbing which is not recommended for everybody. Should be done under supervision of expert trekkers, with proper equipment.
It seemed as if Two wafer biscuits are kept on a Cake

Star Trail Photography:
In short it is the capture of motion of stars using long exposures. Actually the result which comes is not due to motion of stars, but the motion of Earth. But since our camera moves with the Earth, it gives the effect of Stars motion.

Technically, one should be at a place away from city to avoid surrounding light (Light Pollution), mount the camera on a tripod, manual focus to infinity, use large apertures (low value) and very slow shutter-speed (large exposures) of about 30-40 minutes.

However, such large exposures have its own problems - sensor getting hot leading to noise problem and over-exposure.

To avoid this, there is another technique. About 60 to 80 continuous snaps are taken each with 30 secs exposure. These are then merged together using photo-editing software.

We identified our location for the experiment. By the time Sun went down, we set our cameras and waited for the stars to show up. Since I didn't had a tripod and a remote switch, I was observing others doing it.

Then we started the camera to take 80 snaps of 30 secs each. So there were these 40 minutes when we had nothing much to do. So we opened our tiffin boxes and had a quick dinner; occasionally trying to figure out whether there is any leopard nearby ...  ;-)

The best time for Star Trail Photography is that time of the Lunar Calender when the moon is neither bright (nights nearer to Full Moon - पोर्णिमा) nor it is totally absent (nights nearer to the New Moon - अमावस्या). Bright moon makes the Stars disappear because of its light, while its absence makes so many Stars available in the sky which results in a clustered photograph. The better time is during the eighth day of the Lunar Calender - अष्टमी.

We took the first click at 7.15 and the last one exactly 40 minutes.

From here we got back to our car. It was 8.00 pm. We decided to get near the Navra-Navri cha Dongar (नवरा-नवरी चा डोंगर) for one more attempt at Star Trail.

Navra-Navri cha Dongar actually is a twin hill side-by-side and hence referred so (Hill of Bride And Groom). It is also called as Taj-Mahal because of its resemblance when seen from a distance.

We reached the place by the name Bhamburde (भाम्बुर्डे) which is at base of "that" Taj-Mahal. It was 8.30 pm. We started one more Star Trail of 30 minutes. We were photographing with our tripods set in the middle of the road. With covered trees around, that time of the night was feeling as if it was already midnight. There must have been a temple around as the Bhajans and Aarti were heard.
Photo captured by me by putting the camera
on our car roof - Exposure of 30 secs
Star Trail - Photo captured by Mr. Vivek Kale
We wrapped our session by 9.15 pm and started for our return journey. We had planned to return via Tamhini-Mulshi (ताम्हिणी-मुळशी) route. We joined this route just before Niwe (नीवे) village, and reached Pune via Paud (पौड), Pirangut (पिरन्गुट) and Chandani Chowk (चांदणी चौक).

Odometer Readings:
00 kms         Narayan Peth
60 kms         Lonavala - take a LH turn towards Bhushi Dam and INS Shivaji
80 kms         Fort Koraigad
85 kms         Saalter village
91 kms         Tel-baila

Return journey
96 kms         "Y" section - take RH towards Tamhini; LH will go back to Lonavala

99 kms         Bhamburde - Navra Navri cha Dongar
126 kms       Mulshi-Tamhini Road - take LH here towards Pune - then comes Niwe village

176 kms       Paud - then comes Pirangut and Chandani Chowk
190 kms       Pune

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