Pick of the Week 8/19/16
Date taken: 8/11-8/12 2016
Location: Bomarton, TX
This past week was the peak of the Perseid meteor shower and I had some big plans for this year. Unfortunately, nature interfered and I was not able to shoot the shower at the location we wanted. So I settled on a little bit closer spot in case the clouds decided to muck up our night sky. This old chapel in the abandoned town of Bomarton holds a special place in my heart. This was the location of my “Once in a Lifetime Capture”. Being away from city lights and being an aesthetic and interesting old building I thought it would be a great spot for some meteor watching. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought that. I asked my good friend Ian Glasgow to accompany me on this excursion. He happily accepted. We left my apartment around 11am. Normally this would be very late for the shower, but the moon was out in full swing and was expected to set just before 2:00am.
When we arrived to St John’s Chapel we could see a light coming from inside the church. This church hasn’t been used for service since the 1950’s so it was odd to see light on the inside. I could also hear a loud motor running…strange. As we got closer we realized it was a generator and we were not the only ones out here. Thankfully the moon was still out so I was able to see the truck parked on the side of the church. I introduced myself and asked what they were doing out here. Turns out I was talking to the owner of the property and they were out taking photos of the meteor shower too. Ft Worth photographer Jon Fischer http://jonpfischer.com/ was also there and they had been shooting since before sunset. After exchanging greetings, I walked back to my car to see a dark SUV pull up right behind our car. Honestly, I was a little upset at the number of photographers out there. Then I heard a voice say “Ben? Is that you?” it was the voice of photographer Mike Mezeul II http://www.mikemezphotography.com/. Mike had the same idea as us and the folks before us. Everyone exchanged greetings again and we started to get everything set up as the moon began to set. With peak of the shower coming real soon it was nice to see that bright orb sink below the horizon.
The sky turned from a dark blue to a stark black and shimmering stars could be seen all around us. There were some thunderstorms off to our west and northwest and we were concerned the clouds would make their way over our clear sky. Thankfully this wasn’t the case. We started shooting around 12:30am and while most of all the other photographers bounced around the church trying out different compositions, I set my camera up and stayed put. In my experience I have had the best luck capturing meteors by keeping my camera still. I did place is in the path of the radiant and with the church and milky way in my composition. The problem with moving the camera is you run the risk of missing all the meteors because your camera is not pointed in the right spot. Of course any way you look at it it’s a gamble, but I ended up with some real nice meteors over the church. My plan was to timelapse the entire sequence and pick out the best meteors to create a stack composite. This was I can show the whole meteor shower in one photo. I stood in the same location until about 5:45am taking photos about every 15 seconds. There were some great meteors that night and a few fireballs that I missed (though nothing like last time). I ended up with over 70 meteor images. It took me quite a while to sort through and stack these meteors. It was 5hrs of shooting followed by another 6hrs of editing, but the final shot I feel was worth it. The result is a time stack composite of 75 layers (69 are meteor) showing the Perseids living up to their reputation. It was really great meeting new people and sharing this experience with my friends.