Ever since I posted “Distant lands” – how I’ve done the lighting remains a regular question that I’m asked – How I take an astrophotography self portrait?

Distant Lands

Distant Lands

The issue is around getting consistent lighting for a self portrait across a panorama with artificial lighting (the light source held by myself – the exploring figure).  I’ve probably over done the explorer – but I like getting out to different locations.  I am constantly trying different ideas when I’m out shooting, but it’s always important to get a “normal” shot.  There are lots of other techniques and variations happening in the background that may not be readily evident.

In terms of self portrait images – I’d already done the figure holding a torch light beaming light into the skies.  I went out to try something else that night with light painting techniques that didn’t work out so well for me (I was trying to do a a teleporter like Greg Gibbs “beam me up” – but I at the time was thinking about the logistics for a panorama, I’m sure that where I’m at now though – I’d be able to do something).  This is where one of my philosophies of knowing as many techniques as possible came into play.   I’m quite comfortable shooting with speedlites and had a gary fong lightsphere (amongst many other light modifiers) with me.  First attempt – you can imagine it was take photo – go back to spot – take next photo.  Thankfully I’ve got several tripods (and lightstands etc).

So how the process goes now is:

  • Work out the composition.  In a sufficiently dark location you can see the milky-way band and for a panorama can work out where to appropriately stand.  I take note about breathing space and light pollution sources.
  • Take the key frame with myself in it.
  • Replace myself with a tripod and put the light on top
  • Take the rest of the panorama

To demonstrate in terms of the imaging and processing: