Pano and Startrail - Haleakala Summit
Here are a couple from New Year's Eve in to New Years Day. Not technically perfect images, but the viewing was fantastic that night.
Very nice images. Amazing to see the stars flipping from one hemisphere to the other.
They are watching us......
Your pano is spectacular - "not technically perfect" my petookus...
Heading to both Big Island and Maui myself in late may/early June (dark of the moon on May 28) and looking forward to giving some shots like this a try myself. No equipment aside from a fair FF camera (Sony A99), 15mm diagonal fisheye (Sigma), cable release, and tripod.
Any suggestions for things you wish you'd done differently, if you had it to do over again, would be very welcome.
Thanks for the kind words. One thing I would do differently is hang a weight from the tripod to try to control the wind and camera shake. It can get windy up on Mauna Kea and Haleakala, thats for sure. Better to plan for it. I used an aluminum Manfrotto 290 for the pano shots. I recently upgraded to a Gitzo Series 3 Carbon and a 58mm FLM ball head set up. Should be MUCH more stable than last time.
Oh, not sure if you have been to either summit before, but dress very warm with gloves, hat, thermals, etc. It will make your night up there much more pleasant.
Have a great time. I love the Big Island...definitely my favorite. Maybe I'll see you on Haleakala. I'm usually up there at night on dark moons.
Thanks for the response. We knew about dressing warm (we were just going to layer a couple pairs of sweats and hoodies on top of multiple T-shirts, etc vs. packing actual 'warm clothes'), but the tripod stabilization is a good idea. I can probably borrow a scuba weight or two from the dive shop we pick and strap them to the pod center column at the bottom.
I've got a Manfrotto carbon fiber tri that's pretty sturdy (055CX3), and a Gitzo magnesium ball / pan head that's also fairly stout (G137BM). I was also strongly considering buying a star tracker (iOptron 3302B) and secondary ball head, thinking if I try for multi-frame pano I can set it for half-sidereal rate and kick up my exposure to about 45-50 seconds per shot, or go longer if I ditch the background and just go for the milky way span itself.
I'm torn - I sort of feel like this trip might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, in which case may as well splurge and then can always sell used to cut the expense after if I don't "catch the bug" to do more astrophotography elsewhere (I live in DFW area, TX, so too much local light pollution; takes about 3 hrs drive minimum to get to a dark spot and even then its a max of like 1200-1300ft elevation). Then again, I already have a huge amount of photo kit to bring what with the dive photography, so my wife may just entirely disown me if I try to pack TWO full photo backpacks. Hobby obsessions are a pain, aren't they?
(Currently have the A55 for underwater, and A99 for above, which means some lenses for both since the photo housing doesn't fit many of the FF lenses for the A99...plus the housing, ports, underwater strobes, etc.)
Not entirely sure we'll make Haleakala since we're definitely planning to do Mauna Kea the first week which is closer to the new moon; we can probably get up there the 28th or 29th of May with our current plans, but if we do make a run on Maui too it would be probably between June 4th and 6th. Look for a 6'2", tubby bald guy with Sony gear, an irate, shivering blonde wife, and no clue...
If you went with a Vixen polarie and didn't like it, I would buy it off of you for sure. I've been wanting to get one for awhile...
Just for reference, that pano was stitched together in Photoshop Essentials 11. It is 7 shots taken vertically at 17mm (16-35mm lens) @ f2.8. Could probably do it in 5 shots, but I allowed a lot of overlap.
The moon sets at Midnight on June 4th and 12:53am on June 6th, so you can still have a dark sky on Haleakala if those are the dates you will be here. I like to get up there around 11:00pm or Midnight anyway. Allows good shooting for a few hours before being swamped with headlights from the droves of people coming up for sunrise.
I hope you share some of your diving pics. I am trying to resist the urge to bet an underwater housing for the 5DIII. I love UW photography. If you have never visited the Kapoho tide pools near Pahoa, it is fantastic. I used to snorkel there every weekend. The sea life there is unbelievable.
The Hawaii Revealed books by Andrew Doughty are worth their weight in gold if not familiar with the islands. Highly recommended.
If you decide to visit Haleakala during your visit, hit me up. I'll go up there with ya.
Good info again, thanks. I was going to enter it all into Photographer's Ephemeris on my phone, or Stellarium to plan ahead a week or two before we depart, but nice to have it in hand already. Also nice to know about the headlight deluge for sunrise...
I was really looking more at the iOptron than the Vixen due to the included scope for better alignment...I've already found an app that works on android (iOptron's only works on iPhone) and matches the sight view. Plus it had a higher weight rating spec, but I think the Vixen's spec has been upgraded as well to match. Or maybe that was the other way around - as you can tell I'm new to the whole 'astro' side of photography.
As far as diving, we're probably sticking to just the Kona coast on the Big Island. Not entirely sure what portion of my gear to bring, frankly. I hear that Hawaii doesn't have as much of the truly stellar reefscapes I like to shoot wide angle in, sort of more blah rocky backdrops, so I might just bring the macro rig for critters with one small strobe and the wide-angle lens sans big strobes for pelagics (spinner dolphins and the like) if I think the odds are good of getting in the water with them. Lets me exchange the mass / packing of 2 big strobes and arms for lenses for the A99 (and the tracker).
You can probably find a housing for the 5DIII without killing yourself, maybe even used (Wetpixel.com has a reputable buy/sell forum), but then the 'accessories' train has to get going. Ports, strobes, arms...it ends up adding up in a hurry. I picked two expensive hobbies, scuba and photography, and squared the cost. Hah.
Definitely willing to commit to being up there if you want (your profile says Las Vegas? You get over there that often??). Drop me an IM with contact info and I'll pass mine over. When the wife and I went to Dominica the first time in 2008, we hooked up with a divemaster I met over photography related chatting (I wanted to take an underwater rig into a flooded canyon called Titou Gorge) and that turned out to be the highlight of trip, plus we've stayed in touch over the years and scheduled another vacation in 2012 around his schedule. Having some "local" insight is invaluable to getting the most out of trips like this.
Thanks again for the conversation.
Totally forgot to mention - thanks for the book recommendation. Just downloaded the apps for android. Excellent resource.
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