Archway to Heaven This was the first chance to really push my full-frame camera to its limits. An almost perfectly clear night in one of the darkest locations in Dorset - it did not disappoint. With the outer spirals of the Milky Way fairly visible to even the naked eye, I knew that a long exposure at a high ISO would produce tremendous detail. So I drove down to Durdle Door, hopped down what was once the steps to the beach, lined up my shot and got this. Additional lighting was provided by my LED Lenser torch, as the arch was somewhat silhouetted when compared to the light the stars were giving off.
Reflections at Kimmeridge A truly magical shoot! I arrived at Kimmeridge on this spectacularly clear night in early May, at the point of low tide. There wasn’t a breath of wind, so the sea was completely flat and motionless, creating a wonderful reflection of Clavell Tower and the Milky Way above, as well as Antares, Saturn and Mars to the right. I managed to capture all my shots before the tide came back in, but not quickly enough to avoid wet feet! The sky was a composite of 7x 1-minute exposures at ISO 6,400, f/4, 24mm, tracked on my Vixen Polarie. The foreground was a combination of a tracked and an untracked 4-minute exposures at ISO 1,600.
Gold Hill and the Cosmos After weeks of cloud, one clear night was just the ticket for me to improve on my last image of Gold Hill. Setting up in the middle of the street, a little further down, I managed to avoid the street lighting from the bottom of the hill, and line up the Milky Way in the sky above the Blackmore Vale below. The sky was compiled of 10x30s exposures, ISO 6,400, f/4, 14mm on a Vixen Polarie sky tracker. The foreground was a six minute exposure at ISO 800.
Perseid and Milky Way above Sturminster Newton Mill Conditions combined beautifully to create this atmospheric shot, across the River Stour at Sturminster Newton Mill. It was unusually cold for an August night (6 degrees Celsius), and the first properly clear night in Dorset around the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. A mist had descended in the field behind me, and it hung low on the river and amongst the trees behind the mill, dispersing the background street lighting very pleasingly.
Milky Way at Mudeford Having first photographed Hengistbury Head during this July evening, I hotfooted it around the beach to capture the Milky Way above the brightly coloured beach huts at Mudeford. Hope I didn't wake anyone up!
Broadchurch by Night With the final episode of the third series of Broadchurch airing recently, I thought it was his time to revisit my most local Milky Way viewing spot. In the Spring, the core of the Milky Way rises far enough over to the east for it to appear over East Cliff, Burton Bradstock and Chesil Beach in the distance, when standing on the harbour wall at West Bay.
Light the Way 'Light the Way'. With early autumn presenting opportunities to photograph the Milky Way in the south west, I lined up this shot of Portland Bill, with a crane and boats in the foreground.
Pulpit Rock and the Core A trip to Pulpit Rock on Portland was long overdue, and the conditions on this night in August were perfect - not a cloud in sight and a bit of a breeze to keep the humidity relatively low. The skies on the southern tip of Portland are dark enough to push the camera beyond my usual settings, so I opted for a series of 10x stacked 1-minute exposures at ISO 6,400 and f/4. The foreground was a 10-minute exposure at ISO 400.
Centre of the Galaxy The globe underneath Durlston Castle had been on my to-do list for a long time, and I even hosted a small photography workshop here earlier in the year. Towards the end of summer, the Milky Way lines up above the globe in the south west, which presents the ideal opportunity for shooting the globe, and its surroundings, in their entirety, while still avoiding the majority of the light pollution from nearby Swanage. The sky was compiled of 10x30s exposures, at 14mm, f/4 and ISO 6,400. The foreground was a 10 minute exposure at ISO 800.
Milky Way above the Pinnacles The Pinnacles, south of Old Harry Rocks, had long been a location I wanted to shoot. Late on in the year, the Milky Way appears directly behind them and Swanage beyond. The chalk formations of Old Harry Rocks and Ballard Down mark the eastern most point of the Jurassic Coast.
Abbotsbury Beacon by Night After what seemed like an eternity, I got my first chance to photograph the Milky Way in 2017. After an initially disappointing shoot at West Bay about an hour earlier, the Milky Way finally rose from the murk on this fairly humid night. The sky was a stacked series of 10x 30s exposures, at 14mm, f/4, ISO 6,400, on an iOptron StarTracker Pro. The foreground was an 8-minute exposure at ISO 400.
Milky Way above Stair Hole With both Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door within a stone’s throw, its often easy to forget about Stair Hole. It’s a small cove just to the west of Lulworth Cove, and has fascinating exposed limestone strata. This shot was composed of 10x30s shots for the sky at ISO 6,400, 14mm and f/4, and a 10-minute exposure for the foreground at ISO 800.
Stars above Sturminster On this evening in September, I found a slightly different angle to shoot Sturminster Newton Mill, meaning I was closer to the mill, and there was less surface weeds on the river in the foreground. The sky was compiled of 6x 1 minute exposures at ISO 800, f/4, 14mm, and the foreground was a 4-minute exposure at ISO 400, f/4 and 14mm.
Milky Way above the West Dorset Coast After a light pollution plagued shoot on The Cobb, I was rather relieved to actually see the Milky Way above this quiet location looking over the West Dorset coast. The steps lead down to the new walkway-cross-erosion defence wall, and are sheltered from the light pollution from Lyme Regis seafront.
Milky Way above Gold Hill This location has been on my to-do list for quite a while now! Tricky to photograph, as the street lights only switch off at 1am in the summer, and the Milky Way has a narrow track of the sky to follow so that it lines up with the street. This setting in Shaftesbury is, of course, known for being the backdrop for an old Hovis advert, where a boy pushes his bike up the hill.
Where Land and Sea Meet Sky Taken from the beach at Lulworth Cove, near the mouth of the stream that flows into the sea. In mid-Spring the Milky Way lines up perfectly with the opening of the natural cove. The bright orbs to the right of the Milky Way, from left to right, are Saturn, Antares (lower down) and Mars (the brightest one). The sky was compiled of 7x one-minute exposures at f/4, 14mm and ISO 6,400, and the foreground was an 8-minute exposure at ISO 800.
Milky Way Above Portland Bill I've always wanted to shoot Portland Bill at night, but it's tricky. The night sky on the southern tip of the Isle of Portland is very dark, but the bright beam of light produced by the lighthouse here is difficult to photograph. My first outing since getting my lens back from repair, I made this a priority to shoot.
The Castle on the Hill The Milky Way floats above the iconic Corfe Castle. When I previously shot the Milky Way here, it was earlier in a summer, and much earlier at night, so the Milky Way was above the village, rather than the castle. This image was taken at 3:30am in late August, so the Milky Way is much further over towards the west, and the core can be photographed from the footpath on East Hill.
Time Stood Still This was the first time I've captured a completely clear sky above Knowlton Church in north Dorset. Having bumped into a pair of deep sky astrophotographers just packing up when I arrived, I had the place to myself, and established a close enough alignment with Polaris to work with 4-minute sky exposures. The core of the Milky Way no longer appears above the horizon this late in the year, but I'm encouraged with the improvements in my equatorial mount alignment and sure that I'll get to work with even longer exposures early next year.
One Light in the Cove Always wanted to shoot Lulworth Cove from this viewpoint, above it on the South West Coast Path. Technically very difficult to get the shot, and edit it afterwards. Perched up on the cliff above Lulworth Cove, with dawn fast approaching, I captured a series of five sets of stacked exposures to create the panoramic shot of the sky, then merged it with a number of 4-minute exposures of the cove below, just as first light was occurring. The colour temperature was changing throughout, there was a keen breeze and my sky tracker was just about clinging onto the camera, despite it being at a 90-degree angle to the mount.
Milky Way above Osmington Mills Waterfall Having first visited this location late last year, I had worked out that I needed to photograph the Milky Way here in the Spring, when the core of the Milky Way rises in the south east. Despite strong light pollution from Weymouth and Portland to the right, the skies here are still suitably dark to capture detail in the Milky Way. Sky was a composite of 10x stacked 30s exposures at ISO 6,400, f/4, 14mm, on a Vixen Polarie sky tracker. Foreground was a single 8-minute exposure at ISO 400.
Milky Way above Old Harry Rocks I was never 100% sure that the Milky Way would rise far enough east to be visible above the iconic Old Harry Rocks in Dorset. I arrived at 4:30am to be greeted with a blanket of clouds. Luckily they quickly passed and the core of the Milky Way was rising due east. After five sets of 8x30s exposures on my Vixen Polarie star tracker, dawn was starting to break, and I quickly captured five further 90s exposures for the foreground.
LAND: see sky I’d been meaning to photograph the Anthony Gormley LAND sculpture at Kimmeridge ever since it was installed in May, but this night in September 2015 presented a perfect opportunity. A little haze to the right of the image glowed with light pollution from Portland and Weymouth.The sculpture was installed at the foot of the hill upon which sits Clavell Tower, remarkable because it was moved, stone by stone, 85ft away from the eroding cliff edge. A total of 16,272 were salvaged, and the tower is now used as a holiday home by the Landmark Trust, who commissioned Gormley to produce a series of installations here and at other locations in the UK.
One Light in the Cove Shot in the early hours of a July morning, this is as far as the galactic core of the Milky Way rises above the horizon in South West England. Captured at Durdle Door, the iconic rock archway on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, which falls within some of the darkest skies in the county.
Milky Way above The Cobb This image has a tale and a half to tell! I arrived at Lyme Regis just after the moon had set one March morning, at around 3am. I set up on The Cobb and tried to figure out how best to avoid the bright white lights from the harbour below. Looking east for a moment, a huge fireball streaked across the sky, lighting up the entire landscape. My camera was not taking a photo at the time, but had it have been, I expect the resulting frame would have been completely overexposed. I’d never seen anything like it before.
Glowing Pulpit Rock Shot on a lovely clear night in July 2015, with the Milky Way piercing through the bright beams of Portland Bill lighthouse overhead. On my walk down to Pulpit Rock, I came across a sound I'd never heard before, which turned out to be a recording, being played out through a speaker, luring storm petrels in for ringing. Totally freaked out, but managed to concentrate and got this shot before the moon rose. The sky was a stack of 8x 30s exposures at ISO 6,400, and the foreground was a 10-minute exposure at ISO 400.
Light in the Darkness I got this shot at Portland Bill just before the moon rose at around 12:45am. The Milky Way is still quite low in the sky in June, so you can get quite close to buildings and get them to interact with it in a number of different ways.
Sagittarius Rising After a prolonged sequence of cloudy nights, this was one of the last opportunities I had to photograph the Milky Way directly above Clavell Tower and the east of Kimmeridge Bay this year. On the horizon, I noticed a set of distinctly bright stars rising, which I later worked out to be the constellation Sagittarius.
Milky Way above St Catherine’s Chapel Abbotsbury is always a fantastic spot to observe the night sky. it is positioned between two light pollution producing towns Bridport and Weymouth, it falls within some of the darkest night skies of coastal West Dorset.
Milky Way above Gold Hill I was very lucky to find Durdle Door devoid of any other photographers on this evening in July 2015. Both the beach and cliff were completely free, and I took this shot overlooking Durdle Door and the beach. It reminded me of the days when I’d go out at night in Dorset and could be almost guaranteed to see no other photographers. Last time I visited Durdle Door, in May, there were six other people there, at 2am!
Milky Way above St Aldhelm’s Chapel I’ve been meaning to shoot this 13th Century chapel, just south of Worth Matravers, for some time now. It falls within some of the darkest skies in the county, with nothing between it and France to the south, other than sea! This was the first of three locations during a productive Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Some hazy cloud was present alongside the Milky Way.
Starlit Knowlton Church It had been a while since I visited the ruined church and earthworks, so one clear night in August 2015 saw a return. Once again, light pollution from nearby towns was picked up by passing haze, which gives a lovely warm glow.
Starlit Church Ope Cove For my first 'Stargazing' image of 2015, I headed out to Church Ope Cove on Portland. The Milky Way rises just above the beach here during May, and its sheltered location and good lookout made it a perfect place to shoot. Slightly hampered by fast-moving clouds on a keen breeze, the Milky Way is very clear for a good portion of the image. Foreground was a 15 minute exposure, and the sky was a series of 30x 30s exposures, stacked together.
May's Milky Way above Durdle Door This image was a bit of a rush, as there was a bank of cloud rushing over (which you can see at the top right), and twilight was fast approaching (3am). The foreground was an 8-minute exposure at ISO 800, and the sky is made up of 16 stacked 30s exposures at ISO 3,200.
Moon Comes Out to Play at Broad Ope Crane Having shot the Milky Way at Portland Bill this night in early June 2015, I noticed the moon rising a gorgeous red on the horizon. By the time I had set up this panorama, it had turned more orange in colour, but I still managed to capture it before the light emanating from the moon drowned out the detail in the Milky Way.
Milky Way above West Bay Finally, a chance presented itself to photograph the Milky Way at West Bay. I'd finished my shoot for the evening with the film crew of ITV's Harbour Lives, over at Durdle Door, and returned to home at about 1am. I couldn't resist snapping this shot, seeing as the sky was so clear and the Milky Way was positioned just right.
Milky Way Above Durdle Door This is Durdle Door, on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. It is one of the darkest places in the county and, therefore, one of the best to go stargazing. This was shot on an evening in June 2013.
Milky Way Above Knowlton Church I found myself shooting the night skies of north Dorset in early September 2014, and couldn't resist returning to the 'haunted' Knowlton Church, near Cranborne. The two pools of white light pollution on the horizon were caused by the Great Dorset Steam Fair, taking place at nearby Sixpenny Handley.
Milky Way Above Pulpit Rock Any visit to shoot the night sky at Portland wouldn't be complete without photographing Pulpit Rock! The light from Portland Bill illuminates the top of the rock formation beautifully. After climbing over some precarious rocks in the pitch black darkness, I found a spot where the Milky Way lined up perfectly and took this shot.
Looking West at Durdle Door The Milky Way shifts quite far east the later in the year you shoot it. Here, at Durdle Door beach, I shot six vertical frames, panning westwards towards Portland and Weymouth.
Close Encounters at Durdle Door One night in May 2014, I was at Durdle Door, filming with Ben Fogle and ITV's Harbour Lives. At the end of the shoot, the pickup truck was waiting for me near the steps down to Durdle Door, full beam headlights on, pointing at the rock arch. I couldn't resist holding back and grabbing a few shots of a rare opportunity to see Durdle Door lit up so well. It's a shame the Milky Way wasn't quite in the right place. I think it has the feel of an alien spacecraft landing or taking off, not quite sure why. Hence the name!
Milky Way Above Corfe Castle The village lights of Corfe Castle extend up into the sky above. The castle and hill are lit up by passing vehicles.
Beacon to the Milky Way I was struggling to find angles to shoot Portland Bill this evening in August 2014, with the position of the Milky Way being directly in line with the bright beams of Portland Bill. Managed to get this shot with the Milky Way directly above the Trinity House monument, just before hazy clouds rolled in.
Illuminated Knowlton Church During my second visit to Knowlton Church, I decided to shoot the ruins, face on to the tower, lining it up with the Milky Way and illuminating it with my torch. The conditions were slightly hazy, so the Milky Way isn't quite as clear as it can be in this incredibly dark part of Dorset. A lot of light was being kicked off by the Great Dorset Steam Fair happening nearby too.
Milky Way Arch Above Lulworth Cove The first time I've managed to get the Milky Way captured at Lulworth Cove. This image was created by taking 5 exposures with a Samyang 14mm across the Cove, stitching together in Photoshop, then a lot of warping work and editing.
Sturminster Newton Mill by Night A wonderful location on the River Stour, just south of Sturminster Newton itself. The mill is far enough away from the town to ensure the Milky Way is visible through the light pollution of street lamps. I photographed this from just across the river, where there is a field and public footpath.
Milky Way West of Durdle Door Taken on a clear night in the height of summer this year, the Milky Way stretched from East to West, and directly above. The summer months are the best time to observe and photograph the Milky Way.
Path to Enlightenment Had to photograph St Catherine's Chapel in Abbotsbury at some point! Abbotsbury has some fantastically dark skies and the hill and chapel that sit beautifully to the western side of the village are the ideal spot for stargazing. I set up my camera long the pathway up to the chapel and lit it up using the focused beam of my LED torch.
Milky Way Above Hardy's Monument I'd always been keen to go back up to Hardy's Monument, near Portesham, since I did a star trail up there for my Dorset by Night project. Facing south, I captured the Milky Way behind the tower, avoiding most of the light pollution from Weymouth and Dorchester, which illuminate this side of the monument.
Milky Way and Meteor Above Durdle Door Whilst shooting the Milky Way in August 2014, vertically lined up with the arch in Durdle Door, this meteor streaked across the sky.
Pulpit Rock Milky Way Black and White Took during my first visit to shoot the night skies at Portland Bill, in August 2014. I was level with Pulpit Rock, which was illuminated beautifully by the beams of the lighthouse.
Meteor Above East Cliff (Broadchurch) A large meteor (shooting star) appears in this long exposure of East Cliff, taken from the harbour wall of West Bay in Dorset, in May 2013. These light trails are caused by small lumps of rock entering the Earth's atmosphere, then burning up in the process. Considering this was shot with a very wide lens (14mm), the size of this meteor trail is pretty large. I didn't spot with my eyes though - I was too busy shining a torch at the cliff...
Backlit Durdle Door Another lesson in perseverance. Having driven through plenty of miles of fog one cold March night, I thought the chances of getting any shots of the stars at Durdle Door were slim. But I walked down, managed to get on to the beach, lo and behold the skies were clear (if a little hazy) and there was a boat in the distance lighting up the horizon. I proceeded to line up the boat and the door opening, and lit the door with my trusty LED Lenser torch.
Knowlton Church Hazy clouds were just rolling in as I arrived at Knowlton Church one early morning in June. A pair of astrophotographers with a telescope were just around the other side of the church, so we took it in turns setting up. I attempted to light the church with my torch, but the lights from Wimborne were enough to show the church in all its ruined glory.
A Beacon to the Stars It was still raining when I took this picture, which makes it the only stargazing photograph I've taken whilst getting rained on! Anyway, this is Portland Bill in Dorset, one of my favourite spots on the coast. Nikon D800, Nikkor 20/2.8.
Hardy's Monument by Night A series of around 200x 30sec exposures, stacked in Photoshop, of Hardy's Monument, near Portesham, Dorset.
Milky Way Above a Misty Chideock and Seatown Taken in September 2013, this was one of the last Milky Way images I shot. The mist formed in the West Dorset villages of Chideock and Seatown, and I walked along Quarr Hill, near between Bridport and Chideock, until I had the Milky Way lined up with the lights of Seatown, on the coast.
Milky Way Silhouettes Durdle Door Taken on the same night as 'Archway to Heaven', in June 2013, this is a shot I took without painting light onto the door with a torch.
Milky Way above Colmer's Hill A familiar clump of trees to those in West Dorset. It is an iconic landmark of the area, can be seen from pretty much anywhere in Bridport and, as I found out one evening in October 2013, can be photographed with the Milky Way behind it.
Milky Way above boats in Lulworth Cove Taken at the height of summer, there were a fair few boats in the cove, with a good group of them in the middle of the water. I lined up the Milky Way with them and took this shot.