I’ve been interested in film ever since I can remember and I got my first video camera when I was about 13.
All I ever thought about during that time was being a Film Director, or at least making films in some way, and pursued this by creating short films and videos with friends.
When I discovered time-lapse films, I was blown away by the visuals and beauty of nature, and decided to start my own time-lapse project here on the Isle of Man called Skies of Mann.
With time-lapse essentially being photography in motion I spent months through trial and error trying to get the perfect shot for the video learning from scratch, and from this, I found a new love for photography, more specifically astrophotography. Something about the night sky and being to capture it is awe-inspiring, and there’s nothing more therapeutic in my opinion than looking up and watching the stars.
We’re very lucky here on the Isle of Man to have such low light pollution in many areas, and because of this we actually have 26 official Dark Sky sites around the island.
Here are five of my favourite images:
This picture was taken at West Baldwin Reservoir which isn’t easily accessible at night, and during my time creating the time-lapse film I couldn’t drive yet. I can never thank those who helped me out during this time enough, and my friend Luke drove me out there that night and waited patiently for hours until I had the shot. This is a still from the time-lapse sequence looking out into the north sky illuminating the reservoir below. I actually decided to submit this shot into a competition from the International Dark Sky Association based in the U.S. and they published it in their 2016 calendar, I was speechless.
Road To The Stars
My photography idols continually inspire me to go out and create something new, and although this picture may be somewhat cliché with the Milky Way lined up with the road it meant a lot to me at the time. It was the first picture I took that really surprised me by the end result, and it felt like I had finally found my own style in a sense of processing the images. This was taken next to the old mines above Foxdale.
When I arrived at Niarbyl for this picture I had about 20 minutes before the Moon set completely below the horizon. I raced down to the low tide, set up the camera and snapped away while balancing myself on a couple of slippery rocks with water seeping into my boots. With such little time, I wasn’t too sure how the picture would turn out, but it’s easily been my most successful picture to date with Space.com even featuring it as their Image Of The Day a couple years back. The feedback was overwhelming and I really appreciate all the support I’ve received.
There’s something about Niarbyl that keeps me coming back and this once again was taken just after low tide. It was probably one of the best nights under the stars I’ve ever had with crystal clear skies and little wind. Pictured is myself stood in the water. I had the camera set to take pictures every 35 seconds giving me the chance to get in position and wait for the water to settle. I was taking pictures for a good 20 minutes or so in the water and I hadn’t realised that my phone in my pocket had died due to water damage. However, this picture will always be a constant reminder of just how special Niarbyl can be on a clear night.
Glen Mooar Aurora
You may not realise but the Aurora Borealis can actually be seen sometimes on the Isle of Man. Under the perfect conditions of little to no moonlight, clear skies and strong aurora activity you’ll be able to capture great aurora pictures on the northwest coastline, and sometimes even be able to see streaks of light moving across the sky during very strong activity. This was taken on Glen Mooar beech on such a night after hours of waiting, but for such a rare occasion it can really pay off sometimes, and due to its unpredictable behaviour it’s amazing to watch it develop.
If anyone’s interested in learning about capturing the night sky or just want to spend a night under the stars I’ll be holding an astrophotography meet-up at Niarbyl on the 20th October*, or the next clearest night after that (weather permitting). I’ll be around to give advice on taking pictures as well general interest in the night sky. Telescopes are also welcome of course and anyone else who fancies sharing their knowledge of the night sky. If you’re interested in taking pictures the minimum you’ll need is a DSLR camera that takes long exposures, a wide lens with a low f-stop (around 2.8 or as close as), a sturdy tripod, and of course warm clothes. Further event information can be found via my Facebook page.
*The Astrophotography meet has been moved to Friday 20th October due to a cloudy forecasts.