Bequia Easter Regatta 2013 - the racing gets under way
29th March 2013 - 0 comments
Bequia Easter Regatta 2013
The racing gets under way

This morning saw the start of the Bequia Easter Regatta, with the J24, Surprise, Racing and Cruising 1 & 2 sailing out from Lower Bay, around the Admiralty Mark and then off round the island. A great spectacle to see so many boats racing around the harbour.

A selection of the mornings racing can be viewed here.
New Gallery added : Bequia Easter Regatta 2013
28th March 2013 - 0 comments
A new gallery has been added to the site to show this weekends Bequia Easter Regatta and highlights from each days racing.

The preparations have been going on for the last few days but now the day has arrived for the registration, Skippers briefing, rum punches all round and then off tomorrow morning on the first set of races around the island.

The gallery can be viewed here.
Getting ready for the Bequia Easter Regatta
28th March 2013 - 0 comments
Getting ready for the Bequia Easter Regatta

Its nearly Easter and here, on Bequia, that means just one thing : its the Bequia Easter Regatta; the highlight of the year; 50-60 yachts arriving, with their crews to sail, race and party over the next few days.

The local boats are coming out of hiding ..... the 'double enders' as they are called; designed from the early Yankee Whaling boats that arrived here in the 1870's, with a bow at each end, designed to be stored within each other on deck of a larger whaling ship. They became the de-facto standard boat used here on the islands for whaling, fishing and hunting at sea.

Now they are raced, every Easter, at the Bequia Easter Regatta; the largest regatta in the Eastern Caribbean and supported from all of the islands from the region; racing classes of yachts from cruising, J24 and the local double-enders will race round the island over the net few days; courses from completely round the island, to round the bay; all will be filled with fun, dramatics, and a few rums too.

As the local boats get prepared to race, they appear on every corner of the island, under the Almond Tree on the bay front, to along the beach shore at Hamilton, to Friendship Bay and even up on top of Mount Pleasant..... they are all coming out of hiding for this annual event.
Golden Glow across the bay, Bequia
21st March 2013 - 0 comments
Golden Glow across the bay
Admiralty Bay Bequia

A stunning sunset across Admiralty Bay, Bequia, with the golden, orange, pink and blues after the sun had set

A glorious sunset developed this week. A clear sky made it look as though we were in for a green flash but little else. As the sunset came closer a small band of clouds developed along the horizon and 15-20 minutes after the sun had set, the clouds glowed in the dusk light, with the reds, oranges, pinks and blues of a stunning sunset.

This is a panorama; a stitch of 8 different images, each taken in portrait mode, overlapping the next next by 50% and then 'stitched' together using software. There are many programs you can use for this, but I used Photoshop CS5 for this one. I was surprised to find that P'Shop couldn't cope with this series of images, due to the number of vertical lines in the masts and rigging of the yachts. The masks had to be manually adjusted afterwards to ensure that all the yachts kept their masts.

It was a wonderful hour, sitting on the end of the Plantation House jetty and I have to say 'Hi' to Darlene and Colin who were also sharing the sunset with me. (Colin is one of the many local artists here on Bequia and he was out video'ing the sunset for a music album he is putting together).

Enjoy the colours as they say, wish you were here!
Island Photography : Sailing to Mustique
19th March 2013 - 0 comments
Island Photography
Sailing to Mustique

The colourful boutiques on the Mustique waterfront

One of the benefits living on a small island is that almost everyone sails and many people who live here have a yacht. So it was this week when a new friend of mine invited a group of sea-lovers the opportunity to sail to Mustique, one of the neighbouring islands here in the Grenadines.

The island of Mustique is home to the rich and famous and has recently changed its regulations to visiting yachts, to stop them from hiring the local 'mules', which are electric golf carts, to stop them free roaming around the island. A move to protect the peace and privacy of the island.

We were only really interested in have a quick drink in the World Famous Basil's Bar before heading back to the yacht for lunch, before an afternoons sail back to Bequia. It had been a great sail over from Bequia, the owner asking me to take the helm which after an absence of 5 years sailing round the Grenadines, was a real pleasure. The yacht was a Beneteau 45 and responded well in the rolling seas across the channel.

I had wanted to revisit Mustique on the trip, not only as I have many fond memories of visiting the Cotton House, the Fire Fly or Basils when I chartered around these islands, but because I wanted to recapture the colourful seafront area with its coloured boutique, fishing boats and the flags announcing the 35th Anniversary of Basils Bar.

With clouds brewing overhead, which drowned us an hour later, I walked the bay front area and captured a small bit of life on Mustique. I hope you enjoy them.

Bequia Faded Glory : Plantation House Hotel
13th March 2013 - 1 comment
Bequia Faded Glory
Plantation House Hotel

The faded glory of the old Plantation House Hotel, in Admiralty Bay, Bequia

The Plantation House Hotel used to be one of the key places on this small island, holding the position of the last building along the Belmont Walkway. As such it used to anchor the bay at that end, providing a great spot to relax, have a drink or sit and have dinner in its beach front restaurant.

I have many happy memories of sundowners there from a few years back when I ran a charter yacht from the bay. One of the 'funniest' memories of this place was when the 2006 Bequia Music Festival was in full swing, with people dancing on the tables and singing their hearts out to a London based rastafarian, singing '54-46 What's My Number' (an old Toots and the Maytals number), when suddenly an announcement came across the PA saying the my yacht has slipped its moorings and would the Skipper please return to her and save her! I made many friends that night as most the boat boys from the harbour were already on-board when I arrived, one diving to free the propeller and another group holding her off a catamaran where she had become rested across its bows. Happy times!

Nowadays, its is empty and left to decay. The jetty is falling apart, the main buildings are falling apart and the beach cabanas are used by the locals as a cheap place to rest their heads. Still used my locals and visitors alike as a spot to relax and sit on the dock to enjoy the sunsets or a swim.
Lower Bay, Bequia : Still surging
13th March 2013 - 0 comments
Lower Bay, Bequia
Still surging

The swell continued down at Lower Bay, Bequia today, completely washing the beach.

The surging seas off Lower Bay continued today, making it great fun to get out in the water and ride the waves as they rolled up the beach. There was evidence today of the waves breaking the crest of the beach and running out into the surrounding roads, so we hope it will at least calm down a bit.

The light today was back to our usual sunny, bright with blue skies and some white fluffy clouds rolling by, so it was another great opportunity to capture the swell.

For the first show I stood under one of the Almond trees that line the bay, using the shadow of the branches for both shade and to break up the white surf that was washing up the beach.

Along at the very end of the beach, you got a great viewpoint right along the entire beach and at time, it seemed that the whole beach was underwater.

At times it looked liked the whole beach down at Lower Bay, Bequia, was under water.
Bequia Photography: Lower Bay Surges
11th March 2013 - 0 comments
Bequia Photography
Lower Bay Surges

Storms pass by Lower Bay, Bequia as the sea surges right up the beach, washing away everything in its path

The promised surge that has been coming across the Atlantic, into the Caribbean Sea arrived today, with its swell and waves powering up the beaches, across the walkways and making everything on the Northern side of the island, rather exciting.

Walking down the Belmont Walkway, you had to take your life in your hands, unless you wanted to get soaked through and the poor yachties who had moored off Princess Margaret Beach or Lower Bay, certainly had a restless day and night, swinging around in the swell.

Lower Bay was as usual the most fun, with the waves crashing right up to the top of the beach, washing away all evidence of any human presence; no footprints in the sand left behind today.

The light was very dull, overcast and grey, so I headed out to play in the crashing waves and surges, but soon decided it was worth the effort to capture the moment. It was one of those occasions when I wish I had foot long spikes on the feet of the tripod, as it sank further into the sand with each passing wave.

I was slowing the movement of the water down through the use of neutral density filters. The Lee Big Stopper was too strong for yesterdays overcast lighting, as I only wanted a 1 second exposure, so had to use a 1.2ND instead, the slowest ISO I could set (ISO100) and toned down the sky with a 0.6NDSG. It was a good opportunity to use a soft graduated filter, instead of the usual hard ones, as with the surge came the white water running across the sea and up the beach, so a soft grad helped to tone all of this down a little.
Bequia Photography: More from Ravine & Rocky Bay, Bequia
07th March 2013 - 0 comments
Bequia Photography
More from Ravine & Rocky Bay, Bequia

The waves roll into Ravine Beach, one of the great beaches 'off the beaten track' in Bequia

A couple more images from this weeks trip out to Ravine Beach and Rocky Bay. Taken in the bright light of mid morning, the challenge here was to control the white water, from the crashing waves, not to over-expose the highlights of the image.

Some adjustments can be made to minor areas of over-exposure in Adobe Camera Raw, using the 'Recovery' slider, or by using an Adjustment Brush to reduce the Exposure or Brightness, but as always, its best to get it as good as you can in-camera.

Whenever there a subject I want to get the most out out of, which is usually every time I go out, I will use the Histogram to tell me what's going on with the tonal range and spread of the image. By 'Exposing to the Right', you make sure that your Digital Camera Sensor collects as much data s possible, taking the histogram over to the right hand side of the scale, without any clipping.

In post processing, this means you have more data to work with than you would have had if the histogram was evenly spread in the middle or to the left hand side of its range. The result is better detail in both the shadows and right across the image.

In times of challenging light, using this approach helps control the tonal range, reduces the blown-out highlights and results in a better image.

The movement in the water was achieved through the use of the Lee Big Stopper extreme neutral density filter, allowing a x1000 reduction in light. Even in the bright morning sun, at ISO100 this meant an exposure time of a few seconds, when I was really after around 1-2seconds. By increasing the ISO up to 200-800, the shutter speed reduces to the time required, giving the pleasant movement to the water.

Waves swirl around the headland into Rocky Bay, Bequia
Caribbean Photography: Ravine & Rocky Bay, Bequia
06th March 2013 - 1 comment
Caribbean Photography
Ravine & Rocky Bay, Bequia

Foot steps in the sands of Ravine Beach, Bequia

A second trip to one of the more easily accessible bays 'off the beaten track' here on Bequia. That of Ravine Beach and Rocky Bay.

I wanted to go back, as my previous visit had been with friends, walking, and I needed the sun to come round further to light up the rocks and cliffs of the headland between the two bays.

When I arrived, I had the bay to myself, but not for long, as a group of young people came down, with machete's, knives and diving gear, as they off to the headland to fish, or to hunt Iguana. One of whom, left a great pattern of footprints in the sand for me, thank you!

One of the reasons I wanted to return was to get some images of one point, in the headland between Ravine and Rocky Bay, as the sea had washed up a collection of colours rocks and boulders, which along with the coloured cliffs, made for a colourful scene.

As the sea wasn't too choppy today, I decided to use the Lee Big Stopper (ND110) to try and slow the motion down, using everything at my disposal; polarising filters, ISO, the Big Stopper and also a second filter, anything to stop the light getting in.

Coloured rocks and boulders in the headland between Ravine Beach and Rocky Bay, Bequia

As I headed round the headland, Rocky Bay too looked great, with the waves lapping the rocks and running off the ledges.

The waves lapping the rocks of the headland on the way round to Rocky Bay, Bequia
Caribbean Photography: Cloudy sunset across Admiralty Bay, Bequia
02nd March 2013 - 0 comments
Caribbean Photography
Cloudy sunset across Admiralty Bay, Bequia

The clouds spread out across Admiralty Bay, Bequia, as the sun sets down below a little cloud cover.

It looked as though it was going to be a great sunset. Clouds were spread across the sky in a great pattern, ready to catch the golden glow of the sun once it had set below the horizon. I setup the camera, took some test shots and waited for the sun to set and for the light show to start.

I chose one of my favourite spots for looking out across Admiralty Bay, high up on the ridge, in a friends garden.

Unfortunately, as the sun set, all of the clouds disappeared! Very frustrating, but that's how it goes and here, it happens quite frequently.

So here's one of the test shos from earlier, as I watching the clouds, rather than the sunset. Its a blended shot, as shooting into the sun always causes issues and although there was a light layer of cloud, it wasn't thick enough to stop the glare from the sun itself. I also stopped down to F22 to try and capture the starburst.
Caribbean Photography: Ravine & Rocky Bay, Bequia
01st March 2013 - 0 comments
Caribbean Photography
Ravine & Rocky Bay, Bequia

Ravine Beach, hidden away under St Hilaire Point, Bequia

Another of my trips off the beaten path here on the small Caribbean island of Bequia. This time though, it was not too far off with a 15 minute relatively easy walk off the road, starting at the old hotel on St Hilaire Point, walking down through the bush and scrub, to arrive at a small holding behind Ravine beach.

The beach is a small sweeping bay with a sandy beach, hemmed in on each side by rocks and hillsides, making it quite secluded, but being on the windward side of the island, is open to the prevailing winds.

The rocky headland between Ravine and Rocky Bay made the perfect lookout point, with sweeping views out across both bays, and the hillsides behind, running up to Mount Pleasant.

Rocky Bay is just that and very aptly named. A smaller bay full of rocks of all shapes and sizes, with a scramble down to the beach itself, down one of the rain gulleys. One adventurous sole is building a new home overlooking the bay up on the cliff.

It seems the hillsides around both bays are home to many goats, with their paths running through the bush, making a great way to scramble around, if you're up for imitating a goat that it.

Rocky Bay, Bequia, just over the headland from Ravine, very aptly named

The sweeping sands on Ravine Beach, a great secluded beach on the island

The clear waters that surround Ravine Beach make it a great spot for swimming and snorkelling amongst the rocks.
Bequia: Off the beaten track to Bequia Head
28th February 2013 - 0 comments
Off the beaten track

The view out across the Bequia Channel from the Northernmost point of the island, Bequia Head

One of things I have wanted to do since arriving on Bequia, is to go walking off the beaten track and visit the extreme corners of the island. I visited the Western end of the island, West Cay, a few weeks ago and this time I walked up to the Northern most point of Bequia, Bequia Head.

This time, I decided to go along with a guided group as there are a few plants on this island which can cause serious damage to skin tissue, if you touch them or rub up against them by accident, so I wanted to learn some bushcraft while also learning the routes and tracks across the Northern part of the island.

I joined up with a group being led by Donnaka who has lived on Bequia for many years and who not only runs regular walking.hiking trips across the island, but also manages the tracks, keeping them clear and free of debris, year round.

The hike was great fun, learning about the dangerous Brasil plants on the way and trying to follow some of the paths up through the thick bush that cover the North/Eastern part of the island. We started out at the Park Bay quarry, up through the bush to the ridge, where we met other tracks coming from Spring Top and up from the bay of L'Anse Chemin. From there, we continued to head out along a much better, wider, clearer and flatter trail along the ridge until we again came to a split in the trail, the right hand one going off towards Smugglers Cover and we took the left hand one, single file, towards Bequia Head.

Along the way we were finding lots to keep us busy, finding new plants, smelling the leaves; finding terminite nests; seeing the various type of plants, climbers, creepers and orchids that grown on the many different types of trees along the route. In addition, Donnaka kept us entertained with the history of the islands. A great trip, one that was very informative as well as being great fun.

On arrival at Bequia Head, the view out across the Bequia Channel towards St Vincent was stunning. Being up on top of a high clifftop, the view down towards the sea was blocked by the bush, trees and growth along the hill and cliffside, but the view out was amazing.

A great trip out to one of the points on Bequia that few get to see, and definitely worth the mornings walking. As we returned to our starting point, the vista out across Park Bay, out towards Industry Bay, opened up in front of us.

The view out across Park Bay and over to Industry, with the reef clearly visible in the foreground.
Caribbean Photography: Lone Tree
27th February 2013 - 0 comments
Caribbean Photography
Lone Tree

Dusky pink sunset over the lone tree on top of Spring, Bequia

I went this evening out intending to shoot the full moon rise, but as seems to be the norm, there was a band of clouds sitting across the horizon, meaning the moon was not visible until later into the evening.

So instead, I headed up to the 'lone tree' on the very top of the ridge, overlooking the Bequia Channel, with stunning views over the islands. As the moon was still in clouds, I decided to look the other way, and shoot the sunset, which turned out to be rather special.
Caribbean Photography: Princess Margaret Beach, Bequia
22nd February 2013 - 0 comments
Caribbean Photography
Princess Margaret Beach, Bequia

The sun sets across the landing jetty at Princess Margaret beach, Bequia

I spent the afternoon yesterday down at Princess Margaret beach, also known as Tony Gibbons beach. The beach for many years was quite deserted, with a couple of houses hidden away amongst the palm trees and a broken track down from the main road to the land behind. Nowadays,along with the rest of the island, development has grown up where now there is a beach bar, landing jetty and a few more houses perched on the rocky outcrops overlooking the bay.

The beach however is still glorious and still attracts less souls than some of the other more easily accessible beaches on the island. There are still a couple of local vendors selling t-shirts, drinks and local crafts to the tourists, but the main expanse of beach is unspoilt and great spot to 'lime' away an afternoon.

Th stunning Princess Margaret beach on the island of Bequia.

The beach was originally named after a reclusive fisherman who lived on the beach in a makeshift home, until one day in 1958 when Princess Margaret swam ashore from her yacht. The beach was renamed soon after.

It remains one of the most beautiful of Bequia's beaches with a long sweeping bay, golden sands, lined with palms and lush vegetation, it provides a perfect spot to look out over the yachts moored up in the bay and to as the Spring arrives, to catch the sunset out towards West Cay.

Waves crash and surge up Princess Margaret beach, Bequia

The waves run right up the beach as they crash ashore on Princess Margaret beach

The sun sets out across the moored yachts and boats in Princess Margaret beach

Waves surge up the beach at Princess Margaret beach on Bequia
Time Lapse over Admiralty Bay, Bequia. Knows as the 'Island of Clouds'
21st February 2013 - 0 comments
Time Lapse Photography
Over Admiralty Bay, Bequia

Also known as the 'Island of Clouds', this sequence seemed very pertinent.

The sequence was edited and brought together using LRTimelapse which is an excellent piece of software, allowing the editing of key frames throughout the sequence, then bringing a smooth transition between the edited frames, resulting in a smooth video sequence. Well worth trying out and the basic version is free.

For those with a keen eye, you'll notice a dust spot which arrived near the end of the 1172 shots I took for this time lapse. Very annoying when they turn up half way through. I have to go back and re-edit the files to remove it.

I have not mastered the workflow fully yet, and video Codecs are very different to image processing, and this version uses my best attempt so far in getting high definition quality up to YouTube.

I hope you enjoy the time lapse.

Help Support Bequia

I am now working on a long term project, to help promote the small island paradise of Bequia using photography, video and time lapse sequences. This is a project that will take me many months to complete and requires a large amount of time and funding to bring it to completion.

If you would like to help support me in this, please donate any amount using the buttons below. Thank you in advance for your support.

Action Bequia Valentine Ball
15th February 2013 - 1 comment
Action Bequia Valentines Ball

The Dinner Dance was held last night, Feb 14th 2013, in aid of Action Bequia and its charitable work on the island. Richard Roxburgh and his team organised the evening to raise funds for the great charitable work done though Action Bequia here on the island.

During the evening of music, dancing and three course supper, a painting by internationally acclaimed artist Heidi Muller, was auctioned in aid of the Bequia Youth Sailors; a local charity that teaches young schoolchildren on the island of Bequia to sail.

A group of over 60 people gathered for the evening of fun and festivities enjoying the cocktails and hors d'ouvres before sitting down to lobster salad, locally caught fish and a rich pudding dessert. All washed down with wine, rum punch or further cocktails from the bar! A great evening.

The auction was a great success, with David and Christine Anderson winning with a very generous bid of US$3,600, which will go to the Bequia Youth Sailors.

All proceeds from the night go to Action Bequia's General Fund to help them with their ongoing work on the island to help improve facilities for locals and visitors alike.

A selection of images from the evening can be seen here in the Action Bequia Valentines Ball Gallery. Images can be downloaded by clicking on the image you wish to view, then using the right-click function on your mouse whilst hovering over the picture.
Time Lapse Photography : Admiralty Bay
12th February 2013 - 0 comments
Caribbean Time Lapse Photography
Admiralty Bay

Like the Star Trails from earlier this week, I have been wanting to have a go at Time Lapse photography too, so recently I went up to one of the best viewpoints overlooking to bay and took a series of images.

The process for shooting the images is very similar to that for the star trails, in that you need a series or sequence of images covering a long period of time. For this daytime Time Lapse sequence, I was shooting one image every 10 seconds for about 90 minutes.

For daytime Time Lapse image sequences, the important factors are as normal, exposure, composition and shutter speed, but as I read more into the topic, the suggestion is for a shutter speed of below 1/100th second, especially if shooting moving clouds. The slower shutter speed helps to smooth out the final video.

This initial sequence of images was shot whilst I was out one afternoon and had some time to kill, and BEFORE I had done my homework, so this set was shot at 1/400th and as a result, the Time Lapse is a bit jerky. I have been working on another more recently with a shutter speed of 1/30th, achieved through the use of neutral density filters.

Shooting the sequence is relatively easy once you have an Intervalometer. My Nikon D7000 has one built in, so this help a lot when doing these kind of projects. I set it to take medium resolution JPEG files (as this was simply a trial) and to take one image every 10 seconds, for 90 minutes (90x6=540 shots). Once is was set up, I set it running and sat down and 'Lime'd' the afternoon away with the locals up on Mount Pleasant.

In post processing, there are a couple of ways to do it. If using QuicktimePro, you can automate any processing in Photoshop and then you must save the images as a sequence, with increasing file numbers e.g. Time lapse_001, Time lapse_002 etc. These can then be loaded in Quicktime and the Time lapse developed from there.

I think the easier route is to once again use Lightroom. Edit the first image in the sequence as you want it to look, sync the settings across all the images in the sequence, and then export the Time Lapse using the Slideshow options.

A third and even better route is to use the software LRTimelapse, which helps create a much smoother video file, by averaging out issues with brightness, changes in light levels etc. Its a free download and well worth looking at if you're serious about Time Lapse processing.

Once created, you may wish to add music, titles, and other bits and pieces to the final video and there are many good and relatively low cost video editing softwares out there. I have been checking out Sony Movie Suite Platinum which seems to be a good starting point.

As ever, have some fun with it all and if you really get into it, there is a whole new world of video, dolly's, trollies, and mechanisms to animate the sequence too.
Star Trails : Post Processing
12th February 2013 - 0 comments
Star Trails
Post Processing

Following on from my earlier blog on How to Shoot Star Trails, I will now explain the post processing work flow to generate the final image.

I shot a sequence of 100 images in RAW and loaded them onto my pc. I used Lightroom to edit the sequence. Here can you edit the image to suit your own likes and dislikes, but as my images were being affected by the light pollution from the next island, I adjusted the colour balance to cool the image, toned down the saturation and the used levels to balance the image and finally sharpened it. Once I completed a single image, I sync'd the settings across all the images of the sequence. This is a very useful feature for this type of project and save a huge amount of time.

I then saved the metadata of the entire sequence and exported the images to a subfolder, in JPEG format. Once completed I loaded up a nifty piece of software called Startrails.exe.

This application was designed to do 2 things, build a final Startrail image from a sequence of shots and as a bonus, it will also build you a timelapse. You simply open the sequence of images, in my case the entire folders worth of Jpegs, and ask it to Build.

A really nice feature of this software is that it builds the image on screen, in front of you, so you can watch the process unfolding.

Once complete, you can save the file as a BMP, JPEG or TIFF and if this is a serious image you're working on, use TIFF. I then adjusted Levels, checked the final sharpening and voilà, the process was finished.

The post processing probably took me half and hour, but as you get used to the work flow, this will be much quicker. The longest part of this type of photography is the taking of the shots, sitting and waiting for your camera to do its thing. Don't forget that book!
Caribbean Night Photography : How to shoot Star Trails
12th February 2013 - 0 comments
Caribbean Night Photography
How to shoot Star Trails

The Caribbean skies are so clear with little light pollution, that the star trails over Bequia fill the sky

Star Trails are one of those areas of photography that always seemed a bit gimmicky and not too difficult to get a reasonable result, so this week, with the clear Caribbean skies above me, I decided to have a go and see how I got on.

Technique: The aim was to produce a star trail image, not a time lapse sequence, although this came out of the process. I already knew the basics of the two main techniques from past work, but the most popular and in my mind, the better technique, is to take a series of shots at 30 second intervals and then combine them in software in post processing, which I cover later.

The benefit of this technique is that you can easily take a test image, and if you understand the relationship between ISO, Aperture and Speed, then you wont even have to wait 30 seconds : simply up the ISO for the test shot. Also, by shooting for only 30 seconds rather than 30 minutes, you reduce the noise, can check on the images as they come in and you get less noise pollution.

As you are taking pictures of the sky, you will want to use a wide angle lens and I went for my Sigma 10-20mm lens @ 10mm - as wide as I can get. You will also want the lens reasonable wide open, to allow in lots of light, as even with a sky full of stars, the amount of light is not that great. I used F5.6 for this first series.

Composition is a very personal thing and although you can use all of the standard rules like 1/3rds, its entirely up to you what you have in the frame, but some foreground interest is a good idea.

Location is also key. Its best if you have a location with not too much light pollution, although this can be minimised in post production, its better if you capture the best shots you can upfront. My spot was on top of a ridge, overlooking the channel between Bequia and St Vincent and I was surprised at the amount of background light pollution coming from Kingstown, which had to be 'turned down' in post processing.

I use a Nikon D7000 which has a Intervalometer, allowing me to shoot a series of images automatically, in this case, 30second shots, at an interval of 5 seconds to allow the file to be written to the memory card.If your camera doesn't have this function, you can buy third party Intervalometers quite cheaply.

File format is again a big issue and whilst you can do this with JPEG, I would always recommend shooting in RAW. The amount of flexibility RAW files give you is so much more than a JPEG. Post processing in software like Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw or Photoshop gives you much more latitude when dealing with RAW files and in Lightroom, you can develop one image, then copy the settings to the remaining sequence, saving huge amounts of time.

So, to setup, I visited the location during the day, got my bearings and found out where North was, as I wanted to have the North Star in my frame, as all the stars rotate around it. It just so happened that it was easy to line up North behind the single tree on the ridge.

Once the tripod was set up sturdily, I focused the lens using hyperfocal focusing, turned it to Manual, F5.6, 30secs and then took a series of test shots at differing ISO's to see which was best. In this case ISO800 was needed to capture the stars well enough. ISO800 did give quite a lot of noise, but this again can be removed in post processing either with Lightroom or with third party products like Noiseware.

Setting up the Intervalometer to take 100 shots, 30seconds a frame with a 5 second interval and then off you go. The you wait..... On this occasion as the location was remote, exposed and windy, I went back to the car and read a book for the next hour, checking on the camera an periods during the shoot. You will need to keep yourself occupied while the camera does its thing, so take a book, kindle etc.

The tree in this shot was very dark and I had already decided to light it during the shots at the end of the sequence using a torch, to bring out some detail in its trunk and leaves. However, after about 45-50mins into the shoot, the heavens opened and the rain poured down - a typical Caribbean storm. I grabbed the camera and ran back to the car.

I will cover the Post processing in another blog post.