On the night of November 17, 2009 – we a group of photographers scattered across length and breadth of Karnataka ( South India ) had set out on a new mission to capture Leonids meteor shower on camera. The idea was to come up with a time-lapse photography which will end us with with a video and also long exposure shots which gives a different dimension to the meteor photography for each person. One of my friends Sriharsha had come up with this initiative and all of us were very excited eager and were on our toes to go and try out our luck at this task. We had months of planning for locations, equipment, teams etc. The idea was to capture Leonids against different elements of nature like rocks, water, forest, valley etc. Half of the team who were Canon shooters ( including me ) were stranded with lack of equipment for time-lapse photography [unlike the Nikon counterpart, Canon DSLRs does not have inbuilt intervalometers]. This eventually led us to invest some more $$s on our ever increasing camera bag contents.
Though the technical discussions, brainstorming, analysis of previous years captures from planetariums were high on agenda – the team had a big eye towards the weatherman. Just as most of us expected and it turned out that we had a massive retreating monsoon cloud cover on southern India during this period. All of us had our fingers crossed and prayed for the clouds to clear for at-least 17th night. But destiny had a different story scripted for us.
Few of us drove down to the respective locations couple of days well in advance to scout for potential locations and myself, Harsha, Ganesh and Anil decided to drive on the afternoon of D Day.
The location which we ( our team ) had finalized was Mydenahalli – a Black buck sanctuary at around 200kms from Bangalore city. After reaching the place – we spent some time shooting some landscape images in what turned out to be a glorious golden evening light. Harsha and Ganesh infact managed to get some Raptors and Black bucks too on their sensors. Late evening was spent scouting for out time-lapse and long exposure setup. But the eyes when turned up was always disappointing by the thick clouds.
After a quick round of dinner prepared by Harsha himself in his camping gear and a round of humorous dialogues by Ganesh we set out at 11pm to setup the gear. Things didn’t look good even then. Everywhere other than the Eastern horizon was clear ( the region where we were suppose to see the Leonids ). We were in continuous touch with the other teams over phone and things didn’t sounded good from their side too.
Few intermittent breaks and eyes glued continously to the sky we spent the whole night not shooting much. We did see some stray meteors and had to satisfy ourself with it. Eventually at around 3am on 18th we started seeing meteors predominantly at 90degree to our location ( instead of horizon ) facing west – we shifted the angle of cameras and let it open for long exposure. All thanks to the destiny couple of us got some record shots of what apparently turns out to be Meteors / Leonids 2009.
Apparently the camera which i had setup for time-lapse with a light-painted watch tower in the frame failed to capture any meteors as it was facing east for the complete 3hrs it was switched on and the sky hardly opened up during this time.
Overall it was a very good learning experience and exposure to Night & Astro Photography – a new field of photography which most of us had not ventured. Personally i would like to thank Harsha for this initiative and the entire Leonids 2009 team for coming together for this.
We will surely get back to field with some new, different and unique project in future as a team.
Thanks for your views & keep smiling 🙂