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Each at their own pace

Perseïden MeteorietenzwermAfter about 20 years (really, no kidding) I have been able to match the ingredients to capture the perseïds! It all started when still in highschool with Paul van Hoof. We were trying all different things we could think of that would work with a camera. Photographing the lightspectrum of specific elements, different types of lighting, trying to capture sunspots on a picture, and indeed to capture meteorite storms like the perseïds. While latter may seem to be the simplest, it took me longest to achieve.

On our first try we had little luck and had a persistent cloud cover. Reverting to photographing traffic lights did get us the attention of the local police, and a article in the local paper :-) Apparently getting a clear sky at the right day in august is rare in the Netherlands as the following years proved. Obviously, you need to have the time available as well, and access to a relatively dark location (living in Eindhoven makes this a tough cookie). This year finally these fairly humble requirements all came together. Jeah!

The plan was to make a series of about an hour (or however long the batteries would last in my D700) catching as many meteorites as would be presented to me. This I wanted to do in order to show a combination of circular star-trails and the different paths of the meteorites. Browsing through the photos in Lightroom made me hopeful. A few meteorites did end up on my sensor! But alas, after merging the 180 photo’s (20s exposure each) together, the meteorites were nowhere to be seen! Hmm, that was not what I had been hoping for.

I then realised that it would actually be nice to put the focus on one of the ‘stars’ of the meteorite show. I added the photo that had captured the meteorite in full glory and made the part with the meteorite overlay the circles of star-trails. The resulting picture is not what I had seen in the night (I for one have never seen star-trails ‘live’), obviously. What it does show, however, is the making of two types of trails that represent opposites in the time spectrum. While meteorites are short-lived and unpredictable, stars are the opposite. They move slowly over the night’s sky, in a predictable manner chasing their fellow stars.

In case you had not spotted the perseïd falling from the sky, it’s on the lower left side of the north star.

Nikon D700, 16-24 VR, f4, iso 1600, 20s (per image, total 180 images).

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