Courier Report 10th February 2023

Date Published 
Wed 8 Feb 2023

The Isle of Man Photographic Society launched into February with another ‘first’ when Ron Strathdee presented the relatively new topic of Dark Skies Astro Photography, a genre in which he specialises. Yet again, all credit is due to our Committee’s desire to introduce new ideas to stimulate interest again following Covid, generously rewarded with a splendid, inquisitive attendance!

We were especially delighted to see several potential new members present to swell the numbers present, all of whom were rewarded with a range of spectacular images, all beautifully presented, of many local landmarks viewed against the dark star-lit night skies and often featuring the Milky Way. To witness such amazing photography of familiar ‘local’ sites, but as rarely seen before, meant that no-one went home feeling disappointed!

Ron explained that his aim was always to capture the beautiful ‘natural’ effects that could be achieved late at night or in the early hours of the morning. With the island proudly boasting its 26 registered dark skies sites, the opportunities for Government to promote dark skies tourism are clearly there to be grasped! Some of the images had very skillfully been taken from vantage points that revealed beautiful reflections on still nights utilising a watery foreground. Ron’s images of the Milner Tower on Bradda Head and those taken near the Sound Café were especially delightful.

In this modern age of digital photography, astrophotography is now within virtually anyone's reach. All the amateur enthusiast requires is a modern DSLR camera with low light capabilities, a fast lens, and a good sturdy tripod in order to obtain quality night sky images, plus warm clothing, of course! Ron had even managed to feature a few lovely images which he had managed to take from his front garden!

He then offered advice designed to encourage other members to try their hand, such as the simple 500 rule (that is, if you use a 20-mm wide angled lens, you divide the 500 into it to determine for how long – 25 seconds - you can shoot before the stars start to streak). He recommended a manual setting, a low aperture of between f/2.8 and f/4, and an ISO between 800 and 4000 (or more) for between 15 and 30 seconds.

The next meeting of the Society will be held on Thursday 16th February and will be another outdoor Urban Photography evening. This will be led by Andrew Barton of Andrew Barton Photography. Members (and any guests who would like to join us), are asked to meet together on the Thursday at 7.00 pm on Level 3 of the Chester Street Car Park (St Thomas Church end) in Douglas. We continue actively to recruit new members, so please come along, no matter what your experience or present skills level, to share in this great hobby! 

By Antony Hamilton