Tor Light by Night
The forecast was for a clear morning, following a cold night, so it was perfect time for an early walk up Glastonbury Tor to see some stars.
I climbed up the hill around 6 am: not too early but at this time of year it was still pitch black. I stopped half way to look up hill and photograph the stars behind the Tor. There was also a chance to see the Quadrantid meteor shower.
I could not see anything through my viewfinder. Focus was largely guess work by locking it some nearby lights. Despite a 30 second exposure the image was still very dark. However, when I lightened the image on the computer a whole world of vivid colours appeared.
While watching the night sky I saw several shooting stars. I never managed to photograph any as they came and went so quick. A bit of internet research suggests these were part of the Quadrantid meteor shower.
The straight line in the picture above is not one of the meteor shower. Not unless meteors have a red flashing light. When zoomed in to 100% you can sadly see it is just an aircraft trail caught in the long exposure.
Once at the top I remembered that I still had by front bicycle light with me. So I tried painting the tower in torch light.
This worked better, and the light also allowed the camera to focus on the tower. However, the LED light was very white and it washed out the colour of the stone work. I restored the natural colour of the tower at home using Photoshop. If I try this again I may use coloured filters in front of the torch to soften its white light.
The long exposure did some other expected things.
- It highlighted the night sky around an aircraft trail – I had no idea it was there when I took the picture.
- The black sky turned surprisingly blue and a lot of the stars could no longer be seen.
- It brightened the inside of the tower through the arch, which came out a bit green.
- I forgot how quickly stars move against the sky and each one turned into a short line.
- It woke up the noisy pigeons roosting inside the tower.
It would have been interesting to have seen the effect of illuminating the tower from down on the bottom of the hill.
Taking pictures of the view across Glastonbury was much more straightforward. It is amazing how bright our towns are at night.
After a couple of hours I had a brief companion at the top of the hill. There was now enough light to shine across the frosty fields.
There was a beautiful delicate arc of a new moon above the red horizon.
Gradually, the sky filled with clouds.
By the time the sun appeared all that remained of the clear sky was a narrow red line on the horizon.