4 Aug 2015

Chasing the perfect night sky shot

1:45 pm on 4 August 2015

Wellington photographer Mark Gee says he feels like "the only person on earth" when he's all alone photographing New Zealand's crystal clear night skies.

This video collects some of his most memorable experiences under the stars over the past year, with the most recent footage being from last month.

The footage was all shot in the Wellington region, and Mr Gee said areas such as Wellington's south coast and the Wairarapa were perfect locations for capturing the sky at night.

"[There's] less light pollution and you get better clarity in the sky."

Mark said his shoots usually take about two to three hours, and will yield about 10 seconds of footage.

And, despite the occasional sleep in his car during shoots, he said he usually keeps occupied by adjusting his gear or taking in the "beauty of the night sky".

"It's a release for me, you get out there in the middle of nowhere and there's no one around and you feel like you're the only person on earth sometimes looking up there.

"It's amazing to think that you're looking up our galaxy that's - the core of it - is 27,000 light years away."

He said winter skies were preferable for two reasons, firstly because the galactic core is seen through those months and the night sky is much clearer during winter months.

Mark is a self-taught photographer whose work is influenced by years working in feature films.

He said he was inspired to start night sky time-lapses in 2009 after seeing the astronomy photographer of the year finalists.

"Coming from Australia 13 years ago, the New Zealand sky is much starrier than what I ever got to see [there] and so that piqued my interest."

He often takes photos of the South Island and has also travelled to Norway, Tahiti, Indonesia and Australia to capture night-time skies from there.

This weekend he is travelling to Africa to take more footage and hold workshops with photographers in Kenya and Tanzania.

Mark has received a number of overseas accolades including being short-listed for 2012 & 2014 Astronomy Photographer of the Year, being a finalist in the 2012 World Open of Photography, and fourth place in the 2014 International Earth and Sky Photo Competition.

He said getting his photography recognised overseas was satisfying.

"It's great to have a little time-lapse video that I shot here in Wellington get out to the other side of the world and get noticed."

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