Bourail, New Caledonia
When I got my new camera, the Sony a7 III with the Tamron 28-75, at the end of last year, I was eager to try my hand at astrophotography. I wanted to capturing our Galaxy, the Milky Way, in all it’s glory. The opportunity came in early February when my best friend, Géraldine, was minding a house in Bourail. A two hour drive from Noumea. A beautiful little beach-house situated only metres from the Roche Percée Beach. So I stayed there over two weekends, wandering off in the middle of the night, shooting the stars. I was quite lucky to have clear skies and the Milky Way close to where I wanted it. Especially for an unplanned shoot.
The very first thing I realised was that 28 mm wasn’t wide enough. I needed a wider lens, 21 maybe even 18 mm, but it’s all I have so I had to make do. I didn’t count on the moon rising from that direction either. And almost a full moon too. Not to mention the very bright star/planet but, that, I actually like. It took me a few trials and errors to get the exposure I needed to avoid star-trails. For this scene it was around 5 to 8 seconds of exposure with an ISO of 6400 and a wide open aperture of ƒ/2.8. It’s the best image I came home with, out of the half dozen I took over the two weekends. It’s not a large portion of the Galaxy but I’m happy with it yet definitely not satisfied with the results. I had a very hard time editing it and had to do some research on post-processing these kinds of images. I need more practice and experiment more with astrophotography. Never stop learning, right?
The beach at the bottom of the image is Turtle Bay and behind the cliff is Roche Percée Beach (very popular with surfers). Both are well known for turtle hatching which we were right in the middle of. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any but Géraldine and her two girls did. Every year, hundreds of turtles lay their eggs here, which produce thousands of baby turtles. It takes 45 days for the eggs to hatch so both beaches are patrolled every night for about six to eight weeks. Making sure the turtles, the nests and babies aren’t interfered with in any way. Keeping this area a sanctuary for these incredible creatures.
Carved from the natural erosion of the waves, the weird looking rock formation at the end of the cliff is Le Bonhomme. A landmark in Bourail and New Caledonia. There’s a lookout at the top of the cliff but unfortunately part of it is closed off now due to erosion at the base causing the edge to collapse. Still worth the walk or drive up there as the views are just magnificent.
I haven’t had the chance to photograph the stars since but I hope to in the next month or so. Fingers crossed.
28 mm, 5 seconds @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 6400