Night-time photography is turning out to be all the rage these days, and Dorset is proving particularly popular because of its intensely dark skies. The absence of light pollution has provided the opportunity for launching the career of stargazing photographer Stephen Banks. Banks, who is from Bridport, is one of the legions of enthusiasts who have a passion for night-time photography.
Already, his pictures have enjoyed center-spread exposure in The Guardian, landed the cover of an Astronomy Photographer of the Year book, in addition to the Trinity House Lighthouses calendar for 2014 along with on BBC Stargazing Live. Banks has a time-lapse video he calls Bridport by Night and it is a viral sensation on YouTube with close to 25,000 hits. All these, from a 24-year-old lad who only picked-up a camera and took to shooting the stars three years ago.
Banks recently shared how he got started: “In 2011 I saw a time-lapse video called The Mountain, filmed in a wilderness area in Spain, and it inspired me to do the same thing for Dorset. There were a couple of warm, very clear weeks that October so I went out with my camera around Bridport to experiment.”
Banks also shared what he now knows about shooting time-lapse images, and he is very candid with his experience. “The first sequences were rubbish,” he said. “They were too dark and too short.” Banks found out that to produce a successful sequence you needed material of 200 shots for a sequence that would run eight seconds, each frame having an exposure of up to half-a-minute. “That required up to two hours filming each time, not the 20 minutes or so that I was giving it.” With that and other tricks in the bag, Banks has managed to be the new astronomy photography whiz.
Experience his amazing work here.