Spend a very special weekend with PhotoAccess, tutor Joe Cali and guest astrophotographer Greg Bond shooting the spectacular dark night skies at Retreat, a working cattle station centred on Pinchgut Creek, west of Cootamundra, NSW.
This weekend is a wonderful opportunity to extend your astrophotography skills and portfolio as part of a friendly group guided two very experienced astrophotographers and astrophotography teachers. Joe and Greg have been astronomy and astrophotography collaborators since the 1970s, as well as close friends, and have an extensive knowledge of the night sky and how to capture it. Greg runs his own private observatory near Kingaroy in Queensland.
During extended sessions on Friday and Saturday nights, Joe and Greg will lead you through photographing a range of fixed tripod targets such as the zodiacal light and the central part of the Milky Way. With the latter rising about twilight, there’ll be opportunities for some truly striking shots. You’ll also explore capturing circumpolar star trails and may be treated to air glow. Best of all, you’ll be staying at the Retreat shearers’ quarters, so your cot will be only a short walk away at the end of the night. Retreat is a private property, so you can always leave your camera shooting sequences for a star trail while you go to bed.
The program will include practical instruction in fixed tripod nightscape photography and the set-up and use of tracking devices, including all-important polar alignment techniques. A unique aspect of this weekend is that Joe will have tracking devices available for participants to try, ranging from a $10,000 Takahashi EM200 to smaller single camera trackers of the type you might start out with. Bring your own tracker if you have one and we’ll teach you how to align it, or take turns on Joe’s tracking equipment to dip your toe in the water.
During the day, you’ll be welcome to rest as much as you need, review and discuss your images and explore and photograph the surrounding property, including the magnificent old weatherboard and corrugated iron shearing shed. Depending on everybody’s energy levels, Greg and Joe will give a few short talks on various astrophotography topics that won’t strain your powers of concentration.
For this workshop, you’ll need basic to intermediate photography skills, a good working knowledge of your camera controls and any associated equipment. If you’ve completed PhotoAccess’ Nightscapes and Startrails workshop, that will be a definite advantage, but it’s certainly not a requirement. Joe and Greg will provide guidance and teach some techniques, but this is a field course so there won’t be extensive classroom-type sessions.
If you’re not sure about your skill level, please give PhotoAccess a ring on 02- 6295 7810 or drop us an email at [email protected] in advance to discuss. Or, if you’d like to skill up in advance of Pinchgut Skies, check our out next Nightscapes and Startrails workshop running during April in and around Canberra.
Pre-Trip Briefing | PhotoAccess
Thursday 14 May, 6.00 – 7.00 pm
Day One | Retreat
Friday, 22 May, arrive by 4.00 pm, stay up as late as you like,
Day Two | Retreat
Saturday, 23 May
Day Three | Retreat
Sunday, 24 May
Pinchgut Skies is a residential weekend workshop based at Retreat, Dirnaseer, NSW. If at all possible, please arrive at the property by 4pm on Friday, 22 May so that you can get oriented before sunset. We’ll wrap up around 2pm on Sunday, 24 May.
There will be a pre-workshop briefing at PhotoAccess on Thursday, 14 May, 2020 from 6.00 – 7.00 pm.
Retreat, a privately owned, working cattle station will be our base for this workshop. Located in the productive farming and grazing district of Dirnaseer, in Wiradjuri Country, on the southwest slopes of New South Wales, the property is roughly equidistant from the towns of Cootamundra, Temora and Junee. Holistic, regenerative grazing methods and extensive plantings of indigenous trees and shrubs are helping restore the property’s ecological wellbeing, with the owners generously welcoming community groups to explore and appreciate this wonderful place. Further information on location and how to find Retreat will be provided at the pre-workshop briefing.
Participants will need to make their own way to Retreat, but PhotoAccess is keen to facilitate car-pooling. Please let us know via email to [email protected] if you have space in your car or would like a ride.
We’ll be staying at the recently refreshed Retreat shearers’ quarters, which sit beside Pinchgut Creek, the waterway which winds its way through Retreat en route to eventually join the Murrumbidgee River. The shearers’ quarters are fairly basic but also clean and comfortable. The quarters have six furnished rooms, most with two single camp beds, so you may be asked to share a room. You’ll need to bring:
If you prefer, you’re welcome to pitch a tent nearby or bring your own camp bed for one of the spare rooms.
The workshop will be fully catered, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners and drinks and snacks to keep up your strength through late night star-tracking. Please bring any special nibbles that you might require. A stash of chocolate is always a good idea! We’ll ask you for your dietary preferences and requirements in advance of the workshop.
Please don’t forget any medications you might need.
You’ll need to bring:
A small red LED light will be issued to each participant.
You’ll also need to bring plenty of really warm clothing. Overnight temperatures at Retreat in May average 5 oC but can drop to 0 o. Although not as cold as Canberra mid-winter, a long night in the cool takes its toll if you are not dressed for it. Daytime temperatures should be a pleasant 15-20 oC.
* We recommend that you purchase an intervalometer, which costs less than $30 on Ebay (https://tinyurl.com/y6qy9w25). Please make sure to purchase the cable adaptor/connector appropriate to your brand and model of camera.
Astrophotography is obviously dependent on good weather, no bushfires and clear skies. The workshop will proceed if there is a reasonable chance of cloudless skies for a good portion of the weekend. If we need to cancel or re-schedule the workshop, we’ll give you 24 hours’ notice and we’ll be happy to refund your enrolment fee if you can’t make the new dates.
Spark your imagination, prepare for the workshop and learn more about the Retreat region through exploring the wonderful Big Skies Collaboration. Led by writer Merrill Findlay, this open-source community initiative brings together arts practitioners, astronomers and local communities to creatively explore and celebrate people’s relationships with the cosmos and create new opportunities for communities within the 700 Kilometre Array (700KA) region of southeastern Australia’s rural Inland.
Enrolments for this workshop close at midnight Tuesday, 12 May, 2020. PhotoAccess reserves the right to cancel the workshop if there are insufficient enrolments. If we have to cancel, you’ll receive a full refund.
PhotoAccess will happily refund or transfer workshop fees up to 7 days prior to the start date of the workshop. If less than 7 days notice is given PhotoAccess will transfer fees to another workshop but will charge a transfer fee of either 25% of the workshop cost or $50, whichever is less. No refunds or transfers can be given once a workshop has started. Please see Terms and Conditions for further details.
Joe Cali has been taking photographs for more than 40 years. He’s worked extensively in most film and digital media and has had an active interest in astronomy and astrophotography since 1978. Joe began teaching with Photoaccess in 1996 and over the years has taught a wide variety of workshops in Black and White Darkroom & Camera, Photoshop, Lightroom, Camera Skills, Travel Photography and a range of boutique workshops. His photographs have been published in feature stories in large circulation glossy magazines such as Australian Geographic and Sky and Telescope and his work has been exhibited in over thirty solo and group exhibitions.
You can visit Joe’s website to discover more about his photography practice.
Image credit: Joe Cali, by Terry Cuttle.
Greg has had a keen interest in photography and astronomy for 45 years. He has long been an active member of the Astronomical Association of Queensland (AAQ) and has served in several roles in that organisation, including as president. Greg has inspired and taught many others interested in astrophotography, and photography more generally, lectured extensively on related topics and published his work in various calendars and conference proceedings.
Image credit: Greg Bond, 2020, by Joe Cali