Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station – Oh Starry Night!

Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station - From East Midlands Parkway Railway

Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station – From East Midlands Parkway Railway

It’s been a while since I last updated the blog. A combination of being hard at work with a commercial commission and getting Christmas out of the way meant that I’d not had too much time to dedicate to my landscape photography. However, a trip out with my good pal Justin Thompson in early December was a nice reminder of the photography that I love doing.For those of you who know the Leicestershire part of the M1 you can’t have failed to notice the cooling towers of Ratcliffe on Soar power station looming by the side of the motorway. For me, I’m quite familiar with them from my time learning to fly at East Midlands Airport – sometimes you just need to circle the towers in your Piper Warrior while an Easyjet is coming in to land! Anyway, as Justin works quite close to the power station, and I’m not that much further away we decided to meet up one evening in the hope of taking some starfield photography.

Throughout the day it was overcast and raining, but I was confident in Accuweather’s forecast that by mid to late afternoon there would be clear skies. Accuweather came good, and in the evening I set off in my 1990 VW T25 Campervan to go and meet up with Justin near Kegworth.

From our research on Google Maps we headed off to a location near Sawley Marina which we thought may be quite good for the ‘Big Picture’. I wasn’t entirely convinced, so I just sat in the van while Justin went off to get some pictures. Then something told me to stop being a fool and go and get some shots of my own – so that’s exactly what I did. I took my Canon 5D Mark II, fitted my 17-40mm f/4 L lens, grabbed my RedSnapper tripod and dashed off to near where Justin had happily vaulted a fence to get a better view. As I didn’t really fancy participating in casual trespass I set up close to the fence, quickly got a composition I was happy with and went for my standard starfield photo settings. I only took three photos here, because I was so happy with how they immediately came out…

Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station, under a starry sky.

Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station, under a starry sky.

As both Justin and I were happy with what we’d got, we headed back to the van and decided to get a bit closer to the action – so we drove to East Midlands Parkway railway station, right next to the power plant. While Justin was taking individual frames, I wanted to try out a timelapse sequence, hopefully getting a nice video of the stars and clouds by the power station. I set my camera up using the same settings as before, but this time I attached my timer remote and programmed it so it would repeatedly take photos, one after the other, a couple of seconds after the last one finished.

Once I’d set it off, I retreated back to the van where I started making the dinner – ah, that’s why I bought the camper – a great ‘home from home’ with all the creature comforts while I’m out taking photographs!

After around an hour we had to start making a move back, so I stopped my timelapse sequence. I’d have loved to have given it longer, but time was against us. When I got back home I put my sequence together to produce a short (very short) sequence of the evening!

The image at the top of the page is just one of the hundred or so photographs from the sequence.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first attempt at timelapse – and it’s given me an idea for a project… so keep watching to see what I can come up with!