Today I went over to Jodrell Bank Observatory, to photograph the enormos Lovell Telescpoe sighted there. I’ve been to the site many years ago, with school I think, and its really interesting. However, today, I didn’t want to get right up to the telescope to photograph it, I wanted to include it in the landscape somehow, for a more interesting perspecvite, and also to illustrate its scale.
The Jodrell Bank Observatory (originally the Jodrell Bank Experimental Station and from 1966 to 1999, the Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories; hosts a number of radio telescopes, and is part of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester. The observatory was established in 1945 by Bernard Lovell, a radio astronomer at the University of Manchester to investigate cosmic rays after his work on radar during the Second World War. It has since played an important role in the research of meteors, quasars, pulsars, masers and gravitational lenses, and was heavily involved with the tracking of space probes at the start of the Space Age. The managing director of the observatory is Professor Simon Garrington.
The main telescope at the observatory is the Lovell Telescope, which is the third largest steerable radio telescope in the world. There are three other active telescopes at the observatory; the Mark II, and 42 ft (13 m) and 7 m diameter radio telescopes. Jodrell Bank Observatory is the base of the Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network (MERLIN), a National Facility run by the University of Manchester on behalf of the Science and Technology Facilities Council.
Looking on Google before my trip over, I saw a couple of locations that gave me a really good view of the telescope, and with that, I set off!
Driving down the narrow lanes the ground is fairly undulating, and so as you get close to the structure, it comes and goes out of view, and is pretty awe inspiring when it appears on the horizon through the hedge rows.
I eventually found just the spot I was looking for, and I parked the car off the road, and set about exploring possible compositions on foot. I really wanted to include the setting sun in the frame, however I couldn’t quite get the composition right. Between roads and hedge rows, I was just a touch too close for my widest 18mm focal length.
I’d found the perfect spot though, and I had an idea to overcome the problem! By now I was perched the other side of a hedge in a farmers field, with a nice big puddle between me and the scene. To overcome the focal length issue I decided to try a panorama and stitch the images together in Lightroom. This would be the first time I’ve tried this, so fingers crossed I got it right! I also exposure bracketed the two images I was going to stitch together, so in total six images would become one.
Settings were; 18mm – f/11 – 1/100 shutter – ISO100 two stops up, two stops down exposure bracketing, polarising filter on max, mirror locked up, 2 second shutter delay and of course, tripod to align all six images perfectly.
If you can, have a look at the image in full screen on a monitor, its certainly the best way to view it, being a wide format. I’m really pleased with the result today, and that I escaped capture in the farmers field; there was a hunt going on I think, and lots of folk about on horse back and in their range rovers…… I hope whatever was being chased got away cleanly too.
Anyway, as you can see from todays main photograph, the panorama worked out, and again I’m really pleased with it. I also dipped into Photoshop again too, for a bit of fun editing.
Learnings – Stitching Panoramas together, thats what I learnt today! I’m really pleased I thought of it today, becasue it enabled me to capture the composition I wanted to – the telescope, the centre post (something to do with the telescope no doubt) the tree on the right, the sun setting and of course that reflection in the puddle. Without using that stitching, I would never have got it all in!