Stairway to photography heaven
Standing alone in a dark, cold Wairarapa field has paid off in spades for Chris Murphy. A year ago, the Moonshine Rd resident and photography buff meticulously planned his trip out after sunset.
Using a Nikon D600 and looking south, he took three frames at 10, 15 and 20 seconds to photograph the Milky Way.
‘‘It was planned to an extent – you can never be sure about the weather and what sort of night you’ll get,’’ he said.
‘‘But I lucked in with a clear night and a new moon, bit of sunset still around and those amazing rock formations.’’
After being shortlisted in a Carter Observatory competition, Murphy submitted two photos to the Royal Observatory Astronomy Photograph of the Year competition, based in London.
Being awarded the Sir Patrick Moore Prize for best newcomer for one of his photographs, Coastal Stairways, was a shock, he said. His second photograph was also shortlisted.
‘‘I was pretty stoked. It was surreal, especially when you see the quality of some of the stuff that was entered.’’
Besides being included on the BBC and other websites, his two photographs were reprinted in a book.
Murphy was at the awards ceremony in Greenwich in September.
He has been serious about photography for 10 years, around his day job working on lighting for film and television production.
His love of astronomy and being stimulated by the work of Wellington- based photographer Mark Gee– who has also won international awards for his work – spurred Murphy to get serious about shooting the night sky.
New Zealand was blessed with a view of space and the Milky Way that was largely unspoilt by light pollution, Murphy said.
He said Wellington’s south coast and many places in Wairarapa were fertile grounds to get brilliant night shots.
He hopes to go to other parts of New Zealand and the world to indulge his passion and he doesn’t want this award to be his last.
‘‘It has definitely inspired me to up my game. I’m looking to do something special next time.’’
Winning pic: Chris Murphy’s amazing photograph, Coastal Stairways, taken in Wairarapa.
Astrophotographer: Chris Murphy plans to push on with his photography of the night sky, after winning an international award.