Can You Shoot Mungo Under Starlight?

June 07, 2021

This photo is no longer possible for most of us. I’m sure National Parks would allow a National Geographic film crew in, but the average photographer will struggle to get this close to the eroding rock formations at Mungo, let alone stay there after sunset to photograph them with a backdrop of stars.

In fact, the average visitor will be kept well away from the rock formations. Access is with a guided tour only and I understand why. With so many visitors to Australia’s national parks, crowd control is needed if we’re not going to love them to death. Uluru has done it successfully, although some of its photography rules continue to perplex me. But I get it.

To take this photo, post-production was required. The rock formation was photographed on a stormy afternoon with dramatic clouds all around. We had a short burst of sunlight right on sunset – perfect timing or just plain lucky!

The Milky Way was photographed later that night from Mungo Lodge and while its angle to the rock formation may not be completely accurate, the resulting image has plenty of impact. The sky is a four minute exposure at ISO 800 using a Fornax star tracker, with advice and assistance from Glenn Martin. No matter how many YouTube movies I watched, there’s nothing like having someone who knows what he’s doing to help you out!

However, while the afternoon storms cleared at night for the stars, the following morning the rain set in and we were told to evacuate Mungo Lodge. This wasn’t great news on several fronts. First it was disappointing to be leaving so soon, and second, Ignacio Palacios’ car was an AWD, not a 4WD and we struggled to get out as the dusty road instantly turned into a muddy bog. However, I’m grateful to say Ignacio kept the wheels moving and I didn’t have to get out and push!

And just to let you know, the Better Photography Magazine Photo of the Year award will be open for entries on 10 June, with $5000 in cash prizes up for grabs and a judge comment for every entry. Click through to the competition website for details at www.betterphotographyphotocomp.com.

And there’s a capture to print workshop with Ignacio and me up the Blue Mountains at the end of this month – check out the website for details at www.betterphotography.com.