The Art of Stephen McCurry

Clear Nights Sky

NotOfThisEarth 001

I seem to have started having a fascination with night time photography this past year.  It all started at a couple of weddings I shot at Kirkley Hall, Northumberland, where the clear night sky was just unbelievable (see here on my wedding site).

Last night I was happily lazing on the sofa when a good friend, who lives in Whitley Bay dropped me a message suggesting there was something exciting going on at St Mary’s Lighthouse.  A few minutes later I was in a nearby carpark with camera bag and tripod in hand, watching two Chinese lanterns raising into the sky.  I had missed the flurry of them which had taken off just before!  It still looked pretty, so am presuming that it must have looked fantastic with lots going up.

As I was already out and wrapped up against the cold I figured I would indulge the evening and set about trying to capture the beauty that lay in the dark of the night.  The three images here seemed to capture what I was watching better than the several others I shot,the first in particular being added to by the car headlights creating a foggy look to the shoreline and the night sky still containing just a bit of colour.

It is amazing just how much colour and light a long exposure shot can pull out of what appears to be a pitch black night time sky.

All three images were shot on my beloved Sony A77ii with a 16-50mm lens.  I have, of late seemed to settle on using the camera completely manually and am feeling like I am actually quicker for it.  Manual exposure, focus and ISO just seem so quick and intuitive with this camera that I find it more unnerving to hand that control back to the camera.  Not that it does a bad job, simply that I am feeling more comfortable deciding it all myself.

The autofocus is a prime example.  The A77ii has fantastic autofocus but also has fantastic focus peaking.  This draws a rather obvious red line around whatever is currently in focus making it a breeze to know that you got the shot you wanted.  The lenses are nice and snappy to focus with too so I have been leaving it in this mode since shooting some headshots for a local public sector company a couple of months back.

All shots were tripod mounted as they all were around 30 second exposures, I made an error in that I forgot to pack my timer switch in the bag otherwise they could have been even longer.  I am intending to re-visit and shoot with a longer exposure soon to get some star trails.

The last of the three shots is somewhat inspired by the photographs of American landscapes captured in the 60’s and 70’s by the likes of Joel Meyerowitz.  I tried concentrating on mood and atmosphere rather than a traditional landscape set up.

The first image is available as an A3 size print priced at £24.99 plus P&P.  5% of all print sales are being donated to the Alzheimer’s Society ( in the hope that one day we will not see our loved ones slip from in front of our eyes.


Photographer / Owner at NotOfThisEarth
I am a nationally and internationally published photographer with over two decades experience behind the camera.
For the last 7 years I have specialised in weddings (

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