Stuart Whitaker is a sports reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times and a general reporter for the Bay News.

Tauranga man wins award for astronomical photo

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LOW LIGHT: Amit Kamble with the trophy he won at the Harry Williams Astrophotography competition. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK
LOW LIGHT: Amit Kamble with the trophy he won at the Harry Williams Astrophotography competition. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK

When he made the trip to the East Cape lighthouse with a friend in May, Amit Kamble wasn't sure it had been worth the time it took.

Now he's convinced it was.

A photo taken that night won Mr Kamble the overall winner's trophy in the Harry Williams Astrophotography competition, as well as the artistic section.

"We climbed the 800 stairs to the lighthouse but it was too cloudy. We were too tired to go back down straight away so decided we might as well stay.

"Then two hours later the clouds cleared and I took a few photos.

"I wasn't really happy with the photo, but came back and entered the competition and was the winner. I was totally stoked."

He said that while sometimes he looks at a photo and thinks "That is brilliant", this wasn't one of those times.

"When I looked at this one I thought 'That's cool', but it wasn't up to my expectations. It was cloudy and it wasn't how I expected it to be."

Mr Kamble uses a Canon 6D digital SLR with a standard lens and has honed his skills and gained more experience since he arrived in New Zealand six years ago from India.

"I had an interest in astronomy and coming to New Zealand and looking at these beautiful dark skies I started to wonder if I could take some photos."

He moved to Auckland and joined the city's Astronomical Society.

"That's where I met a few other people, astrophotographers, who helped me out. I came back to Tauranga last August and started doing more here."

Last year he took a photograph of a comet from Fergusson Park that was used on NASA's Astronomy picture of the day page.

There is an element of experimentation with astrophotography, with a camera's metering systems unlikely to work in such dark conditions.

But some of the guesswork has gone out of the art with apps providing information on where celestial features will be at any given time.

"You can go to a location with a good foreground because what really makes the image is the foreground interest and, because we have new apps, you can open up the app and it shows you where the stars will be and when."

Mr Kamble is a member of Tauranga Astronomical Society and its curator of instruments.

"I am trying to encourage astronomy and astrophotography in the Bay region. If people are interested in astrophotography I can help them and give them tips on how to start.

"There is always a lot to learn. I'm getting into deep sky astrophotos where you put your camera on a telescope and take photos."

Also from Tauranga, Andrew Clement won the newcomers' section while Jack Burden was highly commended.

In June, Mr Kamble won the Picturesque and Deep Sky section in the Royal Astronomical Society New Zealand competition.

Amit Kamble won the Auckland Astronomical Society's Harry Williams Astrophotography Trophy with this photo of East Cape Light House. Photo/Amit Kamble
Amit Kamble won the Auckland Astronomical Society's Harry Williams Astrophotography Trophy with this photo of East Cape Light House. Photo/Amit Kamble

- Bay of Plenty Times

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