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When I deliver talks and tuition about taking dark sky images, I spend a lot of time discussing that planning is fundamentally important. I would conservatively estimate that 70-90% of my time when taking an image is planning. You have to know when and where you are going. from checking out the location during the day, looking at apps to understand what the sky will look like, the weather forecast, positioning of the camera. It's a long list and is crucial in my workflow.

Have a look at the two images above. They are the same location and even though I turned up in the pitch black, I knew exactly where I needed to go and how to set my gear up. The images were taken 22 hours apart.

The one thing you cant predict is that a meteor will enter the earths atmosphere directly over the trees when you are taking the image. Luck certainly plays a part. However had the planning not taken place the day before then I would have been hunting around for the perfect location to take the shot. The result would have probably been that I would have missed the opportunity to get lucky! Now we know that at certain times of the year that we can predict when there will be a good show of meteors and this location will certainly work for the Perseids and Geminids later in the year. Again that is where planning and research comes in.

No matter where you live, there will be compositions that will be waiting to be found or indeed you may have already found them. During the current state of lockdown then get out with your phone and use the apps that are free to plan you night time shots. I promise you in the long run it will be worth it.

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