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985 megapixels! A very high resolution, large-format VAST photo print of a beach at night with the Milky Way stars in the background; landscape astrophotograph created by Paul Wilson in Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, New Zealand
Certificate of authenticity  
with artist signature

Mounting brace floats the display
off the wall by 1 inch
Metal back
Paper print
Acrylic glass

Elixir

985 MEGAPIXEL VAST PHOTO
Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, New Zealand
June 16, 2020

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Thumbnail from 985 megapixels! A very high resolution, large-format VAST photo print of a beach at night with the Milky Way stars in the background; landscape astrophotograph created by Paul Wilson in Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, New Zealand
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I had planned to head out for photography on this night for a few weeks prior, but what I hadn't planned on was the last-minute decision to turn around and head in the opposite direction to a different location. I'm not sure what drew me to this place, maybe it was a “photographer’s hunch,” but I'm very glad I ended up there.

It was quite cold on the hilltops above this Banks Peninsula bay, but I noticed it was surprisingly warm down in the valley after getting out of the vehicle. I then loaded 20 kilos of gear onto my back and started the short hike down to the bay. There was a surreal feeling in the air; being under the beautiful clear winter sky while only wearing a t-shirt at this time of year felt very strange.

I arrived at the beach and began setting up my equatorial tracking mount, aligning it to the SCP (southern celestial pole). This process was especially difficult due to the care needed when working with sensitive mechanical objects around sand. After 45 minutes of mucking around, it was time to power up and start tracking the stars! I flicked the switch. Nothing happened, no power, no glow of the LED light. Disappointment and shock started to set in. I had jammed and broken the power cable in the pelican case the last time I had been out shooting and not realised. This meant all my work setting up and carrying the heavy load to the bay was for nothing.

The Milky Way was getting higher and my window of opportunity was rapidly closing. I then quickly decided I would stack images for noise reduction, a process that would be a first for me with a multi-row panorama. Tracking allows longer exposures and a lower ISO making for cleaner and better quality images, not being able to do this I instantly thought of stacking images. In short- noise has a random nature, every image has a different pattern, stacking evens this out and gives a nice average.

I began shooting some test shots and noticed something that made me very excited. Bioluminescence! I have wanted to see and capture bioluminescence for a very long time. Each time a wave crashed, the light from the glowing microorganisms would get stronger. It was a truly magical sight.

Later, I would discover that this bioluminescence makes creating stitched photographs much harder to put together because of the changing shape of the light on the waves. However, the extra time it took me to accomplish the stitch was well worth it.

The image is titled Elixir for a few reasons. First, the water was like a magic potion stirring these creatures up. Second, photography and getting out under the stars is a kind of elixir and medicine for me, a meditation and therapy while standing under the vast night sky.


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FILE SPECS

Total Pixels984,538,170
Horizontal Pixels38,430
Vertical Pixels25,619
Aspect Ratio1.5 : 1
File Size5,626 MB
Width @ 300ppi (perfect)10.68 feet
Height @ 300ppi7.12 feet
Width @ 150ppi (near-perfect)21.35 feet
Height @ 150ppi14.23 feet

EXPOSURE SPECS

Date & TimeJune 16, 2020:  10.08pm - 10.46pm
LocationBanks Peninsula, Canterbury, New Zealand
Coordinates-43.739190, 172.873638
Focal Length40mm
Aperturef/2.2
Shutter Speed1/8th sec
ISO6400
Number of Exposures145
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Certificate of authenticity  
with artist signature

Mounting brace floats the display
off the wall by 1 inch
Metal back
Paper print
Acrylic glass
SIZING GUIDE

This VAST photo becomes a stunning conversation-starter wherever it's showcased. It's offered in 4 large-format sizes:


36 in
24 in
48 in
32 in
60 in
40 in
72 in
48 in
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