Monday, September 28

Eclipse Night

Supermoon Eclipse Night turned out to be a little disappointing for local photographers and other lunatics as so much of the southwest experienced overcast skies. This disappointment was tinged with irony, of course, because we were all grateful for a little relief from high temperatures and because the skies were actually quite beautiful.

So many of us were looking forward to a clear view of the big Moon as it rose in penumbra (on the west coast any way). We'd all read Michael FryeNikon or other resources on how to capture the perfect time lapse series of the eclipse phases. I even caved in and got an intervalometer for precise timing. The dream shot just didn't "pan" out.

Just a Whisper of a Moon
I went to the top of Corral Canyon, way above Malibu. It is a great location where I had taken a Camera Committee group a while back. In the twilight, only a tiny edge of the Moon peeked out from behind the veil of clouds (as you can see here if you really look hard).

During the course of the evening, though, some interesting views came along. The shot at the top of this post for instance shows the Red Moon in full eclipse.

In spite of the clouds (and maybe because of them), what I enjoyed was priceless: a lovely couple of hours on a temperate evening on a mountain at the end of a gentle hike, the Moon above, the sea below.
Santa Monica Bay  
Then, I had a Moon-lit walk back through dreamland to the trailhead.

You can see additional photos and a couple of animated slideshows in my Supermoon Eclipse album.

Saturday, September 26

Mark Gee's Moonrise Silhouettes

Watch this:  photographer Mark Gee tells about the response to his Moonrise Silhouettes movie in this talk on the TED stage in Christchurch, New Zealand. 

The talk starts with his short moon movie, so you don't have to look for it if you haven't already seen it.  It is lovely.

Mark reminds us that the night sky is amazing and free for all. This evening (the day before a full moon) will be a good time to catch the almost-full moon rising in a lighted landscape (a little after 5:51 pm and look almost due east). The timing will depend on the height of your eastern horizon, of course. You may have to dodge buildings and trees to get a clear view.

And in case you've been sequestered from all social, public and commercial media for the last month or so, tomorrow there will be a supermoon in eclipse as it rises here in the west a little after 6:40 pm. That big moon will enter total eclipse at about 7:11 pm and will turn red in the Earth's shadow, hence the name Blood Moon. 

Should be quite a sight.

Tuesday, September 15

Rain day!

This was my view when I got up today.

Rain, soft and consistent, in a gentle shower; a welcome sight in Southern California. Then, I read the news: 2+ inches fell in Downtown last night. Rain pounded LA, the report said. No wonder my window sills were a mess.  Oh, yeah.

The morning commute was really a mess. Flooded freeways and neighborhood intersections. Petroleum-patina'd slick asphalt and mystified drivers. Lost raincoats. Frail, old umbrellas. Rain boots and rain coats on a 75° morning. I roll my eyes. There were also "swift-water" rescues in the Los Angeles River.  It's still a wild thing, our river.

Could this be a preview of things to come in an El Nino year? I hope the storm reminded folks to check their neighborhood storm drains and their own rain gutters; check and replace their wiper blades; find and exercise last years's umbrella and get their minds right about slick streets and slow commutes.

Then most importantly, remember to soak in that fresh rain smell, admire the raindrops climbing up your windshield, relish the dip in temperature and take a walk to look for charming reflections in puddles.

Keep your fingers crossed for more rainy nights and mornings.

Click this picture for more rain in our backyard

Saturday, August 29

Santa Monica Moon and Ferris Wheel - but not together

The moon rose over the palms and beach go-ers carried on. I have several of these palmy shots on a balmy night because it was fun to watch the moon's progress while the population below shifted around. I didn't make enough for a time lapse, so only two went into my gallery - the first one and the one with the iPhone man.
I need to work on moon exposure. Ansel Adams nailed it in Moonrise over Hernandez on the run and without a meter because he remembered that the moon's luminance is 250 cd/ft.  Sadly, that did not help me.

When the moon was high, I turned around to look at the pier and was surprised to see people still playing in the waves and basking in the moonlight. There is a small collection of colorful Ferris wheel snapshots in the gallery, too.

Friday, August 21

Let there be light...

A series of unrelated episodes has bathed my world in new light.

A couple of weeks ago, I endeavored to capture better photos of the Milky Way in the landscape and in doing so, I've been shooting the widest and brightest lens I own, a 16mm f2.8 pancake lens. This little lens mostly rides around in my camera bag "just in case". But now, I'm thinking, what a joy to use!  In nightscapes and Milky Way imagery, it allows me to start with a lower, less noisy ISO and it seems to be so much sharper than my 18mm to 55mm zoom. Plus, it's very compact and light in my hands! I want to use it all the time!

☼  ☼  ☼  ☼  

This week. I took down all the sheer curtains in my kitchen and service porch to launder. Those rooms returned to the open, airy state I remembered from my 2009 remodel! It has been a joy to sit with the windows open and a nice breeze wafting through.

Construction and new dining area 2009
When Janet asked if I was going to wash the windows. I balked but reason won out as I thought about it. Better to do the windows now without the curtains and curtain rods...  So I borrowed the vacuum and did the job right.  It took me hours but it increased the wattage of the light flow substantially!

The 2015 dining area
Ultimately, reluctant to "stop down the apertures" but more reluctant to live in a fish bowl, I hung up the curtains. Now I am extra happy I have crystal clear windows!

☼  ☼  ☼  ☼  

Coincidentally another brightening was under way in our neighborhood and it arrived at our house yesterday. The City's tree trimming crew came up Alvira from south to north "lifting" all the park way trees, trimming away low-hanging branches and artfully thinning the canopy.  All up and down the street it has brightened the aspects. The liquid amber and jacaranda trees on our east side look great.

Today, the crew reached around to Cashio and cleaned up our tall, once stately palm trees and it was quite the performance. The palms went from stately to gangling in less than 90 minutes. It's like they just got an awkward haircut and now it has to grow out.  I'm not sure I like the "do" it but it opens up the north light in my living room more than I ever expected it would.

☼  ☼  ☼  ☼  

This post would really be complete, if I could wrap up with a report of re-reading William Faulkner's Light in August, but lately I've been reading Sally Mann's Hold Still. 

She lives in a world of light all her own.  I recommend it!

Saturday, August 15

Perseid Meteor Shower - Trona Pinnacles

A few of us went to Trona Pinnacles for the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower after Allan sent a link to a PhotoPills page with details about the event. We had minimal camp equipment, plenty of water, numerous cameras (one with a new ultra-wide lens) and tripods, one smart phone, a couple of compasses, high hopes.

What a night!  I could barely close my eyes to nap.

With reasonably dark skies and the new moon rising on Thursday, at an elevation of about 1,800 to 1,900 feet, we had a great view of the broad heavens and saw lots of meteors streaking past us.
I made a lot of still images in the 13 to 20 second exposure range and caught about five meteors.  When I set up for a 12 minute star trails exposure at about 1:15am I caught one. Obviously, I was not looking in the right direction.

Allan set-up a time lapse camera and captured LOTS of meteors. His lens was open 15 of every 20 seconds. You can watch it on YouTube.  Be sure to go full screen to see all the meteors.

In the meantime, you can browse my little gallery of Trona photos. I was looking for "available" light (car headlights passing by, walkers with flashlights, the occasional flash from some distant photographer). I may not have captured meteors in pixels but I have many indelibly recorded in my brain and I had a marvelous night under the stars.

Next year, I'll be better prepared for the long meteor-catching exposure and choose my composition more carefully!  I'll also have a walking around camera and tripod to snag the opportune moment before a pinnacle.

Waiting for Perseus

Tuesday, August 11

Midnight in the Bristlecones with the CamCo

The prime target of our photo weekend:
an ancient bristlecone pine tree.
How can a photo go wrong when the subject is as grand as this ancient bristlecone pine?
Well actually, judging from my out-takes there are plenty of ways. I don't want to talk about those...

Converging on this point along the Schulman Grove Discovery Trail with nine other photographers is not the best way to shoot in such close confines as a mountain trail on a moonless night. I usually think of Camera Committee outings as scouting expeditions, but this evening, the nine photographers included creative lights like Peter V and Clive and resourceful fellows like Peter M and Jeff, so the chances were good and the results were excellent!

I hope you'll look at the additional images in my Bristlecones gallery.  I expect to return to that set in the coming weeks to add more images.

Some of the crew at work on the lights.  It's not a war scene, it just looks that way!