Astronomy

I had great opportunity to shoot the Lunar Eclipse tonight under clear skies of Idaho.  Here are two of my favorites.  I even managed to capture a star in the background.  The first image was not long after the earth totally covered the moon with its shadow.  The second was close to the end of total eclipse.

Supermoon lunar eclipse 2015-1

 

Supermoon lunar eclipse 2015-2

2013-06-22-Super-Moon

Just after the summer solstice this year was another astronomical event called “the super moon.”  Since the moon is a bit of an elliptical orbit around the earth, sometimes it is closer than at other times.  The closer path happened to be near a full moon.  I’ve read where the moon is about 10% larger looking than normal because of it being closer to the Earth.

Taking photos of the moon is a bit of a mind bender.  If you point your camera at the sky and snap the image, all the blackness of the sky will fool your camera into over exposing the image and the moon will be a solid white disc in the sky.  It requires some manual intervention to get the correct exposure.

Think about what you are photographing.  The moon is an object that is in direct sunlight about the same distance of the sun as the earth is.  That said, start by using the same exposure that you would photography any object that is in direct sunlight on the Earth.

The technical details for this particular image was iso 640, shutter 1/3200, aperture f4.  It seems kind of strange to shoot an image in the black of night at 1/3200 of a second, but the exposure is about perfect.

 

The other evening my wife and I took my camera, tripod and a bunch of sparklers with us to a nearby park.  We’ve been wanting to capture this image for some time and tonight would be the night.  The hardest part of the whole process was getting the sparklers lit.

The setup was quite simple.  Kelli stood up on the hill by herself as I got the camera positioned, focused and adjusted for what I thought would be a good exposure.  Knowing that I would have to keep the shutter open for a few seconds so that we could draw a heart, I had to adjust the ISO and aperture accordingly.  The exposure was 6 seconds in this image which also was long enough to capture a few stars in the background.

Here were the steps:

  1. Light the sparklers
  2. Set the self timer to trigger the shutter in 5 seconds
  3. Run up the hill and grab one of the sparklers
  4. Hold the sparklers together near the top and wait for the camera to click
  5. Slowly draw the heart, timing it to end at the bottom point just before the 6 second mark without moving our faces too much
  6. Check out the image on the back of the camera
  7. Repeat steps 1 through 6 until happy with the results

Give it a try.  You can also do cool things such as writing a short word in the air.  Most of all… have fun!

 

We were again blessed by being able to take our vacation in the San Juan Islands of Washington state. We also got to take some very close friends with us to enjoy the time on the water.

This year was a bit different that most of our boating vacations. Normally we sail, but this year we wanted to try out a motor yacht to see what that was all about. Our boat of choice was a 37 foot Nordic Tug named “Weak Moment.”

This boat normally spends the summer season in Alaska in charter service, but at the end of the year the owner brings it back down to Bellingham to a slightly warmer climate. The boat was the most comfortable boat I’ve ever been on. It has full-time AC power to operate a microwave oven, crockpot and even a curling iron (for one of our guests). Add to that the forced air furnace, windshield wipers, wall to wall carpeting and you ended up with some very happy campers.

From an operational point of view, it has a 330 HP diesel engine, bow thruster for maneuvering in close quarters, radar, navigational chart plotters with weather overlays and just about anything else you could imagine. Here is a twilight shot of one of our guests being illuminated by the chart plotter screens.

We had just hooked up to a mooring buoy in Fox Cove on the island of Sucia. You’ll notice how calm the water was on this first evening out. That was not to last. By the time morning arrive, we were facing 25-35 knot winds with 4 foot waves. Fortunately, we were in a relatively protected bay from the waves, but the wind was howling. The radio was alive with chat about various people in trouble due to the weather. There was even a US Coast Guard helicopter out looking for boats that were not in safe places, suggesting to the captains of those vessels to head for shelter.

The wind was forecasted to be a bit less in the afternoon (15-20 knots), but was then to increase to 35+ later that night.  We decided to make a run for it to Friday Harbor. Weak Moment handled the then 2 to 3 foot waves just fine and we pulled into a slip for a couple of nights to wait out the storm. Not a problem for us, as Friday Harbor is our favorite place to visit.

The storm passed and we ended up with nice weather for the rest of our trip. We visited Montague Harbor and the town of Ganges in Canada. It was nice to have some sun.

Two nights left on our trip, so we headed back to the US to clear customs at Roche Harbor. On the way, we passed Turn Point lighthouse on Stuart Island and had a very big surprise. A whale was spotted about a quarter of a mile in front of us. Then we saw some more. The next thing we knew they were all around us. We’re guessing there were probably 15-20 total in the pod, some being quite young and small, but two others that were gigantic. The dorsal fin on these big ones must have been 5 to 6 feet tall. Here is one of my favorite photos.

This was taken with my Canon 7D with the 70-200mm f2.8L IS lens. I still can’t get over how massive these sea creatures are.

We finally made it back to the US, but we were late so the on-call customs official had to make a trip across the island to check us in. I was the only one that could leave the boat until we were cleared, so we enjoyed a bit of dock time as we waited for the official to arrive.

Weak Moment was moved to a slip in Roche Harbor for the night and I’m glad we stayed here, as I could get off the boat for some fun night shots. Here is one that was was captured with my Canon 5D MkII with a 24-105mm f4 lens set at f5.6.  The exposure was 30 seconds in length, making the stars shine though the thin layer of clouds.

All in all it was a wonderful trip. We’ll probably charter another Nordic Tug in the future (especially in the rainy season), but you’ll just as likely see us on a sailboat next time around.

Hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our adventure.

 

 

I had fun with the moon tonight.  When I first saw it, my mind started to do funny compositional things in relation to a nearby lamppost.  Anyway, here is how my mind was working on this particular night.  Maybe I should stay inside next time there is a full moon.  🙂

There must be a storm brewing, as the ring around the sun normally tells of something heading our way.  These rings are caused by ice crystals in cirrus clouds.

This particular image almost looks like a nebula in outer space.  Talk about a wild imagination.

 

When I looked outside this evening I saw the full moon with some very interesting light clouds that were dancing in the moonlight.  I grabbed the camera and 200mm lens and took a few shots.  I tried several exposures because with the very dark sky and the very bright moon the light meter in the camera gets confused.  This one turned out the best of the bunch.

I did have to do some editing in Adobe Lightroom to bring up the clouds and to tone down the brightness of the moon just a bit, but this is about what I saw with my naked eye.  I also cropped the image to about 1/6 of the frame to make the moon larger in the image.