2019-03-24: Palm Springs

I have officially thrown in the towel on my signs of spring topic of the month.  I really should have thought it through a bit more, and made it the topic for April, but c’est la vie, what is done, is done.  I did see my first robin of the year this morning though, so the signs of spring are appearing on a daily basis now, just not in the right context for taking photos.

Anyhow, I thought instead I would share a few more images from my trip to Southern California last October.  I am gearing up for travel at the end of April, and really trying to work through all the backlog of images to edit, so when I get home, I can start right in with new images.  Fingers crossed.

I hope you enjoy my selection, and wishing everyone a fantastic week ahead.

The desert surrounding Palm Springs.

Definitely not a plant that you want to walk into!

Joshua Tree by night.

Joshua Tree National Park.

Some of the beautiful boulders in Joshua Tree National Park.

The Salton Sea near Palm Springs.

The lake resort that wasn’t.  The picnic tables at the Salon Sea unused, and in disrepair.

2018-11-11: The Night Sky

The weather this week wasn’t conducive to getting out and shooting at night, so I have worked through a few more of my images from Joshua Tree.  When editing, one of the things the workshop instructor mentioned really stuck with me, and that is to really watch the saturation of star images.  I really tried to keep things as natural as possible, although it can be fun to crank things up to 11 and see what happens 🙂  Maybe next week.

Planes overhead and lots of traffic heading for the park gates after the sun went down.

The milky way rising over the Joshua trees.

What are your thoughts on night sky images in black and white?  I really like them personally, although there is a real risk of the image being way too dark.

While I was shooting with my main camera, I had set up my Panasonic camera on the hood of my car with a gorilla pod, and set it to take a series of images to make into a time lapse later.   It didn’t turn out quite as planned, but I’ve included it here as it shows all the traffic from the parking lot, as well as other photographers.   Since I was doing a time-lapse series, I didn’t have the long exposure noise reduction turned on, and I think the still images from the Panasonic really would have benefitted from having that done in camera.

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This was the last shot I captured while my camera was set in time lapse mode.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead.

2018-04-04: The Night Sky

I decided on the topic of the night sky for November, mostly because I spent an evening during my holiday at Joshua Tree National Park at a night sky photography workshop, and I have images I want to work through.  Also, November may have some potential for night sky photos at home (since it isn’t too bitterly cold yet, and night is falling quite early, which is good for an early bird like me).

Just getting to the workshop proved to be quite an adventure.  The night before, a rare thunderstorm rolled through the desert with heavy rain, and there were a lot of road closures due to small local mudslides.  In the town of Joshua Tree, the main highway through town had over 6 feet of mud (and a buried Mini Cooper car) in the middle of the highway.  When setting off in the morning, I headed toward the Cottonwood gate, planning to head up to the Oasis visitors centre through the park, but that gate turned out to be closed (and would remain so for several days to get everything cleaned up). Then there was a substantial backtrack to get back on the interstate and head to the other gate in Twentynine Palms, but through there I encountered more detours and terrible road conditions.  I made it there in the end, albeit rather late and after the class had already started.

I headed back Sunday morning for the second part of the workshop, by then the main highway through the town of Joshua Tree had reopened.  These are just some of the huge piles of mud that had been plowed along the side of the road.

Despite the crazy weather the night before, and threats of potential storms during the day of the workshop, the weather couldn’t have been more beautiful, with clear skies and just a few wispy clouds leftover.  Besides the driving conditions to get to the park, the other downside to the weather was as the evening cooled, there was a lot of moisture still in the air, causing dew to form.  I wasn’t worried about my camera (some of the people that were local, and not used to the moisture that I am, were quite alarmed) but it did mean that images started to appear soft and fuzzy later in the evening.  Everyone packed up by about 9:30, because by that point it became impossible to get any clear images.  Looking through my images, I can see a definite deterioration in sharpness as the evening draws on, but I still like the images from later in the evening, despite the softness.

Here are a few of the shots I have edited so far.  I haven’t broken the habit of working in multiple editors, so I have images done in all of my programs.

We were set up in a day-use only part of the park, so there were a lot of people packing up to leave as we were setting up and taking images.  The headlights and taillights of the vehicles provided some light painting on the foreground (though not always hitting all the areas I would have liked!)  Edited in On1 Photo Raw.

A joshua tree illuminated by car headlights, edited in Luminar.

People moving to and fro with headlamps and flashlights.  Image edited with Topaz Studio.

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The last image I took in the evening, with the milky way faintly decorating the sky and a plane moving through the scene.


2018-03-20: WPC: I’d rather be…

There’s a simple answer to the question posed in this week’s photo challenge “Where would you rather be?”.

I’d rather be on safari!

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I’d rather be watching the sun set over the bush with a glass of wine in hand, and great company to have a chat with.

I’d rather be watching the birds from the shade of a lodge veranda.

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I’d rather be looking out at the vast expanse of the universe, listening to the sounds of the bush at night.

I’d rather be taking the opportunity to discover new cultures.

I’d rather be out learning and experiencing different ways of life.

I’d rather be looking at this view over lunch, than working away on my computer. 

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I’d rather be dealing with this type of traffic while out for a drive.

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And of course, I’d much rather be hanging around with elephants.


WPC: I’d rather be

2018-01-28: The frozen world at night

I have a bit of a love / hate relationship with night photography in winter.  The biggest pro is the incredibly short days which means I don’t have to stay up late to capture night sky photos.  The biggest con is the possibility of incredibly cold temperatures, which makes being outside for any length of time taking photos rather painful.  And of course the trouble is, the clear sky nights tend to be much colder than the overcast ones.

Last night though everything lined up rather nicely.  A beautifully clear sky, temperatures only in the -12C to -15C range, which isn’t tough to manage, and a lovely recent dusting of snow on all the trees.  I find the fresh snow and the moonlight a beautiful combination, and I am glad I had the chance to try and capture it.

This was the first time I used my Fuji camera for night photography and I am quite happy with the results, though I definitely need a lot more practice with it.   I was surprised that my 10mm – 24mm lens produced a starburst effect from the moon at f4; that is something I will need to do more research on as I was used to getting that phenomenon at apertures in the range of f16 and smaller with my old Nikon set up, though to be fair that was with a 28mm – 300mm lens; I have no recollection what my old  Nikkor 10mm – 24mm did.

I did have one major missed opportunity yesterday evening.  I only brought out one camera with me, and while my camera was busy processing an image with the long exposure noise reduction, a deer popped out of the woods and stood highlighted by the moonlight for a few wonderful moments before heading off.  Of course, the camera wasn’t able to do anything while the processing was happening, so I missed the shot.  Note to self, always take both cameras when doing longer exposure work.

A few random thoughts on night photography in winter: dress appropriately, know your gear, make sure you can operate your gear with gloves on, and stay safe!

I only have two images to share today, I hope you enjoy them.

The moon was behind me, lighting up the snow on the trees, and allowing for a faint view of the stars.  10 sec, f4, ISO 1000


A moon bright enough to cast shadows in the snow.  8 sec, f4, ISO 1000


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Northern Lights and Proton Arc

The aurora forecast looked promising last night, so I decided to try and stay up and see if I could see anything.  I am surprised with how great the photos turned out, as frankly it wasn’t as vibrant to my eye as it was to the camera.  But, it wasn’t really dark yet either, at least at the start.

I didn’t know what it was until I saw it mentioned on some other people’s photos, but I captured a proton arc last night as well!

Most of the streaks through the photos are satellites, but there was one brilliant meteor that passed through as well.  Unfortunately, it rained yesterday afternoon and the evening was quite damp, and I ended up with some condensation on my lens on the later photos, which put halos around the brightest of the stars.

All in all though, I am really, really pleased I stayed up!  I hope you enjoy, have a great evening!

A beautiful display by mother nature! All photos 30sec, f3.5, ISO 2500. Taken with a Nikon D610 with the DX 10-24mm wide angle lens, using the cameras built in interval timer.
A beautiful display by mother nature! All photos 30sec, f3.5, ISO 2500. Taken with a Nikon D610 with the DX 10-24mm wide angle lens, using the cameras built in interval timer.

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The proton arc stretched out above. I had no idea what I was looking at!

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When the interval I has set was over, I swung the camera about 90 degrees to capture the proton arc crossing in front of the milky way.

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There are lots of satellite trails, but this one was definitely a meteor.

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The green along the tree line really shimmered and danced. It’s a shame the condensation caused those halos around the stars.

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Here’s a quick time lapse I did of the sequence of photos I took.  I think it does a nice job to show the beautiful movement in the sky.

More night skies

I managed to get another evening in of night photography on the 11th (and then couldn’t manage to stay awake past 8:30 last night…)  I let me camera do its thing and was curled up under a blanket with a glass of wine, and consequently lost track of how many meteors I actually saw… it was a lovely evening though and here are a few photos I thought I would share.

Have a great evening!

3 meteors featured in this photo (all concentrated to the top right)
3 meteors featured in this photo (all concentrated to the top right)

2 meteors in this shot, again towards the top right.
2 meteors in this shot, again towards the top right.

3 in this one, 2 top right, one amongst the clouds
3 in this one, 2 top right, one amongst the clouds

I just caught the start of one here.
I just caught the start of one here.

The start of a meteor and also getting a glimpse of the milky way.  I should have adjusted my ISO by this point, but I was more interested in watching the sky and drinking my wine :)
The start of a meteor and also getting a glimpse of the milky way. I should have adjusted my ISO by this point, but I was more interested in watching the sky and drinking my wine 🙂

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