Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Star Trails at Grand Portage

Last weekend I joined Travis to do some star trail photography. Travis has made some amazing images at night so who better to learn some tricks of night time photography from.

Grand Portage, where Travis lives, is an excellent spot for star trails. It is far away from a really large metropolis, Thunder Bay is about 35 miles to the north and with long exposures casts a slight warm glow, and on a moonless night the quantity of stars is mind boggling. It reminds me of the time I spent looking at the heavens in the 70's at Lost Valley, a Boy Scout camp secluded in the mountains of Southern California.

We setup our cameras in Travis' yard, I attempted to focus as best as possible, opened the shutter then went inside to talk photography. This first exposure was at ISO 200, f/4.0 for 42 minutes using my 24-105mm lens at 24mm. During the exposure the dew had collected on the lens which made for an interesting blurring at the ends of each star trail.

The second image was made in Travis' back yard pointing right at the North Star. My EXIF information says the exposure was 3.8 minutes which obviously is not the case due to the length of the star trails. ISO was dropped to 100, everything else stayed the same, so I'd guess the exposure to be around 70-80 minutes. What I find amazing about this image is when viewed at 100% the sheer number of stars leaving trails is just astonishing. Living on the outskirts of a large metropolis like Minneapolis and St. Paul, the light obscures the awesomeness of what lies around us.

As Forrest Gump once said, actually it was his mother that said, 'Shooting star trails in like eating a box of chocolates...you never know what you're going to get', or something like that. Once you close the shutter there is a moment of anticipation just before hitting the review button to see what you get. It's a moment I'll be repeating again in the future.


(Be sure to click on the images to see a larger version.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

DIC Photo of the Day - Snow Geese

'Snow Geese' was selected as the Picture of the Day at the Digital Image Cafe for today, May 21, 2009.

Bosque Del Apache, New Mexico, New Years eve day, there can be no better place to be (at least for me). Birds by the thousands giving one photo op after another. It was such a neat place, I plan to return again at the end of this year.

Snow Geese were the most notable of all the bird species that call this their winter home. They traveled in large flocks, although you wouldn't necessarily know that by this image, that seemed to have a mind of it's own.

This image was made in the evening as a flock of snow geese were gathering at one of the many ponds in the refuge. These waterfowl as well as Sandhill Cranes fly into these ponds every evening where they sleep protected from their predators.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Nighttime in the Badlands (Revisited)

It dawned on me that this is supposed to be a night shot. As with sunshine images one can over expose moonshine images, just takes a little longer to do it. So I've darken both images shown in the previous post. (At least you can see the star trails now)

Any better???


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nighttime in the Badlands

These images were inspired by my buddy Travis who seems to shoot at night as much as he does during the day.

After shooting sunset on Friday, after a long trip from Minnesota, Dale and I decided to do some nighttime shooting with the help of the moon, which was full. I've shot at night before but generally in the hours before sunrise. We stopped at three locations on the way to our hotel in Wall, SD. This was the first, and best, of those locations. As I mentioned the moon was full but we were kinda guessing when it came to the terrain.

This image was actually a test shot with my 24-105mm lens at ISO 1600 with a 2 minute exposure at f/5.6. My desire was to make a much longer exposure to get longer star trails with this image validating the exposure.

Here is the second image, same lens but the ISO was cut back to 200 and the aperture was reduced to f/8 which yielded an exposure of 32 minutes. The noticeable changes are the length of the star trails as well as the better defined shadows in the first image. I prefer the first image, which one do you prefer?

After two more stops we set off to our hotel, getting in after midnight and having to wake the night lady to check us in. That was the fastest checkin I've ever had. We were so beat we decided to skip Saturdays sunrise and get some sleep.

BTW, these images are straight from the camera with no changes made by me.


Badlands, First Image

Dale and I spent a long weekend in the Badlands of South Dakota. We drove out Friday and were treated to a full rainbow on the way back to the park from Interior. I can not remember seeing a rainbow with such vivid colors, it was mesmerizing.

I had put my 24-105mm lens on my camera before leaving home so was able to respond quickly when the rainbow appeared. My 17-40mm lens would have given me the extra width to capture a full double rainbow but I'm not complaining.

This was the very first image of the weekend, what a great way to start.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

DIC Photo of the Day - Offering Candles

This image was made in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. What a wondrous place this is. Churches have a photographic draw for me and here in St. Paul and Minneapolis we have two great examples of Beaux Art architecture. As a native Californian the St. Paul Cathedral and the Basilica of St. Mary just blew me away with their size and symbolism. When I went to Europe I wasn't prepared for the massive Cathedrals and Duomos there. The first I experienced was Notre Dame. These candles represent a microcosm of artifacts and activities that occur in this magnificent place.