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Tag : Moon

31 Aug 2017

That eclipse has me looking at the sky

It’s been over a week since experiencing the total solar eclipse in Oregon but it is constantly on my mind. I’ve looked at tons of photos taken by other photographers and yet I haven’t finished putting together a composite of the phases. Those tend to all look the same and mine isn’t any different, so I’m not overly motivated.

I’m doing lots of research on the next eclipse that is crossing Chile and Argentina in July 2019. I want to find the perfect spot to view it, although it is tougher than the U.S. eclipse, mainly because I’ve never been there.

Last summer I bought a used telescope thinking I would take it to Oregon for the eclipse. As I learned more about what I wanted to shoot, I decided pretty early on that I wouldn’t take it. It is big, heavy and would take up too much space. I didn’t want to be worrying about moving the telescope around when my job in Oregon was to make sure my clients were getting their needs met.

I didn’t even play with the telescope, it sat on my equipment shelf taking up space. And since space has been on my mind, I decided to see what the the telescope could do. I spent most of the afternoon putting it together and learning how to maneuver it. It is an 8″ reflecting telescope, which is a monster. After I put all the counter weights and the camera I can barely lift it. It has by far the heaviest tripod I’ve ever seen.

The Vermont sky was pretty clear tonight so I practiced on the moon, which is the easiest thing to photograph with a telescope. I was pretty clumsy getting it lined up and making sure the focus was right. It was a struggle but I got a pretty decent moon shot. I need lots more practice but I have a bit of time until the next eclipse.

14 Nov 2016

Super moon in Charleston

While on my way back to N.J. after two art shows in Florida, I made a side trip to Charleston, S.C., to photograph the “super moon” tonight. The full moon won’t be this close to the earth until 2034, which means it looks larger than normal.

I usually like to shoot the full moon on the night before the actual full moon, it rises about an hour earlier, so there is still light in the foreground. But I had an art show yesterday and couldn’t get out to shoot, so my only choice was tonight.

I used a program called Photographer’s Ephemerist to pre-determine where the moon would rise behind a large fishing pier on Folly Beach. It blows my mind that I can sit at my computer or use the app on my iPhone and know where I need to be to line up the rising moon and the pier.

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23 Nov 2015

A night of fun photos in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua star trailsOn a quick trip to southern California, my friend John invited me to go out to Joshua Tree National Park and spend a day in the desert. I hadn’t been there before but I knew a good bit about it, I’m not sure if it was because of Jim Morrison’s legendary trips there, or U2’s famous album (that was really in Death Valley) or just reading about it from lots of other photographers.

The park is a unique area with Joshua trees, sand and big sandstone rock formations. Some feel mystical powers emanating from the rocks, it was a cool place, but I didn’t catch any special vibes.

We got there yesterday afternoon and went to the main areas that everyone seems to visit. Being the weekend before Thanksgiving, it was pretty crowded, more people than John had seen on his many trips there. People were climbing the rocks, most of the big formations had people on top of them. It made getting a clear show without humanity pretty hard, but it was still great to see.

Joshua MoonAs the sun was getting low, we went to a standing rock monolith that has a cool old juniper tree nearby to get shots after dark. I had found the spot while doing research before my trip and it looked like a great place to do light painting after sunset. I brought a couple of large flashlights with me, so I had John light up the background a bit while I illuminated the tree and rock.

The moon is going to be full in a couple of days, so it was pretty bright out in the clear air of the desert. We could walk around with using our headlamps and see perfectly well. We stopped at another rock formation and I did a few shots with the starts and moon. I love the look of moonlight shaping the rocks.

Since there were no clouds, I want to do a star trail shot, but I didn’t want to do an all-nighter in the desert, so I set up a camera on a tripod with a 15mm fisheye lens, hooked an old iPhone to it with TriggerTrap and started shooting. The moonset was around 2:30 a.m., so I wanted the camera to start firing then so there wouldn’t be any light in the sky. Earlier at the hotel I worked to get a delay going with TriggerTrap but I couldn’t make it work. So my only option was to let the camera fire all night and hope the batteries would last until well after the moon went down. I set TriggerTrap to fire a 30 second exposure, wait one minute, make another 30 second exposure, wait, fire, wait, fire for the next six hours.

I set the camera up about a hundred yards off the road, not too worried that someone would spot and steal it in the middle of the desert. We went back to the hotel and planned on getting camera after coming back out for sunrise. We got up at 4 a.m. and headed back into the park. It was still dark and we thought we knew exactly where the camera was but we drove right past it and got back to the place where where we did the light painting last night. Since the light was coming on fast, I decided to hike a little and shoot the sunrise there and we’d find the other camera later.

Sunrise in the desert is a lot different that what I’m accustomed to in the East. The light came very quickly and since there were no clouds, it didn’t take long for the sunlight to be very harsh. I tried lots of shots but wasn’t too thrilled with any of them.

It was time to go find the other camera and see what I got. We went back through the park and watched for a pulloff near a large mound of rocks. It was farther than we thought but I recognized it and could see my camera from the road. I don’t know which died first, the phone or the camera battery, but they both were dead and the last shot was taken at about 3:30 a.m. That gave me plenty of images to stitch together to make the shot I was hoping for. The moonlight shots gave me nice light on the Joshua tree and surrounding landscape and also good color in the sky.

I look forward to getting out there again and perfect some things that I learned.

30 Aug 2012

Once in a blue moon

There was a beautiful near-full moon tonight and our Somerset Photography Group met to take some fun photos.

Like I’ve said before, it is better to photographer the full moon on the night before it is full because their is still some color in the sky as the moon rises. On nights of a true full moon, the sky turns black when you expose for the surface of the moon.

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15 May 2010

What’s good: Moonset, Somerville

The moon sets over Somerville.

After dinner, I noticed the moon was setting and just a slice was illuminated. I loved the way it looked, so when I got home, I got out the camera and made some shots from my back yard.