2018-11-18: The Night Sky

Mother Nature has certainly not been cooperating with my plans to get out and shoot at night.  While I still have images from Joshua Tree that I would like to work through, I thought I would switch it up this week and edit some old images instead.

DSC_0019
This image was shot at Green Lake in Whistler BC.  I was in the area for a multi-day wedding celebration, and set up my camera to take images to create a star trail while I sat around a fire drinking beer and enjoying the company of good friends.  This was done with my first DSLR camera, a Nikon D5100.  I still think I am pretty lucky that I didn’t tumble into the lake when I went to collect my tripod later in the evening 🙂
_DSC0018
I’ve not kept up to date with it recently, but in the past I have tried checking in with a northern lights forecasting site, and if the forecast is good and the weather clear, I’d head out and with my camera and see if I could see anything.  The lights were very faint on this night, but I think the combination of the faint purple glow and the warm tint to the clouds from highway lights in the distance looks pretty.
_DSC0523
The best evening I have viewed northern lights I saw a proton arc form and dissolve over about a half hour period… all from my driveway.  The milky way appears faintly above as well.
_DSC0512 copy
The proton arc as it was forming.
_DSC0493
A beautiful combination of magenta and green.
_DSC0049-Edit
No northern lights in this one, just a starry sky enhanced by some whispy clouds illuminated by the rising moon.

 

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.

DSCF1751
Planes overhead and lots of traffic heading for the park gates after the sun went down.
DSCF1703
The milky way rising over the Joshua trees.
DSCF1726-Edit
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.

P1040333 copy.jpg
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.

DSCF1773.jpg
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.

DSCF1691On1
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.
DSCF1696Luminar
A joshua tree illuminated by car headlights, edited in Luminar.
DSCF1697-EditTopaz
People moving to and fro with headlamps and flashlights.  Image edited with Topaz Studio.
DSCF1764 copy.jpg
The last image I took in the evening, with the milky way faintly decorating the sky and a plane moving through the scene.

 

2018-03-18: Multiple Exposure Project

I was inspired to create something using local images this week.  My multiple exposure composite image of the week is a red fox merged with a night sky image, both captured on my property.

I’ve only had a fleeting glimpse of one fox this winter; perhaps this will bring me luck to start seeing them more frequently again.

20180318_Multiple Exposure project.jpg

 

 

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.

20180128_TheFrozeonWorld_JSawicky
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

 

20180128_TheFrozeonWorld_JSawicky2
A moon bright enough to cast shadows in the snow.  8 sec, f4, ISO 1000

 

Please visit:
www.jennifersawickyphotography.com for wildlife, landscape and nature inspired artwork.

and

https://shopvida.com/collections/jennifer-sawicky for textiles inspired by my photography.

 

Half Moon

I had hoped perhaps to see some northern lights last night as the predictions were for a good show, but that didn’t pan out.  The moon however was amazing when I went outside at 10, so I went back and grabbed my 150mm-600mm to try to get a few photos.  I’m sure if I had put it on the tripod, it would be a bit sharper, but all in all, happy with the result.

Half full or half empty??? A bright moon above Prince George. 1/1000sec, f6.3, ISO 1000 Tamron 150mm - 600mm on the Nikon D5100 (effective 900mm)
Half full or half empty???
A bright moon above Prince George.
1/1000sec, f6.3, ISO 1000, 600mm handheld
Tamron 150mm – 600mm on the Nikon D5100 (effective 900mm)