Wigglegram: Milky Way over Kalaloch Beach

milky-way

Taken back in October 2015, when I camped near Kalaloch Beach in Olympic National Park in Washington State on my Nikon D700, f/2.8 at 14mm.

There’s a lot of things I love about gifs, but one of the things is that it allows you to capture a passage of time that you just can’t with a static image. This is 5 shots, each 20 seconds, of the Milky Way as it moves through the sky over the pacific ocean, over about a period of 2 minutes.

I don’t know if I can say enough about the night sky. People often ask whether or not it actually looked like this. And it’s hard to say “well, not quite”. Sure with it being a long exposure, it captures the milky way a little more brilliantly than may be seen with the naked eye, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not actually the way it looks. There is so much of this scene that can’t be captured by just our eyes, or even captured by a photo.

Sometimes we just assume that only the things the rods and cones can detect are what is real, but there are parts of the spectrum that aren’t visible to us but are there nonetheless.

Anyway, I’m not sure what I’m trying to say here, except, yes, these photos are real, and they’re spectacular.

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Ohanapecosh Campground, Mt Rainier

Just steps from my campsite at Ohanapecosh Campground in Mt. Rainier National Park, you can find the Ohanapecosh river.

mt rainier rocks

Taken at dusk, back in October of 2015, using a polarizing filer. Really makes a difference to cut some reflections in the water to get that clarity for long exposure shots. Just thinking about it, and looking at this photo makes me want to get back out into the wilderness, and hear the soothing sounds of running water.

As a bonus, here’s a short timelapse of me setting up camp:

 

Where was one of your favorite places you’ve camped?

Supermoonar Eclipse in Montana

A little over a week ago, I spent some time out visiting my brother in Montana. I got to check out a bunch of awesome festivities at the school he works at, attend a powwow, and help take some photos at the cross country meet he organized. During that time, there was a supermoon, and a lunar eclipse happening. Pretty awesome stuff, but conditions weren’t super great for viewing, as it was cloudy out as the moon was rising, so we missed out on seeing the supermoon at it’s biggest… when it’s near the horizon. So, with that, I set up my cameras to take some timelapses as the moon came up and went through the eclipse.

Since I’ve been roadtripping, I didn’t have the gear with me that I really wanted to shoot the moon… a 300mm lens with a teleconverter, so I was stuck with just using what I had (aww, poor me…). Anyway, I did learn a few things through this process…

  • The lunar eclipse is hard to shoot and have a very balanced image with the bright part of the moon, and the eclipsed part of the moon properly exposed. So kudos to those who did it super well.
  • When shooting timelapse with a long lens, you have to shoot at a different frequency, as the motion of the moon (rotation of the earth) is more exaggerated due to the longer focal length.
  • And, contrary to milky way photos, you are probably better off shooting somewhere bright, like in the city, so as to match the moon’s brightness more, and create a more dynamic image (instead of just the moon on a black background, you could have the moon against a lit up city skyline).
  • You’ll probably want a super long focal length and a subject far away to exaggerate the size of the moon in comparison to the subject.

Anyway, those are some of my takeaway thoughts on this process. The final-ish product is below… Take a looksee and tell me what you think. (And hopefully, that’s the only time I ever use the word “looksee” on my blog.)

Also, consider watching on the vimeo site for the HD quality version.

#52WeekProject: Moonrise over Chicago Harbor

 

Week 28: Moonrise over Chicago Harbor

Taken on Saturday, December 6, 2014. It had been a while since I had gone out to take a picture. The last time, it was of a boat in the harbor while I was trying to do some scouting for this photo. Unfortunately, the day I originally wanted to take this photo (Nov 6th), the weather was crazy and the winds and waves ended up tearing up a lot of the lakefront and even sunk a barge. So wisely, I waited until the next full moon to take the picture. (And hooray, I didn’t get swept out to sea!)

The top picture was taken at around 4:20pm, as the sun was setting. The bottom picture was taken at around 5:01pm just after the moon rose over the horizon. The downside of having moved to December, was the moonrise ended up being 40 minutes after the sunset, so because of the darker scene, I needed to boost the exposure when caused a lot of issues. (As you can see in the blurrier bottom picture.)

In order to emphasize the moon, I wanted to use the longest focal length I could, which meant a 300mm f/4.5 manual focus lens stacked with a 2x teleconverter and a 1.4x teleconverter. This makes it an effective focal length of 1000mm and the increased distance from the focal plane reduces the overall exposure by 3 stops, so an effective aperture of about f/13. Unfortunately, because of these limitations, and the decreased ambient light, my shutter needed to be open much longer (from 1/125s to 1/2s), and with the long focal length and heavy gear on my tripod, every little vibration resulted in major blurriness in the photo. Even after I switched out the lens to the 200 f/2.8 with and only the 2x teleconverter (EFL 400mm f/5.6) at 1/6s, and you can still see major blurriness in the photo.

So, while the idea was pretty solid, the execution was pretty terrible due to the conditions and limitations of my equipment. I’m definitely going to try this photo again, and will likely aim for next year’s supermoon (Sept 27th, 2015) when the moon will be about 14% bigger, and the moon rises at 6:32pm, 7 before the sunsets. I’ll bring a sturdier tripod, and keep my fingers crossed that the weather holds up so I can shoot at some reasonable settings, so it’ll look like that top picture with a giant ass moon (not my own) in the background!

Also, I made a timelapse, which you can see below…

#52weekproject: Week 24: Moonset over the Pacific

52WP-W24 Gold Bluffs Moonset

 

 

Taken on Tuesday, September 30, 2014, while camping at Gold Bluffs Beach Campground (near Orick, CA, in the Redwoods National Park).

 

This is one of the frames I took while attempting a timelapse of the milky way over the ocean. Using an iphone app called The Photographer’s Ephemeris, I was able to plan ahead and figure out where and when the moon would be setting. I took a walk down the beach from my campsite to where I had eaten breakfast on a log earlier that day. That spot was key since it gave me a place to hang out while I waited for my timelapse to run, and I thought would be foreground for a few pictures. The key to nice milky way shots is to have really dark and clear skies. Which means, being far away from any city lights or any light pollution, no moon, and low humidity. Fortunately (or unfortunately), the weather was pretty warm, and humid, so the Milky Way was not super bright, but it was definitely there. (Ideally, it’s best when the weather is colder and the atmosphere can’t hold much moisture, but then you have to deal with battery issues, and trying to stay warm, but I digress.)

I’m pretty happy with this photo, but would have liked to have spent more time there, since I only had a few hours to work with. (I was only up until around 2am since the following morning I needed to pack up and leave my campsite before 8am so I could drive 9 hours to Fresno to meet up with my brother and sister.)

 

Also, here’s a photo of me setting up this photo:

52WP-W24 Gold Bluffs Moonset bts