The velvet cloak…

of darkness.

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Painting is a blind man’s profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.

Pablo Picasso

I can’t believe that there was a time when I was petrified of the dark. Like anything though you can always find ways to work your way through those fears.

I do get some pitying looks sometimes as I show up after the sun has sunk below the horizon and I begin to set up my tripod. Oh, you should have seen it 10 minutes ago! You missed it…

For me though the timing is perfect. I can still see enough of the landscape to decide on my composition and settle in to wait for that black canvas to reveal itself.

This is the time for rock steady tripods and long exposures that can gather the light. In a way it is more like shooting film. It’s more contemplative and I walk away with only a handful of shots due to the set up times and length of exposures.

On this night I had the pleasure of some company, a neighbor who shares in the joy and wonderment of looking at the night sky. I like those nights because it does free me from being as vigilant as I am when out shooting by myself.

One does have to be cautious when out at night and keep a close watch on their immediate surroundings. I always make sure to take frequent breaks to look around and listen for predators…four-legged and two! Close at hand I carry multiple flashlights, cell phone, and bear spray.

I like to light paint into these scenes using a torch with colored filters. Pablo Picasso painted with light in 1949 using a small electric light.

I waited for Mars to move into my shot on the left and gently painted the reeds with light. It’s an interesting feeling. Much more like you are actually directing the shot rather than simply documenting it.

Combine that with the sounds of nature and it becomes pure magic…So what I once feared has become one of my favorite times.

Step out of your comfort zone and you just might discover a new passion.

A hint of frost…

on a winter morning.

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Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.

Pablo Picasso

My morning started out with listening to Whiter Shade of Pale; a song that never fails to bring back an abundance of good memories. It also is the song that springs to mind when I am photographing winter scenes.

I love this time of year and find myself working in tandem with mother nature as she throws down the most exquisite frost patterns and formations. There is a fragility to these scenes with conditions changing rapidly and if one blinks…the moment could be lost forever. I find it to be quite a work-out to do justice to what my eyes are seeing especially with light playing such a role in these images. There is never a better time to move around and look from all angles before capturing the moment.

This is a magical time of year when everything is not yet covered in a blanket of snow so fall colors can still blend with the wintry mood and have one last showing.

It is the perfect time to pull out that macro lens and search for the most intimate of landscapes…but bundle up because baby it’s cold outside.

An added note…

As I proof read this prior to publishing, the word fragility leaps off of the page as news begins to filter through about the attacks in Paris. My heart goes out to the people of France.

 

An eclipse night trifecta…

or having a plan come together!

the eclipsed moon, the milky way, iridium flare 65
the eclipsed moon, the milky way, iridium flare 65

Everything that you can imagine is real.

Pablo Picasso

On this special eclipse night, the fourth eclipse in a tetra, I wanted to do something more than just photograph a large frame filling blood moon. I kept being drawn to the idea of photographing the stars AND having a full moon in the shot. It just doesn’t happen very often that you can see the full moon and not have the stars washed out by its glow. I also knew that at 8:11 there would be an iridium flare visible for a brief moment. Not a very bright one but having shot these before I hoped that it would be bright enough. Could I capture this trifecta?

A great deal of planning needed to take place. First there was scouting out a location and figuring out where each element would be at that one moment necessary to capture all three. For this I turned to a wonderful ap called Photopills. It gave me all of the tools necessary to plot the placement of the moon and the milky way in relation to the direction and elevation of the flare. Taking some test shots showed me that shooting at 11 mm on my wide angle lens should just barely squeeze these three elements into the shot. What settings I would be using needed to be decided close to the time of the shot as I really did not know how much light would be present.

The one thing that I was certain of was that I would have one shot, just one frame, to get this. The girl likes a challenge though and certainly I filled my time before and after with capturing the beauty of this extra large moon, the likes of which will not occur again until 2033, as it rose behind the mountains, already partially eclipsed.

blood moon rising
blood moon rising

It was a beautiful night, with perfect weather and even a shooting star that exploded during a test shot. How lucky can one girl be? Or is luck when opportunity and planning come together…you be the judge!

More images can be viewed in the gallery idaho after dark by clicking on this link to my website.

 

If you’re not playing…

you’re missing out on the unexpected.

cloud play
cloud play

There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.

Pablo Picasso

I think if you shoot a variety of subject matter you get pretty accustomed to quickly dialing in your settings. For the situations that I am not as familiar with, the ones that require more complex settings, I make use of the Nikon D7000’s two user defined  spots on the operation mode dial. This enables me to get a very quick starting point for shooting a scene without having to adjust multiple settings first.

I’m fortunate to have friends that tolerate my obsession with imagery and ignore my third arm…the tripod…that accompanies me most everywhere. In this particular case we were on a girl’s night up at the mountain and hanging  alfresco in the hot tub when I saw the moon slip behind some interesting looking clouds. I might add that it is a little chilly in the mountains of Idaho in March so I was grateful to not have to spend any more time than necessary adjusting my settings!

My Tokina 11-16 2.8 wide angle lens is prone to lens flare and since it was almost impossible to get away from all of the hotel and landscaping lights I thought it would be fun to try to use these flares in my “nightscape.”

I think we all have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to be shooting when heading out but for me I always find a little magic in those times when opportunity jumps in when my plans get shot down.

Have a great week and don’t forget to play…