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Doane Cemetery, Hawley MA. March 9, 2013

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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My housemates went up to the Maine Coast this weekend for some night photography, reminding me that it was a New Moon ’round about tonight and tomorrow night.

Well, I can’t get away, but thought I’d find something closer to home which might make a suitable subject for taking advantage of a clear, moonless night.

I headed up into the hills to get away from cities, towns and highways, but you know, there’s nowhere really, really  dark in Massachusetts. The best I could manage was to get to a high meadow in the hills, find something worth shooting and work with the ambient light.

I settled on the Doane Cemetery in Hawley, beautifully situated on a dome of farmland off of Forget Road. The faint glow of distant Pittsfield tainted the horizon, and I knew that with a long exposure to get the stars, it would be a compositional element. So I looked for a foreground element with enough presence to stand up to the background light.

I settled on a tall monument, which I lit with about five seconds of “light painting” from a small LED flashlight. It was a bit clumsily done, but with the camera a foot off the snow, evaluating the image meant laying in the wet snow, which I could only do a couple of times before I was soaked and had to call it a night.

Next time, it’s full gear and a foam pad for this old boy!

Anyway, here’s the best of several images – taken with a 16mm lens, ISO 6400, f/8, 30″ exposure:

Blog Doane Cemetery

I was surprised at how little of the sky I got with my 16mm lens; seems to me it looked somewhat grander when I last took night shots up at Acadia National Park in Maine this past autumn.

Oh well, I like the image anyway, and without buying a wider lens, that’ll have to be good enough! 😉

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Flailing In The Dark On A Clear Night. November 11, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Tonight’s cold, crisp air was a harbinger of things to come. Winter in these parts really clears the air, if you know what I mean – low humidity, less smog and so on.

Expecting a fine display of stars, I headed up to Windsor, a hill-town half an hour south of here, to a high meadow which has given me some of my more memorable photos.

My intention was to take a few shots of the starry night, then try out an intervalometer I’d purchased back when I was employed (yeah, that  far back.) I was committed to sitting around for perhaps three hours while my camera dutifully snapped several hundred long-exposure shots of moving stars, which I would then stack into a night-time landscape of star trails with (I’d hoped) something of interest in the foreground so you-all wouldn’t fall asleep on me.

I’m sure you see where this is going.

I parked not far off the road in a grassy field, just far enough to be out of direct sight of passing cars – I was hoping not to be interrupted half-way through a three hour exposure by the incoming lights of concerned police. Then, with what I hoped would be all I needed for the night’s activities, I headed out across the broad hill to a barn which I knew to be just over the horizon.

The star shots were something I’d done before and, predictably, came out as viewable photos, though the barn presented unforseen challenges. With visible sides facing both west and south, and some important points being considerably farther away than others, it complicated the light-painting beyond what I was really ready for. I spent the thirty-second exposures running around like a mad fool, lighting the barn with varying intensities of light as their distance from the camera necessitated, and came up with this:

…which is, sadly, the best of a half-dozen shots I took, and soooo  far off the mark that I’m reluctant to share it.

Oh, but wait, that’s the good  news – the bad  news is that my star-trail photos never happened. I’d planned to spend two or three hours compiling one-minute exposures to be assembled into beautiful circular star trails, but when I set the process in motion I sat and listened to the camera’s mechanisms of shutter and mirror, and didn’t at all like what I heard. Where I expected minute-long silent captures punctuated by clunky one second turn-arounds, I was hearing shutter action alternately at thirty second and one minute intervals. Clearly, this wasn’t going as planned, so  I stopped the process and packed the whole mess back to the car. Seems like the learning curve is steeper and twistier than I’d prepped for.

That’s OK, though- nothing worth achieving comes easily, and  I don’t mind doing a whole lot more research and going back there better armed. I suspect the primary problem is in my camera settings, as my intervalometer has many less parameters to set and get right.

Nightfall. January 7, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Last night’s sunset was spectacular, though I was driving around in Home Emergency Crisis Mode and didn’t have time to set up a proper shot (this one was hand-held out my car window):

While this was being gloriously reflected in the Deerfield river at the Route 8A southbound bridge, I was furiously hunting for a way to either corroborate or dismiss my house’s screaming carbon monoxide alarm.  I settled on a new monitor to be set up along side the wailing one in the upstairs hall, and when the new one registered nothing I assumed the old one to be the victim of dust and spiders (not uncommon in these old houses.)

Anyway, the photo I got was only blog-worthy, but sometimes living trumps taking photographs.

Tonight though, with no life-threatening emergencies to deal with, I took the time required to get this shot of the (almost) full moon rising over our starlit barn:

I stopped this down (f/20) to necessitate a thirty-second exposure, then “light-painted” the prayer flags in the foreground, a technique frequently use by photographers of the night to get foreground elements to register.  I know, it’s a clunky effort, but I’m just learning, so I’ll take it.

Have a good night – I’m off to bed.