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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.

Moonlight Madness! December 13, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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This time of year, there’s virtually no daylight outside of my work-day; I drive out in the dark, and by the time I pick up my mail on the way home the sun is setting.

Kinda sucks as a photographer’s life goes.

But hey, if it’s a lemon tree, we New Englanders do know what to do with it!

…Snap away in the dark.  I can handle it.  😉

Here are a few sky shots I took these past few days, bracketing my workday with a bit of finger-numbing recreation (it’s been cold  here!)

Here’s an eastward view from high Shelburne, after sunset but a bit short of moonrise; Her Highness is announcing Her entrance with a flourish of fire:

I wouldn’t have chosen the contrail if it were up to me, but it wasn’t, and in retrospect it adds an interesting geometric element to balance the descending horizon.

Funny how those things work out.

Here’s one of the moon just cracking the Earth-Sky egg:

And then, at last, Her glorious entrance into the Land of the Living:

This last shot has a different feel than the previous two; the sheer candlepower of La Luna didn’t lend itself to bringing up the colors as I did with the others.  Let me know what you think of the differences.

And lastly, no night would be complete without morning.  So here’s a morning shot looking westward from my current road job, of the waning moon chasing a firey Earth-shadow to ground over the Taconic Range which separates Massachusetts from New York:

We’re heading into the depths of the Dink and the Dank of winter, with a surfeit of dark and a dearth of daylight, so bear with me as I try to milk the night for something worth passing along to any of you who have come to expect a bit more from me.  If I ever get my act together and delve into Actual Night-time Photography, this time of year will require less apologies.  But for now, I hope this suffices.

Thanks to Ollie for these shots, mostly shot at 24mm, though I kept my compositional options open with that lens choice.

Shooting In The Dark. August 26, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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My housemate and photographic mentor Lizz came out west this weekend to help bail the fruits of incoming Irene, and as tonight was disarmingly beautiful, we grilled a steak and ate in the dooryard.

After dinner we retired to the garden to practice a bit of what she’d learned about night photography in a workshop out West this past Spring, including light painting and the subtleties of long exposures in the digital realm.  Here’s my first attempt at the genre, a shot of the sunflowers in our garden:

High, thin clouds didn’t quite cooperate with my intention of capturing the stars, and a wireless remote problem had me holding down the shutter release for several minutes, so there’s lots of room for improvement here.  But still, it’s a shot of our sunflowers at night, with the stars up above them, and I’m diggin’ it.  Expect progress on this front as I work out the glitches and get it straight.

Downtown Northampton. December 23, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Our local urban mecca, rendered in the stark light of a small city night:

I caught the current crescent moon in that one.

Plain ol’ urban shots:

Not my standard Nature fare, but rather more play with Elliot.

Hope you don’t mind the digression.