Decided at the last minute to try my hand at photographing the supermoon tonight. The first order of business of course was to get the camera and tripod all set up with all the proper night sky settings. I decided on F8 for an aperture, 1/30th of a second for a shutter speed and ISO 100 to limit long exposure noise. I also wanted to try out live view which actually makes selecting the shutter speed pretty simple. You just dial it in until it looks right 🙂
Then the problem of where and when… so I went outside and made sure I had an
unobstructed view of the eastern mountainside. But exactly where and when? A quick search of the internet showed that the information I was going to need could be found on timeanddate.com, including general moonrise time, current azimuth and elevation angle which really came in handy since I have a mountain between me and the horizon. I estimated the mountaintop to be about 10 or 15 degrees which helped me to figure out when I was actually going to see it. Unfortunately there was a cloud over that part of the mountain so I couldn’t get the mountain in the shot and I had to wait even longer for the moonrise!
At first I used manual focus along with the enlarge button for the LCD screen. Blowing up the moon on the screen really helped to get the right focus. I also tried out the touch screen focus method which I actually liked better. Touching the screen tells the camera where you would like to focus and also triggers the shutter. I had a two second timer set so that any camera shake set off by the touch would have time to settle down.
Well anyway, I got a couple of shots I am semi happy with… I don’t have the greatest equipment for astrophotography but it’s not really my thing anyway. I just do it for fun once in a while 🙂
There is nothing like watching the alpenglow at sunrise in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of Colorado!
Followed by the setting of the moon 🙂
Alpenglow, the amazing solar effect that causes a pink glow in the atmosphere opposite the rising sun is how the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado acquired it’s name. The Spanish explorer Antonio Valverde y Cosio was impressed by the reddish snow capped peaks at sunrise and named the range after “the Blood of Christ”.
I too am impressed by the beautiful effect on that magnificent mountain range and had planned to arise early enough on one of my days off to make it to the overlook for a photo session. This is the best time of year to see the effect, the sunrise in the east is at a perfect angle for the effect to fall from the sky on the rugged range. I think it apropos that my opening would fall on Easter weekend, when the Blood of the Jewish carpenter was poured out to save souls in eternity for all who would believe and call upon His Name.
I have been watching the sky every morning for a few weeks, judging the sunrise and looking for the time of morning with the greatest effect. That time turns out to be between 6 and 6:30 at this time of year, so it was coffee and blueberry muffins at 4:30 this morning to give me enough time to come out of my morning coma before hitting the trail. Big Dog and I pulled into the overlook right at 6:00, just as itt was just starting to get light and the band of red spread across the sky high above the mountains. It would be another 15 minutes or so before the light would settle down upon the beautiful snow capped range.
When it finally did I was ready, ISO 100, camera set to Av mode and aperture at f5.6. I wasn’t too concerned about having a lot of depth of field, pretty much everything in my photograph was going to be at infinity. I was parked at a perfect angle so I just steadied the camera on the door of my truck rather than get out and mess with a tripod. In retrospect, after looking at some of my resulting shutter speeds, I probably should have. I have a lot of 1/30 and 1/15 of a second captures and with a long lens it would have been wise to have had extra steady support. Oh well, the pictures look nice anyway 🙂 The first one I think is the best example of this wonderful solar effect that I have ever achieved!
These pictures, the spectacular snow capped mountain picture with the polarizer that I was testing with yesterday and some of my recent bighorn sheep pictures are available on my website as wall art printed on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting! Tons of cool gift, household and tech items are also available with a picture, including t-shirts, battery chargers, gift cards, yoga mats, shower curtains, beach towels and much much more!
That scene in the movie when they were headed back across Nebraska going in the wrong direction… “I thought the Rocky Mountains would be much higher”… “Yeah, that John Denver is full of sh*t!”. Lol, that’s about how I feel right now after a previous blog post. I was looking at the google map on the weather site a couple of days ago when I realized I was no where near the mountains that I thought I was. At the Royal Gorge I turned north on Highway 9 assuming that I would be driving along the Sangre de Cristo Range… thinking, “I thought the Sangre would be much higher!” Well it turns out I was no where near the Sangre de Cristo Range… there was an entire ridge of smaller mountains between me and them and the Sangre were not visible at all from the valley I was cruising up 😐
Oh well, that just means I still have a road trip to look forward to! Not today though, feeling very tired and was even going to forego my planned hike with Big Dog. But he was having none of that so I relented and we got in a couple of miles in the high country before the heat was too much for him. Saw a pair of awesome looking buck mule deer off in the distance that I got these nice shots of. Was kind of wishing I had borrowed the 1.4x lens extension from my buddy, but still, a nice shot and a great experience. After I got this capture in the brush they kind of moseyed towards me in the prairie grass a bit before disappearing into the dense pine forest on top of Grouse Mountain. I will put a couple of those in the wildlife gallery on my website when I get the chance.
Also had this red sunrise… I have never seen the sun look like that before. It took a little bit for me to convince myself that it was the sun and not the moon due to it’s subdued brightness. Kind of weird, had me wondering if maybe it was one of those biblical signs or something.
Picture taking was followed by a nice cheese omelet and a frosted donut. Looking forward to processing my pictures to include with this blog post!
These pictures and more are available for purchase as wall art on my website! Available on glossy acrylic and metal sheets, wrapped canvas, traditional framed prints, plus many cool household and gift items!
Kind of forgot about this… until I downloaded the camera chip from yesterday’s shoot and discovered these images were still unprocessed! Well, better late than never 🙂 Actually I almost missed the event completely. On the day of the eclipse I was just out making my usual rounds, going to the gym, getting supplies for later, etc. Then I got to thinking about it and everyone was so excited about it I thought maybe I should give the eclipse some more attention! As I thought about it while looking at the peak and wondering what it was going to look like with a 90% eclipse it came to me that Bald Mountain would be the perfect spot for viewing. There is an unobstructed view of the peak from there and you can see all the way to The Sangre De Cristo, Sawatch and Mosquito Range mountains from up there.
A quick check of the internet on my phone and I discovered that I had just enough time to get up there to see the whole thing, from start to finish. Didn’t expect to see anyone else up there but there was already a small party going on by the time I arrived. Apparently Bald Mountain is a popular hiking destination for quite a few Crystola locals! Grabbed my camera and tripod and hoofed it up to the summit and took a seat in the soft grass. It wasn’t long before I heard someone exclaim that it had started 🙂 Several people had those little dark squares of glass suitable for sun viewing so it was easy to get a minute by minute report of the progress 🙂 I selected my wide angle and put the camera on the tripod and attached my remote shutter release so that I could video with my phone while snapping pictures of the peak.
The change seemed to come in phases with a sudden cooling of the temperature. The summit of Bald Mountain is probably close to 10,000 feet so it was a bit chilly up there anyway, but as the sun became more and more obscured by the moon it got downright cold! Eventually about when I figured the effects were at their maximum, someone loaned me the glass to look through. Indeed it looked like the sun was about 90% obscured so I shot some video and then this image of the peak. The dimming of the light was not all that noticeable, kind of like a fully overcast day only with a weird flat greenish looking color cast. I usually do some Photoshopping on my images but for this one I have left it alone in an effort to provide an accurate rendition of the conditions at the time. You can see that it was just kind of a dull light and there are no shadows on the peak.
Then as quickly as it had begun, it was all over with. It was a glorious clear day and the bright sun quickly warmed the summit and everyone was on their way. I’m sure those who went to the maximum effect areas of the country had a much more dramatic eclipse experience, but I met some new people, had some fun and participated in the event of the century… and that’s got to be a good day. Be sure to watch the Academy Award worthy video I shot below 🙂
These pictures and more will be for sale on my website as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, framed and matted prints and also as novelty items including t-shirts and coffee mugs. Commercial editorial stock versions of the images is also available at the image licensing portal of my website.
I was really tired last night and was seriously considering just saying no the the Blood Moon and hitting the sack early. Figured I could see the pictures online. But as fate would have it, about the time I was ready to drift off, my neighbor was getting ready to see some company off and there was a big commotion outside that put the slammer on getting sleep right then.
The night sky up here at 9000 feet can be pretty awesome at times so I peeked out into the clear cold mountain darkness to see how this night was looking. Not a cloud in the sky, crisp and cold. A perfect night for star gazing, or moon gazing as it were. So I’m thinking, no excuses, this is it. Get out there.
With 40 minutes to the beginning of the big event I started readying my equipment, finding my parka, hat and gloves. I also made a quick check into my photo magazines to see if there might be a word of advice for photographing the night sky. It was going to be cold… some hot cider might not be a bad idea. Winter clothing, check, camera, remote quick release and tripod, check, flashlight, check, plenty of hot cider, check. Finally, right at midnight I was ready to go, so out into the cold I went, just hoping there were no mountain lions or bears with the same idea. My neighbor, curious as to why there was someone out wandering around in the dark, decided to join me in my astronomical aspirations. Some company and conversation in the ghostly light of the rapidly disappearing moon was a welcome addition to the experience.
At midnight I could already see the earth’s shadow beginning to spread across the brilliant surface of the moon. I watched in awe as the amazing event unfolded, the bright sliver of moon getting smaller and smaller and the eerie red shadow growing behind. Finally the moment I had been waiting for, total eclipse. The big moment did not disappoint as the moon turned an unearthly red and remained that way until the cold began to penetrate my heavy winter survival gear. All in all I would have to say the loss of a night’s sleep was well worth the spectral glory imprinted on my brain. Perhaps I will invest in some real night photography gear. Maybe I have discovered a new passion in life.