Wild Weds. 38/52 Lady Boot Arch and the Milky Way

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I mentioned in last week’s post here  that my friends and I had ventured a bit further south while in the Eastern Sierras over Labor Day week-end. We went very nearly to the farthest southern end to the Alabama Hills Recreational Area.  If you’ve ever watched any old Western Cowboy movies you’ve seen this area. It’s rugged, rocky, and beautiful.

Also it’s remarkable in that the road to this area is also the road that is known as Mt. Whitney Portal.  One takes this road up to the staging area to begin your trek up Mt. Whitney which is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 of the United States.

There’s a very famous natural arch among photographer’s in the Alabama Hills Recreational Area that features a very nice view of Mt. Whitney. I was blessed and fortunate to photograph the arch called Mobius Arch back in 2012 just before sunrise. Mt. Whitney is framed by the arch in my image seen here.  Back then no one read my blog.  I am thankful for those of you who have found me since then!

For this trip I suggested a less famous, less photographed arch called Lady Boot Arch, or Boot Arch, or…it has a few other names if you do a search on the internet for it.  My friends were open to the idea so we scouted it in the afternoon before the shoot, and were happy with it so we went back to town for dinner then met near the arch before sunset for an evening of photography fun.  We had plenty of time to get our compositions in focus, and set up the lights to light up the arch and foreground rocks.  Laura brought her warm tea lights to light up the arch interior, and I had my trusty flash light with a gel to paint the rocks in the foreground. I’m not that skilled at light painting so, I passed my torch to Laura who does have the touch, and skill in that area.

Here’s the image I made that I like best. It’s a two frame composite image.  I processed the sky/milky way image from the raw file to look very close to how it looked that night, and blended it with an image of the foreground light painted to highlight the rock formations and lighted arch.  I was hoping to get one image that had both sky and foreground close enough to what I saw to be able to edit and develop that, but sadly I didn’t have one with the foreground just right. Which is why you light paint more than you think you need, and plan on blending frames if needed.  I’m chuffed ( read delighted! for those that don’t get British English slang) with the result. It was super fun to shoot, and I would do it again in a nano second!  I hope you like the tale, and image nearly as much as I had fun making it.

Lady Boot Arch

Some technical stuff… Mars is shining brightest in the sky on the left of the Boot and Milky Way, and in the dark lane of the Milky Way very near the left edge  directly across from Mars is Saturn shining bright, out of frame was Jupiter too, but I cropped it out in favor of a stronger composition.  Thank you Peter! He was the best teacher I ever had on cropping for the composition.  When I got all my frames uploaded I saw that this one had several meteors or shooting stars in the frame. One heading into the Milky Way from the left, and one beside Mars, and two lower and to the right of Mars. They’re faint but there!

Did I tell you how chuffed I was?

The sky is filled with billions of stars out here. It’s breath taking, and I can’t explain in words how amazing, awesome, as well as beautiful it is, and just, How. Small. I. Felt while viewing it, and how just as I know it while standing on top of mountain that God is real and there. He was here too.  This is my chapel, my cathedral, my Holy Place. This. THIS Feeds My SOUL.

It’s mid September now, so this is the last image I’ll be making of the Milky Way until next April or May. The Galactic Center…that wonderfully rich milky bit very close to the tip of Lady Boot Arch’s top is headed to the southern hemisphere now. It’s their turn to see the richest part of the arm of our galaxy.  I will miss it, and yearn for its return as I do every year.

I am behind with emails, and blogs again, and I’m afraid I’m going to be behind for a bit longer. I will catch up!

I hope you’re all having a lovely week.

Nikon D810| Nikkor 16mm f/2.8 fisheye lens| Hoodman Steel Digital Film| PS CC 2018

more to come…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://circadianreflections.com/2012/01/12/sunrise-in-alabama-hills/

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Wordless Wednesday 35/52 Portal to the Stars

Copyright ©2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Nikon Df| Nikkor 20mm f/1.8g@ f/2.5| 20s| ISO 2000| SanDisk Digital Film

PS CC 2017

more to come…

The Sky is Dark and Full of Stars!

Copyright ©2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Last week-end a girlfriend (T) and I went to Brookings, OR to scout, and photograph seascapes, and hopefully we’d have a clear night for night sky imaging in the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor.  We looked at the weather forecast for the week-end and it looked like we’d only have one really good night for any night sky imaging. We both hoped to photograph the Milky Way, and if we found a great spot for Star Trails we’d do that too, but it wasn’t a priority like the Milky Way was.

When we were at Arch Rock for sunset we realized straight-away that wouldn’t work out so well for a Milky Way location since it was facing west, but around the path a bit closer to the parking lot was a nice sea stack that faced directly south.  We both pulled out out cell phones and summoned our night sky app called Photo Pills to double check our thoughts, and find the time when the Galactic Center would line up over the sea stack.  After determining that 1:32AM it would line up we headed out to dinner, then back to the Hotel for a nap.

I’d been up since 5AM driving from my house in Silicon Valley up to T’s two hours north east of me. From there I drove all the way to Brookings, OR.  It’s an 8 hour drive without stops.  We stopped for gas, and lunch of course. Needless to say- I needed a nap!

My alarm sounded at 12:30AM. We were ready pretty quick and headed back to Arch Rock Viewpoint to photograph the Milky Way.

We were the only people there.  We set up took our test shots, and began shooting.  Before the trip I purchased a new filter to help me get a tack sharp focus at night. It’s called  SharpStar2 from LonelySpeck  I didn’t get it to work as it should have, but determining when I was in focus was easy. A lot easier than just using Live View alone.  That cut my set up time in half!  I’m going to be practicing here at home with the filter before my next night sky shoot.  After reading the instructions again it was definitely user error. I should have practiced with it at night before the trip, but I’m happy.

Milky Way over Sea Stack

It was really quiet just us, the sea, and the sound of our camera’s shutter opening and closing.   There was very little light pollution. The cliffs blocked most of the light from Brookings. You can see a light band at the horizon entering from the left of the frame. That’s the light from Brookings.  This was a great location with a dark sky.

Saturday night the fog rolled in. I’m so glad we went out Friday night!  T’s brother and S-i-L drove up to meet us and photograph the area Saturday.  After Sunset we headed back to town for dinner but, we got sidetracked with an Industrial night shot opportunity which I posted Wednesday

So, the fog didn’t completely ruin the night.  We had a late dinner with a glass of wine. I fell into my hotel bed after midnight, and slept in Sunday.

We had breakfast and said our farewells to T’s brother, and S-i-L and T and I set off for the long drive home.  Thankfully the drive was uneventful. 🙂

I hope to get back up there one day to explore more of the park. It’s a gorgeous coastline, and sky is dark and full of stars!

I hope you all have a lovely week-end! Can you believe June is just about over already?!!

Nikon D810| Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G| Hoodman Digital Film| Single Frame 20s| ISO 3200| PS CC 2017

more to come…

 

Milky Way over Mt Shasta & Shastina

Copyright ©2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I had a fun week-end with my good friend Theresa shooting stars, and Alpine Glow on Mt. Shasta and Mt. Shastina.

We arrived at Lake Shastina Friday afternoon and hiked 250ft up a rocky, loose soiled fire road to do some scouting and look for a good composition of Mt Shasta/Shastina for sunset.

There were too many tall trees up there blocking the view, and the wind had kicked up a bit wrecking the reflection of the Volcano in the lake so we hiked back down the road to a spot we liked. On the way down my right foot slipped on a patch of loose, and rocky dirt and down I went knee first.  My lower leg landed with my boot/foot outward and my inner shin hit a rock when it landed.  I swore. A lot.

I knew it wasn’t broken, and I could put some weight on it so I limped down to the chosen spot.  T suggested we leave for the motel and get ice and rest for the rest of the night.  No! I wanted to get the shot!  I applied RICE when we got back to our motel and got up ready to shoot on Saturday.

I wouldn’t be hiking, but we had a very full day of flowers, waterfalls, an old lumber town,  star trails, and we ended our Saturday photographing the Milky Way.  I made this image just before midnight.

Milky Way over Mt. Shasta and Mt Shastina

I was so happy to be under so many stars again!   I’m thankful for the time I spent hanging out with T, not breaking my leg/knee, for a husband who “gets” me, and has always supported me, my hobbies, and dreams even when they aren’t his dreams or hobbies, and I’m thankful for seeing this beautiful place again.   I’m ready to go back! 🙂

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Nikon D801| Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G @f/2.8| 20s| ISO 3200| Hoodman Digital Film| PS CC 2017

More to come…

Milky Way over Mt. Shasta CA

Copyright ©2015 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A couple of weeks back some friends and I spent the week-end near Mt. Shasta hoping for a clear night for night imaging the Milky Way. We’d been skunked the week-end before in Lassen National Park, and the smoke from the fires burning in Northern CA was causing a haze in the atmosphere.

The clouds began to shift about Sunset. There were some low clouds around the peak of Mt. Shasta, but the peak itself was clear. We hoped that held up, and it did! I caught a Shooting Star too! I don’t think this is a Perseid Meteor, but I could be wrong. Though the timing for the Perseid’s was right when I made this image.

Milky Way over Mount Shasta CA, USA

The lights are from surrounding towns and way out in the distance might be Redding, CA.

Nikon Df| AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm| Hoodman STEEL Ultra High Speed Digital Film| CS6

More to come…

A Window to the Stars

Copyright ©2015 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Last Saturday a friend and I went up to Yosemite to photograph the Night Sky because the Moon was rising in the wee hours of the night we’d have several hours of dark sky to photograph the Milky Way.
This is just one view of the sky that I made.

I love how many more stars one is able to see up here in comparison to the city I live in; where far fewer stars are seen due to light pollution.

I adore city life and all it’s conveniences, but I need the country and high mountains for the serenity, beauty, and dark skies. I hope we as a people in this country can appreciate the stars enough to save some land/parks for dark skies because seeing so many stars is amazing, wondrous, and so inspiring that a special kind of person has the drive and adventurous spirit to travel among them no matter what the risk! If I had the math skills required for space travel I’d be there in a nano second!

Nikon Df| Nikkor AF-S 17-35mm| Tripod| Cable Release…before I broke it-SIGH!| Hoodman STEEL Ultra High Speed Digital Film| Developed in Photoshop CS6

Under Scorpio’s Light

Copyright © 2015 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

In 2012 I shot my very first Milky Way Pano. I’ve not yet posted it…it is still a work in progress.   Since then I’ve been wanting to improve on the techniques I used in 2012 which was…I won’t lie, ” flying by the seat of my pants”.

One of the things I want to improve is getting better stitching. Even using a tripod,  and generous overlapping I wasn’t happy with the stitching.  I hoped that by calibrating my lens to find the Nodal Point, or No Parallax Point I would get better stitching results.  What is the Nodal Point and why does it matter you ask?  Do this. Hold up your thumb or pen in front of your face at arm’s length, and move your head from left to right. Notice how the background moved on one side more than the other? That’s Parallax. If you were to take two images one from the left and one from the right side and merge them the line would not be straight.  You need to either have the point of view of the pen or the background.

For a great explanation to solve this issue I turn to John Houghton, ” Ideally, therefore, when taking the photographs for a stitched panorama you need to take all the shots from a single viewpoint so that near objects don’t change their position against the background in successive shots.  This will greatly ease the task of  joining the images seamlessly to form a perfect panorama image.  Hence, the “eye” of the camera needs to be kept in a constant position when the camera is rotated to point in a different direction for each shot. “~ John Houghton

Yesterday afternoon I figured out the Nodal Point, or No Parallax Point for my 24mm f/2.8 lens.  I mounted my camera  on my macro rail, and a tripod. Making sure that tripod was level, next making sure my camera/macro rail were level,  then I lined my tripod rig up with a light stand placed a few feet away from the tripod, and a pole I have in the backyard which is further away from the light stand.

Loosening my panning knob on the ball-head I moved the camera/micro rail left and right and could see the furthest pole on both sides of the light stand I had parallax. Then I moved my camera back to the center point moved my camera back using the macro rail adjustment knob. I locked it down and moved my camera right and left again…the parallax got worse telling me I needed to make my adjustment on the rail in the other direction. I loosened the rail and moved the other direction a bit then moved the camera from left to right, and saw I was getting there; I only saw a little bit of the further pole behind the light stand now.   One more small adjustment and Voila! I didn’t see the further pole behind the light stand when panning the camera left and right.   I found the Nodal Point, or No Parallax Point of that lens!

My rail has centimeter, and millimeter marks so I made a note of the number that 24mm f/2.8 lines up with to be able to quickly set up a panorama shot with that lens again.

Now that I had found the Nodal/No Parallax Point I was anxious to test it out. The sky was supposed to be clear so I met a friend at a favorite Night Sky spot to shoot the Milky Way. My goal was to make a Vertorama/Panorama using my new measurement of the Nodal Point.

In the Light of Scorpius

I made 7 images from left to right making sure my tripod was level, my camera/macro rail were level, and that I had a lot of overlap when panning from shot to shot. Then I returned to the same place I started and panned up a bit to get more of the sky in the frame making sure I had plenty of overlap then moving left to right using the same amount of movement as before I made 7 more images ending exactly at the same place as before. (Note- When I composed the shot  I noted the degree marking on my ball-head to find my starting place and I noted the degree mark for my ending place, so I knew where to start and end for the second row. )

The clouds moved in and when they hit the city lights below they really lit up! I’ve cropped off a bit from that right side.  It was a fairly early night due to the clouds.

It’s important to note that each lens has its own Nodal/ No Parallax Point! Prime lenses are easier to figure out because you only need to make one measurement, but if you’re using a Zoom lens you’ll need to figure out the Nodal/No Parallax Point for each focal length you’ll use.

For example, I use my 17-35mm AF-S Nikkor wide-angle lens a lot so I’ll be spending some time this afternoon finding the Nodal/No Parallax Point for that lens at 17mm, 20mm, 24mm, and 35mm. I’ll also find the Nodal/No Parallax Point for my 16mm fisheye lens.

I’ll write down each measurement for each lens on my cell phone’s notepad, along with which camera was used, and I’ll upload that information to my computer so I have it there as a back-up as well.

Initial development of the images was done using LR5. Then I stitched this image in Photoshop CS6. Due to the light variation I had some seams showing. I clicked on each layer and using the clone brush fixed those.

All in all I think a very successful endeavor.  I hope next week-end has a clear night so I can get out and do this again.

14 Frames w/ Nikon Df| AF-D Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8| 15 seconds| ISO 6400| Manual Priority| Mirror Up| Tripod| Cable Release