Waning Crescent Moon and Saturn over Vasona Lake

Copyright © 2015 Deborah M. Zajac ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I usually check out the sky first thing when I wake up so, this morning when I raised my blinds and saw the Moon with Saturn shining in the cloudy sky I realized they would be lining up high over the lake, and footbridge.
So, I got dressed, grabbed a quick cup of tea, and slice of toast and headed to the lake.

It was still dark when I arrived. The Geese weren’t even up yet! I kept my eye on the sky and clouds. It didn’t look too good when I got down to the lake. The Moon was completely blocked by the clouds, but I hoped for pockets, and breaks and just after dawn the clouds cleared enough.

Waning Crescent Moon with Saturn over Vason Lake Los Gatos CA

I used a wide angle lens to be able to capture this whole scene so the Moon, Saturn that little white dot to the right of the Moon, and the fainter Antares below the Moon to the right are really teenie.

I was thrilled there was color this morning too.

This is a single frame processed in Photoshop CS6.

Nikon Df| AF-D Nikkor 24mm f/2.8@ f16| 15seconds| ISO 500| Manual Priority| Tripod|
Hoodman STEEL Ultra High Speed Digital Film

More to come…

January Morning Sun

Copyright © 2015 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

My first Sun image of the year!

There’s a large active sunspot AR2253 in the center of the sun. NOAA says there’s a 50% chance of M-Class Flare today Jan. 5, 2015 from this Sunspot region.

Solar flares are classified by their x-ray brightness in wavelength range 1-8 Angstroms.
” There are 3 categories: X-Class flares are big; these can trigger radio blackouts around the planet and long lasting radiation storms. M-Class flares are medium sized; they can cause brief radio blackouts that effect Earth’s Polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow M-Class flares. Compared to X-Class and M-Class Flare events, C-Class flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth.”~ Spaceweater.com

January Morning Sun

Nikon D700| AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4| AF-S Nikkor 14eII TC| Orion Solar Filter|Tripod

More to come…

P52 43/52 Partial Solar Eclipse

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

This is the Eclipse at its maximum in my area of Northern California. I cropped in about 30% so it looks larger than it really was.

P52 43 of 52 Partial Solar Eclipse

Nikon Df| AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4 + Nikkor 14eII Teleconverter| Orion Solar Filter|Tripod| Hoodman STEEL Ultra High Speed Digital Film

Totality-Lunar Eclipse October 8, 2014

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Totality Lunar Eclipse October 8, 2014

Plus two stars!  Slightly cropped in.

Nikon D700| AF-S Nikkor 300mm f4 + 14eII= 420mm| Lexar Professional Digital film

I’m off to look for Fall Color in the Eastern Sierras so, it will be quiet here for several days. Be well, and safe everyone!

More to come…

August Super Moon over the Giant Dipper, Santa Cruz, CA

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

August SuperMoon over the Giant Dipper Santa Cruz CAThis isn’t exactly the image I had in my head, but it’s close. There is a telephone pole on the left I wish wasn’t there, a light pole on the right that is spilling light, and flare into the image, and the train which is just about to the top of the hill hasn’t any running lights so, no light trails from it. I did get light trails from passing cars though.

I cloned out several wires that were running through the sky, but left the telephone pole because that’s beyond my Photoshop skills, and… it is what it is. I really dislike wires, traffic lights, signs, and garbage cans right in front of Historic, and beautiful buildings, and things!

One thing I am happy about is that this isn’t a view you see often in photos of the Giant Dipper.

This is my favorite Roller Coaster. It took me a couple of years to get the courage to ride it. I’ll never forget that first ride. I was 12 yrs old. That hill is STEEP and it scared the crap out of me, but it was fast, and thrilling!  I still love riding it.

If you’re anywhere near Santa Cruz in the Summer I recommend giving this Coaster a ride. It’s fun, fun, fun!

For the History Buffs:
The Giant Dipper is a historic wooden roller coaster located in  Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an amusement park in Santa Cruz, California. It took 47 days to build at a cost of $50,000. It opened on May 17, 1924 and replaced the Thompson’s Scenic Railway. With a height of 70 feet (21 m) and a speed of 55 miles per hour (89 km/h), it is one of the most popular wooden roller coasters in the world. As of 2012, over 60 million people have ridden the Giant Dipper since its opening. The ride has received several awards such as being named a National Historic Landmark, a Golden Age Coaster award, and a Coaster Landmark award; it has been ranked annually in Mitch Hawker’s Best Wooden roller coaster poll.~Wiki-pedia

Nikon D700| Tripod| Manual Priority|
Frame 1) AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm @ 25mm| f11| 4 seconds| ISO 250|
Frame 2) AF-S Nikkor 300mm w/Nikkor 14eII =420mm |f11| 1/400sec| ISO 400
Both frames taken the same night from same location.

Portal to the Stars

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Portal to the StarsI had a fun week-end in Moab, Utah with friends Alex and Theresa chasing the stars. Our goal was to shoot the Milky Way at Corona Arch, but the first night was really cloudy so we went to Dead horse Point in Canyonlands State Park for sunset. We didn’t have much color, but the clouds were dramatic.

Sunset Deadhorse Point Canyonlands State Park, UtahSaturday morning my alarm went off at 3 A.M. I snoozed for a few minutes then got up, dressed then the 3 of us left the hotel and  were at the Trail head to Delicate Arch at 4:10 A.M. It’s a 1.5 mile hike up to Delicate Arch with a 500 ft elevation gain. It took us 42 minutes to ascend to Delicate Arch in the dark. (we had head-lamps)
Civil Twilight at Delicate Arch

Not much color this morning facing this direction: South-southeast, but still pretty. While waiting for Golden Hour we met Adonis Farray who is from Canada. We all hiked down together then parted ways. Starving we headed to Moab for breakfast. We went to the Jailhouse Cafe and had just put in our order when in walked Adonis! We invited him to our table. Over the course of our conversation we discovered he hadn’t ever shot the Milky Way so of course we invited him to join us if he had the time. He altered his plans and stayed another day in Moab in order to join us. He will tell you I held a gun to his head. 🙂 It didn’t take too much arm twisting to convince him it was worth a second hike up to Corona Arch.

After breakfast we all headed back to our hotel rooms to take a nap, and prepare for our upcoming night shoot. I woke up before my alarm and so did Theresa so we went for a quick swim at the pool then went back  to shower, and meet Alex for dinner before heading up to the Corona Arch trail-head where we would meet Adonis.

We started the hike up to Corona Arch about 7  P.M. The outside/ambient temperature was 101 degrees. You start climbing straight-away up a dirt and rocky path which soon levels out  for a short distance then it meanders up through a canyon; you cross one set of railroad tracks then continue up the path. Soon the path gives way to sandstone and red rock. You hike across a steep rock with a well-worn path in places and no trail at all in other places, but it is marked along the way with cairns, there’s a part of the rock that slopes so you’re walking on an angle but there’s cable to hold on to which helps. Then you begin to climb up the canyon wall following the cairns.
Not too long after you leave the cable behind you come to another cable that helps you climb a much steeper, but short rock. There are shallow foot holes cut into the rock face that make the 15 foot climb much easier. I took this image of the cable back in Feb. with my iPhone. That boy about 10 yrs old ran up the rock opposite the cables- too impatient to wait for us to go up then he waited for his parents at the top.

Cable on the trail to Corona ArchWith that challenge behind us we continued on a short distance only to meet with another steep rock to climb, but a ladder is there to help you up, or you can hike up and around it which is what I did this trip. This image of the Ladder I took back in Feb. with my iPhone

Ladder on the trail to Corona ArchBy now you are hundreds of feet high above the canyon floor hiking across the canyon wall on a huge slip rock ridge with a gentle uphill slope that leads you right to the Arch.
The 1.5 mile hike up to the Arch is packed with fun and challenging terrain. Here’s how the Arch looked when we got up to it. Taken with my iPhone 5

Corona Arch iphone imageAlex had checked our calculations for the night shoot before we left the hotel using Stelliarum so we had a pretty good idea of where the Milky Way was going to rise. We set up and waited for it to get dark enough to see it.
The temperature started cooling off about 9 P.M. and by 9:30 P.M. it was dark enough to see more and more stars shining bright against the darkening sky.

Theresa brought along a strong flashlight for light-painting. While we were making images of the Arch in the Blue Hour with Theresa light-painting it she stopped and said, “I hear rustling in someone’s back pack. Like animal critter kind of rustling noises.” We all stopped what we were doing to investigate. Turning the light beam over to the pack Theresa saw a mouse in Adonis’ pack! Adonis had left it open and the mouse was trying to get his trail mix. The light beam, and Adonis poking his pack scared the mouse who came running out of the pack and straight into one of the holes in the rock behind us, but he came out of that hole just as fast with angry wasps on his tail! We discovered earlier that all the holes in the rock behind us were filled with wasp nests. We were set up in front of them, but far enough away not to disturb the wasps. The mouse got away up and over the rock and thankfully we didn’t see it or the wasps again.

We hoped we would have breaks in the clouds giving us some kind of view of the Milky Way and we got lucky! Adonis said he’d put in the order with the weather Gods. 🙂 We shot for a couple of hours then we packed up, and with head-lamps lighting the way we started to make our way down from Corona Arch.  With our lamps on the white light we were assaulted by little gnat like bugs. Yuk!

Our Theresa got a touch of sun exhaustion and didn’t feel good at the start of the decent. Thankfully she was able to hike down without difficulty- she was tired, hot, nauseous, had a head-ache, and thirsty despite drinking 64 ounces water that day. By the time our plane landed late Sunday afternoon she was looking and feeling much better.

Our day for the Milky Way shoot started Saturday July 26th at 3 A.M. and ended when I went to bed on Sunday July 27th at 1 A.M.  We got a lot of hiking in. 8.2miles total, and I had a lot of fun with dear friends, and  new friend from Canada Adonis.

More to come…

Unless noted- All images taken with a Nikon D700 w/Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8 lens