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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

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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

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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

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Copyright 2015-2016 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Last week I shared with you the Top 10 Images that received the most  views over on my flickr site today I’m going to share with you My Personal favorite images from 2015. Most of these I posted on the blog, so you’ll probably recognize them or feel a sense of Deja-vu. 🙂

I selected these images based on emotions, technical merit, or because I met a personal goal. I got my picks  down to 36 then spent a couple of days whittling those down to just 10. It’s so hard! I have an emotional attachment to all of them. 🙂

Without further ado…My Personal Top 10 Images of 2015:

1)Running in Rain Puddles.  He’s just awesome, and brings me so much joy. I love being a Grandma!!

Running in Puddles

2) Milky Way over Mt Shasta- This was an Epic night spent with Dear Friends. I hope we are able to get together to shoot here again this year.Milky Way over Mount Shasta CA, USA

3) Total Lunar Eclipse over the Palace of Fine Arts San Francisco- This was another epic night. There was weeks of planning, chasing the Moon across town from one location to this one, working the camera to get the shots all the while hoping it would all come together in post production.  It’s pretty great when it does. Totality-Lunar Eclipse over The Palace of Fine Arts San Francisc

4) Cooper’s Hawk- I think.  There are a few  images in this selection that I haven’t shared before. More times than I care to admit I find I lack the confidence that a certain image I love will be well received, or what happens to me quite a lot is that I’m not crazy about the images when I first upload them after a shoot so, I let them marinate awhile. When I return to them months or years later I find I like them a whole lot more.

This Hawk in the reeds in Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge is an image I really like, but thought it might be too pedestrian to post back in January 2015 when I photographed it.  I love its face, the clarity of the eye, the natural environment, and the fact that I was able to make the image before it flew away.

Cooper's Hawk

5) Northern Flicker-Male – Another image never shown before today. This bird has been a nemesis of mine for years! They too are flighty.

I’d read reports of him being spotted in a neighborhood not from me in Jan/Feb. 2015, so one day a friend and I went looking for him. We found him deep in the shadows of this tree.  Once I got it uploaded and did some post production work to open up the shadows I was happy with the image, and feel like I can say it’s not my nemesis anymore.  They’re such beautiful birds.

Northern Flicker

6) Salsify macro- This was an image I photographed for my Project 52/2015 using my LensBaby Composer Pro wit the macro adapters. I love my LensBaby System and that creamy background. Salsify

7) Still-life “Why fit in when you were born to stand out.” Dr. Seuss

This one makes the cut because I got the lighting, and composition that I wanted to make right.

P52 29 of 52 "Why fit in when you were born to stand out?" ~Dr.

8) Orange Crowned Warbler.   I haven’t seen this little bird too often and photographing them is so hard; they’re small, and are so fidgety you have to be quick. This particular morning I set up my rig by a seep that was drawing in birds from the area for a drink.  Patience when birding is essential. It paid off this morning. I waited 30 minutes or so for this bird to come to the seep. This is the best image I’ve made of this species.

Orange Crowned Warbler

9) Great Egret-  Another bird image I’ve never before shared.  I love the colors, and how clear its eye is.

Great Egret

10)Sunrise cresting San Francisco Skyline from Kirby Cove. It was worth the mile hike back up for this image. Being there was awesome.

Sunrise over San Francisco CA

These are my favorites from 2015.  Thank you for being so supportive, and letting me share my images with you. I look forward to seeing your images, reading your poems, thoughts, and seeing the places you travel from  my arm-chair this year.

Happy and Healthy 2016 Everyone!

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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

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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

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

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