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 Road Trip Adventure

Meet James,

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Story teller, Good Samaritan, and my Guardian Angel in time of need.
While traveling to from Salt Lake City to Arches National Park on Nov. 6, 2010 I had a problem with my rental car about 2 hours south of SLC. I pulled over at the first gas station I saw. It had a light on inside the store, but the door said closed. Theresa my friend knocked on the door because she saw a man inside. He came out and verified what I thought- the gas tank or line was leaking. He invited us into the store to call the rental company and to keep warm. We left SLC at 5AM and it was only about 6:40AM when I pulled into the Tesoro Service Station.
I called the rental company and while on the phone I heard James(the man at the gas station) tell Theresa the station doesn’t open until 8:30AM and he rarely goes in early.
The rental car co. was going to set me up with a “tow exchange” and they needed to know my location.
I gave them the address. The woman on the phone with me needed a zip code so she could find me on the map. James said, ” We don’t have one. Soldier Summit is 30 miles south of Spanish Fork on Hwy 6.”  We were surprised by this, but the woman on the phone looked on the map again and Soldier Summit wasn’t on her map.
Fortunately, I was at the only Tesoro Service Station within miles so the tow truck driver wouldn’t have a problem finding me. She got all the paper work started and told me it would take a minimum of 4 hours to  get the replacement car out to me. After I hung up and told Theresa and James it would be awhile before they got a car out here James said, ” That was the smoothest I’ve seen a call to a rental company for help go, and I’ve had 11 tows out of here this year.”

James we discovered is also an amateur photographer. When we told him where we were going to Arches to take photos he got goose-bumps! He pulled out a big black 2 inch binder fully loaded with photographs he took. There were also old photos of the town his mother took. Each photo had a great story to go with it.
He also likes to tell jokes. Like this one- When giving back change to a customer I heard him ask this when he handed him his change. ” Do you see this quarter? That’s a WY quarter. See this horse? What kind of horse do you think this is? Appaloosa, Mustang, Palomino?”
When the customer replied, ” I have no idea.” James said, ” It’s a Quarter Horse!”

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

This is the gas station where I waited for a replacement rental car.
It’s located 30 miles south of Spanish Fork, Utah in Soldier Summit Utah.
After sitting in the store chatting with James the store keeper, and visiting with a few of the customers the sun came out and I said I’d go out and photograph the Old Jailhouse and make Lemonade out of lemons. I was photographing the station and Theresa said she named this station Tesoro Arch since we couldn’t be in Arches National Park we would call this Tesoro Arch. I loved it!
Can you tell there is nothing much out here. There is a house on the hill behind the station, and that’s about it.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

This was my rental car. She’s leaking gas. Can you see the little puddle by the back right tire? James put some kitty litter like stuff on the puddle once before I took this photo. Poor thing.

Here’s another view of the gas station. It really was lonely out here!

This is “Guy”

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

This gentleman came into the station and I was fascinated with him. He had that …”je ne sais quoi”. James, had said “Hi, Guy!” when he came in, but we learned that wasn’t his real name. James always says “Hi Guy” and he says Hi back so it’s stuck.

I asked him if I could take his photo and he said, “Sure!”
While I was snapping my shutter I asked him what he did for a living to get him talking to keep me relaxed. You know I’m not a “people photographer”, and Guy was relaxed!  He said he retired from the mine and then my phone rang! I stopped photographing him to take the call as it was from the tow company that was bringing me a replacement car. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him anymore after that because he left just as I hung up the phone.
An American Cowboy. Isn’t his mustache great!

Here’s a plaque just in front of the old Jailhouse that tells the story of how the town got its name:

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.
It says:
Soldier Summit
On Sept. 11, 1776, Two Franciscan priests Father Escalante, and Father Dominguez entered what is now the state of Utah, and several weeks later camped in a mountain pass. It is believed that the Fathers gave the pass its first name. Calling it Grassy Pass.
The name was changed to Soldier Pass when Johnson’s army at Camp Floyd was ordered east in 1861.
About 40 officers and enlisted men from the southern states were given permission to leave the US Army and go south to join the Confederate Army.  They arrived at Grassy Pass in a blizzard. Six or seven men and a fourteen year old boy were frozen to death and were buried by a spring near the summit of the pass.  The Rio Grande Railroad Company in 1880 named the pass Soldier Summit in its first time table.
~Castle Valley Center-Handicapped School. Nov. 1, 1990

The tow truck with the replacement car arrived by 10:20ish. After loading the new car, and saying farewell and Thank you to James we were on the road again headed to Arches National Park by 10:50ishAM.

He was a wonderful host, and I’ll never forget his kindness for letting us hang out in the store to keep warm while we waited for the replacement car.
Thank you James for going to work early, for your hospitality, and for the photograph of the Sunrise across from your Deer Camp.

For additional history on Soldier Summit go here: