Trailhead to the Stars

Copyright ©2016 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Last night I met Gordon, and some other friends in a Meet-Up group we’re in up on Mt. Tamilpias in Marin County to photograph the sunset, and then image the night sky.

There was an Astrology lecture in the Amphitheater so the park was open much later than it normally is which allowed us to stay late. YEAH! Normally the park closes a bit after sunset.

This is 74 frames stacked in PS CC 2015.5.

My settings were f2.2| 30seconds ea.| ISO 320| Manual Priority| Tripod|

Star Trails

4 planes, and one shooting star flew through the sky while I was imaging. I didn’t see the shooting star at the time as I was looking away helping a friend with her settings and intervalometer. I was thrilled to see I caught it on film though.

It was a lovely night, not windy, or cold, and the company was great!

Nikon Df| Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G| Delkin Digital Film

More to come…


Granuja Falls

Granuja Falls, originally uploaded by dmzajac2004-.

Via Flickr:
Copyright © 2013 Deborah M Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

My mind turned to photographing waterfalls when we had several days of rain in Silicon Valley. I knew the falls around the Bay Area would be running full. The day was supposed to be partly sunny/cloudy, and not too cool. Since it was a week-day there probably wouldn’t be too many others around. I hadn’t been shooting long or got very far up the trail when it started to sprinkle. I hadn’t packed my rain sleeve so it was time to head back. Before reaching the parking lot the cloud overhead opened up and just poured!

I’ll have to get back soon.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 2470G@ 50mm| f5.6| 25 seconds| ISO 200| Manual Priority| Tripod|B+W 1.8 ND filter

Viewing the Annular Solar Eclipse May 20, 2012

Copyright © 2012 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

My mother asked me if I was going to photograph the upcoming Annular Solar Eclipse, and said she wasn’t sure if they would be able to see it in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I told her “Yes, I’m planning to view, and photograph it.”  and that she will be able to see a “Partial Solar Eclipse” if she stayed home or in the Bay Area.

In the Bay Area  you won’t see the Full Annular “Ring of Fire” to view that one must drive about 4+ hours to a place where you can see that. I gathered several links for her to glean some more information about what she could expect to see here in the Bay Area and thought I’d pass them along here too.

The link below is an animation of the what will be seen in the Bay Area. Click your refresh or reload button once the map page is open. It should be animated then.

To view the Full Annular Ring of Fire the map in the link below shows the path in the west one can view that. The red line is the center line on which one can view the Full Circle.

Don’t look at  the Sun without protection. Use the old fashion cardboard box and paper method if you haven’t got Solar viewing glasses or a solar filter for a telescope or your camera’s lens. It’s called a Pinhole Camera. There are places around the Bay Area that are offering viewing too.

Making a Pinhole Camera

White-tailed Kite

Copyright © 2012 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

This photograph is one I took at last month’s Pacific Flyway Festival.  It’s a week-end event for birders out on Mare Island in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Several hikes, and guided tours with experienced birders are offered. I went with a group of folks, and my friend Dali out to Skaggs Island for a private walk-about. It’s part of an old Navy base which is being renovated and rehabilitated to marsh land.
This Kite was perched in a tree just within range for me to get several shots of it before it flew away. I was so excited to be this close to one that didn’t fly away the moment it spotted me. They’re so skittish they perch far away from the roads, or they take flight as soon as they see me coming.
The day was overcast, and the sky was flat so I decided to turn this one into a “high Key” shot.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 70-300 @ 300mm| f7.1| 1/1600sec| ISO 500| Manual Mode| Tripod

” Just Be There…”

…with Steven Christenson”

Independence Day in the United States is just around the corner. On July 4th families and friends will get together to celebrate this holiday. Plans are being made for pick-up games of baseball, volleyball, or swimming. There will be picnics, and barbeques will be fired up. Dads all over will be grilling hot dogs, and burgers, watermelons will be split, seed spitting contests will ensue, and the colors of the day will be Red, White, and Blue.

When the sun drops beyond the horizon the celebrating doesn’t stop. Countless cities and towns will put on a great show of fireworks, and many families and friends will be gathered in their favorite viewing spot to watch the show. Many of us will want to photograph these.

Steven Christenson an avid night, and astro-photographer who is a longtime resident of the San Francisco Bay Area shares with us one of his experiences about photographing fireworks, and gives us some tips on how we can capture these stars bursting in air .

Rain on Golden Palms

Photograph by Steven Christenson

Q. Tell us about this location.

Steven: Oyster Point Marina in San Francisco, CA. It was a local radio station KFOG event called Kaboom. An annual outdoor concert held in May. In addition to the concert there is a Fireworks show which is synchronized to a soundtrack broadcasted by the station.

The reasons for choosing this location were twofold: 1. Get far enough away to be able to fill the frame and ideally somewhere that we could be sure to have an unobstructed view (nobody could get in front of us without getting wet!), and 2. Get reflections in the water. HOWEVER, to get good reflections, you really need to be well above water level and it helps if the water is calm. We had roaring wind that day!

And it doesn’t hurt to make it a social occasion! I had set up a Photography Meet-up event around this KFOG event.  Anne De Lemos, a photographer in our group would have become a Popsicle if people hadn’t brought extra blankets.

Q. What time of day?

Steven: Just after dark at 9:20 P.M.

Q. How difficult was this to capture?

Steven:  Fireworks are always challenging, especially if you’re a first timer at taking them on. Fortunately, I had cut my teeth on several prior fireworks events, including the KFOG Kaboom event the prior year. Manual exposure is the only way to go, and I sometimes fiddle slightly with the settings after chimping a few shots (i.e. looking at the histograms).

Q. What camera and lens did you use for this shot?

Steven: A Canon EOS 40D with a 70-200mm f4L IS USM  lens

Q. How did you expose for this shot?

Steven:  121mm, f11, 2.5 seconds, ISO 200, Manual Mode

I learned that two things are important:

1) A relatively small aperture – this increases the contrast since the fireworks are very bright,

2) A reasonably short exposure (1-6 seconds).

The not too long exposure allows enough time for the firework to bloom, but not so much time that later fireworks or overall glow weaken the contrast in the shot.  I usually fire the shutter as soon as I see the burst. The lag time between when I see the burst and when I press the cable release button is just about perfect to get the firework bloom just as it has expanded enough to be noticeable, but is not completely formed.  Another shooting strategy is to continuously expose 2-4 second shots. Sooner or later a few good ones result.  On this night I used two cameras and both shooting tactics. This image was from my human actuated shutter, however.

Use a sturdy tripod, and a remote cable release or remote to trigger your shutter to avoid shake.

Read more about Steven and see more of his Night Photography here: ““.

Copyright © Deborah M. Zajac.  All Rights Reserved.

Photograph used with permission for this blog article

Photograph Copyright © 2010 Steven Christenson