Reblogged: How to Photograph Fireworks July 4, 2013

Copyright © 2013 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

It was Independence Day in the United States yesterday a National Holiday for most. All over the country people were barbecuing, spending time with family and friends, or just enjoying a day off.  After dinner the family and I found some high-ground to view, and photograph the fireworks.20130704_4482I set up my tripod and waited for the first firework closest to me to be sent up then triggered my shutter release. I focused there then set my camera/lens to manual focus.

I set up the settings this way  f/10, ISO 200, and  5 second exposure, but found that too short so lengthened it to 10 seconds and the next burst took a photo. That seemed about right, at least I wasn’t blowing out the burst beyond recovery, so I went with those settings.  From my vantage point I was able to see as far south as Morgan Hill and North to Fremont and perhaps a bit further.





20130704_4470If you want to photograph fireworks use a tripod, and a remote cable release. Use the first couple of burst as test shots to get your settings set up. I wait for the boom then depress my shutter, some people use the trails of the ascending firework as their cue.  You just need an exposure long enough to capture the explosion. Give it a go.  It’s a lot of fun, but I keep in my soul the knowledge that the freedom I have today to celebrate, worship, and work without the fear of persecution or tyranny wasn’t given it was earned.

I’ll end this post with the words of Lee Greenwood who says it better than I.

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.”
~Lee Greenwood

more to come…






Sunrise Lake Tahoe Nevada

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

I mentioned that I only had one full day to spend with Jackie so I left home the evening of the 5th and arrived at Jackie’s vacation Condo about 11PM.
Jackie showed me  the bedroom I’d have, then a quick tour around the condo. It was a lovely condo. My bedroom was spacious, and I had a bathroom to myself. We chatted for sometime on the deck while taking photos of the stars then we called it a day because I wanted to rise early to get the sunrise on the lake.

Sunrise is really early here at this time of year so, I set my alarm for 4AM.
I slept in a bit, but we made it out the door and to our destination in plenty of time for sunrise.
The sky was pretty flat, but we did get some nice pinks, and light on the distant Sierra Mountain Range.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 17-35mm| Singh Ray Graduated Neutral Density Filter| Induro Tripod| Markins Q20 ball-head



Iridium Flare

Copyright 2013 Deborah M Zajac. All Rights Reserved

Iridium Flare?I took this photo last month when I was shooting in Fremont Peak State Park with several Night Sky Photographers. This is one of the set-up/ test shots I took before starting my star trail sequence. After uploading the frames I was going through them and discovered I may have caught an Iridium Flare. Iridium Flare is the sun reflecting off communication satellites orbiting in space. ” The Iridium communication satellites have a peculiar shape with three polished door-sized antennas, 120° apart and at 40° angles with the main bus. The forward antenna faces the direction the satellite is traveling. Occasionally, an antenna reflects sunlight directly down at Earth, creating a predictable and quickly moving illuminated spot on the surface below of about 10 km diameter. To an observer this looks like a bright flash, or flare in the sky, with a duration of a few seconds.

Ranging up to -8 magnitude (rarely to a brilliant -9.5), some of the flares are so bright that they can be seen in the daytime; but they are most impressive at night. This flashing has caused some annoyance to astronomers, as the flares occasionally disturb observations and can damage sensitive equipment.

When not flaring, the satellites are often visible crossing the night sky at a typical magnitude of 6, similar to a dim star.” ~Wikipedia

I realize the flare is hard to see in this photo so I’ve zoomed in on it and cropped it out to enable one to see it better. It has the classic shape of Iridium Flare. I took this photo on May 11, 2013 at 9:06pm PDT.

Close of FlareI need to check out the site that has predictions to see if this could be Iridium Flare.  I think the site is called Heaven’s Above.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 16mm Fisheye lens

Update: After checking the Heaven’s Above site to see if there was an Iridium Flare predicted on the date and time I took this photo I found there was a predicted flare on May 10, 2013 at 19:31 h.  in the same place in the sky as this flare. I’m confused. Nothing was listed for May 11th. The site says all times are local. Do I need to factor in Daylight Savings time? I wondered if it could another satellite?  Searching the sites FAQ’s I found this.

Q. While I was out waiting for a flare or other satellite to appear, I saw another flare which wasn’t in the predictions. What could it have been?
A. This was probably a flare from a failed Iridium satellite. Several satellites have failed in orbit, and are not in the nominal orbit and/or attitude. However, they can still produce flares just like the operational ones. The difference is, that we can’t predict when they will happen.

Hooded Merganser

Copyright © 2013 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Hooded Merganser Male-Crest Down 1

This is my first sighting of the Hooded Merganser! I was so excited to see both a male and female swimming around in the pond in the Children’s Zoo section of San Francisco Zoo. According to one of the staff they are free range and can come and go as they please like the gulls and Peacocks.

The female:

Hooded Merganser Female

Nikon D700| Nikkor 70300@ 300mm| f5.6| 1/400s| ISO 400| Manual Priority| Matrix Metering| Hand-held