Thursday, April 17, 2014

Not Another Moon Post??!!

Yup, sorry, another moon post. There will be a lot of these this week! With the lunar eclipse and the so-called "blood moon", who can resist? However, I failed miserably at capturing it with my camera. Here was my plan: Set up the camera, tripod and 400mm lens on a timer just before the scheduled lunar eclipse and take a series of shots. I figured setting the timer for every 30 minutes would give me a series of 6 or 8 good moon shots as the moon moved across the sky and the eclipse did its thing. I set things up around 11:30 PM in my back yard, made sure the moon was in the far lower left of my viewfinder (knowing the moon would be moving up and to the right), set the timer, and went off to bed.

Two really big flaws with this plan (can you guess what they are?). 1] The moon moves quickly, and in 30 minutes, it was totally out of the field of view. All of my photos were black frames! It moved up and to the right... but at a much faster rate than I realized!! 2] The lunar eclipse was really significant with regard to blocking out the moonlight (it's with difficulty I admit this didn't cross my mind ahead of time!). The exposure changed so dramatically that, even if the moon had stayed in my viewfinder, it would have been much to dim to register. Live and learn, right? 

What to do? Try it again! The next night (4/15/2014) was a full moon with a moonrise scheduled for about 8 PM. No eclipse, so exposure won't change. Instead of 30 minute intervals between shots (which was way too long), let's try 5 minutes. Here's a shot with the 400mm lens and cropped to make it look really big. What a beauty!
OK, that's more like it. Shooting at 5 minute intervals with a 200mm lens, I was able to capture about 7.5 moon shots before it disappeared off my viewfinder. 
Thanks for stopping by, and hope you enjoyed my trial and error moon series. Linking with Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies (and some excellent blood moon shots) from around the world!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Skywatch Friday

In addition to Skywatch Friday, also linking with Orange You Glad It's Friday! There is so much orange in these skywatch shots, I couldn't resist! These were taken early this week up near the Summit House Restaurant. 
The young man below seemed to be mesmerized by the sunset and deep in thought as he looked out over the horizon. He never even knew I snapped his picture! A penny for your thoughts?
Lastly, a fence shot. You follow this fence line to hike up to the lookout views, where the first two photos were taken.
I always look forward to the weekends. We are planning on going out to the desert this weekend, so hope to find time to get some desert shots. Thanks for stopping by, and have a great weekend!

PS:  Just saw the linkup over at Good Fences, so going to give that a try as well!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Living on a Fault Line

Hard to believe its only been a week and a half since the La Habra earthquake here in S. CA. I'm guessing it didn't make big news outside of our local area because it was only magnitude 5.1. My thinking exactly... my wife and I were spending the weekend out in the desert near Joshua Tree at the time the quake hit. I could feel that we had an earthquake, so I turned on the news and soon learned the epicenter was in La Habra (right next to our house in NW Fullerton... yikes!!). Then I learned it was only 5.1, so no worries, right? Wrong!! My big learning from this experience is that even small or moderate quakes can produce significant damage if you are unlucky enough to be right on top of the epicenter!

When we returned home, we were shocked. Opening the garage door, there was stuff all over the floor that had fallen off the walls and shelves. Lots of clean up required before we could park in the garage again! Here's what my office looked like.
OK, so I admit I don't keep my office super-clean and organized, but it never looks this bad! Even my computer monitor was face down on my desk. A large picture frame had fallen off the wall and landed right in my chair! Here's what my sons old bedroom (now a spare bedroom) looked like. That's a big, heavy chest of drawers that came down. I'm still amazed it fell over, and I can't imagine the amount of rocking and rolling that must have occurred to bring this big guy down! Thank goodness we weren't home!!
Lots of broken dishes and glass throughout the house. Every room had broken items. We have some fireplace damage (thankfully not major damage, although a number of homes in our neighborhood had major damage) and even the fireplace mantle pull away from the wall. Oh, and lots of drywall cracks throughout the house. Bottom line: No injuries, everything can be cleaned up and fixed or repaired, so I feel fortunate. However, even here in beautiful S. CA we have our problems. Most of us don't have to deal with polar vortex winters, frequent snow dumps, hurricanes or tornadoes. But we DO have to deal with earthquakes, wildfires, ridiculously crowded highways, and a high cost of living. So I guess it's a trade-off, right? No better or worse than anyplace else. Pick your poison!

Hope you're having a good week. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fast Moving Clouds

The clouds have been great lately... big, white, puffy clouds with blue skies. I went up to the kids old playhouse that I built years ago on our backyard hillside (they are adults now... and the playhouse is getting rickety!) because I get a less obstructed view of the sky. Here's what the sky looked like as viewed out of the playhouse window.
As I was skywatching I noticed how quickly the clouds were moving. It gave me the idea to shoot a series of photos and try to make a short time lapse video of the cloud movement. Keep in mind I'm a total amateur... based on my 15 minutes of internet research, it takes a lot of practice and know-how to make a good quality video (notice how I am setting your expectations low at this point?!). Anyway, I set the camera and wide angle lens on a sturdy tripod and pointed it out of the playhouse window. I programmed it to take one photo every minute for an hour (60 pics total). Then I used Windows Movie Maker (free software that came on my PC) to show the pics in sequence. The program allows you to adjust the total length of time to show the sequence of photos. For example, if I selected 10 seconds, it was nice and smooth but the clouds were moving very fast and it's an ultra-short video! I tried a few different speeds, and landed on 24 seconds. This makes the video choppy, but I like the speed of the cloud movement (click on Full Screen mode on lower right to view).
video
Music credit:  Wilco, "Company in my Back"
What did I learn from this experience?
  • Shoot in jpeg (not raw, which is what I always shoot for traditional photos). You have to convert everything over to jpeg, which is a pain.
  • The one-minute interval was too long, and 60 photos is not enough, to make a decent quality video. May be a 10 or 15 second interval, and 600 photos? I don't know, but hope to experiment more in the future!
If anyone reading this has any advice, I'm all ears, and would love to hear from you!