Category Archives: Night

Lunar Eclipse on the Winter Solstice

moon

Moon partially eclipsed

I’ve seen quite a few lunar eclipses, but this was the first that also coincided with the winter solstice. Not that they really have much to do with each other, but they’re both “astronomical” events, I suppose.

I didn’t expect to see it as we’d had predictions of rain and cloud cover for some time. When I left my clogging class in San Jose for home, the clouds were very thin and we could see the full moon through them. By the time I got home there was a nice big hole in the clouds and the eclipse had started.

So I hauled all my stuff into the house and grabbed my camera, 200mm lens, tripod, and heavy coat to spend some time outside. One nice thing about a lunar eclipse is that it can usually be viewed from your own back  yard. It’s nice to have a warm house with other comforts close by on a cold night.

lunar eclipse

Lunar eclipse in totality.

Back to the photography… The 200mm lens really isn’t long enough to fill the frame with the moon so these shots have been cropped considerably. It can be hard to focus at night but I recently learned a cool trick. I turn on my camera’s live view, enlarge the image, and then fine tune the focus manually. It works really well! These moon shots still aren’t as sharp as I’d like, but I think that’s more a limitation of my optics. Still, it’s nice to have some of my own pictures of the eclipse.

During a lunar eclipse, the moon appears red because the light is reflected from the earth and must pass through our atmosphere, particles and all.

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Filed under Night, Photography, Something Interesting I Saw, Uncategorized

Mare Island Night Photography

Mare Island

Night Photography Meetup on Mare Island

Not too long ago I was on Mare Island in Vallejo with 12 others from the Bay Area Night Photography Meetup group. What a fascinating place that is! It was once a naval shipyard. Currently you can find old buildings and cranes no longer in use, buildings converted to warehouses, a museum, some older beautiful homes (used to be for the officers, no doubt), new homes built to look like they were part of the old, an elementary school, a lot of open space, a golf course, an old cemetary, unused train tracks, and so much more. I could go back every day for a month and discover new things. The building above is the museum and was holding a special event that night. This was taken at twilight but with the longer exposure it looks like daytime.

corrugated building

Corrugated building on Mare Island

nature

Nature takes over

We started off exploring some during the day, then met back at the museum to compare notes and maybe head somewhere to catch the sunset. I had a ball exploring the old buildings and can’t wait to return. The above was an especially interesting steel hut. I can’t imagine its use. I also loved seeing the areas where nature was clearly taking over. In other areas, new homes had been built. I came across some old homes that had been moved to a new location and were still up on wheels. Touro University has 40 acres on Mare Island. The whole island is a mixture of old and new.

pigeons

A flock of pigeons taking off together

Exploring further I came to the emptier side of the island. The sun was getting low in the sky when I caught these pigeons taking off in unison.

buildings

Mare Island buildings in early evening

After the sun goes down is when it’s really fun to explore and see what you can catch with the camera. Colors seem to be more saturated when shot with a longer exposure. Buildings are odd colors from the varieties of lights. Shadows are deeper.

tracks

Light painting the tracks red

At one point I tried a little light painting. I liked the reflected light on the railroad tracks so I tried to make it stand out more with my red flashlight. Of course, what really showed up was the light of the flashlight, but I liked the result. The exposure above was a little over a minute long.

As I headed back to the museum and my car I was gazing up at the structure overhead and did exactly what I had tried so hard not to do – I tripped on a curb and went down with the camera. My new camera now has a definite mark on it, so I know it’s really mine. Other than that I don’t think either of us were hurt. (Maybe my pride was a bit.)

gate shadows

Gate shadows

Then I spent quite a while in front of this gate trying to get a good shot of the shadows. Most of the time I had to wait for a pickup truck to move. He was sitting opposite me with his headlights on, probably waiting for a friend. I wonder if he wondered what the heck I was doing just standing there as I wondered what the heck he was doing just sitting there at the stop sign. It must have been 10 to 15 minutes before he finally moved on and then I was able to get back to shooting. This is the shot I like the best. Overall, it was a fun evening and I was pretty happy with some of the pictures I came home with.

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Filed under Night, Photography

Night on the Mountain

highway lights

Highway 24 and 680 Interchange in Walnut Creek from Mt. Diablo (and Mt. Tam in the background)

Back on May 15 I had the chance to spend an evening on Mt. Diablo with the San Jose Night Photography Meetup Group and the Mt. Diablo Astronomical Society. Besides just being on the mountain there were a few things that made it a special night.

Venus and the moon were both out and gorgeous.

Pleasant Hill

Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill with the moon and Venus

We saw the International Space Station flyover. I’ve seen satellites in the past, but this one is special. It came from the west and travelled quickly through the sky, then blinked out as it entered the earth’s shadow. It’s very cool to see it, especially when you know what you’re looking at!

ISS Flyover

ISS flyover with the moon and Venus

To show the trail of the ISS, I used a 30-second exposure. That’s why the moon and Venus look smeared and there are very short star trails, which may be hard to see in this size. The ISS travelled from the west to east, or up in this photo. A few minutes later we also watched the Space Shuttle Atlantis flyover. It blinked out, then on, then out again. The momentary return was probably due to clouds on the horizon.

Here’s one more shot from the evening. There’s a lot of light pollution in the Bay Area and it made for some interesting sky colors.

colorful sky

Colorful sky

It was also a treat to be able to look through some really nice telescopes that evening. I saw Saturn’s rings edge on. When it was late enough, the society led cars down the mountain and out the gate so we didn’t have to spend the night there. Spending the night on Mt. Diablo can be a good thing as long as you’re prepared, and I wasn’t.

Thanks to Steven and Bradley of the Night Photography Group and to the Mt. Diablo Astronomical Society for the opportunity and a great evening.

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Filed under Night, Photography

Bored in the Airport

A little over a month ago my husband and I spent a few hours in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in the evening. Being bored I did some exploring with my camera. Although I was a little uneasy about shooting pictures in an airport, nobody gave me any trouble about it. Here are a few of the things I found while exploring.

1. Reflections – can be interesting, like a double exposure.

2. The ceiling of the terminal – cool lines and shadows!

3. Light show in the tunnel connecting terminals. The lights on the ceiling were alive. I first noticed their reflection on the shiny floor as I started down the stairs. Very cool and fun to watch.

4. Light panels in the same tunnel/hallway. Of course I had to go for the classic “silhouetted traveler” picture!

5. This was an almost empty hallway. I sat on a bench and propped my camera on it to take a long exposure (and to lower the ISO). A couple of people came through the photo but you can’t tell because of the long exposure. The only thing that shows up is a darkened diagonal line near the center of the picture. It’s crooked because of the way I propped the camera. I have a version that I cropped and straightened, but then I decided I liked this one better.

6. Random window art illuminated by the outside lights.

7. You can get a decent photo in low light even if you don’t have a tripod. For this shot I just held the camera against the window glass to keep it still during the 2-1/2 second exposure. There are a couple of workers in the shot that are blurred because they were moving.

8. This was a first! A public toilet with an automatic toilet seat cover. What a kick! I confess that by the time I’d gotten my pictures, I forgot to try it out!

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Filed under Miscellany, Night, Trip

Amaryllis by Night

Amaryllis at Night 4612
While we were away this past weekend our amaryllis bloomed! Boy! Did it bloom! There are currently three large flowers and one or two more on the way. My mother-in-law has a similar one that is just a couple of days behind ours. I took a few quick shots the other day – nothing impressive. Then this evening I noticed how the front porch light lit the flower against the dark background. I liked the look so I put the camera on the tripod and took some night shots of it. This is lit only by our front porch light and is a 13-second exposure.

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Filed under Nature, Night, Photography

Evening Up on the Ridge

We had a break in the rain last weekend and the idea of seeing a rather large moon lured me to Fairmont Ridge, one of my favorite places for sunrises and sunsets. It is a ridge, after all. The sunset was nonexistant and I got antsy and left before the moon appeared, but I did take a few shots during the twilight time. I love the blue that appears at this time.

This row of eucalyptus trees lines the top of Fairmont Ridge and is visible from much of San Leandro and part of Hayward. This shot was taken about 45 minutes after sunset looking west. I like the bit of blur the 34-second exposure gives to the clouds.

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Night Photography Meetup and Shoot

Campbell Water Tower 7349

Last Thursday evening I met up with other members of the Bay Area Night Photography Meetup Group in Campbell. We met with each other, discussed methods, looked at some really nice prints, and got the chance to go out and do a little night shooting. It was a fun evening. Thanks to the organizers for putting it together: Steven, Allan, Wing, and Eric.

The above is one shot I took just before the get together. There was still a bit of twilight left and I couldn’t resist the historic Campbell water tower. I’ll post more photos soon.

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Filed under Night, Photography