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Category Archives: Night Sky

Just Another Day in January

I almost feel guilty that we’re having all this great weather in January.  We really need the rain, but I am going to enjoy this weather for as long as it lasts.  Here’s how we spent our day today…

White wash on the beachRomero Pretending to like the waterSun is settingCarpinteria State BeachThe moon at twilight

   

Top 12 Images of 2013

Well, it’s that time of year again.  Yeah, it’s the end of 2013, who knew it would roll around so quickly?!  This year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect.  Luckily, Rachel and I created this box we call the Box of Awesome, which contains all of the highlights for the year.  On January 1st, we will open the box and look back on all that we did and experienced.  I’m so excited for that!

So, for this blog, I’m really focusing on highlights from a photography standpoint.  I’m excited by all the trips we took this year, but one in particular stands out above all the rest.  And that one was the John Muir Trail.  I carried about eight pounds of camera gear on that trek and I’m fairly happy with the results.  We published a book on Blurb and I have several items donning images from that trip for sale both at Zazzle and FineArtAmerica.

However, what I’ve done for this blog post is select my favorite image from each month of the year.  There is one exception, in that in October, I didn’t take any photographs at all, so I’ve filled that slot with an image from the trail that we finished in September.  Everything else was taken in the month mentioned.

January

Rincon Beach, Carpinteria

This was taken about a mile from our house at Rincon Beach on a beautiful winter day in January.

February

Carpinteria State Beach

This was actually my best selling print of 2013!

March

Alabama Hills Star Trails

A brisk evening of fun capturing these star trails in the Alabama Hills.

April

Ojai Raptor Center

My first ever trip to this amazing place – the Ojai Raptor Center.

May

 

While the experience of going into Oneonta Gorge was my favorite, this image from Punchbowl Falls on the Eagle Creek Trail topped the list for May.

While the experience of going into Oneonta Gorge was my favorite, this image from Punchbowl Falls on the Eagle Creek Trail topped the list for May.

June

 

A highlight from the year was watching these little guys battle it out on the milkweed in June.

A highlight from the year was watching these little guys battle it out on the milkweed in June.

July

 

Our first gear-test hike (and last) before our epic journey on the John Muir Trail.

Our first gear-test hike (and last) before our epic journey on the John Muir Trail.

August

 

By far, my favorite image of the journey on the JMT.  So much is represented here with the stormy skies, moon-like landscape, mountains, and aloneness in nature.

By far, my favorite image of the journey on the JMT. So much is represented here with the stormy skies, moon-like landscape, mountains, and aloneness in nature.

September

 

Again from the JMT, Sept 11, 2013 held the best looking skies for the entire month.  Awestruck around every corner of the trail.

Again from the JMT, Sept 11, 2013 held the best looking skies for the entire month. Awestruck around every corner of the trail.

October

 

While not actually shot in October, this is one final shot from the JMT.  A favorite of the Milky Way.

While not actually shot in October, this is one final shot from the JMT. A favorite of the Milky Way.

November

So many images from this November trip could have made the favorite list - what a hard decision.

So many images from this November trip could have made the favorite list – what a hard decision.

December

 

My first ever, planned, moon shot.  I love how it came out.

My first ever, planned, moon shot. I love how it came out.

 

Hopefully, you enjoyed these images as much as I enjoyed taking them.  I realize 2013 isn’t quite over, so if I happen to shoot something in December that I like better than the full moon rising, I’ll be sure to update this post.

   

Full Moon Rising

Full Moon Rising

I felt happy because I was at the beach at sunset on December 16 and I wasn’t freezing.  I was wearing shorts and was feeling very comfortable.  The beach has a special meaning to me.  Well, that’s true of anywhere in nature.  It’s special because I feel safe, at “home”, and I am able to let go of all of the responsibilities I have put upon myself.  I am truly free when I can just be there in that moment, and that moment alone.

I watched a man and his son (well that’s my assumption anyway) pump up a standup paddle board.  They took turns pumping it up.  When it was done, the boy wanted the man to go first.  Smart boy.  The man was much, much heavier than he was so if the man could do it and not sink it, then the boy would feel brave enough to go for it.  The man paddled about 100 yards along the shoreline with the boy running alongside on the sand.  Then the man turned around and offered to race the boy back to the start.  The boy’s face lit up and he took off running and beat the man handily.

Then it was the boys turn.  He climbed aboard the raft and stood up and paddled away.  His face beaming.  He seemed so proud and so happy and so in that moment.  No another care in the world.  I don’t know their story, but everyone has one and there are problems in each of our lives.  But in that moment, on the beach, I just felt alive and present.  Similar, I think, to how that boy felt paddling on the water.  There were no outside distractions or problems.  Just the pure joy of being on the board, paddling across an ocean.  Focused only on standing up, balancing and paddling.

Once the sun set, the entire sky lit up like it was on fire.  There were pinks, oranges and reds.  The silhouette of the boats against the sky took my breath away.  But I wasn’t there to capture the sunset on this day, I was there to capture a near full moon rising above the mountains behind Santa Barbara.  At the precise moment the moon was to peek above the peak, a cloud laid to rest at the crest of the mountain.  The moons’ brilliant light was trying to shine through.  Instead, the moon does what the moon does.  It kept rising and soon it was in front of the cloud.  The cloud separated for the moon to shine through and that was my moment.  Or so I thought.

This was the exact moment I had waited for on the beach for the past 30 minutes.  I got into position, set my camera just right and then just like that everything came crashing down.  Romero had decided it was time to get some love and attention.  This was his precise moment.  The one he had been waiting for on the beach for the past 30 minutes.  “Pet me, love me, pet me, love me”, he was saying with his nose nudging up under my arm, which had the effect of knocking my camera to the sand.

Palm at Sunset

The moon kept rising and I pet him, kissed him and loved him and then asked him to please lay down for just 5 seconds.  He complied and so while the moon had risen a few more degrees, I was able to capture this image.  To me, it’s perfect.  I will always remember it as this story, not just a picture.  Ro needed attention and what is more important than that – he got it and by giving him that moment, the clouds cleared just a bit more, allowing this image to become a reality.

I could have been upset with Ro, but really, if you know Romero, you know that it is darn near impossible to be upset with that adorable face.  When you look into his big brown eyes, he is so hard to resist.  All he needed and wanted was to be center of attention for that moment.  Sometimes I need just that much attention and so by giving it to him, I also got it in return.  I love these moments and I love living in the moment.

   

My First Milky Way Shot

I’m getting ready for our next big adventure in a couple of weeks.  We are sauntering along the John Muir Trail, which begins in Yosemite Valley at Happy Isles and ends at the summit of Mt. Whitney.  The official route to the end is 211 miles.  However, we cannot stay forever at the summit of Whitney – for one, I get horrible altitude sickness and two, I think it’s cold up there and I’d probably die.  So our route, including getting off trail for re-supplies and such will come in closer to 230 miles.

Along those 230 miles, I’d like to be able to photograph as much of the experience as possible and that includes the night sky.  It’s so easy when I’m home to put off going out late at night because there is always tomorrow night.  But when I’m already out there camping, it’ll be easy.  But, I can’t just go out there never having shot the night sky, so this week, given the perfect moon phase, I hope to get out a bunch of nights to practice.

Last night was just one of those nights.  I really thought I could get a good shot over Lake Casitas and while I liked the shot, it wasn’t what I had imagined.  There was way more light pollution than I expected and it was cloudy.

On the way home, I headed over to the beach just about a mile from our house.  I never figured I could get a shot there because there are so many lights, but this one didn’t turn out too badly.

Carpinteria Beach and the Milky Way

I took this just about 10pm last night.  Some technical specifics of the shot… 20mm at F2.8 ISO1600 and a 20″ exposure.  The plants in the middle were lit up by a car that was pulling into a nearby parking lot so I tried to darken that just a tad.  The other thing I did was use a WB of Tungsten because I really like how it makes the sky so blue.  You can see it was also slightly cloudy here at the beach but I kind of like how they look and how you can see the stars right through them.  Those are oil rigs out in the distance.  Anyway, all in all, a great time – even if it was past my normal bedtime.:)

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