The Face On Earth

I’ve just finished my tenure as an Artist In Residence for the Mojave National Preserve and I thought now would be the time to share this. Over the last 30 years, Margaret and I must have driven on the Kelbaker Rd more than 100 times, maybe even more than 150. During all this time had never seen this.

Last year we were driving back to the town of Baker, CA from Kelso to have lunch. As we were nearing Baker, I looked out the window and it was just staring at me. I yelled at Margaret, it’s a face, stop the car! I think I had startled her. She must have thought I was crazy. She brought the car to a quick stop as I grabbed my camera. She was still wondering what it was I was so excited about. I quickly pointed out the front window, she looked up, immediately saw what I was looking at and started to laugh.

As soon as I saw the face, an old memory cell in my brain brought up the connection. It looked amazingly like the images from the Viking Mars landers that landed on Mars in 1976. It was the image that became known as the Face On Mars. This face I was seeing bore such a resemblance to the one from Mars, could it be a sister structure?

The Face on Earth

The Face On Mars was shown to be nothing more than the way sunlight and it’s shadows plays upon the landscape of Mars. But know, here was another structure on Earth that produced almost an identical image. Could the original no be an optical illusion? Could the aliens have place such a structure on each planet they visited?

I know what I think. What do think?

The Installation of my Mojave National Park Show

Last weekend we were in Kelso, CA at the Visitors Center for the Mojave National Preserve in the Desert Light Gallery. It was for the installation of my photographs as the Artist In Residence for the Preserve. We were working with members of the Mojave National Preserve Artist Foundation to get all the photographs up on the wall.

This is the first show in the New Desert Light Gallery on the first floor of the visitor center. The previous gallery was in the basement and had more restrictive display space limitations. The new gallery has a much lighter and more airy atmosphere to it. Being as this was the first installation in the new space, no one had any idea how long it was going to take.

We started the work at 10 A.M. and were hoping that we could finish the same day. We only had access to the facility until 5 P.M. when the Visitor Center closed. Bob Killen and Janet and Bill Huston would be there to do the install. Since I’m in a wheelchair I could do small tasks but it would be Bob, Janet, Bill and my wife Margaret that would do all the heavy lifting.

Margaret and I had transported the 15 photographs and other paraphernalia to the visitor center in the back of our Jeep Cherokee. We had the photographs each packed in separate bags we had constructed from insulation material to protect them from any bumps and bruises of transportation. We also had my camera bag, an overnight bag and my wheelchair. It was a pretty packed car for the trip out. It also turned out to be a very beautiful day. The sky was bright blue with some great clouds. Temps were going to be in the 70’s with a light breeze. It was a shame we were going to be indoors.

We first laid out the photographs along the base of the walls to decide which photo would go where. It took a while to decide which photos would go where in this new space. Being a new space we had to work around all the idiosyncrasies of the space. Once we agreed on the order, it was now time to start the process of the actual hanging.

Measuring all the spaces and finalizing the position on the wall took a while. Bob and Janet were measuring and marking the location while Margaret and Bill were putting the hanging wire on the frames. We hadn’t installed any wire since the final hanging method hadn’t been decided yet. While everyone was busy, I got a chance to photograph some of the work. This one of the drawbacks of having Multiple Sclerosis, even though you’re present at activities, you’re can be outside since you really can’t take part.

We took a short break for lunch and by 2:30 had pretty much completed the installation. There were a few small items that would need to be completed the next morning when we were coming back to take a few photos of me. That was going to be a very weird experience. I’m always behind the camera, not in front of it.

We finished the few items remain from the day before and it was now complete. Looking at the display, I could definitely say that all the work I had done the previous year was worth it. It had been a long and at times difficult process. Seeing the photographs on the wall brought back so many memories of all the locations in the Preserve that we had visited.

The Mojave National Preserve is such a beautiful area and we enjoyed it so much. If you’ve never visited the Preserve, you should make an effort to come experience for yourself.

Hey, here is an idea, we’ll be having a meet the artist day in Late November or early December. Come out and view the show and introduce yourself. I’ll be there to talk about the show and my experiences and I would like nothing than talking about my work. Bring the family and spend the day in the Preserve and drop by the show and say, Hi!

David Nelson

Information On The Mojave National Preserve and the Artist In Residence program.

Links:

http://www.mojaveair.org/

https://www.nps.gov/moja/index.htm

 

 

The Great American Total Solar Eclipse Journey – Day 3 Getting closer to the eclipse, but the weather

It is a bright sunny morning as we have a quick breakfast in Tucumcari, New Mexico before heading further east toward our destination, Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was going to be one of the longer days of driving. As we neared Amarillo, Texas, we could see a build up of clouds ahead of us. Was this going to be the start of a weather build up that would spoil our eclipse viewing in three days?

We are now three days into our adventure to view the Total Solar Eclipse and I’m still feeling fine. Two year earlier we went to the Netherlands and to see the first two stages of the 2015 Tour de France. Our son and his family would be with us and my wife’s sister and her family was going to join us also. We arrived after the 11-hour flight and drove to the old farmhouse my son had rented. We got there just about dinnertime and our son and his two daughters were there to meet us. Their mom would be arriving in a couple of days. Here sister’s family would be arriving in a couple of days.

The next few day were very busy sight seeing and exploring our surroundings. Wouldn’t you know it, the Netherlands was having a heat wave. If the temperatures are in the mid 80’s F, that’s warm for the Netherlands. We were stay just south of Utrecht, and temperature for the start of the tour was 100˚ F. As we waited for the 2nd stage of the race to come through Montfoort, we had a mice rain shower, even as the temperature worked its way to 100˚ F.

After six days of being very active, it had definitely had taken it’s toll on me. I should have known to slow down a little because the MS kind of rose up and told me to rest. After of taking an easy day, thing began to feel better. Now I was wondering what might happen on this trip. The temperatures were great so and I was making sure I wasn’t going to push myself to hard. I had also planned an easy day for the 5th day as we would be awaiting the eclipse the following day.

After Amarillo, the clouds began to look like they might be building. It was a beautiful sky as we drove that morning.

We exited of I-40 in Shamrock, TX. I knew that there was an old filling station in Shamrock. Driving down the I-40 Business Route through town, I found and old arrow sign for the K&K RV Park, for my collection.

Next we came upon the old Conoco Service Station and along with it the U-Drop Café. It was getting closer to lunch, but the cafe wasn’t open. It is a well-restored complex. To bad we couldn’t have had lunch there. You can see that there was getting to be more clouds in the sky. A constant discussion of would or wouldn’t we get to see the eclipse kept us entertained.

Entering Oklahoma, we stopped at a Welcome Center for the state. It was time for a rest stop and it would allow us to check out the center. It was a very good decision to visit the center. We had a long talk with the personnel. After informing them that I’m a photographer and working on a few projects, they had many suggestions and tip where there would be subjects for me. I only wish we would have more time in Oklahoma to explore some of thee tips. We would have time to stop at a few. They also had old-fashioned road maps to give us. All you old timers know what they are, but for you youngsters, they are what we used before we turn-by-turn instructions on our phones. But, they do provide you with a way to find somewhere to go when you have no set location. Nothing is better than spreading out a map on the hood of a car and scanning the map to find an interesting destination that you didn’t know you wanted to go to. I hope we find a few more welcoming centers in other states.

When we got to Elk City, OK, we were looking for the large Route 66 road sign the welcome center had informed us about. Well, it definitely was a large sign. Right next to the location of the Route 66 sign, we also found a large Kachina Doll and an old sign with a great arrow.

Once we got to Tulsa, we had to find the Golden Driller: Titanic Oil Man. We decide that we stop by the bank on the way to the driller to pickup some cash. We looked up the location of the nearest branch on the to the driller using the banks phone app. We couldn’t understand why it said that the branch was closed since it was on 4 PM. When we arrived at the location, we understood why it said closed. The bank and a few other businesses where closed. It then hit us, this is where the tornado from a couple of weeks had touched down.

We hit the next branch on the way to the driller and got our cash. When we turned into the parking lot at the fair grounds where the driller is located, it was obvious that he definitely a Giant. He stands 76 feet tall and with oil derrick next to him, he is certainly an imposing figure

After photographing the driller, we had a relaxing dinner at a Cracker Barrel. Since they are coming to Southern California, we thought we check them out.

Tomorrow would be our last day traveling to Jefferson Coty, MO. We would be at our location for the eclipse. We would have a rest day as we got ready for the eclipse. But looking at the photo driller, you can see that the sky is clear. Maybe luck will be with us.

The Great American Total Solar Eclipse Journey – Day 1

August 21, 2017, that was the day when a Total Solar Eclipse was going to be through out the Untied States. The Total Eclipse was visible in 14 states stretching from Oregon on the west coast to South Carolina on the east coast. The rest of the U.S. got to see a partial Eclipse. How could I not go see this event?

I spent about a month researching where I wanted to travel to view the eclipse. I did this about 15 months before the eclipse so that I could make my reservations well before the masses became aware of the eclipse. I took what the weather history was like in each location. But I also wanted to make the trip worthwhile even it should be a rainout. Since I’m working on a couple of photographic projects, they played a major factor in my final decision. After much contemplation, I chose Jefferson City, Missouri.

Why Jefferson City? The weather prospects were good, it was near the centerline of the eclipse and it wasn’t seen as a major and therefore an overcrowded spot. Also, we would travel Interstate 40 from Barstow, CA to Oklahoma City, OK. We had first traveled this route in 1985 when we covered the Race Across AMerica (RAAM). I knew there would be many photographic opportunities for my photo projects along the way. The main projects I’m working on is my “Land of Giants” and a project with old signs, signs with Arrows and signs with Neon. So, over a year before the eclipse I booked our room.

We departed home on August 16th for the eclipse. I had it planned out to be four days traveling to Jefferson City, three days in Jefferson City and five days traveling back home. I could have easily doubled the time and still not have had enough time to photograph all we say. It was 1700 miles back to Jefferson City and I planned the first day as the longest. We traveled 525 mile from home to Winslow, AZ. Since we’ve travelled often to the Flagstaff, AZ, we new the route well and knew we wouldn’t be stopping to photograph until after Flagstaff.

A short distance after Flagstaff we came to Twin Arrows. Well, it wasn’t like we remembered it from the late 80’s. The old Twin Arrows Trading Post was just an old derelict building. Across the interstate was an Indian Gaming Casino. But, the Giant Twin Arrows was still there. Another Giant for my collection.

Pulling up to our motel in Winslow, just 100 yards from the Motel, I see an old sign that has a great looking arrow. Joes Café might not be what it used to be, but it’s sign still has a beautiful arrow.

Driving around town that evening after dinner, we came to Winslow High School and their mascot, a Giant Bulldog.

After a good nights sleep and a good breakfast, we were ready to leave town. But before we left, with the Eagles, “Take It Easy” playing on the radio, we had one more stop.

We were now on our second day. Stay tuned for more.

Who placed this Elevation Marker?

After finishing Breakfast i Palm Springs, we went exploring around the desert looking for some old structures and signs for my photo projects. We traveled alone Highway 247 from Yucca Valley to Barstow. As we were traveling down the portion that is know as Barstow Road, we were about 5 miles south of The Slash X Cafe when we came upon an elevation marker along the highway. We had gone past a few that morning. The were the usual, 3000 Ft, 4000 Ft, or if it was a pass it would have the actual altitude, 2349 Ft.

As we were coming down this long straight road when we approached this elevation marker. After see the elevation, I had to stop to take a photo of it. I was trying to figure out why they didn’t go down the road 50 ft further where the elevation would be an even 3300 Ft. Why 3305 Ft? I guess this government work.

ElevationSign3305Ft-Hiway247-NearSlashXCafeCA-(20150517)-004

Giant Hunting in the Southern Central Valley – Day 2

After the gas station in Lemon Cove, we headed back down to the valley. In Kingsburg, we had lunch at a nice little restaurant inside an antique mall. After lunch we found the towns water tower that is made to look like a large coffee pot styled to look like it fits with the towns Swedish theme. It was tough finding an angle where the tower wasn’t obscured by the buildings of the town. We headed up to the northern edges of the town to investigate the large raison box at the Sun Made Factory. It was the wrong time of day as the box was totally in the shadow of the building. Not the right time of day for the image.

GiantCoffeePotWaterTower-KingsburgCA-20150212-009

We next headed down to Tulare to investigate their water tower, which is painted to look like a glass of milk. Unlike Kingsburg, this tower had a clear view of it. While the tank isn’t as good looking as the tank in Kingsburg, it is still a good-looking tank.

GiantGlassofMilkWaterTower-TulareCA-20150212-007

Back in Bakersfield, we went to photograph an old 7-Up sign on the 7-Up bottling plant. I was hoping that the sign would be lit that evening, but the sign no longer works. Is still got a good shot of it. We stopped for dinner at a little burger stand near the sign before returning to our motel. It was good to get back to the room and relax for a view hours that evening after such a long day. I also had some time to review the image from the day.

7UpSign-BakersfieldCA-20150212-008

Day 2 of our Southern Central Valley trip had us leaving our motel at sun up to head back out to the Buttonwillow Steer. When I photographed it in the evening, I just didn’t like the background to the steer. It looked like it would be better if it was photographed in the morning. So out we went. We stopped for a quick breakfast on our way out. Once we arrived at the location, I scouted around taking photos as I went. It did have a better background than the evening. We had photographed all the targets that I had in my itinerary along with a few more.

Giant steer in Buttonwillow, CA

Giant steer in Buttonwillow, CA

We decided to take a longer way home by going through Tehachapi. Before leaving Bakersfield, I had to photograph a giant boot that we had been directed to by a local we had been talking with the day before.

LargeRedBoot-BakersfieldCA-20150213-001

We probably hadn’t been through Tehachapi in 15 to 20 years. We took the slow route following the BNSF railroad tracks. It was a very relaxing drive through the hills and we found some interesting items along the way. When we arrived Keene I found an old interesting sign for my sign projects.

KeeneCafeEat&Deli-KeenCA-20150213-004

We finally arrived in Tehachapi, we ate at a little burger stand with a good view of the tracks. We got to see a couple of trains go through as we were eating. We did a little sight seeing in Tehachapi before heading home. The last 2 days had been very productive as I got to add photos to a couple of projects I’m working on.

Giant Hunting in the Southern Central Valley

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I returned home after spending a couple of days in the Southern San Joaquin Valley on a Giants Hunt. A “Giants Hunt” is what we call it when we go out looking for Giants to photograph. Giants are those items we see everyday, but we never notice the size of these object. They Are Big. It could a large donut, a can of soda or even a very large tooth. These are the subjects of my latest photo project. You can view the Giants on my web site, http://www.djnphoto.com/land-of-giants.html

Using the resources of the Web, I found and researched few Giants that I could photograph for my project. Knowing that there were Giants lurking so close to home, I just had to go and photograph them. We packed our bags, both cameras and clothes, then loaded the car and left to hunt for Giants.

Part of the fun of going on these photo safaris is that you have a goal in mind, but it is often all the other subjects you find along the way. Besides the “Giants” project, I am also working projects with subjects as Arrows (old, new, on signs, etc.), old Neon signs and a few other projects. Having more than projects makes the trips more enjoyable because if the main item turns out not to be the subject you expected, there is probably many other subjects for other projects around.

We left from home at 10 A.M. to head up to Bakersfield for the rest of the day and the next 2 nights and days. The two main Giants that I was hunting for where centered around Bakersfield. In Bakersfield there is a giant shoe that is a shoe repair shop and a short distance to the West is a Giant steer. These 2 subjects were my main targets but I knew of a few other “Giants” in the area and I was also sure I would find other targets.

We left the LA area a little late that morning to avoid the morning rush hour stall because we had to pretty much go through downtown LA on our way up north. As we were nearing the small town of Gorman near the summit of the pass between the LA Basin and the Central Valley, I spotted and old sign that had an Arrow. We needed to get of Interstate 10 and go back to the sign.

OldArrowNear-GormanCA-20150211-004

Getting of the Interstate to get back to the sign, we ended up getting of at the wrong exit. While it didn’t happen this time, we don’t look at slight detour as a problem because it often leads to discovery of new subject for my projects. This time we were in an area where there was little else around, but this lonely old sign was worth the effort. A few yards from the sign we found this Octopus on the hillside. It was funny to us because just last month when we were in the Desert near Palm Springs, we found a stuffed octopus, a toy, lying in the desert. It now occupies a spot in the rafters of the garage. Are octopi the new fad?

OldArrowNear-GormanCA-20150211-005

As we were nearing Bakersfield, we got of the highway in Mettler to see what they may have. We found an old Garage sign. While the lighting wasn’t good, I took a couple of shots for my records. That way I know it’s there and if I’m ever near the location and there is better lighting, I can revisit it.

OldGarageSign-MettlerCA-20150211-004

After arriving in Bakersfield, we checked into Motel and headed out to recon the 2 main giants I was interested in. We first visited the shoe first to see if it would be a better subject for Morning or Evening light. Since it is on west side of street, morning light would be best. I had already figured this from looking at it on Google Street View. After looking at the shoe, we explored around Bakersfield a little. We found what I call an Arrow Sign on a church. These signs are extremely prevalent in the Central and Southern States in the US. I’ve been capturing a few in California, but I really hope to get to Southern US to photograph them there. After the church we found an old motel with an interesting sign.

ChurchArrowSign-BakersfieldCA-20150211-003

OldMotelSignArrow-BakersfieldCA-20150211-001

It was now later in the afternoon and was time to find the large steer near Buttonwillow. It took about 40 minutes drive there from Central Bakersfield because of the traffic. Driving out Highway 58, aka, Blue Star Memorial Highway, traffic had thinned when we could see the outline of a steer in the distance. It was the steer. We did some photography when a local farmer stopped by to talk to us about the steer. We got some good shots but decide to comeback for a morning shoot in c couple of days.

SteerButtonwillowLand&Supply-20150211-007

The next morning we arouse early and headed to the large shoe. The sun was now on the good side of the shoe. I spent about 30 minutes exploring different angles and perspectives of the shoe. It takes more time for this now that I have to us a scooter to get around. As I was about to finish with the shoe, I heard my wife yell at me. She had explored a little down the street the shoe was on had had found another Giant. About 5 houses down from the Shoe, was a house that had a set of Giant cooking pots in the front yard. WOW! It’s not often you find 2 Giants at the same location.

GiantShoe-ShoeRepair-BakersfieldCA-20150212-019

GiantPots-Bakersfield-20150212-005

We next hunted down another Giant that was located to the north of Bakersfield. It an Indian Warrior that was made from a Muffler Man. Muffler Men were originally designed and built to attract customers to muffler shops. Man have been re-purposed to other uses. I’ve a few of these Muffler Men in my portfolio.

GiantIndianWarrior-BakersfieldCA-20150212-013

GiantIndianWarrior-BakersfieldCA-20150212-005

In Lindsey I shot a giant olive. It wasn’t in a very picturesque location and the light stunk, but I did get a shot for future reference.

GiantOlive-LindsayCA-20150212-001

We headed to Kaweah and the Kaweah General Store to shoot another Giant Steer. When we got there we found that the steer had been moved from the front of the store to a storage are next to the store. It was also place with its head facing a fence and its rump facing traffic. We got a shot again for reference in case we get this way again and the steer is in a better position.

GiantSteer-KaweahCA-20150212-010

Returning we got lucky in Lemon Cove. We stopped a produce stand that had a Giant Orange. We also bought a couple of oranges to eat that day and boy were the sweet. We also photographed an old Richfield Gas Station. The station will make a great subject for my project photographing old building by full moon light. We’’ definitely have to head back here at full moon.

GiantOrange-LemonCoveCA-20150212-005

OldGasStations-LemonCoveCA-20150212-011

We were only now about halfway through our hunt and already we’ve discovered many subjects that we hadn’t planned on. I’ll continue the trip in the next blog post in a couple of days.

The images haven’t been processed.

 

 

 

The Value Of Revisiting The Past

Sometimes you rediscover things that you have long forgotten when you take a trip down memory lane. A month or so back I received a call from a video production company in England. They were producing a show on a competitor that had competed in the 1988 Race Across America. They had been referred to me as I worked as the race’s photographer during that race.

From 1984 though 1999, I worked as the race’s photographer. The Race Across America, RAAM, is a transcontinental bicycle race that starts on the West Coast and ends on the East Coast. Unlike bicycle stage races, such as the Tour de France, where each day the racers complete a race of a definite length, in RAAM, the entire course is the stage. There is no definite time each day after the stage has been completed, for the racer to rest, have a massage or a meal.

All the competitors start together and the first one to the finish line is the winner. They have to complete a course that is defined by the Race. They are free to get of the bike to eat, sleep or answer natures call. When they are of the bike, they aren’t making any headway toward the finish. If their competitors are on the bike riding and they aren’t, they are losing ground. Time off the bike is time lost, so the major rule in RAAM was, “Stay on the Bike”. As little time of the bike was the mantra. It was normal for most racers to sleep as little as 2 to 3 hours a day. The winner would cover the typical 3000 mile race in 9-10 days.

Covering the race, my wife and I wouldn’t get a lot of sleep either. After all, if we slept, the race moved on and we would then have to play catch up. We usually tried to get a good 8 hour sleep about halve way through the race. It was a tough assignment, but also very rewarding. Since the race usually was on the back roads of America, we got to see many places few people get to visit because they are flying down the Interstate. How many people have got to visit Slapout, OK or Pie Town, NM? The only downside is we didn’t have time to do much sightseeing, as we had to keep up with the race.

As I started looking through the transparencies from the 1988 Race, a ton on memories came flooding back. This was from the time before digital photography and everything was on film. I had to go through notebooks filled with slide pages, pages with 20 slide per page. I had to review them by taking each page out of the notebook and place it on a light table. I would then take a loupe and look at each slide. It sort of like Grid View in Adobe Lightroom except I only see 20 at a time. If I want to see the little inch by inch and a half image in greater detail, I have to look at with my loupe. It sure made me appreciate Lightroom. With my dual 24 inch monitors, I can see the grid view on one monitor and the loupe view of an image on the other. Boy, is it much faster and easier now. But at the same time, I do miss film sometimes, but then again, not that much.

Looking at the 1988 race I saw some photos of a friend that competed in the 1987 and 1988 race. It the hit me, I had some photos of him in the 1987 race that fit in with my Giants photo project. After I got the photos to the folks in England, I dug out the transparencies fro 1987 race. Flipping through images I came across what I was looking for. There it was Chris Kostman, 20 years old at the time, being stalked by a Giant Gumby. Chris is still a good friend and I see him a few times a year at some of the Ultra-marathon events he produces. He produces bicycling and running events and I come out to his events to do some photography each year. Chris always has a small Gumby as his totem and good luck piece.

Having known Chris since 1984, I knew Chris would enjoy a print of him and Gumby from 1987. I was traveling up to Remo the following week to photograph his “Silver State 508” Ultra-marathon cycling race and decide to make a print and give it to him there, since this race was covering the same place the photo was made 27 years earlier. I then new I had to add it to my project.

My wife and I are now starting to go through the 15 years of transparencies of RAAM with the thought of producing a photo book of our adventures. It’s going to take a bit of effort, not just to go through all the images, pick the ones we think should be in the book, but then to scan them. I first have to round up all the images, as many have not been returned to the notebooks where they belong. Many are still in the packages that they were returned in from different publications during those years. That will also mean straightening up many other images that haven’t been placed back in their correct locations after having been returned.

Revisiting the past can create a lot of work, but that’s my fault as I should have done a better job, but I was always looking forward to the next assignment, not worrying about what was already done. I guess I will get to look at many old images. I’m not looking forward to the work, but I am looking forward to all the memories that I will find in the process. I do know that it will make me appreciate the digital process. Since I acquire my DSLR in July, 2001, I haven’t shot one roll of film.

Enjoy the Giant Gumby. It was shot on Highway 50, the loneliest road in America, somewhere east of Fallon, NV. Who knew, Gumby was a stalker!!!

KostmanHighway50-2

 

To view the rest of my Land of Giants images, please visit my web Page. http://www.djnphoto.com. Once you get to the site, go to the Galleries section and there you can see the Land of Giants Project or any other projects I may be working on.

Thank you and keep those shutters clicking.

“Super Moon” – August, 2014

The summer of 2014 is a good summer to observe the Full Moon when the moon was at the perigee of its orbit around the Earth. Wait, what is perigee? Perigee is when an object orbiting another make it’s closest approach to the object. Apogee is when it’s furthest from the object being orbited. When the Moon is at perigee, it appears larger than at any other time in its orbit while at apogee it appears smallest. On August 10, 2014 the Full Moon is perigee and will appear about 13% larger and 30% brighter than it would at apogee this is why its called a “Super Moon.” For you non-astronomical folks, here’s a link to a good illustration of it on the Huffington Post. If you missed this one, there is another coming on September 9, 2014.

Even in the city, the view of them larger moon can be very rewarding. A pair of binoculars or a small telescope provides a great experience when observing the Moon. If you have camera that has a longer lens, you can silhouette the larger moon rising behind a foreground object. If you have a really long lens, you can get a good close-up of the moon. To get the best exposure for the moon, you need to open up one stop from the basic sunlight exposure, f/16 @ 1/ISO setting. That is if you ISO is set at 250, the normal sun setting is 1/250th of a second at f/16. But even though the Moon is in Bright Sunlight, it’s darker than mid gray, it only appears white because it is in a black sky. So open up on stop 1/250 sec @ f/11 and you’ll have a good exposure.

My reason for going out to photograph when we have a Full Moon is not to photograph the Moon, but to use its light to illuminate terrestrial object. The moon is reflecting sunlight back to the Earth and illuminating it. Since the moon is about 30% bright, I can get slightly shorter exposure. While you use normal sunlight exposures to photograph the moon itself, the moon reflected light is much dimmer than the direct sunlight during the day. Even though the reflected light is dimmer than daylight, once your eyes adjust to the light you’ll be amazed at what you can see. Head out to a dark area with no lights around and be amazed by the beauty of the moonlight on the scenery. My wife and I have hiked and backpacked with just the light of the full moon, a most magical experience.

I wasn’t going to be hiking this time. One of the photo projects I’m working on to photograph old structure using moonlight. The results provide a photo with and interesting effect. Since the structure is illuminated by reflected sunlight, it appears to be illuminated by the sun. But since there isn’t as much light, there isn’t enough to illuminate the sky, so while the structure looks like a daylight exposure, the sky is a very dark blue with stars.

So I set out to photograph a few old building I had seen on recent trips. The location I was heading for was Red Mountain. It’s a small town, if you can call it that, along US 395 in California, about 25 miles north of Kramer Junction and 25 miles south of Ridgecrest. During the last couple of times passing through Red Mountain on or way back from Lone Pine, I had noticed a couple of buildings that looked interesting. We left home in the early afternoon on August 9 and headed to Red Mountain. Since I was also going to be getting up early the next morning to do some more moonlight photography, we got a room in Ridgecrest so we could get a few hours sleep that night.

I returned to Red Mountain just after 8 pm as it was getting dark and set up my equipment. I’ll throw in a little MS related info now. I have a very difficult time walking now and use a cane for support and have balance problems. With it being dark, it only aggravated the problems. My wife, Margaret, works an outstanding assistant. I could find the spot where I wanted to photograph from and she would bring e my camera and tripod.

I found three building I thought would be good subjects. On appeared to an old residence, another appeared to and old store and the other was an old grocery store. It’s kind of hard to identify what they may have been as there is little room in front of them as the road has been widened over the years. I set up the tripod and attached the camera. This type of photography is where the advantages of digital quickly become apparent. It’s hard to get meter reading in such dark light, isn’t that an oxymoron, dark light? I set the ISO at 1600 and took the first exposure at ¼ sec at f/8. Not to bad, but a little dark. After a couple more test shots, I arrived at good exposure of 1/15 sec and f/8. With film, I wouldn’t have been able to see my results until the film was developed. I would have needed to bracket and record the info for future use. Using digital I can always start new each time in case the lighting is a little different and still get the correct exposure. Here are the three buildings.

Old Residence, Red Mountain, CA

Old Residence, Red Mountain, CA

Old Store, Red Mountain, CA

Old Store, Red Mountain, CA

Old Store, Red Mountain, CA

Old Store, Red Mountain, CA

 

Even though I was out shooting building, I did turn around a shoot a couple of moon shots. I was using my Nikon D800e. I took my Nikkor 500mm f/4 lens and put a Nikkor 2x convertor on it to give me a 1000mm focal length. After all, if your out there, you might as well take the shot.

Supermoon - August, 2014 Shot with Nikon D800E with Nikkor 500mm f/4 with 2x convertor. ISO 1600, 1/800 sec f/16

Supermoon – August, 2014
Shot with Nikon D800E with Nikkor 500mm f/4 with 2x convertor. ISO 1600, 1/800 sec f/16

After shooting in Red Mountain, we slept about 4-5 hour in Ridgecrest and then headed out to my next target. My main project at this time is shooting subject for my “Land of Giants.” In Pearsonville, about 20 mile north from Ridgecrest is a giant statue of a woman. It looks like it may have onetime been used as an attraction for a golf course. I have photographed it in the daylight, but I thought that moonlight would add a little something to the photo. We arrived a little after 4 AM and set about photography. I was nice that I could use my scooter to get around as it made it easier to find the right angle for the photo. Again, my loving loyal assistant would bring me my tools.

Giant Woman Pearsonville, CA

Giant Woman Pearsonville, CA

A few dozen yard north of the statue is the Pearsonville water tank. I couldn’t resist photographing it also.

PearsonVille Water Tank

PearsonVille Water Tank

We got back into Ridgecrest about 5:30 AM and stopped at a McDonalds for something to drink and a quick bite to eat. As we were walking back to the car, I noticed beams coming from the horizon from the full moon that had just set. I’ve seen this from the Sun but this was the first time I had seen this from the Moon.

Moon rays after Full Moon had set.

Moon rays after Full Moon had set.

All in all, I was a very interesting trip. Daytime temps were about 100° F during the day and the low as about 70°. It made shooting at night very comfortable.