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 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.

Partial Solar Eclipse or The Universe is Circular

Have you every pondered how the universe seems to be circular. Wether as actual circle or as spheres, everything seems to be circular. Planets, moons, stars and if something isn’t circular, it’s path through the universe is circular, i.e, orbits.

Last Thursday afternoon, in the United States, we got to see a couple of spheres traveling along their circular paths. We had a Partial Solar Eclipse. That is when the Moon in it’s orbital path crosses between the Sun and us here on Earth.

In the Los Angeles are, where I live, the moon started moving in front of the Sun about 2:30 pm with it reaching it’s maximum coverage about 3:20. We had our normal clear weather so we had a good view of the event. While not a spectacular as a Total Solar Eclipse, it still provide us with a reminder of where we are in the grans scheme of things.

All I had to do was to grab my camera equipment out on to my front lawn and snap a few images. I owed my Nikon D800E, my Nikkor 500mm f4 lens with a 2x teleconverter add to it. I set the ISO a 1600 and placed a solar filter over the lens. The Sun has quite a few sunspots on its face including on very large cluster just below the center of the sun. This all made for a very exciting image.

ENJOY!!

Partial Solar Eclipse-Oct. 23, 2014. From Buena Park, CA

Partial Solar Eclipse-Oct. 23, 2014. From Buena Park, CA

“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.

Super Full Moon drives me crazy

Last night, Sunday was the largest full moon of the year.

Supermoon’s occur because the moon’s path around Earth is  elliptical. Distances between the two bodies vary from 225,622 miles at the closest  approach — known as perigee — to 252,088 miles at the most distant point, called apogee. When the full moon happens at perigee, the moon is about 15% larger and 30% brighter than at apogee. Being closer and full, the moon will lead to the highest tides of the year. It is also a ‘solstitial moon’, which means it will be at the southern most in it’s orbit.

While some predict disastrous tides, earthquakes and even humans experiencing lunacy, it will just be a very bright summer evening. Though, right now I’m beginning to lose my mind. I’m taking my camera and heading outside to photograph the moon.SuperFullMoon-(20130622)-006

Nikon D800 w/ 500mm f/4 Nikkor w/2x Converter