“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.

Photography with a scooter in Italy.

It’s been almost a month since I posted the blog about y experience of taking a scooter to Europe for our vacation. The post was about the general use of the scooter on our trip as it was my first real use of a scooter. At the end of the post I stated I would be posting again shortly about how the scooter affected my photography. Well, shortly has turned into a longer time as daily life got in the way. Life has finally slowed down a little, so I hope to be posting more and getting caught up. As part of that, here is the post on the scooter and my photography.

Before leaving for Europe, I didn’t get a chance to do photography while using the scooter. The second day in Rome, a group of us were going to go to St. Peter’s square to see what it was like during holy week. This would be my first real use of the scooter and doing some photography at the same time. I immediately noticed what could be a problem. If you look at many photos taken by the general public, you’ll quickly see that they generally take at a particular angle of view. The photo is most often taken from standing height, about 5 ft. to 6 ft. 6 in. for the general public. Once you get serious about photography, you realize that one of the items that make a photo interesting is showing a different Point Of View, POV. In other words, vary the height you take your photos from.

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My wife, Margaret, son, Shawn, his wife, Cara, our 2 granddaughter, Annika & Giuliana, and their 2 nephews, Giuseppe and Luca, in St. Peter’s Square.

Being in the scooter, you tend to shoot you photos from the seat you’re seated in. At first you see this as a new POV as you’re not used to shooting from this height. But I realized after a time, that I wasn’t varying my POV. I would need to get off the scooter to vary my point of view, Standing for a higher POV, kneeling for a lower. Having to do this, adds another layer of inertia. Inertia, what does inertia have to do with photography? Maybe I should provide a definition of Inertia.

Inertia, a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

As photographers, we’ve all experienced Inertia. Who hasn’t been traveling down a highway and seen a scene waiting to be photographed. But, instead of stopping the car and returning to that spot, we just continued on our journey. We then justify our not stopping by thinking it’ll be there tomorrow, the light could be better or we need to get where we are going or any of a dozen other good reasons. This was inertia, we were moving and it was just too much work stopping. It also works the other way, it’s going to be a great sunset, but there are any number of reasons to stay home rather than go out. We’ve all experienced “some form of this at least once.”

When you’re on foot, it’s easy to stop or turn around to take a photo. It’s also fairly easy to kneel down or sit down to change your POV. When you are on a scooter, you’re usually there because your legs aren’t fully functional, there is quite a bit of inertia to over come. It’s easy to just sit rather than get off the scooter to explore a better POV. I found that it was just to easy to just sit and take the photo. It’s something that I have to make sure I don’t fall into in the future.

While there are definitely drawbacks to the scooter, it is also a big positive. I can now cover much more distances than I could without it. When we were in San Quirico d’Orcia in Tuscany, it was great having the scooter to be able to get up and down the streets. I noticed that all the doors into the residences were different, but there were also similarities. I could drive up and down the street photographing the doors, though it was easy to just stay on the scooter. I’ll insert a few of the doorway photos for you to see.

I can definitely say that using the scooter provided me with an easy of mobility that I haven’t enjoyed for sometime. In fact, it was probably easier and faster for me to get around than a normal walker. I just have to overcome my own inertia and get of the scooter so that I have more of a choice of the POV I want. What I wouldn’t give to be able to walk, but having the scooter gives me back some of the mobility I’ve been missing.

Here are a few photos of the door in San Quirico d’Orcia. I photographed a couple of streets with doors and have about 40-50 different doors.

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