Sunday, March 22, 2015

Capturing the Milky Way

Donna and I spent the weekend on the Outer Banks celebrating our 35th anniversary. Somehow my camera made the trip too.

I spent a couple of days, or more accurately nights, with Mark Buckler Photography chasing the Milky Way over local landmarks. Armed with some tips from Mark and a lot of luck with clearing clouds at critical times it has been a productive photography outing. Having read up on the topic before driving down it turned out to be less complicated than I feared.

I did have to rent a couple of fast, wide lenses as my wide lenses are f4. I used a Nikor 20mm f1.8 and a Tokina 16-28mm f2.8. Both worked very well. I wanted to try Tamron's new 15-30 f2.8 but did not as my RAW converter of choice, DxO Optics Pro, does not have the lens correction module for it yet.

One surprising, counter intuitive thing I discovered was I captured less noise at ISO 6400 than the general rule of thumb ISO 3200 with my D800 body. The extra stop of light gathering offset the noise that lives in the shadows of the darker capture, at least with my camera.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Salt Flat Sunrise

While on a tour/workshop last month in Death Valley with John Barclay and Dan Sniffin (the infamous BS Brothers) along with guest instructor Chuck Kimmerle last month we found ourselves along the edge of one of the salt flats one morning. The tour was Black/White centric as Chuck is an accomplished BW photographer and instructor in his own right. I signed up to focus on (pardon the pun) BW photography as that is not my usual style. Mission accomplished as I did make a number of BW images that I am happy with.

On this particular morning I just could not see BW. The sky went from red, to yellow, to clouds with shafts of light on the mountain range and reflections in standing water from a recent rain on the normally arid flats. It was an exciting morning to say the least. Quite convenient actually: Next month's Club Critique subject is Clouds, Sunrise and Reflections.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Gehry Building in Las Vegas

Spent an afternoon at the Frank Gehry building in Las Vegas. I had wanted to see one of these unusual, warped buildings for some time. This building houses the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and is an active medical facility. I gather this one is not as large as some of the others designed by Gehry but fascinating all the same.

We had an amazing variation of clouds and and sky during our short time there. At sunset (seen in the lead image) the clouds had left and the sky lit up in a crazy pink color.

The panels that clad the building (stainless steel, I imagine) reflect the surrounding light so the look is changing constantly. This building has another interesting feature: At night the interior is lit with colored lights so the windows are illuminated with one color after another. Quite striking to see.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

In the Cleft

While in the Valley of Fire, we parked at one of the loop trail heads. I spotted this scene along with my room mate, Bob Hansen, right away. It was literally at the edge of the parking lot. Bob and I thought it a bit humorous that the rest of the group buzzed right by in a rush to hit the trail. The initial attraction to this scene were the two large boulders caught in the cleft. At the floor of this rock face a tree was growing to give a sense of scale. Bob worked that angle for some time and I am sure he made a very nice image. I made a few snaps of that too, but I was drawn to the caught boulders and sought a higher vantage point to focus on them. The boulders are rather large- likely as much as 15 feet long each and I'd guess they weigh upwards of 15 tons each.