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Zion by Moonlight

Many times the human eye sees things much better than what a camera can see. The eye has a much larger contrast ratio with a lot more dynamic range.

Other times the camera comes out on top and can see things that our eyes can not. This is one of those photos.

Zion-by-Moonlight-1400

 “Zion by Moonlight”
Zion National Park, Utah

Looking at this photo, one can see all of the detail in this landscape at Zion National Park in Utah. When I was photographing it, however, it was much, much darker than this.

The sun had set behind me almost 30 minutes prior to me taking this photograph. A nearly full moon had come up over the horizon in front providing some illumination. The rest of the illumination in this photo came from the light still present in the sky behind me after the sun had set.

A long exposure and higher ISO – 15 seconds at ISO 400 – was used to provide me with a photo that I couldn’t quite see with my own eyes but what the camera had no problems in helping me see.

Balloon Fiesta 2014: A Photo Essay and Time Lapse

On Saturday, October 11, 2014 I had the opportunity to head down from Santa Fe to view and photograph the dawn patrol and mass ascension of hot air balloons at the 2014 Albuquerque, New Mexico Balloon Fiesta.

I headed down with my colleague Christine Hauber. The alarm went off at 3:15am so we could leave Santa Fe at 4am and make the 45 minute trip down to Albuquerque.

It was a good thing we left so early. We were able to park very close to the gate and had plenty of time to get our bearings set before the dawn patrol went up. Watching the news that evening we learned that traffic jams later in the morning prevented many people from getting down to the Fiesta and they even had to close the exit for a while due to the traffic.

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Chasing storms yields two windmills

Yesterday I was out in Northeastern New Mexico to be ready to photograph possible severe storms that were forecasted in the area and the weather didn’t disappoint.

Two Windmills and a Thunderstorm

“Two Windmills and a Thunderstorm”
New Mexico
(Click on above photo for a larger view & to purchase prints)

The photo above was photographed after two back-to-back powerful storms brought rain, wind, and hail (and almost a tornado) to an area along I25 north of Las Vegas, NM.

With my colleague Christine Hauber driving her Kia Rio (not the typical storm chasing car mind you) with me in the passenger seat monitoring radar using my favorite weather app RadarScope, I was safely able to put us in position to photograph the storms and avoid the nearly golfball sized hail that had fallen in the area.

Once the storms passed we were treated to spectacular light with the thunderstorm slowly rolling away. We were lucky to find this scene with two windmills and the thunderstorm behind them before the magical light weakened, allowing me to create my favorite photo from our storm chasing adventures that day.

Here are some snapshots and video of the storm from my iphone:

We drove almost an hour and a half to catch up with this slow moving storm as it crossed I25 just north of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Almost all northbound traffic stopped and pulled over as the storm was crossing. There was some slight rotation in the clouds but the rotation never materialized into a tornado. Had it, I would have been in perfect position.

We drove almost an hour and a half to catch up with this slow moving storm as it crossed I25 just north of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Almost all northbound traffic stopped and pulled over as the storm was crossing. There was some slight rotation in the clouds but the rotation never materialized into a tornado. Had it, I would have been in perfect position.

 

Hail and heavy rain made for a noisy drive along the frontage road heading south next to I25

Hail reached nearly golf ball size - fortunately this hail fell shortly before we drove into the area.

Hail reached nearly golf ball size – fortunately this hail fell shortly before we drove into the area.

 

Earlier we had seen a snowplow out - this is the reason why as hail covers I25 southbound north of Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Earlier we had seen a snowplow out – this is the reason why as hail covers I25 southbound north of Las Vegas, New Mexico.

 

Photo Details

Details on my Two Windmills and a Thunderstorm photo above:

Photographed hand-held with my Sony a7R, Metabones III adapter, and a Canon 70-200mm lens at ISO 125, 1/250 at f13. The RAW file was processed in Capture One Pro and further enhanced in Perfect Photo Suite 8.

One of my photos featured during Crated launch in SOHO NY

Very cool to see one of my photos of Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah featured during Crated‘s launch in their SOHO, NYC gallery at the Soho Arthouse on 138 Sullivan ST.

Crated is a new place on the web for photographers and artists to sell their work.

You can check out my gallery on Crated here and purchase posters, canvas, and framed prints.

The making of my blood moon lunar eclipse photo Part 2 of 2

This is part 2 of how I photographed the blood moon lunar eclipse on April 15th.
For info on how I photographed it with camera settings visit part 1. Here in part 2 I talk about how I enhanced it on the computer.

Following the 5 hours or so of sleep I got after photographing the lunar eclipse till 2:45 in the morning I began to create the final image on my 15″ MacBook Pro laptop.

The saguaro cactus scene that was photographed with my Sony a7 and Sony FE 35mm f2.8 lens was processed in the RAW converter Capture One Pro.

Looking at a before and after photo of the enhancements made in Capture One Pro.

Looking at a before and after photo of the enhancements made in Capture One Pro.

In the above screen shot you can see a before (bottom photo) and an after photo in C1. I made a number of slight tonal adjustments and color/saturation adjustments. I also corrected the perspective of the photo to remove distortion brought on by the wide angle lens, and corrected some lens vignetting. Notice the shadow detail I was able to bring out of the original photo. I have found I can pull out a great deal of shadow detail from the Sony a7/a7R cameras and Capture One Pro.

I exported the processed file as a tiff file to my computer, then opened it up in Perfect Layers in Perfect Photo Suite 8. While Perfect Photo can be opened as a plugin from Photoshop, I prefer to use it as a standalone program.

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The making of my blood moon lunar eclipse photo Part 1 of 2

In part 2 you can read how I enhanced and built the composite photo using Capture One Pro and Perfect Photo Suite 8. Read it here.

Overnight on April 14 through early morning April 15th we were treated to a wonderful total eclipse of the moon that at it’s peak turned the moon a blood red color. The eclipse was visible to most of North and South America – at least visible to those of us who had clear skies that night.

Suess Lunar Eclipse over Phoenix web

“Lunar Eclipse Blood Moon over Phoenix”
North Phoenix, Arizona
Purchase prints of this photo right now during a special limited time promotion.

The event is rare, with the most recent total lunar eclipse happening on December 21, 2010. However we are in for a treat as we will have 3 more total eclipses in North America within the next 1.5 years: October 8 of 2014, April 5 of 2015, and September 28 of 2015. After that we will have to wait another 3 years before another one happens.

Some pre-planning first

I knew of the April 15th eclipse a few weeks prior to it happening, which gave me plenty of time to prepare. I was still going to be in Phoenix which was great as the weather is usually perfect and rarely cloudy & rainy. So I started planning my final image and what I needed to do to create it.

Right off the bat I knew I was going to somehow incorporate saguaro cacti in my photograph, as they are a unique feature here in the Sonoran Desert. I have been spending numerous evenings photographing sunsets this winter out in the desert where my RV is parked here in North Scottsdale and knew the location would be perfect for the eclipse.

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