Jovian Badlands

Prominent Jupiter overlooks the scene at the Bisti Badlands.   At the tail end of three nights of shooting, I had little energy to hike further into the formation than this location! Fortunately, Bisti is rich with its characteristic hoodoos and unusual formations. One of two scenes composed using blue hour imagery of the landscape this night.   In this case, I used my kit--a Canon 70D and a 14mm f2.8 Rokinon lens. I shoot a 10 s exposures generally with this set up, a little less than half what the 500 rule recommends. At ISO 6400 or even 3200, the images still accumulate enough light to differentiate colors with limited noise.   Probably the best investment in improving the signal to noise in my images has been the Starry Landscape Stacker software. Made from 10 light frames by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.8.0. Algorithm: Mean Min Hor Noise.   Cheers!

Prominent Jupiter overlooks the scene at the Bisti Badlands.

At the tail end of three nights of shooting, I had little energy to hike further into the formation than this location! Fortunately, Bisti is rich with its characteristic hoodoos and unusual formations. One of two scenes composed using blue hour imagery of the landscape this night.

In this case, I used my kit--a Canon 70D and a 14mm f2.8 Rokinon lens. I shoot a 10 s exposures generally with this set up, a little less than half what the 500 rule recommends. At ISO 6400 or even 3200, the images still accumulate enough light to differentiate colors with limited noise.

Probably the best investment in improving the signal to noise in my images has been the Starry Landscape Stacker software. Made from 10 light frames by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.8.0. Algorithm: Mean Min Hor Noise.

Cheers!

See What You Miss When You Sleep

My family was sleeping in the tent. No joke. That's what we do. They go to bed, and I find moments to take in the night sky.  See what you miss when you sleep?!  I'd have preferred not to shoot over the campground, but this was what the sky was offering this night. And at this location.  The way the low lying clouds gave way to the extremely distant and vast clouds beyond them conjures images of the opening act for a stadium rock band. "That's nice, now be on your way! THIS is what we came for!"  Jupiter has been smack dab in the middle of the Milky Way this season, making for a large blown out region near Scorpius. It almost looks like a disembodied eye staring back from the cosmos! It does make the Milky Way easy to locate on less obvious nights than this one.  I suppose the residents of the Espanola Valley were socked in by the opening act clouds for some time after this image.  The f1.8 lens I'm using coupled with ISO 12,800 help to produce a sharp image with wide ranging colors. Made from 7 light frames by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.8.0. Algorithm: Mean Min Hor Noise.  Cheers!

My family was sleeping in the tent. No joke. That's what we do. They go to bed, and I find moments to take in the night sky.

See what you miss when you sleep?!

I'd have preferred not to shoot over the campground, but this was what the sky was offering this night. And at this location.

The way the low lying clouds gave way to the extremely distant and vast clouds beyond them conjures images of the opening act for a stadium rock band. "That's nice, now be on your way! THIS is what we came for!"

Jupiter has been smack dab in the middle of the Milky Way this season, making for a large blown out region near Scorpius. It almost looks like a disembodied eye staring back from the cosmos! It does make the Milky Way easy to locate on less obvious nights than this one.

I suppose the residents of the Espanola Valley were socked in by the opening act clouds for some time after this image.

The f1.8 lens I'm using coupled with ISO 12,800 help to produce a sharp image with wide ranging colors. Made from 7 light frames by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.8.0. Algorithm: Mean Min Hor Noise.

Cheers!

Colors Our Eyes Cannot See

One question I frequently get is "does the sky really look like that?"  The answer is "yes, mostly, but your eyes will never see this."   Yes , the colors in this image are the ones that arrived at my camera lens, made it through to the sensor, and were measured--color and intensity. Canon will tell you they do that best. So will Nikon and Sony, etc. Software lets me have a different opinion and to change the contrast to be perceptible to my eye. I do take care to get the colors correct, but this is admittedly a qualitative process.  Even here, I've calibrated my monitor to my print vendor, so your screen will show something slightly different than intended.   Mostly , the balance among the various colors are adjusted a little so that all of them can be visible in the same image.  Since I'm using a digital sensor, I do use the computer to perform some filtering--our  eyes never see  the discrete variations digital sensors sometimes register, and it makes the image grainy. You'll never see these colors because your night vision is color blind. AND the sky is imaged over the course of minutes (stacked together to reduce the star motion and image noise).  Your vision cannot do that.   So, is this real?  Yes. It is just reality that is a composite made possible by technology.  And thank God, if you ask me. I love the night sky. Just as my eyes can see it. AND in the rich variations that are just beyond our ability to see! In the moment.  I didn't think this one would turn out to be a keeper. You may judge for yourself, but I'm glad I shot it.  Made from 6 light frames by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.8.0. Algorithm: Mean Min Hor Noise.  Cheers!

One question I frequently get is "does the sky really look like that?"

The answer is "yes, mostly, but your eyes will never see this."

Yes, the colors in this image are the ones that arrived at my camera lens, made it through to the sensor, and were measured--color and intensity. Canon will tell you they do that best. So will Nikon and Sony, etc. Software lets me have a different opinion and to change the contrast to be perceptible to my eye. I do take care to get the colors correct, but this is admittedly a qualitative process.

Even here, I've calibrated my monitor to my print vendor, so your screen will show something slightly different than intended.

Mostly, the balance among the various colors are adjusted a little so that all of them can be visible in the same image.

Since I'm using a digital sensor, I do use the computer to perform some filtering--our eyes never see the discrete variations digital sensors sometimes register, and it makes the image grainy. You'll never see these colors because your night vision is color blind. AND the sky is imaged over the course of minutes (stacked together to reduce the star motion and image noise). Your vision cannot do that.

So, is this real?

Yes. It is just reality that is a composite made possible by technology.

And thank God, if you ask me. I love the night sky. Just as my eyes can see it. AND in the rich variations that are just beyond our ability to see! In the moment.

I didn't think this one would turn out to be a keeper. You may judge for yourself, but I'm glad I shot it.

Made from 6 light frames by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.8.0. Algorithm: Mean Min Hor Noise.

Cheers!

Early Evening with Pedernal

20190601_EarlyEveningPedernal_LR.jpg

Abiquiu Lake sits just north of Cerro Pedernal, one of the favorite landscapes of Georgia O'Keefe. This evening the cloud cover and timing for the rise of the Milky Way seemed to be on track to prevent any dazzling images.

Guess I was wrong. See this and other images from the night.

This one is a composite of landscape near dusk and sky after astronomical twilight. This combination is one of the better ways to shoot the landscape with low noise, during or near the new moon. The other contributor there is the cloud cover which reflects terrestrial light sources to effectively produce a hodge podge of light sources. Even with the cloud cover, the sky still delivers some variety and beauty to the image.

The wide angle makes it appear as if the water were farther away than it actually is.

Made from 7 light frames by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.8.0. Algorithm: Mean Min Hor Noise.

Cheers!

Close Encounters Near Abiquiu

I've shot at Abiquiu, New Mexico a number of times, and the clouds always seem to frustrate me at night. A little patience this night paid off.   While thunderstorms raged near Los Alamos, the clouds started to clear out and make for some night night sky moments like this one. The lighting on the cloud in the middle of this image is reminiscent of Close Encounters with the lights burning through a red cloud. I don't think I was abducted, but it could have happened.   Jupiter is blaring away in the Milky Way with Scorpius prominent in this image. The image was taken from my campsite, with the trees and fence lit by two small GoalZero lanterns adjusted for minimal illumination. The landscape and sky are processed separately and combined in Photoshop. Made from 8 light frames by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.8.0. Algorithm: Mean Min Hor Noise  Cheers!

I've shot at Abiquiu, New Mexico a number of times, and the clouds always seem to frustrate me at night. A little patience this night paid off.

While thunderstorms raged near Los Alamos, the clouds started to clear out and make for some night night sky moments like this one. The lighting on the cloud in the middle of this image is reminiscent of Close Encounters with the lights burning through a red cloud. I don't think I was abducted, but it could have happened.

Jupiter is blaring away in the Milky Way with Scorpius prominent in this image. The image was taken from my campsite, with the trees and fence lit by two small GoalZero lanterns adjusted for minimal illumination. The landscape and sky are processed separately and combined in Photoshop. Made from 8 light frames by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.8.0. Algorithm: Mean Min Hor Noise

Cheers!

The Daily Spin

Sitting still is an illusion.  We live in that illusion all the time.  I bought an expensive tripod to make sure that my camera would not move (much) when shooting anything longer than 1/100th of a second.  This shot is a bit longer.  I could say “the problem is” that the platform I put my tripod on wasn’t so stationary.  I prefer “thank God” for such beautiful motion that can be found through creative means!!    And really, thank God that we do rotate or the habitable zone of the earth would be dangerously thin!  This is the complementary image to the previous blog post where you see this camera doing its thing.  These star trails are from the Santa Barbara Campground in northern New Mexico.  We’re up near 9,000 feet, removing a bunch of atmosphere between me and the stars!  This circumpolar image was a little shorter than intended due to condensation on my lens, but the star density more than makes up for the short capture.    May your next spin be full of adventure and a few good friends!  Cheers!

Sitting still is an illusion.

We live in that illusion all the time.

I bought an expensive tripod to make sure that my camera would not move (much) when shooting anything longer than 1/100th of a second. This shot is a bit longer. I could say “the problem is” that the platform I put my tripod on wasn’t so stationary. I prefer “thank God” for such beautiful motion that can be found through creative means!!

And really, thank God that we do rotate or the habitable zone of the earth would be dangerously thin!

This is the complementary image to the previous blog post where you see this camera doing its thing. These star trails are from the Santa Barbara Campground in northern New Mexico. We’re up near 9,000 feet, removing a bunch of atmosphere between me and the stars! This circumpolar image was a little shorter than intended due to condensation on my lens, but the star density more than makes up for the short capture.

May your next spin be full of adventure and a few good friends!

Cheers!

Camping Under The Stars

Camping with the family at 9,000' in the northern New Mexico mountains. The rush of runoff from an el nino driven weather pattern over the winter, made for a fairly loud scene. The Milky Way was rising over the peaks to the east. The fam was snoozing in the green tent, and my camera was busy shooting a circumpolar in the left of the image.  If you can get to a location like this, particularly with dark skies, you should do it!  Shot with a rented Canon EOS-R with a Sigma f1.8 14mm. The lens distortion was challenging in Photoshop. It took some liberty in piecing the two images together. The sky was processed with Starry Landscape Stacker.  Cheers!

Camping with the family at 9,000' in the northern New Mexico mountains. The rush of runoff from an el nino driven weather pattern over the winter, made for a fairly loud scene. The Milky Way was rising over the peaks to the east. The fam was snoozing in the green tent, and my camera was busy shooting a circumpolar in the left of the image.

If you can get to a location like this, particularly with dark skies, you should do it!

Shot with a rented Canon EOS-R with a Sigma f1.8 14mm. The lens distortion was challenging in Photoshop. It took some liberty in piecing the two images together. The sky was processed with Starry Landscape Stacker.

Cheers!

March Milky Way Over Fire

If you're going to camp at White Sands...go early. That's what this should be called.   I had passed the Valley of Fire near Carrizozo, NM a little over an hour back, so, I headed back that way.   The features--mosly lava rock cavities in the earth, were difficult to illuminate. A small hill near the campground made a nice location to shoot the arc of the Milky Way. Orion can be seen closer to the horizon. The light dome from Socoro is also visible on the right horizon in the image.   This was pieced together from 5 shots taken in portrait frame. Made from 10 light frames by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.8.0. Algorithm: Mean Min Hor Star Dupe

If you're going to camp at White Sands...go early. That's what this should be called.

I had passed the Valley of Fire near Carrizozo, NM a little over an hour back, so, I headed back that way.

The features--mosly lava rock cavities in the earth, were difficult to illuminate. A small hill near the campground made a nice location to shoot the arc of the Milky Way. Orion can be seen closer to the horizon. The light dome from Socoro is also visible on the right horizon in the image.

This was pieced together from 5 shots taken in portrait frame. Made from 10 light frames by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.8.0. Algorithm: Mean Min Hor Star Dupe

Yucca in the Valley of Fire

I hadn't planned to shoot in the Valley of Fire near Carrizozo, NM, but there I was near the end of March in the new moon. Turned out to be a bit of a training event for me with my relatively new Goal Zero lanterns to light up the landscape. I like the mixture of the Yucca with the Milky Way in this 1:1 crop. Shot with my 70D and f2.8 14mm. Made from 20 light frames by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.8.0. Algorithm: Mean Min Hor Noise. Cheers!

I hadn't planned to shoot in the Valley of Fire near Carrizozo, NM, but there I was near the end of March in the new moon. Turned out to be a bit of a training event for me with my relatively new Goal Zero lanterns to light up the landscape. I like the mixture of the Yucca with the Milky Way in this 1:1 crop. Shot with my 70D and f2.8 14mm. Made from 20 light frames by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.8.0. Algorithm: Mean Min Hor Noise. Cheers!

Splash of Purple

Seems an appropriate post for Mother’s Day.  A bloom whose beauty reflects some of the best of motherhood.  May all the mothers out there feel loved and cherished as much as possible today!  About the picture, this is one of flowers that my wife selected to adorn our flower pots and planting beds.  The macro image with a large aperture makes the depth of field just a fraction of the size of the bloom.  It also helps to highlight the crispness of the elements in focus in the center of the bloom.  The white tips of the flower give way to a white vignette.    Cheers!

Seems an appropriate post for Mother’s Day. A bloom whose beauty reflects some of the best of motherhood. May all the mothers out there feel loved and cherished as much as possible today!

About the picture, this is one of flowers that my wife selected to adorn our flower pots and planting beds. The macro image with a large aperture makes the depth of field just a fraction of the size of the bloom. It also helps to highlight the crispness of the elements in focus in the center of the bloom. The white tips of the flower give way to a white vignette.

Cheers!

The Other Night in New Mexico - Rev 2

One more redux... This was one of my favorite scenes originally captured as a single image for the sky and a blue hour image for the landscape. I did actually capture a number of images at ISO 1600 (the lower limit I'll use for night sky) in quick succession. This set permitted met to come back later and stack them to improve the quality of the sky--lower noise, better color. Along with a (roughly) calibrated monitor, I am much more pleased with the result. I'm also out of shoots to go back to for this, so I'm going to have to get out there soon to produce some new stuff! Cheers!

One more redux... This was one of my favorite scenes originally captured as a single image for the sky and a blue hour image for the landscape. I did actually capture a number of images at ISO 1600 (the lower limit I'll use for night sky) in quick succession. This set permitted met to come back later and stack them to improve the quality of the sky--lower noise, better color. Along with a (roughly) calibrated monitor, I am much more pleased with the result. I'm also out of shoots to go back to for this, so I'm going to have to get out there soon to produce some new stuff! Cheers!

Battleship Night - Redux

Originally shot in 2017, I reworked this with my current workflow, creating an image with better clarity throughout the image and reduced noise in the sky. The trip to Battleship Rock involved my father and my sons. Since the shoot took about 3 hours waiting for the Milky Way to rise, I feel pretty fortunate my tag-alongs tolerated the wait. Still, when they see the image, they get to brag that they were there!   The moon and blue hour lighting ensured that the landscapes would blend from the well-lit blue hour to the faintly lit moonset. And the Milky Way just did it's Milky Way thing. A few frames taken about a minute a part were still enough to filter the sky by stacking. Made from 8 light frames (captured with a Canon camera) by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.6.4. Algorithm: Median.   Cheers!  And the original for comparison…

Originally shot in 2017, I reworked this with my current workflow, creating an image with better clarity throughout the image and reduced noise in the sky. The trip to Battleship Rock involved my father and my sons. Since the shoot took about 3 hours waiting for the Milky Way to rise, I feel pretty fortunate my tag-alongs tolerated the wait. Still, when they see the image, they get to brag that they were there!

The moon and blue hour lighting ensured that the landscapes would blend from the well-lit blue hour to the faintly lit moonset. And the Milky Way just did it's Milky Way thing. A few frames taken about a minute a part were still enough to filter the sky by stacking. Made from 8 light frames (captured with a Canon camera) by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.6.4. Algorithm: Median.

Cheers!

And the original for comparison…

A bit heavy on the vibrance slider, possibly.

A bit heavy on the vibrance slider, possibly.

Malpais Milky Way - Redux

This image was originally just a single capture of the sky with my Canon 70 D. It was good, but a bit noisy. After buying Starry Landscape Stacker, I modified my capture proceedure to acquire enough frames quickly to support the stacking capability.   Old shoots with a minute or two between images won't necessarily make good candidates for stacking, but the software will still do it. You lose a bit at the edges depending on the motion of the stars, but still a net gain from my perspective.   This image was originally captured in May 2017 at El Malpais near Grants, NM. The Milky Way was just rising around midnight. I captured the landscape during the blue hour when the moon was still up. It had set before the Milky Way appeared.   Cheers!   Made from 10 light frames (captured with a Canon camera) by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.6.4. Algorithm: Median

This image was originally just a single capture of the sky with my Canon 70 D. It was good, but a bit noisy. After buying Starry Landscape Stacker, I modified my capture proceedure to acquire enough frames quickly to support the stacking capability.

Old shoots with a minute or two between images won't necessarily make good candidates for stacking, but the software will still do it. You lose a bit at the edges depending on the motion of the stars, but still a net gain from my perspective.

This image was originally captured in May 2017 at El Malpais near Grants, NM. The Milky Way was just rising around midnight. I captured the landscape during the blue hour when the moon was still up. It had set before the Milky Way appeared.

Cheers!

Made from 10 light frames (captured with a Canon camera) by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.6.4. Algorithm: Median

Collecting Light

Digital cameras collect light from the visible spectrum, extending into the infrared (400-800 nm give or take). The collectors in this image sample the radio frequency spectrum (about 1 to 30 cm).  But we're both looking up, curious about and drawn to what is out there!   My instrument isn't nearly so useful scientifically, but its products still compell me to freeze my tail off and lose some sleep. The waxing crescent moon is both assistant, lighting up the landscape, and nuisance, creating flare in my lens. I hope my electronics--all internal to the camera, but not deliberately shielded from emission--presented no such interferrence for my more sophisticated fellow observers.   Cheers!   Made from 17 light frames (captured with a Canon 70D camera, 14 mm, f2.8 Rokinon, 10s, at ISO 3200) by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.6.4. Algorithm: Median

Digital cameras collect light from the visible spectrum, extending into the infrared (400-800 nm give or take). The collectors in this image sample the radio frequency spectrum (about 1 to 30 cm). But we're both looking up, curious about and drawn to what is out there!

My instrument isn't nearly so useful scientifically, but its products still compell me to freeze my tail off and lose some sleep. The waxing crescent moon is both assistant, lighting up the landscape, and nuisance, creating flare in my lens. I hope my electronics--all internal to the camera, but not deliberately shielded from emission--presented no such interferrence for my more sophisticated fellow observers.

Cheers!

Made from 17 light frames (captured with a Canon 70D camera, 14 mm, f2.8 Rokinon, 10s, at ISO 3200) by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.6.4. Algorithm: Median