Excellent Photo Adventures…Chasing The Light…Moonlight

Being in the right place at the right time with the right light is what photography is all about.  My first week in the southwest we had clear skies which wasn’t the ideal for daytime landscapes with blue sky days but, after dark we had great clear skies and a new moon providing great conditions for night skies and star trails.  The second week we had great clouds to fill the skies making for beautiful daytime landscapes but, when the sun went down the moon was nearing it’s half phase, was high in the sky and there were clouds.  Were we shut out?  Not at all, we simply made adjustments to our plans and set out to photograph the night sky.  Arriving at Antelope Canyon in the dark, the first thing I saw was that the moon was illuminating the outside of the canyon walls which were dark the previous week and there were some wispy clouds above the canyon.  We set up and made some images.  I like the way the wall is lit and the clouds add another dimension to the night sky…

Nikon D4, AF-S 14-24mm 2.8

 

When we had finished up at Antelope Canyon we headed to Horseshoe Bend in the dark and made the trek over the hill to get away from the light pollution of Page.  We found a group of interesting rocks and set up to photograph the stars and the moon.  With a thirty second exposure we were able to capture the pinpoint stars and yet capture some movement in the clouds.  Once we got our exposure dialed in, we began making images.  A quick review showed that we were capturing starbursts form the brightness of the moon.  A quick conversion to B&W using NIK Silver Efex Pro 2 finished the image to my liking…

Nikon D4, AF-S 14-24mm 2.8

 

The moral of the story is to make the best of the conditions that the photo gods throw at you.  There are some wonderful images to be made even when the conditions aren’t exactly as planned.  Stay tuned.

Excellent Photo Adventures…Slots And Horseshoe Bend

We arrived back in Page around midday (a perfect time to visit the slot canyons) so, we dropped our bags at the hotel and headed to Lower Antelope Canyon where we spent a couple of enjoyable hours working the twists and turns, the shapes and patterns, the shadow and light that makes these slot canyons so special…

Nikon D3S, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR

YOu never know what will be around the next turn and sometimes you encounter another photographer.  Simply excuse yourself and step back while they make their image and then continue on.  Or, ask if it’s ok, to make a quick image with them in the photo.  Adding a person gives the canyon scale…

Nikon D3S, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR

All afternoon the clouds were building.  Cloudy weather is a great tim to visit Horseshoe Bend as the clouds soften the contrast of the deep canyon.  A five stop bracket (using 1,3 & 5) gave me the tonal range needed to capture detail in the highlights and shadows…

Nikon D4, AF-S 14-24mm f2.8

I’m on my way out the door for a full day playing the slots.  Stay tuned.

 

Excellent Photo Adventures…Star Light, Star Bright

We had clear skies when we departed the hotel for an evening of night photography out near Totem Pole and Yei Be Chei but, by the time it was dark enough to begin light painting our first exposures, the clouds were building and the moon was casting enough light to hide all but the brightest stars.  Some people would fold up their tripods, pack away their cameras and head back to the hotel but we stuck it out to find that there were still enough stars shining brightly through the thin clouds making for different, yet beautiful skies.  We positioned ourselves with the North Star just above the Totem Pole and with our white balances set to Auto, painted the rock first and then changing to Tungsten exposed additional frames of the night sky.  The rich, warm colors on Totem Pole and the deep blues of the sky make a great color contrast…

Nikon D4, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR

We then turned our cameras to the south and used Yei Bi Chei as a silhouette in the foreground with the Big Dipper suspended above.  The thin clouds add texture to the sky…

Nikon D3S, AF-S 24mm 1.4

A high ISO and wide aperture is needed to make a thirty second (or less) exposure that captures the pinpoint stars you see in the above two images.

Liking the blue sky and detail in Totem Pole gave me an idea to expose the Mittens before the sun set and include one image in a star trail sequence.  The brighter sky hid all but the brightest stars making the star trails less prominent but, gave the evening sky a nice blue glow while revealing detail in the foreground…

Nikon D4, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR

With a little imagination, the possibilities for night photography are endless.  I have just scratched the surface and look forward to more opportunities to work the night skies with my new D4.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Excellent Photo Adventures…The Shadow

*When planning this years Excellent Photo Adventure in Monument Valley, I wanted to have a new moon for best night skies from our balconies.  A bonus was arriving when the East Mitten casts it’s shadow on the West Mitten at sunset.  I found that it would not be possible to have both the same week but, we came close.  Sunset on March 26th found us on the rim of the Valley waiting for the sun to drop lower and the shadow to slowly climb it’s way into place…

Four Image Pano Nikon D4, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR