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Star Wars

A few days ago I decided to get some buddies together to go shoot the Geminid Meteors for the peak of the shower Sunday into Monday. We met up in Organ Pipe in far southern Arizona and enjoyed some dark skies and one of the most active meteor showers I've ever seen! Got home and took this morning to put this image together...it's a stack/blend of about 25 meteors put into one photo. This is part of a time-lapse sequence as well, shot at f/2.8, 20 seconds and ISO 5000.

I heard about the Geminid Meteors being at their peak Sunday into Monday, so I called around to a few buddies this weekend in an effort to drag them out with me somewhere remote so I’d have a few meat shields in case of attack from crazy peeps. We decided to do Organ Pipe south of Ajo since Greg McCown lives in Tucson and it was sorta central for us. Keith Kessler and Davo Laninga, who took my Monsoon workshop a few years ago, also joined me! So great to hang with these dudes. Organ Pipe is stunning. Saguaro everywhere. We got there and meteors were all over the place in most directions. It was nuts. But at first the cameras just weren’t picking them them, so I got discouraged. Still, I cranked the ISO to 5000 and we sat in the truck with the heat blasting for a couple of hours…and when stopped my little time-lapse, I found all these crazy meteors scattered throughout the photos.

Here’s a stacked photo of a bunch of images amounting to roughly 25 meteors. This isn’t anything new, I’ve seen lots of stacked meteor shots and I wanted to give it a shot. I love the way it turned out, but hope to get more practice down the road. I just learned some new techniques for noise and editing of Milky Way shots, hoping to up my game down the road…but for now, hope you enjoy!

The Milky Way over Sedona | YoloZona

Milky Way over Sedona
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, rokinon 14mm 2.8, iso 5000, f/2.8, 30 sec // buy print)

An epic trip happened this past weekend…a meeting of four photographers who are great friends of mine, all coming here to Arizona, to help me take pictures of a wedding and then shoot the crap out of this state. We created a hashtag for the weekend…#YoloZona.

On Monday morning, after maybe 5 hours of sleep, we all woke up at 3am to shoot some stars out at Courthouse Butte in Sedona. Thanks to some great advice from our buddy in Kansas, Scotty Ackerman, we knew when the Milky Way would rise and roughly where it would be.

I don’t photograph stars very much and when I have, I’ve never seen anything this good. You’d think only 5 minutes south of a town like Sedona that the sky would be saturated from city lights, but thankfully Sedona is super dark at night because of lighting ordinances. Looking up with the naked eye you could clearly see the Milky Way stretching across the sky.

I edited this in Lightroom first for color and shadows, and then used a bit of luminosity masking techniques to make the sky pop a bit more. I’m super stoked with how this image turned out, my only slight regret is that it’s a 30 second exposure which is a tad too long. The stars are streaking just a bit on the edges of the frame. I was at ISO 5000 on the 5D3, which really didn’t give me much noise, so I might have gone higher and done a shorter, 20 second exposure.

Regardless…I love it anyways, and I’m thinking about getting this printed on metal. The stars are amazing and having lived in Phoenix my whole life…I rarely, if ever, see something like this. What an amazing night.

 

 

The orange moon

Click to view on black, I think it’s got a much better feel to it.

I’m not much of an astral photographer…star trails, the Milky Way…the Moon…none of these are my strong suit at all. I just haven’t felt a strong desire to shoot these kinds of subjects.

And honestly, the moon has been shot a bazillion times…what else can do you do with it?

But despite all of that, I got up early on Saturday morning to check out the lunar eclipse that was going to turn the moon orange. I’ve never seen that before and the next eclipse of this type wont come again until 2014 (so I heard), so I figured why not try to take a few pictures.

It was a negative 2 degrees (Fahrenheit for my Canadian friends) and I think that was the coldest temperature I’ve ever experienced before. That’s what I get living in Arizona.

All I had was my 70-200mm, and I thought the moon might fill the frame a bit more than it did, but this was the result. No cropping…I kind of liked the descending line of trees so I kept it this way. This shot was the best of the bunch. Right after this moment the sky started going brighter and brighter, and as the moon became fully eclipsed, it was too light out to even see much more than an outline.

Warped

(yo…the image gets bigger if you click on it…try it out)

Last month about 20 of us got together for a little downtown Phoenix photowalk and it was simply a blast. Especially when we all stopped to eat at Five Guys…holy moley that place is good.

I owe this shot to one of the other photographers with us that night. I wish I could remember her name, but I suck. I saw her standing by a fence looking into this place, so I wandered over to see what was up. What an amazing spot. The first thing I thought of was that I wanted a bride and groom standing in the middle of these warped tiles with that fantastic old windowed-wall behind them.

Of course, that wasn’t going to happen on such short notice, not to mention the chain link fence surrounding this wide open area. So I tossed that idea away and concentrated on getting something sans models.

The 50mm was perfect for shooting through this fence, so I got low to the ground and tried to pull in the amazing shadows going on from some off-camera street lights.

Now I gotta send some love to my boy Brian Matiash. He *hearts* a filter called “Cyberpunk” in Phototools. He uses it a lot, it’s kind of his signature style. It doesn’t always work for me with my landscape/stormy subject matter anyways, but I tend to stay away from it because…well…I don’t like stealing someone else’s mojo.

Of course, when I do, I like to give credit. I loved this image when I was processing it, but it just lacked something special. For some reason I thought “Cyberpunk” and splashed that dude on there and bam, it was right. I masked out a bit of it around the tiles, but wow I loved what it did to the pavement and background building.

Two final things on this beautiful Friday with me heading home early from Vegas:

1. If you get inspired by someone or borrow heavily from stuff they do…be a man (or woMAN) and give some friggin’ credit. There is nothing worse than passing off something as your own when you deep down inside know you saw it on some guy’s website, or a webinar, or whatever. Make your momma proud.

2. It’s Follow Friday on Twitter, so in the spirit of that, you guys should follow Sarah Fisch because…holy crap I LOVE her landscape work.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, iso 400, f/2.5)