Soooo…. I launched the new blog yesterday. Or did I re-launch a re-named blog. I don’t know. Maybe it’s not that important. I just wanted to get off my butt and get started again. I had a couple of posts ready to go. I had my basic graphics from my old blog. Copy, paste, update this, tweak that, publish.
Then my dear cousin Lyn found something I should have seen… uh… 3 years ago or so. I misspelled “photography” on my header image. I misspelled that damn thing 3 years ago.
Yeah I totally fixed that.
There’s some good news here. I am not the stuffy, overly technical, “read this because I am an authority on this topic” bullshit. I am silly. I like naughty words. I like a good laugh, usually at my own expense. Occasionally I word poorly.
A group of friends planned on viewing and photographing the launch of the Space X Falcon 9. The launch was going to happen out of Vandenberg Air Force Base shortly after sunset. The idea was that we would gather up at an agreed upon spot in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
I had just gotten off work and it was a race with the devil to get up there on time. That meant bombing up a little mountain road that’s been beat up by logging trucks. Fortunate for me I’m familiar with the twists, turns, and gaping voids in the road that we’ll call “potholes” for the sake of argument.
Once I pulled up I saw the rocket launch from over 200 miles away. I barely had time to setup let alone truly dial in the exposure that I wanted. My first two attempts overexposed; I had never photographed a rocket launch before. I had setup the same way that I would shoot stars at night: ISO 3200 and about 25 seconds with my Canon 5d Mk III. Oh no, definitely not the way to go. I dropped the exposure time way down and got this shot just in time (ISO 3200, f/4, 2 seconds at 40mm using my 17-40 L-series). You can see the main booster coming back to earth in the bottom left corner of the frame. The other colors are mostly from the sun setting. This was a stunning display.
Time for some Milky Way fun
After the launch there was still time to shoot the Milky Way. There was no moonlight, it was pretty dark, and the clouds were cooperating. Why not? I setup a composition that I liked with my car and the Milky Way. I opened the door so the dome light would turn on for a few seconds, introducing a glow inside.
I had an idea for a scene on the west side of Santa Cruz. There are a few staircases that lead surfers into the ocean but one in particular just didn’t really do anything for me — until I had an idea. I had envisioned the staircase in sharp focus while the waves washed over it. Shortly after the idea formed the weather and tide cooperated perfectly. The tide was high and the sky overcast.
The great thing about the overcast sky was that just after sunrise a bright band would appear over the horizon between the ocean and the clouds. Some time with Photoshop created exactly the look I wanted.
Step Into My Office #3 is born
I had another idea involving elements that moved and elements that kept still. I was hoping for a surfer to come up the staircase. This involved a 3-stop neutral density filter. For shots like these I often manually focus on the part of the image that I want in sharpest focus. This may vary if I’m going for hyperfocal depth of field. Soon enough a surfer approached and started coming up the staircase.
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