Archive for the ‘long exposure’ Tag

Single-image Sunday: Reflection of the Sky   15 comments

This recent image from Eagle Creek in the Columbia River Gorge shows the more subtle effects of reflection.

This recent image from Eagle Creek in the Columbia River Gorge shows the more subtle effects of reflection.

 

A quick follow-up to my last post on reflections, this I captured toward the end of day in the inner gorge of Eagle Creek.  I bushwacked into the area and crossed the swift cold stream three times to get to this point.  But then I knew I may as well wait until late-day light, when if I was lucky a sort of golden overtone would pour into the canyon from below.

I got lucky and that happened.  Also the sky above the canyon remained bright and added a highlight – a subtle gold  – on the river in the middle of the picture.  These are all small things, but it’s the small things that add up to a nice image.  Click on the photo to go to the gallery on my website, and please contact me if you have any questions.  Have a great week!

Happy World Water Day!   8 comments

Yesterday I found myself caught in drenching rain at this waterfall in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge.

Yesterday I found myself surrounded by water, caught in drenching rain at this waterfall in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.

Fresh water is something we all take for granted until it is in short supply.  Though the world will not soon run out of fresh water, it is a precious resource that we waste as if it is created out of thin air.  Only 2.5% of the earth’s water is fresh, the rest is in the oceans.  And over 2/3 of that 2.5% is locked away in ice caps and glaciers.  Most of the rest lies below ground.  All this means that only .03% of the total fresh water on this planet is fresh and on the surface (in rivers and lakes).

I hope you enjoy these images.  Just click on any image you’re interested in to go to the full-size version, where purchase options are a click away.  They are copyrighted and not available for free download without my permission.  These versions are too small anyway.  Please contact me if you have any questions.  Thanks for your interest!

At Lava Falls in the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River carries a lot of sediment, giving it the power to erode some of the largest landscape features on earth.

At Lava Falls in the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River carries a lot of sediment, giving it the power to erode some of the largest landscape features on earth.

There may come a time that our population is too great to feed.  Not so much because of lack of land or soil, but for lack of water.  We mine it at unsustainable rates from ancient aquifers and when our wells run dry we simply drill another one and dip a longer straw into the drink.  These aquifers replenish themselves on geologic not human timescales, so we are guaranteed to run short eventually.

Then we will need to transport water long distances from places where the groundwater is not yet depleted.  We will also need to figure out a way to cheaply desalinate water, but this is always going to be energy-intensive, so may not be a great option unless we figure out how to exploit solar on an enormous scale in the future.

Life may have evolved in a pool like this one, Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park.

Life may have evolved in a pool like this one, Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park.

All that is pretty depressing.  But let’s step back and appreciate water for the wonderful thing it is.  Water is the most important reason why life evolved on this planet.  It is not only the ‘universal solvent’, where all the chemistry necessary for life can take place, but it also literally keeps our planet breathing.  Water in the atmosphere transports heat from warm areas to cold, making agriculture possible in many places where it would otherwise be too cold.  It is the most powerful greenhouse gas.

Primeval water:  This Indonesian volcano is spewing water and other gases into the air every day.  The lake color comes from all the minerals.

Primeval water: This Indonesian volcano is spewing water and other gases into the air every day. The lake color comes from all the minerals.

(But please ignore those who doubt the role of CO2 in global warming.  These ‘skeptics’ believe that water dominates as a greenhouse gas and will keep us from warming.  They don’t know what anybody who takes Meteorology 101 knows, that the effects of water are buffered and even out over short timescales.  CO2 and methane are still the most important greenhouse gases as far as climate change goes.  Water’s role as greenhouse gas is important only in terms of weather- not climate change.)

A pristine spring feeds a rushing river in Oregon's Cascade  Mountains

A pristine spring feeds a rushing river in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains

Water is also responsible for erosion, transporting materials from the mountains to make the soil we grow our food in.  Water deep inside the earth is critical for melting of rocks, creating volcanoes.  Volcanoes are crucial for recycling gases back into the atmosphere, including CO2 and water itself.  We would have frozen over long ago without volcanoes.  Water essentially lubricates the earth, making plate tectonics possible.  Without plate tectonics the earth would be dead or nearly so, with only submicroscopic life.

One of the Columbia Gorge's prettiest waterfalls is Faery Falls.

One of the Columbia Gorge’s prettiest waterfalls is Faery Falls.

So let’s celebrate water today and every day.  Enjoy it but respect it too.  Take shorter showers, turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, never leave a hose or faucet running, plant your yard with plants that do not need extra water beyond what falls from the sky.  Install low-flow fixtures.  Remember the old saying “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.”  You can, I’m sure, think of many other ways to conserve water.

The flooded wetlands of Botswana's Okavango Delta are a magnet for Africa's amazing wildlife.

The flooded wetlands of Botswana’s Okavango Delta are a magnet for Africa’s amazing wildlife.

Wordless Wednesday: Water for Rivers   4 comments

_MGL0183

Single-Image Sunday: Burnt Orange River   3 comments

The other evening I went out to the Columbia River near home in Oregon and this was the very last image I captured, just before it got dark.  I posted on “blue hour” recently, and this is very very late blue hour.  The exposure was 30 seconds, f/11 & ISO 400.

An unusual color develops in the dusk sky along the lower Columbia River In Oregon.

An unusual color develops in the dusk sky along the lower Columbia River In Oregon.

While dark was coming on fast, looking west (downriver) here gave me plenty of ambient light for a long exposure. One of the reasons I chose this image was because my last post was on reflections, and this is an excellent example. The light was being reflected off the clouds and then again off the river.  Its unique burnt orange color is mostly because of nearby Portland’s city lights.  You can see it in the sky.  But when that light is reflected in turn from the water (which is smoothed by the long exposure), other colors are mixed in and it ends up a very unique blend of orange, blue and green.  I think It’s a very interesting hue.  Do you agree?

I had already packed up and was headed back up to my bike when I noticed this very subtle color.  I knew a long exposure would bring it out even more in an image, so I went ahead and set up my tripod and camera again.  How many times have I done this, packing up and then changing my mind?  Hundreds, thousands?  The pilings make a very simple subject in a simple image.

Hope you enjoy it.  If you’re interested in purchase options (print, download, etc.) just click it.  Once you have the high-res. version in front of you, click “purchase options”.  It’s copyrighted and not available for download without my permission, sorry ’bout that.  If you have any questions, please contact me.  As always I welcome any comments and questions here as well.  Thanks for looking!

Friday Foto Talk: Blue Hour   12 comments

Blue Hour on the California Coast. Clouds from an approaching winter storm lend a moody look.

Blue Hour on the California Coast. Clouds from an approaching winter storm lend a moody look.

Blue hour is often mentioned by photographers as offering great picture opportunities.  I definitely agree.  In case you don’t know, blue hour is that transitional time between sunset and darkness when the sky and land take on a blue color.  They also occur in the morning before sunrise.  The peak of blue hour is about 45 minutes after sunset (or before sunrise).  But it really is a transitional time which offers opportunities from the time of fading orange sunset glow to inky-black skies.  Here’s why I believe blue hour is worth staying out late or getting up early for:

      • Blue hour is..well…it’s blue!  Blue is a beautiful color.  It’s my favorite, and I’m not alone.  Everybody likes this color.  It easily imparts mood as well.
      • Blue hour can help to impart mood, but not only because of the blue color.  Low light forces longer exposures, which can lend an abstract quality to an image.  If clouds are present, they impart a moody counterpoint to any expanses of deep blue in sky or water.
The crescent moon at blue hour in the desert of the Baja Peninsula, Mexico.

The crescent moon at blue hour in the desert of the Baja Peninsula, Mexico.

      • Blue hour allows you to achieve long exposures without filters.  Filters are another piece of glass between you and the image, which in some cases can introduce artifacts or otherwise lower quality.  If you want to blur water or imply motion, shoot ghost-like figures, create leading lines by streaking clouds, or achieve any other long-exposure effect, blue hour naturally gives you the low light you require.  If it is early blue hour, you might need a polarizer to slow things down enough.  But you won’t normally need heavy neutral density filters & you aren’t forced into using small apertures.
Blue hour in Portland, Oregon.

Blue hour in Portland, Oregon.

      • Blue hour is also the time when you’ll find the moon very low in the sky and making a great photo subject.  An almost full moon and a thin crescent moon both show up low in the sky at blue hour.
      • Blue hour offers a great time to photograph cities and urban areas.  The lights of a city, the light trails of car tail-lights, any artificial lighting is set off nicely against the deep blue of the sky.
Pre-sunrise blue hour in Death Valley, California.

Pre-sunrise blue hour in Death Valley, California.

Blue hour is a pretty easy time to photograph, since exposures are fairly consistent and even, with little contrast to worry about.  But there are definitely some things to keep in mind:

      • First and most important, a tripod is absolutely necessary.  Yes you can shoot a portrait using flash at blue hour and get away without a tripod.  But for landscapes, cityscapes, motion blur, any of these require a good solid tripod.  You will want to use the timer delay or a shutter release cable so you don’t have to touch the camera when it’s taking the picture.  Also, use mirror lockup if your camera has this feature.  It eliminates any possible movement from the mirror moving during the capture.
Blue hour is a great time for a visit to a fair, and a great time to experiment with long exposures.

Blue hour is a great time for a visit to a fair, and a great time to experiment with long exposures.

      • When shooting in the direction of where the sun just went down (or will come up), the sky will be a brighter blue.  You’ll need to handle contrast between the bright sky and your foreground, so I strongly recommend using a graduated neutral density filter.  The contrast is most pronounced early in blue hour, whereas later toward dark you’ll have a more even (and dark) scene.
Mount Hood towers over Lost Lake after sunset.

Mount Hood towers over Lost Lake after sunset.

      • What’s pretty cool about blue hour is that just about the end of blue hour is when you will generally reach the 30-second time limit of most DSLRs, at least at fairly small apertures.  You can switch to bulb mode and have the shutter open for longer than 30 seconds of course, but I have found the magic of blue hour is largely over by this time.  It is replaced by the magic of nighttime and the stars, but that’s a subject for another post.
      • When you are anywhere near water, use it to your advantage.  Not only will it expand the area of beautiful blue, the long exposures will give it a nice silky smooth look.
The Virgin River flowing through Zion Canyon, Utah, makes a great blue-hour subject.

The Virgin River flowing through Zion Canyon, Utah, makes a great blue-hour subject.

      • Be conscious of your long exposures.  When shooting any moving subject (people, boats, etc.) there will be blurring.  This can be a nice effect but it often results in a distraction.  The same is true of the moon, which moves surprisingly fast.  It depends on your focal length, but any shutter speed longer than a few seconds will result in blurring of the moon’s outline and features.  If you zoom in, use shutter speeds shorter than a second.
The full moon rises over Crown Point and the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.

The full moon rises over Crown Point and the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.

      • Also with the moon, early blue hour (just after the orange of sunset fades) is best for avoiding contrast.  As blue hour progresses and the sky darkens, the moon will appear much brighter and there will be no chance of getting any detail in it while exposing correctly for the rest of the scene.  Basically, you’ll have the choice of either blowing the moon out (too bright), or exposing correctly for the moon and underexposing the rest of the scene.  There are ways around this.  Check out my post on the subject.
Although there is still some orange in the sky, this scene along the lower Columbia River, Oregon I count as very early blue hour.

Although there is still some orange in the sky, this scene along the lower Columbia River, Oregon I count as very early blue hour.

      • You can jump the gun a bit and get the best of both worlds.  I’m talking about combining some of the color of sunset with the blue hour by shooting right at the short transition between sunset and blue hour.  You can do the same at sunrise by shooting just before the golden color of the rising sun invades the whole sky (see image below).
A very calm dawn at Hutchinson Lake in eastern Washington's Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.

A very calm dawn at Hutchinson Lake in eastern Washington’s Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.

      • Raise your ISO to keep exposures long enough to get the desired effect.  This will likely be necessary only in late blue hour when you are using small apertures for maximum depth of field.  Depending on your camera, you might not be able to raise ISO much without introducing too much noise.  But it’s much better to raise your ISO a stop and get a well-exposed photo than to decrease exposure compensation and have very deep shadows.  Later on the computer, you will see that brightening those deep shadows (to see some of the detail in them) will result in more noise than if you would have raised ISO a bit and gotten a bright enough exposure in the first place.  Don’t go crazy raising your ISO.  The rule of thumb to keep ISO as low as possible still applies.
A clear and cold blue hour skiing near Mt. Hood, Oregon.

A clear and cold blue hour skiing near Mt. Hood, Oregon.

      • Finally, shooting at blue hour demands that you either get out well before the sun rises or stay out well past sunset.  You’ll need to commit to it, through either an early rise or the patience to stick things out past sunset.  No packing up after the sun is down, patience is key.
      • Given the above point, it’s important to be prepared.  Have a good flashlight in your camera bag, and make sure the batteries are charged.  Be very aware of your surroundings.
Blue hour is when many cruise ships depart, but this one in Ensenada, Mexico is staying put.

Blue hour is when many cruise ships depart, but this one in Ensenada, Mexico is staying put.

      • In cities, the gathering darkness of blue hour can be an unsafe time to be in some areas.  In the wilds, at least in some places, being out as dusk turns into darkness can be risky.  You don’t want to present yourself as an easy meal to a hungry predator.  Fortunately, simple precautions can make a big difference.   Don’t position yourself close to any sort of cover; surround yourself with open space instead.  Carry a can of mace, people mace in cities and bear mace in the wild.  Never run from a predator (human or animal really) unless you are sure you can get to the safety of your car, a crowd of people, etc.
Blue hour from within Zion Canyon in Utah.

Blue hour from within Zion Canyon in Utah.

Blue hour can provide a soft edge to hard industrial subjects, such as this gas drilling rig.

Blue hour can provide a soft edge to hard industrial subjects, such as this gas drilling rig.

Photography at blue hour can be a rewarding way to capture moody yet beautiful scenes.  The light is low, allowing for long exposures and smooth, deep colors. But more important is the fact you are at the edge of night, lending a mystical quality to your images.  If you’re interested in any of these images, just click on them to go to my galleries page.  Once you have the full-size version in front of you, click “Purchase Options” to see prices for prints, downloads and more.  They are copyrighted and not available for free download without my permission, sorry.  If you have any questions, just contact me.  Thanks for reading!

Mount Adams, Washington is reflected in Tahklakh Lake at blue hour.

Mount Adams, Washington is reflected in Tahklakh Lake at blue hour.

Quest for the Crescent   5 comments

A beautiful sunrise over the Columbia River Gorge, with Beacon Rock just visible through the mist.

A beautiful sunrise over the Columbia River Gorge, with Beacon Rock just visible through the mist.

I’ve been sort of fixated on photographing the crescent moon lately.  I wanted to capture it at sunrise (i.e. when it rises just before the sun on the day or two before new moon), but clouds interfered.  Instead I got a pretty nice sunrise shot (see image above).  Then I set my sights on the setting crescent after new moon.  Coincidentally, this moon when it is first sighted marks the beginning of Ramadan, the month of daily fasting & prayer for muslims worldwide.

On the day after the new moon, the crescent was exceedingly thin, only 5% illuminated.  Further complicating matters, it was due to set less than half an  hour after the sun.  These factors make it very difficult to sight.  You can make it easier by getting up in elevation with a clear view of the western horizon, and scanning with binoculars.  I almost went this route, but I wanted a different sort of picture of it.  I wanted some interesting foreground that included water.  So I set up at river-level in the Columbia Gorge near home.  While sharp-eyed muslims sighted this moon and Ramadan began, I failed.

A photo captured at dusk but with something missing - the crescent moon.

A photo captured at dusk but with something missing – the crescent moon.

I was disappointed but not beaten.  The next evening I knew the crescent would be easier to sight and probably make a more beautiful picture.  I went back to the same spot in the Gorge, Rooster Rock State Park.  The image at bottom was the result.  Hope you enjoy it.

If you’re interested in any of these images, just click on them.  They are not available for free download without my permission, sorry.  Go ahead and contact me if you have any questions.  By the way, I wrote a post on capturing the crescent moon (with a photo not a lasso!).  Check it out.  Thanks for the visit!

Success!  A peaceful crescent moon sets at dusk over a small inlet of the Columbia River, Oregon.

Success! A peaceful crescent moon sets at dusk over a small inlet of the Columbia River, Oregon.

Turn of the Year   2 comments

The lower Russian River near its mouth runs brown with silt during winter on the northern California Coast.

The lower Russian River runs brown with silt during winter on the northern California Coast.

A year has ended, and a new one begun.  I spent the night on the banks of the Russian River, listening to its irresistible push to the nearby Pacific Ocean.  Just before midnight I took the top photo.  The moon and stars shine over the Russian, its waters brown with winter runoff.

The Russian River flows peacefully toward the Pacific Ocean in northern California on a misty winter morning.

The Russian River flows peacefully toward the Pacific Ocean in northern California on a misty winter morning.

Then in the morning I woke to mysterious fog lying on the river.  Rousting myself, I walked along the river toward its mouth, where clear, cold air and the mighty Pacific greeted me.  I found a half-empty champagne bottle from the previous night’s celebration.

A half-empty champagne bottle is all that is left of New Year's Eve celebrations, the Russian River in the background.

A half-empty champagne bottle is all that is left of New Year’s Eve celebrations, the Russian River in the background.

Flocks of birds rose into the air as the sun hit the rocks that mark the River’s meeting with the ocean.

A flock of gulls takes flight in early morning light on the Mendocino Coast of California.

A flock of gulls takes flight in early morning light on the Mendocino Coast of California.

I let the waves wash over my feet, despite the frigid air, and the cobwebs of the year that passed cleared away.  I looked out onto the crystalline coast, and felt a fresh breeze hit my face.  It was a New Year!

California's Mendocino Coast features sea stacks, arches and broad sandy beaches.

California’s Mendocino Coast features sea stacks, arches and broad sandy beaches.

Happy New Year to all the people of this beautiful world!

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