This little waterfall usually turns into a solid column of ice in the winter. But unfortunately, this winter, the temperatures were too mild for a solid column to form. So we ventured out in the middle of the night, hoping for an entirely different picture, but instead of a column of ice, we got a trickle of water.
I’ve been a coach on the Iron Giants mountain bike team for the past several years. My oldest son joined the team when he was in 7th grade. Our head coach organizes some fun events in addition to our normal practice schedule. One of the team favorite’s is our Area 51 night ride in which we all adorn our bikes and personages with glow sticks and night lights and we go for a ride in the dark to an undisclosed location where the kids raid “Area 51” to save the aliens. It is a lot of fun for kids and adults alike. No aliens were harmed and no official secret government facilities were raided :)
This ride happened in October 2021, but I finally had time to put the video together.
Testing out a new tool. I got an Atomos Ninja V recently so that I can record long dance concerts, events, and theatre performances. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Ninja V has a timelapse feature which turns out to be amazing. You can set how often to record a frame and how long to record and it creates the video for you. It can record the timelapse in 4K ProRes N-Log format which gives you wide dynamic range footage to work with. Best of all, it does this purely off of the HDMI signal from the camera and you don’t have to worry about wearing out your shutter like you do with shooting thousands of still images and compiling them into timelapse footage later. You obviously don’t get as much flexibility and resolution with the N-Log as you would shooting RAW still images, but I think the shutter trade-off and ease of working with the ProRes N-Log footage is worth it.
Every year I photograph the dance concert Hope of the World put on by the St George Dance Company. I love this concert, it is unlike any other Christmas program or performance. It is the Nativity story in dance form. I married a dancer and dance has always been part of our life and always will be. I love that they do this every year. It is a very neat way to tell this story, the most emotionally impactful way in my opinion.
A Kolob arch of a different kind. I’ve actually never been to Kolob Arch which is about 7 miles from the spot this image was made. Getting to Kolob Arch is a 14 mile round trip. This Kolob arch was easy to get to, but not exactly an easy image to make.
The Milky Way arch over Kolob was top of the list when I first got a star tracker. I headed out on a warm summer night and set up my gear shortly after midnight. This image is 4 exposures for the sky shot on a 14mm lens at f/2.8 ISO 400 with a 184 second exposure on a star tracker. The foreground is three exposures on a 14mm lens at f/2.8 ISO 800 with a 304 second exposure. Over 27 minutes of shutter time for the whole thing to come together.
This was my first attempt at a shot like this. Lessons were learned and I would like to go back and try again.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I love shooting at night because it is so peaceful and by peaceful, I mean no people. Shooting at night is not quiet. The darkness brings out all kinds of critters. The entire time I was taking these photos I could hear critters rustling in the bushes, owls calling, bats chirping, and insects singing. It was a beautiful nighttime symphony.
This nightscape image is MacKenzie Falls in Grampians National Park in Victoria, Australia and the Milky Way. A lot of time and effort went into this image. First and foremost, I flew to the other side of the world to take it. Second, I keep coming back to the photos I took on this particular night and revisiting my edit. I’m not sure I’ll ever be fully satisfied with the outcome, but each time I revisit MacKenzie Falls in my photo library, I choose a different perspective. This is about my fourth attempt to create the image I wanted.
Every time I revisit these photos, I also relive the experience of that night. That night was a special experience that was part of a larger trip to the other side of the world to visit my parents while they were in Australia. My dad scouted the location before we got there specifically to make a Milky Way photo under the Southern Hemisphere sky.
My dad and I drove through the windy Grampian mountain roads around midnight, dodging kangaroos along the way. We hiked about a mile in the dark to the base of MacKenzie Falls, where we spent most of the night working the scene you see here. Unfortunately, there were clouds in the sky when we arrived, and the moon wasn’t below the horizon yet. So we set up our cameras and waited in the dark, with the roaring falls keeping us company.
The clouds eventually cleared, and I approached this scene from several angles. I made several panorama shots at both 24mm and 50mm.
This image is 14 shots for the foreground shot in two rows with 7 shots each and stacked for noise reduction and then turned into a panorama. The sky is a three row panorama with 7 shots stacked for each row making 21 images total for the sky. They were all shot from the same tripod location at 24mm. The sky and the foreground were blended in Photoshop. The foreground is also lit with low-level-lighting.
This next photo is not mine, but it gives the falls some scale.
After spending several hours at MacKenzie Falls, we hiked back to the car and drove to Reed Lookout in the hopes of capturing the Magellanic Clouds.
I think the Magellanic Clouds are the neatest features of the night sky in the Southern Hemisphere. There is just nothing else like them in the Northern Hemisphere. Under dark skies, they are clearly visible to your naked eye. I really really wanted to get a picture of them, even though the conditions weren’t ideal. Dawn was approaching fast and we were shooting toward some light pollution. I’m still happy I got this shot. I actually had nightmares about not getting a photo of the Magellanic Clouds.
Dawn was approaching so we drove back to our rented cabin and slept for a few hours before heading out on the next adventure to the Twelve Apostles. The Twelve Apostles visit wasn’t really photography focused, but I did get a couple of snapshots in the area.
If you have ever driven up Cedar Canyon on Highway 14, you have passed what looks like it should be part of Cedar Breaks National Monument, but is in fact, not part of the monument. Some refer to it as “First Breaks” or “False Breaks,” When the sun sets, this small section of iron oxide eroded shale, limestone, and sandstone becomes brilliantly saturated with color. It offers a unique sunset perspective. Cedar Breaks itself is a natural amphitheater that is inaccessible from this point of view.
My eyes have been drawn to this formation at sunset many times. Every time I wish I had a camera in my hand and was standing in the right spot. I’ve yet to photograph this to my liking. The sky wasn’t very dynamic or exciting on this particular day, but I did spend some quality time here with my dad, waiting for just the right moment. After over an hour of setup, test shots, composition checks, we were rewarded with a few minutes of direct sunset light hitting just right and saturating the colors as we hoped.
I took several compositions, but my favorite is a 12 frame panorama. I shot the pano vertically from left to right at 200mm. When you zoom in, there are so many interesting details. Trees grow precariously on some of the steepest sections. Trees in various stages of life. The skeleton of an ancient bristlecone pine tree.