October 8’s total lunar eclipse caught me a bit flat-footed (“Wait — there’s an eclipse tomorrow?”) but I was determined to watch and photograph it.
My nephew stayed over at our house the previous night, so we had to wrangle three boys into shoes, coats, and van, and thence a short way into the country. I did manage to pack my longest lens, which is not really long enough for this type of thing, but it’s the best I have. This image was made with an old slow 70-210mm zoom at full extension, f/5.6, high ISO, and manual focus via Live View.
The boys spent most of their time complaining about one thing or another, but they did see the eclipse, and I pointed out a few constellations too. Hopefully this won’t be our last celestial outing.
When I posted about my thunderstorm picture, I said that I wanted to take more time to demonstrate that rural Illinois is not boring, and possesses rather a subtle beauty. Of course, you can always wait until blue hour to really amp things up.
The Warsaw family owns this land, right across the tracks from the church where my wife works. The church’s fall festival/potluck had just completed and we were on our way home, when I saw the moon rising over this barn and needed to turn back. The mosquitoes were fierce and I had not prepared with bug spray; I consider it a miracle that I brought back anything usable.
At the tail end of blue hour the full spectrum of white light can be seen painted across the sky, as it was when I photographed another crescent moon in a sunset two years ago. Back then, I discovered that the Cross Process 2 preset in Lightroom 4 did just the right magic to separate out the colors, and I used it again here. The image above is layered from three “prints” of two exposures:
The Warsaw clan is numerous here, and the daughter-in-law of this farm’s owners, who is a photographer herself, asked for a print before she even saw the result. She still wants it having seen the result :) and I’ll be happy to oblige.
Last week I carried my Nikon with me instead of my Fuji, and just to switch things up I used my ultra-wide instead of my normal lens. The experience strongly reinforced the received wisdom about wide-angle lenses: their function is to exaggerate perspective and emphasize something in the foreground, in this case, Mr. Skateboard. Using the ultra-wide also forces me to get in closer to my subject, and I’m often afraid to do so even when it will make a better picture. Gear doesn’t make you a better photographer, but accepting the limitations of a defined set of gear can push you to try different, and sometimes better, things.
In my college days, someone posted a graph on the wall of the ACM student chapter office which purported to show when and how much of both regular and diet Mountain Dew one should consume for maximum stimulant effectiveness while programming. I suppose CS students still drink Mountain Dew, but to my mind, nothing beats a good cup of coffee when you’ve been up all night and your homework still doesn’t compile. The young lady above would seem to agree. :)