Nature

Photography, Nature, Astrophotography

Trying to Shoot the Stars

I have astrophotography to thank for my renewed fervor in ramping up my photography in general. In 2018 alone my Lightroom gallery holds 113 images. While that is by no stretch a big number, laughable compared to what professionals produce, it is still a large number for me. Comparing it to 2017 where I took 13 presentable photos I'm keeping a small promise to myself: Keep taking photos.

f/2.8, 2s, ISO 800

f/2.8, 2s, ISO 800

I have no real idea why astrophotography set me off. Maybe it's because of the vastness of an endless sky that moves so slowly it can only be captured on film. We notice the change, the cycle of dawn, day, dusk and night but otherwise it is an auxiliary part of life. Noticed only if you care.

f/1.8, 6s, ISO 800. Different exposures and post-processing can produce almost two different images.

f/1.8, 6s, ISO 800. Different exposures and post-processing can produce almost two different images.

f/2.8, 6s, ISO 800

f/2.8, 6s, ISO 800

Daydreamer.  Head in the clouds. Two comments teachers gave me when I was growing up and I was forced to hear my accomplishments and disappointments. I can add Stargazer to the growing list.

This isn't my first attempt at shooting stars. That time I made the mistake of going to a light polluted area with a lens not primed for this subset of photography. This is my second attempt. While better than my first I forgot it was nearing the full moon.  Added to that I guess in my eagerness to get lost I left too early and was unable to find the Milky Way. Too much light, not the right time all compiled into shots of only the stars.

Thankfully with the improvements of Lightroom CC, post-processing has become less of a chore and more of an experimental phase. It is fascinating to me to see what colors I can pull from an image or how I can transform a B&W piece into something just as beautiful as the color equivalent.

f/1.8, 6s, ISO 800

f/1.8, 6s, ISO 800

f/1.4, 2.5s, ISO 1600. This isn't really a good photo, I just found it interesting.

f/1.4, 2.5s, ISO 1600. This isn't really a good photo, I just found it interesting.

I live in one of the best places to be lonely. My stolen moments are captured in electronic pulses. Sometimes it's the green of the forest, or the gathering of tiny sea birds.  Sometimes it's the forgotten stars that burn just as brightly as the sun but can be displaced from memory because they are so small in the vast expanse of a black sky.

Nature, Photography, Garden

W. W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory

We're going to travel back in time to earlier this year.  This is when I first received my used but new to me, Canon EOS 6D.  I was upgrading from a Canon Rebel T3 and when I wanted to take the full frame out for a test run, I realized I only had a 40 mm pancake lens that would fit the mount type.  So I wanted to find a place that I could be close to the subject and since it was still winter I decided it was time to visit the botanical conservatory that was relatively close to home.  

This is also around the time I started truly playing with Adobe Lightroom CC for editing and enchancing my photos.

This is also around the time I started truly playing with Adobe Lightroom CC for editing and enchancing my photos.

Established in 1908, the W. W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory in Tacoma, WA is one of three public Victorian-style conservatories on the West Coast.  When I went it was in the middle of a sudden snow in February, so there was a sharp contrast of walking out of flurries and cold into the fragrant scents and warmth.   

Sometimes it pays to look up.

Sometimes it pays to look up.

I've always liked gardens.  There is something fascinating about civilized nature, that despite all the push for technology there are people who put spaces like botanical gardens, arboretums and conservatories back where they can be appreciated.

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Nature, Photography

Rocky Brook Falls

I have a story.  A story to turn into a campaign for a tabletop roleplaying game.  I think it is why I am drawn into the forest and the surrounding landscape.  There is something a little mysterious and dangerous about the fogged topped mountains deafened by the loud rush of a waterfall swollen with snowmelt. 

And just as a reassurance to my Sunday Game Group: Yes, I have been working on the current campaign.  I promise I just didn't go running off into the woods ;)

Photography, Nature, Bonsai

Pacific Bonsai Museum

One of the first displays in the small hot house before the main outdoor exhibit.

One of the first displays in the small hot house before the main outdoor exhibit.

The first time I had even heard of the Pacific Bonsai Museum was when a co-worker and bonsai artist himself managed to arrange for a small exhibition at the store we both worked.  It was fascinating to see miniature versions of trees arranged in artful displays.  

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You'll notice that I'm not featuring photos of the of the entire bonsai, just close-ups.  One of the many types of photography styles/formats I like is macro.  I guess it is because I don't like to miss the tiny details that can be overlooked.  While I will not claim this is true macro photography, I liked the taking a piece of the whole for my memories.

This small museum seems almost hidden away on the former Weyerhauser Corporate Complex near Federal Way, WA.  Admission is by donation and they feature different exhibits through the year.  The current exhibit is their permanent and will be featured until April 20th, 2018, with the upcoming exhibit being Living Art of Bonsai: Elements of Design.  When I visited last year, it was Natives.  

It is a tiny wonder found in our evergreen trees.  Admission is by donation.  

Directly next to the museum is the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden.  When I visit again, I will feature this location with some photos as well.

I highly encourage paying a visit.  I know I plan on going again when the next show is ready.

 

Nature

Ludlow Falls

This is pretty old news if you follow me on any other social media platform but I upgraded from my very first DSLR, a Canon Rebel T3 to a Canon EOS 6D.  I went straight from a beginner's crop-frame camera to a full-frame with really nothing in-between.  It was a big purchase for me since even though I love photography I barely have time to explore and use my camera.  With 2018 almost 4 months in, I'm making an effort to go out and take photos and hopefully keeping a weekly blog will help facilitate that (oh boy, keeping this promise is probably going to bite me in the butt again).

I've made a pretty good effort of getting out and taking pictures and today after my D&D game was canceled, I decided to try and hit one of the waterfall spots nearby.  I've played around with long exposure before last year when I got a little lost and ended up on National Forest trail 2361.  Deciding I didn't want to get lost again (although I did get turned around), I went to Ludlow Falls, within Port Ludlow, WA.

Tip: Have good waterproof hiking boots.  I managed to sploosh my foot right into some deep water getting here.

Tip: Have good waterproof hiking boots.  I managed to sploosh my foot right into some deep water getting here.

Thankfully for my sedimentary lifestyle, the trail was only 1/2 mile loop.  I, by accident, walked the loop.  I honestly could have skipped the walk, but I'm glad I went the wrong way otherwise I would not have gotten this lovely photo.  Unfortunately, spring in Washington means it's still a little cold, so I could not cross some of the deeper parts of the creek to get a better angle.

I used two Neutral Density filters, this one was with an ND2 and the next few were with an ND8.  For a better explanation of how these filters work, here is a link with photo examples. 

The creamy, smooth look of the water is always fun to view.

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When I finally managed to get up to the actual waterfall, it took a little maneuvering on my part to get to a stable landing.  Thankfully, it was relatively dry land and not a shallow spot in the creek with mud.  

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The amount of water was quite surprising and I had to get at least one shot of the waterfall stilled, with all the bubbles and froth.

I spent about an hour and a half there, not including the 48 min drive to and from the location.  And of course, I had fun finding a new place to explore.