Help The Mt Washington Observatory And You Could Win A Print

 

Me standing proudly at the Mount Washington summit sign.

With your help I’ll be on the summit supporting the Mount Washington Observatory again this year.

 

Using Photography To Help Support A Worthy Cause.

As a New Hampshire based landscape photographer I’m not always interested solely in making a sale, but also in how I can use my talent as a photographer to support a cause I believe in. For me that cause is Mount Washington Observatory (MWOBS).

Perched high atop the 6,288 foot summit of the tallest peak in the Northeast, and known as “The home of the worlds worst weather,” since 1932 the non-profit  MWOBS has been performing weather research and observation under some of the most extreme weather conditions on the planet. In fact, it was in April of 1934 that the highest windspeed ever observed by man was recorded at a whopping 231 MPH, that’s some serious wind!

To continue this research MWOBS needs your help. Each year in July the Observatory holds Seek The Peak, a hike-a-thon to raise funds to help them continue their mission. This years hike is scheduled for Saturday July 18th.

Looking out over Pinkham Notch towards the distant mountains, the sun peeks over the far mountain ridge.

You gotta get on the trail pretty early to catch sunrise from above tree line. This is from last years Seek The Peak. From Harvard Rock on the Boott Spur Trail.

“How can I help?” you ask. The answer is simple.  Click HERE to support the MWOBS! and making a tax deductible pledge you’ll be among one of the many generous supporters who’ve helped keep the Observatory funded over the years.

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Still a long way to go. On the Boott Spur Trail (The large “hole” in the mid-ground is Tuckerman Ravine)

“What’s in it for me?” Fair question, and the answer is equally simple. For each $10 donation made HERE your name is automatically entered into a drawing for a signed 16″x24″ print. The winner will get to choose from among any of the photos found at www.jeffsinon.com.

Feeling really generous and want to take all the chance out of winning? For the person who makes the largest single donation you will automatically receive a signed 20″x30″ canvas gallery wrap of the image of your choice.

Still not enough? Not only do the winners each get to take home their own signed image, each lucky winner will receive a copy of “White Mountain Poems,” a book by New Hampshire author Jeffrey Zygmont.

White Mountain Poems Cover

 

 

Don’t wait!

There are less then three weeks left before this years July 18th Seek The Peak Event. In order for your donation to count you need to make your tax deductible donation by clicking HERE by Thursday July 16th.

Thank you! See you at the summit!!

Me standing on the real highest point on Mount Washington.

Me standing on the true highest point on Mount Washington.

By Jeff Sinon

www.jeffsinon.com

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Nature Through The Lens 

Posted in Backcountry Travel, Mount Washington, New Hampshire, Scenic New England, Sunrise /Sunset, weather Tagged , , , , |

Newfane Vermont

 

Autumn Windham County Courthose, Newfane Vt

Windham County Courthouse

Newfane Vermont has long been one of my favorite nearby locations for exploration and, of course, photography. The town possesses the classic beauty of rural New England. It is notable for miles of rambling country roads and peaceful scenery, but Newfane is also the county seat and as the “Shire Town” has a perfectly arranged town center. Over the last couple of weeks, in preparation for this edition of my “Favorite Places”, I have been spending time re-exploring Newfane, and as usual, discovering new history and attractions in this place I thought I knew so well.

  • For more glimpses of Newfane’s beauty and history, check out the companion Image Album in  “Getting It Right in the Digital Camera” blog.
  • And the Newfane Gallery on my web site.

 

View South from Newfane Hill

View South from Newfane Hill & Old Newfane Site

When, in 1753, Governor Benning Wentworth chartered the town , it was named Fane after the Earl of Westmoreland, John Fane. Before the area could be settle, the French and Indian War intervened, preventing a town meeting within the required five years and the charter lapsed.  A new charter was issued in 1761 and, through a startling lack of originality, the town was renamed Newfane. The original village was located high on beautiful Newfane Hill, but, because of the difficulty of winter access, it was moved in 1825 to its current flatland location near the West River. Shortly after the relocation the town was named the Windham County seat and the classic courthouse building was constructed soon after.  Throughout its early history Newfane prospered, benefitting from rich soils for agriculture and livestock, and  abundant flowing water for various manufacturing.

 

Historical Society Bell

Historical Society Bell

Today tourists and photographers are attracted to the town center by the lovely arrangement of 19th century buildings, including classic churches, inviting Inns, a welcoming general store and, of course the impressive Windham County Courthouse.  Any photographic tour of Newfane should begin with a leisurely exploration of this quintessential New England village center. It is beautiful and, more importantly, gives me an excuse to, once again, use the word “quintessential”.  But Newfane’s back country attractions are no less interesting and are worth long rambles along its many winding country roads.

 

 

 

Civil War Statue, Green,Newfane, Vermont

War Memorial on the Green

Photographing Newfane Town Center
In addition to the various impressive individual buildings, the overall arrangement of the village next to Vermont’s Route 30, provides many opportunities for interesting views combining the complementary structures. The major challenges are dealing with the parked cars around the edges and, of course, the inevitable web of wires, which seems to contaminate every iconic New England town. The impact of these scars can be reduced through careful framing and the imposition of trees and other foliage, but eventually the decision must be made to leave the contamination or remove it through arduous post-processing.  I often start by planning to leave the intrusions alone, but as I study the images and work on perfecting their impact, the locations increasing become my own.   At that point, I usually settle in, grab a cup of coffee, and start removing those incongruous slashes.  Over the last days, I have been grabbing, foliage rich,  summer images of the center, but my favorite season is the autumn when the place glows with a special radiance.  Facing East the buildings are generally best illuminated in the warm morning light, but can also be framed by the evening golden and blue hours.

 

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Courthouse and Newfane Inn (Closed)

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Union Hall & First Congregational Church

 

The village center has undergone struggles in recent years. The Newfane Inn and the Country Store have closed but the general store remains busy and the elegant Four Columns Inn and Restaurant has just re-opened under new management.

 

 

 

 

Around the Green

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Four Columns Inn and Restaurant

The Windham County Courthouse was built in 1825 and is at the center of the village on a green which includes a Civil War Memorial and a somewhat incongruously decorated fountain. Arrayed around the green are the 1832 Union Hall, the 1839 First Congregational Church, the Four Columns Inn and Restaurant, and the Old Newfane Inn. The Four Columns is undergoing a major renovation and upgrade.  Rita Ziter, the Inn’s manager,  was happy to show me some of the beautifully designed modern and classic accommodations.  The dining room and lounge are still under construction, but I’m excited to see how the locally sourced food and warm atmosphere will come together on their opening, Four Columns Restscheduled for next month.   Across Route 30 is the Newfane Market,  a well stocked general store.    The Windham County Historical Society and the Newfane Café are just down the road.  The Historical Society building is filled with interesting artifacts and staff by friendly, helpful people who can assist you on your explorations.  Stop by the Café for a bite and a chance to try the “Coin Couch”  made from thousands of quarters by the local artist  Johnny Swing.  Really!  Settle your butt down and don’t worry, it’s actually comfortable and, of course, all the coins are “tails”.

 

Coin Couch, Newfane Café, Newfane Vt

Coin Couch, Newfane Café, Newfane Vt

 

Outside the Center

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Old Newfane Village Map, 2009

Beyond the village interesting explorations extend in every direction. Up the hill behind the general store lies the Newfane Cemetery. It is a poignant and peaceful spot which glows in the evening light. The West River can be seen from various points along both Route 30 and the River Road. Heading north Route 30 crosses the river before entering into Townsend.  Just before the bridge, a side road leads to a small cascade whose intensity varies depending the rain and run-off.  Newfane Hill is west of the village. There are lovely long views to the South at the Back Road, Newfane Hilltop of Newfane Hill Road and here also are the stone pillars that mark the location of Old Newfane Village. Even the whipping Post gets its own marker. When I was there last, 10 years ago, a sign carried a map of the old village, but things are overgrown and I didn’t find the sign on my visit last week. The remainder of the road is filled with rambling dirt backroad charm and, at the north end, small Kenny Pond offers the opportunity for a quick dip. The other day the water was surprisingly warm for this early in the season.

 

 

Newfane Village Cemetery, Newfane, Vermont

Newfane Village Cemetery, Newfane, Vermont

 

 

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Williamsville Covered Bridge

The Other Newfane’s
As is true of many New England towns, Newfane has a couple of separate and distinct villages. Both Williamsville and South Newfane are along the Dover Road,  south and west of Newfane’s center. Williamsville is notable for its 1870 covered bridge. I’ve always found it challenging to capture the bridge in unique ways, but last week I discovered nice back-lighting and captured some interesting perspectives from the edge of Rock River.

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South Newfane, Baptist Church

 

Newfane is full of New England charm. The Four Columns Inn described it as “the closest, authentic Vermont experience to New York or Boston” and although that claim might be debated, there is no question that Newfane is iconically New England and a great place for photographers to lose themselves

 

Baker Brook, Newfane, Vermont

Baker Brook, Newfane Vermont

 

 Jeff Newcomer
partridgebrookreflections.com

Posted in Forest, Historic, Historic Landmarks, Landscape, Newfane, Road Trip, Scenic New England, Scenic Roads, Scenic Travel, Vermont, Village Tagged , , , , , , |

Patience, Flexibility and the NE Landscape Photographer

New Hampshire has the shortest coastline of any U.S. state. I decided to try to shoot a compelling image for every mile. It’s a great project. In 18 miles (sometimes say as low as 14) we have jettys, inlets, harbors, rocky coastlines, sandy beaches, boardwalks and more. After some bargaining at home, I got a half-day pass to go shoot the project last Saturday. What could be better than free time to go shoot on the coast? I was psyched.

Jenness Beach Blue Hour

Jenness Beach Blue Hour

Online, the weather looked good for my adventure. Saturday morning rolled around and the sky at home in Henniker (an hour inland) was wonderful – blue, lots of wispy clouds – good daytime shooting conditions for landscapes. As I drove to the beach my heart sunk as slowly all clouds disappeared and the sky turned a mid-summers bland, overcast grey.

I planned to begin shooting at Hampton Beach State Park at the southern border of the state and work my way north. Arriving at the park I was less than excited to find it overcrowded, the sky boring and bland, and the ocean almost totally flat. Not good conditions at all for my cool project. I knew I would need interesting skies and a nice swell to really make the project sing. After a few minutes debate I decided to shelve my 18-mile plan for the day, wander the coast attentively, and see if I could wander into some good conditions and images.

Driving north I passed through the Hampton Beach boardwalk area – usually a fun place to shoot street and people images . . . but I was just not in the mood. I wanted something of the sea. Driving along The Wall in Hampton I noticed a group of surfers hanging out at 12th Street. The ocean was almost totally flat 2 miles down the road, but this stretch of beach is known for its ability to amplify the tiniest swell. I pulled over to check it out.

Longboarder with dreadlocks surfs small wave

Longboarder with dreadlocks surfs small wave

Score. A small but clean long-period swell was filling in. Several long boarders were just getting in the water as I wandered down to the beach. Hey, these guys (and one gal) were good. Very good. Some of the most stylish log riders I’ve ever seen on east coast. They were walking to the front of the board and hanging five and ten toes off the nose. It was a pleasure to watch them ride, and a relief to find something fun to shoot.

Surfer on a longboard hangs five, then 10!

Surfer on a longboard hangs five, then 10!

Surfer on a longboard hangs five, then 10!

Surfer on a longboard hangs five, then 10!

Surfer on a longboard hangs five, then 10!

Surfer on a longboard hangs five, then 10!

Surfer on a longboard hangs five, then 10!

Surfer on a longboard hangs five, then 10!

After an hour or so it was time to move on. It was close to six pm and I wanted some food. The Beach Plum was just up the road. They are known for a killer lobster roll, and I had to stop for a while. Yum. Next, I headed north and try to find a good location to shoot sunset.

A delicious lobster roll from coastal NH

A delicious lobster roll from coastal NH

The sky was still cloudless and bland, but I hoped to catch something before heading back home. I drove past Rye on the Rocks and through a crowded Jenness Beach parking lot.  I wandered north almost to Wallis Sands, then noticed the sun was getting low. I turned back south and stopped for a few minutes at Rye Harbor. I was amazed how low the water was. Low tide was still an hour away, timed almost exactly with sunset. I shot a couple frames but was not excited about the spot.

A dingy in Rye Harbor

A dingy in Rye Harbor

A sunstar shines over the breakwater in Rye Harbor

A sunstar shines over the breakwater in Rye Harbor

I had to make a decision where to set up for sunset. Then I remembered Jenness has a great grouping of zen-pool-like rocks that only show up at low tide. The sky was starting to show a little color as I pulled back in to a now-empty Jenness Beach parking lot. The sun had passed below the tree line, but the sky was turning a beautiful pink. The wet low-tide sand was reflecting all that color. I grabbed my bag and tripod and headed for the waterline.

I spent the next hour shooting this beautiful rock garden and ocean as all light slowly left the sky. In the end, with some patience and flexibility I found what I was looking for – some great images, shot at a beautiful beach, and the quiet time to enjoy making them – and even squeaked out a blog post too. Enjoy!

Jenness Beach blue hour images

Jenness Beach blue hour images

Jenness Beach Blue Hour

Jenness Beach Blue Hour

Jenness Beach blue hour images

Jenness Beach blue hour images

Jenness Beach Blue Hour

Jenness Beach Blue Hour

~Scott Snyder
My Guild Gallery

www.scottsnyderphotography.com

https://www.facebook.com/scottsnyderphotography

Posted in Artistic Vision, Beach Photography, Blue Hour, Landscape, New Hampshire, New Hampshire, Scenic New England, Seascapes, Summer Tagged , |

Creating HDR images in Infrared

My process for merging Infrared (IR) HDR images

Infrared of Marblehead MAInfrared (IR) is a big subject and can be achieved by software, filters, conversions and infrared film (you still have your film camera, right?). This article is all about my process for Infrared with a converted for IR, Canon 1DMK II camera. It’s also about my attempts to merge my love of HDR with IR.

If your head didn’t explode when I mentioned HDR and Infrared then read on.

Why I chose conversion and our main options

Option 1 – I still have a Canon film camera and I could get 35mm IR film ($9 + S&H from B&H photo) and then I think I have a red 50mm filter that might work. Cheap solution, workable.

Option 2 –  A true IR filter which looks opaque to us starts around $39 and on the high end at B&H you will hit $834.

Option 3 – As a software plugin/program, I’ve not seen a really good result from software only IR simulations so I won’t go there…

Option 4 – Conversion – It was a simple decision for me since I had fallen on slippery rocks while getting a good vantage point of a harbor seal and while tougher then you would think, my MK II suffered a small scratch to the sensor (only noticeable when doing HDR which I love to do). In talking to LifePixel who did my conversion, they told me the conversion process would pull the IR blocking filter but also would mean changing the sensor. (Problem solved)

I choose the enhanced color sensor which permits really good B&W images and color images that are also pleasing in the options available. To see the different options, see LifePixel’s site for the different color choices.

The major benefit of conversion is, I can operate the camera as I would normally. Auto focus works as well as metering so my work-flow is about the same as before.  I like the option of being able to use a tripod, not having to use it, since with an opaque IR filter, the exposure times can run from a few minutes to 20 minutes and there is no way to hand hold a camera for that length of time.

The big downside is the $350 cost of conversion and I had to send them a single lens that would be the primary lens on the IR camera. This is so the sensor is set up for a sharp focus but only with this one lens.

My HDR/IR process

I’ve not found a straightforward checklist to follow. Mostly this is because; a lot of what you do depends on your method of capture and process. Once you get used to the process, I think most of this is just a matter of trying different options and seeing what you get. (Note sometimes nothing works, so chalk it up to experience)

First, I’ve created and attached a PDF checklist with links on how I do my standard infrared process and you can click on this link for my Infrared process checklist. If you don’t have Adobe reader, then click here, to download the free reader.

Second, if you don’t have a color conversion camera, you can probably stop at the white balance. But! I suggest you look at the steps for “levels adjustment” and even the “hue/saturation adjustment” in the checklist. These two techniques will improve most images by giving them depth and you can tone the image (add color to a straight B&W image).

Third YES! much of this requires Photoshop and a basic knowledge of the adjustments and how layers work. This is not a tutorial on how to work in Photoshop. If you need that, please leave requests for that in the comments!

For my HDR images I have the camera do a 3 shot bracket that is 2 stops plus or minus and I find that when I do this with IR, it sometimes turns out dark. So I will over-expose on the +2 side of the scale, Just a little (As always play with it because all cameras will react differently)

I was out with Guild member, Jeff Newcomer and he was showing me around his part of New Hampshire. We were at the edge of a glade and it was trying to rain (not the best time for IR). Bright sun might have given better results but what the heck, we’re playing right?

Here are my three bracketed shots that are unchanged as taken from the camera.

Now before I combine them I’m going to put each one through my entire checklist (see the PDF) and before you say it, this means three times the work. I’m changing a lot about the tonality of each image but I’m trying to keep the light scale by not balancing either of the darker or lighter images to look more like the balanced one.

After going through the channel mixer and levels adjustment, I have these results.

Now I’m not going into how-to on HDR except to say that I use the NIK/Google HDR pro. My feeling is there is no right or wrong settings, only those that you like the results of or not. This first image is from the factory setting of soft but I made changes to the structure and contrast. (upping both)

infrared

A creative setting which enhances the feeling of the image

The second image is straight from one of the deep settings and I like the blue in the sky but it was more gray and there is a slight magenta cast that may or not be seen in this blog image.

infrared

A different hdr setting for deeper tonalities

The third version is the same image as above taken back into Photoshop and I added a hue/Saturation adjustment layer. I clicked the selection from master (the entire image) to just the blues in the image and then toned down the blue in the sky. Then I selected the magenta part and adjusted the temperature and reduced the redness in the trees.

infrared

I think this one works nice

If you have questions I will try to answer all questions in the comments. If you are stumped I will try to get you un-stumped. (:-) that’s what a 4×4 is for)  If you have a suggestion as to what works for you and is way different from here, then let me know and I’ll try it out.

If you want to see more of my New England Infrared images, check out my website by clicking the link.

Jeff Folger

View my New England gallery on Vistaphotography

For those who love fall foliage, check Jeff-Foliage.com

And I’m on these social networks:

Posted in Camera Equipment, Camera Operation, Filters, HDR, Infrared, Scenic New England Tagged , , , , , |

Celestial Lights

I’ve never viewed myself as a landscape photographer. I do have photos of perhaps a dozen covered bridges, and 10 of them have been published. None of them, however, are traditional calendar material. I have photographed perhaps four lighthouses, only one of which is on the ocean. But the other three lighthouses are on my “Published Photos” web pages. If you click these words describing the photo below of the Milky Way over Cape Neddick Light (“Nubble Light”) you will be taken to a version you can zoom into and pan around. You might even be able to spot the snowy owl sitting on the rocks near the lighthouse that I saw about 8 hours previously.

Milky Way over Cape Neddick Light

Milky Way over Cape Neddick Light

I like to photograph almost anything, perhaps mostly people and nature/wildlife, and I rarely plan. I guess I have more of a photojournalistic style in most of what I photograph. I’m basically an opportunist, who gets lucky by being out in the world a lot.

My Planning

Most often I get a special photo by exploring the world rather than traveling to iconic spots to get a beautiful photo that is similar and likely inferior to many beautiful photos others have taken. Only a few of the photos here were “planned,” and even for the planned photos, the planning was minimal.

For the photo above the planning happened a few hours earlier when I decided to head to a nice spot just in case I might find something good. I took my one trip to the coast the winter of 2014 to try my hand at the snowy owls. Late in the day I realized I needed a place to sleep for the night. “Hey, why not head up to York—haven’t been there for years—and maybe I’ll find something to photograph.” I woke up in the middle of the night and headed to Nubble – a place I was at once or twice back in the film days.

Getting Lucky

Most of my photos are the result of “getting lucky.” But the way one gets lucky is to spend a lot of time in places where luck might happen. “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

My day and night sky photos are no different. Few were planned; many were lucky. Here are some examples of the Celestial Lights you might photograph if you look upward and are prepared. I have included many links for those who might want to see more and maybe learn by seeing photos of others – a great way to learn in my opinion, if you also photograph your own vision rather than copy. Click on the highlighted words throughout this article to get to more photos and details that might interest or motivate you.

The Moon

The moon is a popular subject for many. I’ve taken my share of moon photos, but I don’t recall any with an ocean lighthouse or covered bridge. Maybe some time I will plan one. I did write a two-part article with tips on photographing the moon.

Milky Way 

Grand Canyon Milky Way

Milky Way at Love Nest Camp

The Milky Way is getting easier and easier to photograph with the very sensitive, low noise, current generation digital cameras and many apps that let you PLAN your shots. But few of my Milky Way photos have been planned. Some of my favorites were made during an 18-day trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon on wooden dories. One of my favorites is to the right. I managed to get it without my full-frame camera and fast lens.

The photo above was taken near the end of this fantastic trip with O.A.R.S. at a camp often called “Love Nest”. I took multiple shots to get the Milky Way and then another exposure for the camp fire. Conditions were great because this was late October, so the sun set early and I could get to bed under the stars without a tent at a very reasonable hour. I’m a morning person. This photo was shot at 7:34 pm, pretty close to my bedtime, especially after a long and exciting day on the river.

One of my really getting lucky shots was when I decided to head out on Lake Sunapee in the middle of the night to try a panorama of the Milky Way. I got it, but I also got something quite unexpected—the Northern Lights in the images when I swung to the north as seen in the photo below.

Lake Sunapee

Northern Lights and Milky Way

One time with only a few hours of “planning” I made a time-lapse of the Milky Way moving on a partly cloudy night. (If you haven’t figured it out yet, click the highlighted words it the preceding sentence to see the time-lapse.)

Rainbows

Rainbows are another classic subject. Unlike the other Celestial Lights that are described below, rainbows and glories are seen with your back to the sun. They are centered around the antisolar point, a point directly opposite the sun through your head.  Rainbows are seen along an arc 42 degrees from the antisolar point.  Therefore, they can only be seen when the sun is fairly low in the sky.  At midday the rainbow is below the horizon.

Rainbows are rarely anticipated but much appreciated when they happen. Here are four, one when I was in the White Mountains to photograph birds, one when a neighbor alerted me to one over a New Hampshire lake we were staying on, one from St John, USVI, and finally one from a hilltop in the Hanover, NH area. All but the first of these (with the White Mountains in the background) were 4 to 7 shot panoramas.

AC0082-Rainbow-over-Jefferson,-NH-.jpgDX163--Double-Rainbow-and-Great-Island--Pan-(4).jpgEB087--Rainbow-over-Coral-Bay---Pan-(7).jpgDW012--Double-Rainbow-in-Yard---Pan-(5).jpg

Glory

Glories are most frequently seen from an airplane on the clouds below. A glory involves refraction, reflections,  and diffraction — they all get into the act. But no matter. It pays to occasionally look for them when flying in the sun over a cloud layer — and have a camera handy. I photographed the glory below over the Atlantic returning from my first trip to Nepal.

Glory over the Atlantic

Glory over the Atlantic

 

Sun Pillars

Hexagonal plates of ice crystals falling like leaves in the sky reflect light from the sun and form a sun pillar, vertically above or below the sun. If this happens at sunset, as in this photo looking across Vermont, the sun pillar can be colorful. The peak on the left is Mount Ascutney.

Sun Pillar over Vermont from New Hampshire

Sun Pillar over Vermont

Sun Dogs

A Sun Dog is a “parhelion,” a colored, luminous spot on either or both sides of the sun formed by refraction through hexagonal ice crystal plates falling with their long axes vertical. I photographed a pair shortly after sunrise when I rode my mountain bike into Cherry Pond at the Pondicherry NWR in NH.

Sun Dogs over Cherry Pond at Pondicherry NWR

Sun Dogs over Cherry Pond

Arcs and Halos

Arcs and Halos are also caused by sunlight refracting off ice crystals in the sky. The pair of images below was taken around noon in Arizona. The top image shows both a Circumhorizontal Arc and 22-degree Halo above it. The bottom photo shows a Circumhorizontal Arc. This amazing light show lasted for an hour.

Circumhorizontal Arc and 22 degree Halo at noon

Circumhorizontal Arc and 22 degree Halo

Circumhorizontal Arc at noon

Circumhorizontal Arc

THIS PAGE has more photos from the Arizona light show as well as sun dogs and arcs from here in New Hampshire.

Crepuscular Rays

Crepuscular Rays, sometimes called “god beams,” are alternating light and dark bands of rays and shadows caused by clouds intercepting sunlight. They appear to diverge in a fanlike array from the sun’s position. Below is a pair of images. The first is from New Hampshire. The second shows crepuscular-like rays over mountain peaks in the Khumbu region of Nepal. I did not discover until I wrote this piece that a nearly identical photo, taken 8 years earlier than mine, was published in an excellent book by Tim Herd that describes Celestial Lights in intricate detail. This photo was taken the first morning of a trek from Lukla to Phaplu.  Along the way we delivered 200 pounds of fleece jackets to school children. This is the region hit hard by the second recent strong earthquake.

Crepuscular rays over NH

Crepuscular rays over NH

Sun flares at sunrise

Sunrise from Lukla, Nepal

Sun Star

Sun stars are caused by the bending of light (diffraction) around the edges of your lens’ diaphragm (aperture). For the same reason that lenses are less sharp at f/22 than at intermediate apertures, sun stars are best created using small apertures, which means large f/numbers and wide angle lenses. The smaller the “hole” the more edge there is and the more diffraction there is. Sun stars are often best when the sun just peeks through a small opening or around a corner, as in the photo below taken shortly after the rays in the photo above morphed into a partial sun star. The second image below from NH had the sun fully in the photo.

Sun Star from Lukla

Sun Star in Nepal

winter sun  star

Sun Star in New Hampshire

Transit of Venus

Another mostly unplanned series of photos were made June 5, 2012. I knew this Celestial Light show was happening for the only time in the remainder of my life – Venus crossing in front of the sun. People who planned had a very dark filter to cover their lenses to protect their eyes. My friend did. He was well prepared, but it rained at his location and he only got a few not-so-great images. I got lucky when clouds moved across the sun just at the right time to get some shots without going blind. Below is one. Venus is the tiny dot in front of the sun near the top. The other smaller spots are sun spots, not dust on my lens.

Transit of Venus

Transit of Venus

A Puzzle for You

Here is a photo I took around 8 AM while waiting to board a flight from the amazing airport in Lukla (9,200 ft) for a flight to Kathmandu, Nepal. The shadow you see on the clouds is clearly from the mountains. But the sun is behind the mountains. How can this be? There is only one obviously correct answer.

Shadow of Thamserku on the clouds

Shadow on the clouds

~ Jim Block

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Posted in Moon, Sky, Sun Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |