Monthly Archives: October 2013

Halloween Becky

Halloween Becky

How could I *not* do something in honor of one of my favorite holidays?

I used to work at the Texas Renaissance Festival, and while working there, I purchased this totally cool handmade leather witch hat that I only get to wear once a year (along with the jack-o-lantern shirt).  The light strand is one of several that my sister gave to me; it’s been adorning one of my bookcases in the living room as the strand make a great nightlight.

So I set up the camera and 85mm lens on a tripod.  I turned off all the lights.  I used a small flashlight that I held below and to the side of me to give my face a little light with some deep shadows.  My wireless remote captured all of this.  The finishing touches to the photo were some vignetting and the text (in “Chiller” font).

Happy Halloween, Everybody!

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Filed under Halloween, Holidays, Photography

What’s In My Gear Bag

Across The Pond To Acadia

Click on the photo above to get to my latest published article on the National Parks Traveler website.  It’s a Q&A session.

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Filed under Equipment, National Parks, Photography, Travel

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine

The View Southeast

Almost to the top – had to stop to catch a view looking southeast.

Summit View Of The Southeast

Looking to the southeast

A Cadillac Mt View Of Bar Harbor

Looking down toward Bar Harbor

At The Top

The summit has some amazingly beautiful views, no matter which way you look.

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Filed under Photography

Sunrise At The Refuge

Road To The Sunrise

I was going through photography withdrawal, having not taken a picture of anything since my return from my Maine trip .   It’s been 3-4 months since I last visited the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge in my part of southeast Texas,  so I thought that would be a worthwhile thing to do over the weekend (now that the government shutdown is over and the refuge is open again).

The Beginning Of Sunrise

So I got up Saturday morning (Oct 26) at 5:11AM and was out the door by about 5:45AM.  I arrived at the entrance gate, parked my car, and waited in the dark.  The sign says the gate opens at “dawn’” and closes at “dusk” (whatever hours constitute dawn and dusk times is anybody’s guess).

At 7AM, I heard the rumbling of the gate as it automatically opened up.  So now know – 7AM is dawn.

As I sat there, watching the distant horizon turn from indigo to a deep pink-orange while deep blue clouds drifted past, I kept thinking jeez – I’m missing some good photo ops.  Luckily the gate opened up with time for me to get to the spot I wanted.

Once I got there, though, I was a little unimpressed.  Nonetheless, I affixed the polarizer to my lens because I wanted to saturate the colors.  I also used a graduated ND filter because the area below the horizon was naturally darker than the area above the horizon.  Aperture was set at either f7.1 or (in those instances when I wanted to try and achieve a sunburst) f22.  ISO was 160 to 250 and I played around with the shutter speed, anywhere from 1/30 to 1 second (I shoot in Manual mode).

I took a few shots (the ones above) then proceeded to take the camera off the tripod.

I happened to look back toward the horizon to see the clouds lined with a brilliant golden-yellow and sunrays reaching past the cloud blockade.

A Golden Burst

Camera went back on tripod.

Ball of Fire

A Burst Of Color

Brilliance

Not a bad way to start a Saturday morning.

Here’s a link to the video I uploaded to YouTube of my morning visit to the refuge.  I mention in my video commentary that it’s winter.  It’s still fall, but here in southeast Texas, the two seasons are interchangeable.  And while you may not see much birdlife, you can hear it in the background, along with the crickets and the wind.

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Filed under Brazoria NWR, Clouds, Photography, sunrise, Texas, Wildlife Refuge

Star Light, Star Bright on Mt. Desert Island, Maine

Pointing The Way To The Milky Way

During my first night sleeping in my Bass Harbor rental cottage, I awoke at about 2AM and looked up through the skylight windows above the bed.  I was not wearing my glasses and could see these bright little blobs against the black background of the night.  After clearing my vision with the application of glasses, I saw those “blobs” were brilliant twinkling stars.

I had never seen the stars so bright – definitely not in my part of southeast Texas.

So I made a note to set the alarm clock for 1AM each morning.  If I woke up and saw the stars through the skylight windows, then I would dress, grab camera and gear and drive over to the seawall (about 2 or 3 miles away) to set up tripod and work on my night photography.

The Road To The Night Sky

The road to the stars.  Looking back from whence I came.  I was pointing the camera toward the seawall side of the road.

A Sea Of Stars

A sea of stars.  That bright red light is a blinking buoy.

Early Morning Stars

Early morning stars.  The first night I took photos, they turned out horribly because I didn’t have the manual focus set correctly (and you need to focus manually).  So the one image with the Northern Lights in it failed to turn out.  On this night, I managed much better, but I think that yellow glow in the distance may be from one of the little towns and not the Northern Lights.  I think I missed my chance at that for the remainder of the week.

Next time…….

And for those of you interested in knowing how I achieved these photos:

  • I switched from auto focus to Manual Focus and made sure the focus was set to infinity – well, on my Canon lenses, that means I needed to set the focus line on the lens to a teeny bit before infinity.  When I rotated the focus ring allll the way over to (and beyond) infinity, the photo was horribly blurred, which is why I messed up the one shot I took with the Northern Lights in it (sigh).
  • I played around with ISO settings, which ranged anywhere from 3000 to 6400
  • I also played around with the shutter speed setting, which ranged from between 20 seconds to 30 seconds
  • The f-stop, I played around with too and it ranged from 2.8 to 3.2

And of course, this was all on a tripod.

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Filed under Maine, Night Photography, Photography, Star Photography, Travel

Bar Harbor from Above

Over Bar Harbor

My previous post showed you an aerial photo of Bass Harbor, which is at the bottom of Mount Desert Island.  This image is of Bar Harbor, where all the action is.  I was told by a Friends of Acadia staff member that as many as 4 cruise ships may pass through the area, depositing at least 5000 cruisers on the shores of this neat little town filled with cafes, restaurants, galleries and shops.

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Filed under aerial photography, Maine, Photography, Travel

Bass Harbor, Maine, From Above

Bass Harbor From Above

Because Acadia National Park was closed during the time I visited Mount Desert Island, Maine (thank you, $%##@! government shutdown), I worked on finding alternate avenues for exploring that park.

One of my avenues was to take an open cockpit biplane tour (read my National Parks Traveler article about that trip) with Acadia Air.

During that fun plane ride, I saw more than just Acadia NP.  I also saw – for instance – Bass Harbor from above.  I was staying for a week in Bass Harbor, in a little rental cottage near the waterfront.

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Filed under aerial photography, Maine, Photography, Travel

Acadia National Park…..By Biplane

The National Parks Traveler has followed up my previous kayaking article with my article I wrote regarding photography of Acadia National Park from a biplane.  Click on this  link to get to the article where I not only tell my story and have aerial photos of one of the shut down parks, but I also impart  advice on aerial photography should any of you out there ever take a flightseeing tour of an area.

Becky And The St. Augustine

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Filed under Acadia National Park, aerial photography, Equipment, Maine, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Vacation

Notes From The Field: Photographic Advice For A Mount Desert Island, Maine, Kayak Tour

Becky And Her Kayak

Hi Everybody!  I just returned from a week’s vacation on Mount Desert Island, Maine.  I had an amazing time, despite the %$@##!! government shutdown.

Since I tend to plan my vacations around national parks so I have possible photographic and writing material for the National Parks Traveler, I wrote up an article about a sea kayak tour I took with the hopes of seeing Acadia National Park from that vantage point.

Here is the link to get to that article.

By the way, the Traveler is having a membership drive.  You should go check them out.  There are always timely articles about the national parks (by that, I mean other articles in addition to my own wonderful contributions – grin) and a number of agencies have ads for discounts, etc on this site.  Might help you plan your own trip to a national park (when the shutdown ends, that is – or, at least to a national park in Utah, where state funds are paying for the parks’ maintenance).

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Filed under Acadia National Park, Equipment, Landscape, Maine, National Parks, Parks, Photography, Travel

My 15 Minutes Of Fame: An Email Interview With CNN

This morning, I am in Bar Harbor, Maine.

As you know, I contribute to a monthly Photography In The Parks column on the National Parks Traveler website.  Because of this, most (if not all) of my vacations from my day job are centered around trips to national parks.

About three months ago, I purchased a plane ticket to Maine, paid for a rental cottage in Bar Harbor, pre-paid for a rental car (a Toyota Avalon, which is pretty darned nice, as they bumped me up to mid-size rather than economy at no extra charge), and made preparations to spend my days visiting Acadia National Park.

As you know, the shutdown has caused havoc with the national parks.

I was perusing the items on my Facebook Page – one of the pages I like is CNN.  One of their posts announced they were looking for people to email them with changes they had made to their vacation / wedding / other plans regarding a visit to a national park.  I was at the airport in Houston and I typed an email out on my phone and sent it off to CNN.

Lo and behold, as I was sitting on the plane waiting for it to finish loading and get ready for take-off, I received an answer back from CNN wanting to hold an email interview and asking me to answer some questions for them.  So, I did – all before the plane left the ground.  And CNN printed part of my interview, along with others they interviewed.

Here’s the link.  I’m the photographer mentioned regarding Acadia National Park.

My 15 minutes of fame.

😀

P.S.  Stay tuned for photos from Maine

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Filed under Maine, Photography, Travel, Vacation