Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mid-Summer's Milky Way

I haven't taken many photos of the night sky in my time as a photographer as the times are limited which I have to do such things.  It usually requires summer, lots of bug spray, getting the kids to bed at a decent hour, and finally trying to wake up to an alarm at two o'clock in the morning.  Usually it doesn't work out.  On top of all of that, I have to have a place to shoot, cloudless skies, preferably no moon, and if I am lucky little wind.  All of this usually has to take place when I visit the Sandhills since I am probably not going to drive an additional hour on top of all the stuff mentioned before to get out of the city lights.  When I get the chance, I try to take it.  

Earlier this year, I attempted to shoot the night sky in late December.  It was ridiculously cold and being a novice at night photography it took quite a bit of trial and error.  I didn't get much in the way of usable photos from that experience, but did get some knowledge of what I needed to do.  

Mid-June, I photographed a wedding and on the way home decided to try my hand at the Milky Way again.  This time, I was armed with knowledge and bug spray.  I stopped on a country road knowing that I wouldn't need to worry about other cars due to the time of night and set up for a series of 30 second exposures.  I used my old Tokina 12-24mm for these photos at f/4.  The Tokina is pretty sharp at f/4 and does a good job on the night sky.  Ideally, a f/2.8 or faster lens is best for astrophotography, but this one did just fine.  Not having the moon in the sky, it was easy to see where the Milky Way crossed the sky, but the tough part was getting the camera level and having the horizon line where it needed to be.  There were about three test shots for every good shot that came out of the night.  Since there wasn't a shred of light illuminating the ground, I used the flashlight from my cellphone to light paint the grasses in the foreground.  It did a pretty good job helping me give the photo some depth.

I have seen numerous photos arranged in a panorama across the sky showing off the Milky Way as it crossed the night.  I decided to attempt this with 7 vertical shots to get as much of the sky as I could.  I am happy with how it turned out, but I know for the next time that I probably need to take about 14 shots instead to make it work best.  In addition, I am armed with a new beautiful lens with night photography in mind. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Bob

During a recent Nebraska Photographers Network outing, we stopped by the Bob Kerry Pedestrian bridge for a couple photos.  Being from Omaha, it was sad that this was the first time I had ever visited the bridge.  I have seen many photographs of the bridge, but had none of my own.  While many people were on the bridge capturing the sights from above, I was more interested at the belly of the beast.  I decided to stay down and capture the sky above and create some long exposures with the Missouri River traveling underneath.  There wasn't much of a sunset since it was such a clear day and night, but there was a big moon.  Here are a couple shots of The Bob.

Day Time Filter Painting

Trying something I have been wanting to for a while, I took the camera, lens, and a 10 stop filter to the lake to try my hand at filter painting in the day time.  While I didn't get as much blur as I thought I would, I did get some very interesting cloud movements.  The wind was really blowing this day and the high level clouds were moving in a different direction than their lower counterparts.  Made for an interesting shoot.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Canadian Wildfires

I have been reading about the Canadian Wildfires and it appears that there is no end in sight for the trouble and struggles they are going through up there.  We have seen many of the after effects with many days of sub par air quality due to the jet stream bringing the smoke into our area.  One of the only positives I can think of that has come from the fires is the amazing sunsets we have been receiving here at home.  I have compiled a couple of photos from the past couple of weeks to document the smoke and haze which has invaded the area.

The photos below were taken with a variety of lenses and circumstances.  Some were taken during a very smokey day, while other were taken with just a hint of it on the horizon.  I have tried my best to document the beauty the sky has brought, but remember the situation that those to our north are dealing with.  May they receive relief soon.

To view more photos from the amazing sunsets this situation has brought us, visit my website at