A Plan and Coincidence

The Plan:  Last week I planned to shoot sunrise primarily to capture the moon set.  The weather cooperated though it was a little windy.  The location decided upon worked well for this time of year due to the position of the moon.  If photographed later in the summer, the moon would be too far to the right of the frame and even completely outside of the frame come late June when Summer officially arrives.  This position can be attained again in Autumn, but I have not used The Photographers Emphemeris to determined the exact date.

The Coincidence:  With a location decided upon and photographing the moon set the goal, I set out early in the morning.  The convenient coincidence is the path of the Palouse River.  Though the river snakes it way through the scene, one might assume it continues to snake in a similar manner below the bottom of the frame, especially with how the river bends.  However, the path of the river that comes in from the lower left hand side is only there during the early spring run-off.  I revisited previous photos I had taken in Summer and found that portion of the river is indeed dry, all but for a tiny pool.  The river actually runs in from the left side of the frame and makes a 90 degree turn, resulting in the meandering seen here.

Needless to say, I was pleased with the outcome, especially learning of the coincidence of the river flow aiding my pre-planned photographic idea.

Palouse River Moonset, Spring

Technical Details:  This photograph is the result of nine different exposures but 12 total files.  Three of the darkest exposures taken were further decreased by -2 exposure compensation in ACR.  The resulting 12 files were stitched, of which each image was a combination of four images (three HDR images of four files each were used) to capture highlight and shadow detail (4×3).  In short, it is a multi-stitch panorama HDR image.  The resulting stitch worked best as a 4×5 aspect ratio instead of 2×3; I had too much overlap on my panorama images.

Palouse Harvest Moon

I have many many pictures and posts to get caught up sharing my summer photographs.  I suppose I will begin catching up by sharing some more recent photographs.  Late September this year, the harvest moon gave me a couple good opportunities to photograph in the morning and evening.  Usually shooting a full moon rising or setting can be done on separate days, based mostly on when the sunrise/sunset is relative to moonset/moonrise, respectively.  Of course, depending on the subject, having the moon higher in the sky yet almost full would cause the photograph to be taken two or three days from the actual full moon.  Anyway, all these times can be understood by downloading The Photographer’s Ephemeris and studying the times around the full moon.

The most difficult aspect of moon photography is having the conditions cooperate.  There have been times I have wanted to shoot the moon in the morning or evening, only to be nullified by clouds.  Some clouds can be nice, but I prefer clearer skies leading to increased chances of capturing the moon how I have envisioned.  September 19, 2013 the moonset coincided nicely with sunrise, as did moonrise at sunset.  I thought it pretty unique capturing both events on the bookends of the day.

Technical Details:  Both shots were taken with a 70-200 f/4 + 1.4x Canon lens using a 3-stop soft Lee Graduated Neutral Density filter.  I decreased the saturation of the orange channel in ACR to help give the moon a more natural color.  Many channel masks were used in Photoshop (Tony Kuyper methods) to balance the contrast, luminosity, and saturation.

Moonset over Steptoe

Moonrise over Palouse River Canyon

Palouse Summer Thunderstorm

The decision was made to wake up for sunrise the last Saturday in June.  I never look forward to setting an alarm that starts with a 3 or 4 and ends in AM.  Nonetheless I pulled myself away from sleep well before sunrise.  I looked out toward the east and saw a perfectly clear sky–not the ideal conditions.  While having some breakfast I heard a rumble.  I knew there was a 30% chance of storms, but upon opening up the blinds and looking toward the west I saw an enormous cumulus.  A strike of lightning light the clouds, but they were already palely illuminating by dawn light.  My pace quickened!

I hadn’t allotted enough time to make it to a good viewpoint before sunrise but I knew where I wanted to go.  Driving frenetically but safely I reached the viewpoint as first light cast a reddish-orange hue on the towering clouds.  The quick pace did not subside but grew as I setup my gear.  It was quite a show:  color all around, lightning (at a safe distance) and an abundance of beauty.  If four cameras were arranged in the cardinal directions each one would have captured amazing images.

Palouse Thunderstorm Dawn

In an attempt to capture lightning in as many shots as possible I set the ISO to 50 and the f-stop to 16 (I did not want to go as small as 22).  I had decent success though luck was still a large factor.  Naturally as time progressed and the sun rose, my shutter speeds were getting shorter.  I still managed to capture lightning.  Also, I used a 2-stop reverse GND filter to capture these sunrise images.

Dawn Lightning

After the strong light had faded I drove to my original destination.  The intent of the morning was to scout some new locations.  As the morning progressed (just barely 6 AM at this point) the storm moved atop the Palouse.  The once magnificent clouds were now dark, stationary waves hanging low overhead.  Rain was imminent but not immediate.  I finally couldn’t take it any longer and stopped the car and took a few shots of the clouds.  This particular image is a three-shot handheld pano.  I was facing east so the sun, preparing to be blotted out, was casting early morning rays across the underside of the clouds.

Foreboding Clouds

I have photographed quite a few sunrises.  It will take quite some time for a sunrise experience to top this one!

Seven Devils Mountains, Idaho

I had a craving for the mountains. I also had a craving for camping. Fortunately my wife felt likewise. With numerous options within a relatively short drive, we decided on the Seven Devils in North Central Idaho. This would be my second time to visit this range. Prior to my backpacking trip last year I assiduously researched the terrain in and around these mountains. Using Google Earth I determined that the Forest Service road would come around a bend near the final destination and open up to a grand view of the mountains. After a few miles of climbing up a collection of switchbacks all the while being jarred by the washboard ride, the glimpses of canyons and mountains come into full view especially the Seven Devils being right in your face as you round the corner.

This time in the mountains was a little more casual. No backpacking was planned but “little” hikes here and there were enjoyed. We warmed up with a very short hike up to the Heaven’s Gate fire lookout. We had great views all around. We followed that up with a healthier hike to overlook Papoose Lake just north of the lookout. This hike had a little up and down but the saddle that overlooked the lake was quite nice. After making it back to the car and ultimately camp, we had some lunch and rested before the main attraction was tackled. I had planned to hike the climbers route from the Seven Devils lake campground to overlook Mirror Lake. While viewing the cirque from camp, I felt intimidated having lost my hiking legs a little. I also felt sorry for what I might be putting my wife through. After a mile and ~800ft of progress, we were atop the saddle preparing to view Mirror Lake. The trail was strenuous but not difficult. Going down was a little tricky with the scree along the trail, but the view (as always) was worth it.

Brianna overlooking Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake Detail

Of the two mornings I had an opportunity to shoot sunrise, I only shot the first morning. I was fairly satisfied with what I had. Shooting only with the 24 TS-E lens, I was playing around with shifting for panos. I also used a circular polarizer to help balance the reflection on the lake surface. It was a rejuvenating trip to the mountains with a handful of shots I was pleased with. My greatest pleasure was that my wife actually enjoyed the strenuous hike, especially with such a gorgeous view as a reward.

Dawn at Seven Devils Lake

Sunrise at Seven Devils Lake

Wildflowers at Heaven’s Gate