Lunar Eclipse on the Solstice

Total Lunar Eclipse Alaska

Lunar Eclipse- f/8 1/100 sec ISO 100

Many Alaskans braved temperatures pushing -35 F on Monday to watch an incredibly rare astronomical event. We had a total lunar eclipse between 9:20 PM and Midnight on the Solstice or very near to it anyways. So not only was it the longest night of the year, but it also was pushed into further darkness by the blocking out of the Moon!

I put this composite together from two images I took of the eclipse from around 9:50 PM

Alaska Lunar Eclipse

Lunar eclipse on the solstice- f/4.5 30.0 sec. ISO 100

Funny Juggler

I just recently received a request for some of my 2010 Tanana Valley State Fair photos. On one of my visits to the fair this year I was lucky enough to see Paul Isaak’s juggling skit. It was evening and the sunset that night was particularly spectacular so I decided that a few photos during his fire juggling skit might come out quite nice.

funny juggler Paul Isaac at 2010 TVSFIt was difficult to get both the detail on Paul’s face and clothes as he was back lit. I also did not want to use flash as this would have ruined to feeling to the photographs. The answer presented itself when Paul lit up his juggling stick and the flame lit is face and body quite well. I was still hand holding the camera without an image stabilized lens so getting the proper exposure was more difficult requiring me to bump my ISO to 800. On my Canon 20D an ISO of 800 produces a photo with a fair amount of noise. So these photos are only suitable for smaller prints and web use.

funny juggler Paul Isaac at 2010 TVSF

Northern Lights Photography

I am still new to the art of northern lights photography. I have done a fair amount of work with long exposure photography and know that there are many challenges that must be overcome including camera shake, long exposure noise, unexpected lighting, to name a few, but these are compounded when dealing with the northern lights.

Fairbanks in the winter

Not only are you shooting in low light, making composition difficult, but to add to the difficulty you are often shooting in very cold temperatures often bellow zero, possibly windy, and who knows if the darn things are going to be out anyways right? This link to the UAF geophysical institute on aurora forecasting may help in that department.

Another thing to consider is that strange circle you get in the center of your images when you get home. If you look closely you may be able to see them in the photo bellow.

Northern Lights in Livengood mining camp

Northern Lights in Livengood- f/4.5 159/sec ISO 100

corp of concentric rings

Crop showing concentric rings

These rings are caused by something called the Fabry-Perot interferometer effect which you can ask Harry Manos more about. But the gist is that the color spectrum of green or oxygen in the aurora interferes with the parallel planes of the lens filter. In the end the best thing to do is to just shoot without your UV filter on.

Speaking of lenses and filters, you really need to shoot with wide lenses in the 24mm and lower range in order to capture as much of the sky as possible. Not only will a wide lens help but the faster the lens the better, something in the f/2.8 or lower range for best results in “freezing” the movement of the aurora so you don’t get washed out green skies like in the photo above.

For a more in depth tutorial from a very experienced aurora photographer visit Patrick Endres’s article with very useful tips and tricks. As for my photographs, lets hope that this winter affords me the time for some late night photo sessions!

First snowflakes

fall leaves floating on water

Leaves Floating on Water - f/20 1/5 sec ISO 100

Snow on handrail

Snow on Railing- f/3.5 1/40 sec ISO 100

Oct. 6th at 10:45 A.M. the first snowflakes fell at my house. Winter is truly here. Here are some images of this fall and the change in seasons we have been experiencing. Here’s to looking forward to a great winter. Which I heard on the radio today is going to be one of the strongest la ninas in 60 or so years meaning a cold dry winter for us interior Alaskans and a great ski year for those in Utah and Montana!

Earthquake

Well I deffinately felt that one this morning. According to the USGS a magnitude 5.4 earthquake hit around 100 or so miles north of Anchorage at about 4 a.m. They say animals can feel them coming and there is deffinately something to that because both my dogs were up making noise right before it hit. No damage that I know of yet and I slept the rest of the night just fine.

Downhill racing

downhill racing utah

Bountiful Bomber downhill bike race - f/8 1/800 sec ISO 400

Downhill racing has been a large part of my life the last few years in Utah. I competed in the Utah Downhill Race Series in 2008 and 2009. I did quite well in 2008 coming in first place for the sport division and bumping into semi-pro in 2009 riding a Giant Glory DH. I was not able to compete in all the series races unfortunately due to job scheduling and other adventures but I still feel I placed well coming in 4th-6th nearly every race.

The downhill racing is something I miss greatly living in Alaska now as that scene has not made as much of an impact on us northern folk (Canada excluded). Although I just heard that Anchorage recently held a downhill race at Alyeska this past month. This may be something to look into further down the line and perhaps some communication with moose mountain in Fairbanks to open up their slopes for trail development.

All that aside, I thought I would share this image of a downhill racer I took near the finish line at the 2008 Bountiful Bomber race in Utah. I unfortunately do not know the racers name (if anyone can inform me that would be great, give credit where credit is due!).

An old friend, Sunrise

sunrise on a lake in alaska

It’s that time of year in Alaska were you remember all the things you have forgotten, like a sunrise. I got up around 5 a.m. yesterday in the hopes that while dropping Meagan off at work I may be able to catch some of the early morning light. It worked out beautifully. Although we are not quite having freezes at night, around 6 a.m. while I was waiting for the sun to show the temperature was hovering around 36 degrees. Needles to say you can feel winter on its way. I had also hopped to see some dragonflies caught on the reeds by dew in the hopes that I could take some close up shots of them, but no matter where I looked I could not spot any insects. Strange as I was here the other day and the dragonflies and other insects were flying around with abandon.



Brooks Range, Alaska

I recently spent a week in the Brooks Range hiking, photographing, and animal watching. It was the first time I have been in the Brooks since 2003 when I spent a little under a month kayaking down the Marsh Fork of the Canning river to Brownlow Point on the Arctic Ocean. The drive up the haul road hasn’t changed much from what I remember although there are more pavement sections, but this doesn’t detract too much from the wildness that you feel out there.

Cathedral Peak in the sun

The arctic region is one of beauty and serenity. Not many places exist where you really do feel the extent and vastness of what surrounds you. The silence is only penetrated by the call of a migrating goose or perhaps the far off noise of a caribou foraging in the tundra.

I took only a handful of photos on the trip as most of the time was spent backpacking and I regretfully felt that a SLR was too much weight to take along. The lesson learned is that no matter how light you are trying to pack it is always necessary to have your camera close at hand. Carrying a nice zoom lens in the 20-135 mm range will greatly increase your likely hood of taking along your camera and can save you from a lot of regret later on when the light is just right and the wildlife could not be any better placed. Having just one lens will also keep your weight down and allow for less to think about while in the field.

Focusing on the light in the mountains and the changing sky was my primary focus, many of my shots from the trip are of darker skies looking onto sunny sloped mountains. The alyeska pipeline also provided a great foreground to compliment the natural lines of the many rivers like the Dietrich and Atigun.