Archive for May, 2012

Winging It Through the Eclipse

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
Annular eclipse sequence, Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic NP, CA

Annular eclipse sequence, Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic NP, CA

Right after the annular solar eclipse on May 20th I went to the Google+ Photographers Conference in San Francisco. This was a really fun event—more about that later. But I mention this because I got involved in the conference, and then had a computer problem, and didn’t have a chance to look at my eclipse photos, much less process them, until now. So here, finally, is a photograph showing an eclipse sequence.

I felt completely unprepared for this eclipse. I’ve never photographed a solar eclipse before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t have a solar filter, and I wasn’t sure whether I could even photograph the eclipse without one. I’d read some dire warnings that photographing the eclipse without a solar filter could ruin your camera’s sensor, but this didn’t make sense to me. I’ve included the sun in hundreds of photographs and never had a problem. Exposures are short, and when the shutter is closed the light bounces off the camera’s mirror, up through the prism, and out through the back of the viewfinder. Staring through the viewfinder at the sun is not a good idea, just as it’s not a good idea to stare directly at the sun. But we have a natural defense mechanism for this known as pain: it hurts to look at the sun.

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Lunar Rainbow Images, and the Upcoming Annular Eclipse

Thursday, May 17th, 2012
Photographers under the lunar rainbow in Cook's Meadow, May 5th

Photographers under the lunar rainbow in Cook's Meadow, May 5th

I hope that saying, “Better late than never” is true—at least this time! I’ve been really busy the since the full moon, but here, finally, are some photos of the lunar rainbow from May 4th and 5th.

Large numbers of photographers headed to Yosemite Valley that weekend to photograph dogwoods and the lunar rainbow. At times I joined four or five photographers pointing lenses at the same dogwood, and there were at least 200 people in Cook’s Meadow on Saturday evening (May 5th) watching and photographing the lunar rainbow. The photo at the top of this posts shows the moonbow and some of those attempting to photograph it.

The previous night my friend Jon McCormack and I grunted up the Yosemite Falls trail to a spot with a profile view of the upper fall. I’d photographed a lunar rainbow from this spot in 1996, but back then I didn’t have a wide enough lens on my Mamiya 645 to include Half Dome and the whole waterfall, so I thought it was time to try it again.

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Lunar Rainbow Season, and a Dogwood Update

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
Upper Yosemite Fall through the mist, last Thursday afternoon

Upper Yosemite Fall through the mist, last Thursday afternoon

The moon will be full this weekend—on May 5th, at 8:36 p.m. to be precise. So that means I’ve been getting lots of questions about photographing lunar rainbows. First, the best way to find out where and when to photograph Yosemite’s lunar rainbows is astronomer Don Olson’s web site. Don and his team have figured out precise viewing times for lunar rainbows from the Lower Yosemite Fall bridge, and from Cook’s Meadow for Upper Yosemite Fall.

Temperatures are forecast to be relatively cool this weekend, which means that snow won’t be melting at a high rate, and water flow and spray will probably be below average for early May. The moonbow should be visible on the upper fall from Cook’s Meadow, but it won’t spread as wide as it did last year, nor will it be visible as long. For the lower fall, less spray is good (up to a point), because it’s easier to keep water drops off the lens from this often-damp location. I’m sure there will still be spray at the bridge below the lower fall, but it might be manageable. Whether you go to Cook’s Meadow or the Lower Yosemite Fall bridge you’ll have to share the spot with many other photographers—but there’s less room at the bridge.

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