2019 Lunar Eclipse

The Lunar Eclipse, January 20, 2019.

The story behind the images.

I love astronomy and have tried to capture lunar eclipse images in the past.  This is my fourth shot at getting some good images and I'm starting to learn how to do it.  I went out with my pal John Pennoyer on the evening of the 20th of January.  Our strategy was to capture some Minneapolis skyline images to use as a background for the moon.  In our area, the eclipse began at 9:30pm and ended at about 2:00am on January 21st.  John and I started at Lake of the Isle for the skyline shots.  I also got an interesting shot of the moon reflecting off the ice (this was before the eclipse began).  The moon that night was a "super moon" and shows up well on the image.  I used a 150 - 600mm zoom lens at 150mm for this image.  

Once we had our base images, we spent some time scouting other spots.  The problem with this eclipse was the moon was way too high in the sky at the time the eclipse began.  This meant we would have to use very wide angle lenses to capture the moon and any foreground elements, such as a building or trees.  That would have made the moon appear as a small dot in the image.  We decided to shoot telephoto shots of the stages of the eclipse then paste them into one image showing the progression of the eclipse.  This is the result of pasting together five of the moon phases into one photo. 

Below is a shot of downtown Minneapolis with the "blood moon" that actually never happened.  Some folks may not think that is ethical and they may be right.  From a pure record of what happened, the image is "fake photography".  I like it as an artistic expression and have included it here for your enjoyment.  Let me know in the comments section what you think of doing something like this photoshopped image.

The final image is a shot of the lunar eclipse at it's maximum.  This image is the one I used to paste into the downtown skyline above.  I shrunk it and placed it above the buildings.

It was a fun evening.  Cold but beautiful.  The moon was fairly small by the time the eclipse occurred and even the 600mm lens was a bit on the short side.   The next one occurs in 2021, so I hope to be out shooting it again!

Geminid Meteor Shower 2018

The stars at Crex Meadows

My buddy John Pennoyer and I made a short overnight trip to Crex Meadows in western Wisconsin to photograph the Geminid Meteor shower.  We arrived on Friday afternoon in time for a very nice sunset.  The clouds were lit with a nice pink glow that was complimented by the ice on the main dike.  

My favorite birch grove.

Crex main dike.

Nice as the sunset was, we were there for the meteor shower.  We had a very good fish fry at T-Dogs in Grantsburg, Wisconsin and were back out to Crex by 11:00pm.  We spent a little over two hours photographing the stars.  I had two goals.  0ne was to create a star trail and the other was to capture a couple of shots of the shooting stars.  The peak for the Geminid show was estimated to be 100 meteors per hour.  We didn't get near that many (however we were concentrated on one section of the sky so we may have missed some).  We saw 20 meteors in about two hours.  Here are the results of the photo session.

Star trails - a composite of 100 images.

The best single meteor captured in the sessions.

The approach to getting the images was to set-up a series of 20-second shots with a two-second delay between shots.  To create the star trail image, I combined 100 images using a software package called Star Stacker.  John and I stood out in the 20 degrees cold for about 45 minutes, then retired to the car for warmth.  

The main problem in this type of photography is the rude interruption of the series by a passing car.

Damn car!

I had three images with the car and its headlights.  We went out and restarted the series, so it worked out ok, but it is always a hazard.  We figured there wouldn't be anyone out this late on a cold winter night, but we were wrong.  I mean who is crazy enough to do that?

The next morning we had breakfast at the Cozy Cafe then went out for a final run around Crex.  John spotted some nice ice formations on the lake and we stopped for some bonus images.

Ice ripples in black and white.

My buddy John, happy to be cold and shooting photos!

All in all, this was a great trip.  John is always good company and we got more photo ops than we anticipated.  

Fall 2018 - Bayfield, Wisconsin

Our fall trip this year include two locations.  The last post covered the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota.  This time I'll discuss our next stop which was in Bayfield, WI.  This area of Wisconsin has more hardwood forests and fewer pines.  Bayfield is located on the southeastern shore of Lake Superior and is very quaint and picturesque.   Hit the link button below to read more about the trip.

Wisconsin in all her glory!

Fall 2018 - The North Shore

This is the first in several postings about our fall travels.  I love this time of year due to the colors and the joy of photographing the fall landscapes and activities.  Our goal every year is a trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior, usually around the last week of September or the first week of October.  One of the unique characteristics of the North Shore is the difference in colors between the shoreline and inland.  The shoreline has more aspen and birch trees and inland has more oaks and maples.   Add in the many rivers, waterfalls, the lake itself-- and you have a photographer's dream!

One of the backroads in the hills above the lake.

Cannonball Run 2018

And now for something totally different!

Kathy and I took a break from our humdrum existence to go on an adventure!  My work buddies Steve and Mary Butts are part of the support crew for Steve's brother Mike as he competes in the 2018 Cannonball Motorcycle Run.   We decided to drive down to Spirit Lake, Iowa for the overnight stop on the 14th of Sept.  

The Cannonball Run is a competition based on points earned per mile during a run from Portland, ME to Portland, OR.  The 107 bikes in the race must be at least 90 years old.  Each leg of the race covers roughly 300 miles (give or take.)  Points are assigned each rider based on the miles competed during each leg (for example the leg we witnessed covered 271 miles in Iowa, so the max each rider earned was 271 points.)  If the bike breaks down during the leg and can't be fixed by the rider, a sweeper truck picks them up and brings them to the end point of the leg.  The rider then scores points for each mile covered up to the point the bike broke down.  

The support crew helps the rider each night with repairs and any needed maintenance.  That's where Steve comes in, he is great with machines and in particular, the 1927 Harley his brother Mike drives in the race.  The riders get their route directions each morning as they start the new leg.  Mike had a scrolling mechanism which he advanced as each direction point was completed.  The support crew drives a separate route to the end point of the leg and cannot help the runner during the run.  Mike and the support crew have varying degrees of work each night.  

The endpoint for this leg was the Indian Motorcycle factory in Spirit Lake, Iowa.  We watched as each bike made the finish line.  They then lined up the bikes in rows and you could talk to the riders and take photos of the bikes and riders.  Needless to say, the bikes were very cool and the people watching was great!

I did the images for this blog in black and white to mirror the spirit of the race and the old bikes.  Black and white photography has an old-time feel to me that I really like.

The Butts family has a blog they are posting to each day, you can see it on The "Follow our Butts" blog

More information about the Cannonball Run is found at 2018 Cannonball Run

I have posted my favorite images from our adventure in a Google photo album Cannonball Run - Spirit Lake, IA.  

If you ever get a chance to witness one of the legs of this race, do so.  It is a lot of fun and well worth the time.

Minnesota State Fair 2018

Some folks from the Minnesota Nature Photography Club decided to do some night photography at the state fair.  Although this is not nature photography, it is a lot of fun.  We met at 7:00pm and shot from then until about 10:00pm, with a small stop for a beer.