Photographing the Moon Over the Campus Of Purdue University

Yesterday started with an easy idea. I wanted to photograph something at night. It then turned into an idea to photograph something with world renowned photographer Trevor Mahlmann. He had this idea to photograph the moon behind the bell tower, and it was a great one. It reminded me a bit of an Indiana Jones movie. If you stand in a certain place at a certain time something will happen. Happen it did. The moon came up and gave us a tremendous show. It was really something just to stand on the hill and watch the moon come up. A few times it looked so great and we realized that it was going to work for us so I decided to jump around a bit. It really is great to be a part of something that works so well. I will admit that I really had no part in the planning. It was all Trevor. He told me where to stand, and I just had to press my shutter button. Photographing something bright along with the bell tower can be tricky. I still don’t think that I got it perfect, but it was fun trying. Someday when the kids are old enough I will give them some lights so that they can light paint the tower while we photograph it.

Sometimes the Song Works Out Perfectly

When thinking about this post while setting up I knew I wanted to use a song title again. Yesterday I used a Beatles title so what could I use today? When I saw this title of a George Harrison song I knew that it was perfect. In the early days of the blog I used a lot of song titles for my posts. After a few weeks of writing I started coming up empty on post titles. I love music so it was the perfect way to go. Now nearly 2,500 posts into this venture it has become a real challenge to come up with titles. Some are very literal, and some can be fun. This was another fun one. Tomorrows post will have a very literal title I am sure.

The End Of An Era

This was probably the last shoot that I will make with my original tripod. I have had the same crappy tripod that I bought at Best Buy in 2011 for all of these years. It was a badge of honor just how bad the tripod was. I was not afraid of ruining it because it was such a piece of crap. Two different episodes with careless TSA agents have made it nearly unusable. I finally pulled the trigger on a new tripod which will arrive tomorrow. This was a pretty cool last shoot to go out on though for the old thing.


Spending a Morning in San Francisco

In 2013 I made a much needed trip to San Francisco at the end of May. It was a crazy month for me so a morning being creative around the Golden Gate Bridge was just what I needed. As I was exploring my surroundings before the sun came up I noticed this great scene in front of me. The moon setting over the bay was a perfect way to start the day. This was a photo that I never really knew what to do with. I liked it, but something was just missing from it. Back then I pushed the clarity slider on everything no matter what it was. It really did not work much for this photo so it never saw the light of day. It was only about four years later that I realized that going the other way with the clarity slider was what I needed to do here. That made it just a little more like a painting which is what I thought that I was looking at on the scene that day.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

A photo like this one is a great example of why you need to get out of your comfort zone. I tend to edit my photos very much the same way. This past year I have started experimenting a bit. That does not always make for a great photo, but it does give me new ways to express myself. By getting out of my comfort zone here I was able to create something that I really like.

The Waning Snow Moon Rises Over the Campus of Purdue University

When the snow moon was full I wanted to head down to campus to try something out. I figured out where the best place to be was, and I had my time all set. Things got in the way of making that photo though that night. Two days later I went back to the same spot I was going to be at to give it a try. The moon was not quite full, and it was about an hour and a half later when I made my photo. It was much darker, but I feel that I still was able to make something that I really liked.

Giving the Moon Some Perspective

I learned a lot during my short time setting up this photo. I don’t often photograph the moon with other objects. When you shoot the moon by itself it is very easy to dial in your settings. When you put something else in the frame you really complicate things. The moon is so bright that you really need a well lit subject near the moon. The clock tower seems well lit, but it is nowhere near as bright as the moon. To our eye you can see a lot of detail, but your camera does not have that kind of dynamic range. I had to rely on the power of the RAW file here to get things close to what my eye saw on the scene that night. I like the idea of putting recognizable objects in front of the moon. I will have to see what I can do to light some things up so that they balance with the moon in the future.

Pitchers and Catchers Report Today

I am a huge White Sox fan, and excited to see that spring training is starting today. It will most likely be a while before I shoot any baseball, ┬ábut it is nice to know that someone is. This is the first year in a long time when I don’t know what I will be doing during baseball season. I have some games on the schedule, but for the most part I am on my own to start the year. Looking back at some of my Major League stuff I realized that I did not attend a Major League game last year. Many things got in the way of that, but with a schedule in June that looks a little better right now I need to make a few Sox games. As the winter moves on I find myself watching more and more old baseball or the MLB Network just to get a fix until the season starts. Until the season does start though I will just have to go through my older photos for a while.

Tim Lincecum Pitches Under the Full Moon

It is at this time of year that I really want baseball to come back as soon as possible. I like the winter and making photos in the snow. I like that I get to photograph bald eagles in the winter. I also really like photographing baseball on a warm summer night. In the photo above it is not quite summer yet, but it was a beautiful night to watch a baseball game. I only had a few hours to spend in San Francisco thanks to a problem with our flight out there. I had my ticket to the game purchased already, and the pitcher that I would have liked to photograph was on the mound. Tim Lincecum has a great motion that looks amazing from a few angles. Everything was working in my favor. With no clouds the sunset was a bust, but a full moon rising over the stadium made up for that. As the moon came up I was in the upper deck making some blue hour photos of the stadium. I came back down to my seat just in time for the moon to rise up over the action down there. It was a night when everything seemed to be working in my favor. I had a blast photographing at AT&T Park. I would really like to do it again sometime.

Back in 2013

Life was so much simpler in 2013 as far as photography goes for me. I only had the one camera. The Canon 60D. Had I gone on this trip this year I would have agonized over what camera to take. I probably would have found a way to take two. In 2013 the choice was easy. I only had the 60D so that is what I took. As far as lenses go that was an easy choice too. I had the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 with a 1.4x extender that I could put on it. I had a Tamron 10-20mm lens that I would use for my wide angle photos. I had also just picked up the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens from my friend Andy who now lives in the bay area. At the time I really wanted the Canon 24-105mm f/4 for trips. On my crop frame body I don’t know how good that 24-105 would have been. I of course own it now, and it is a great travel lens. You get a wide range in one lens. It is fun going through these older photos because you can put yourself back in that time. Everything was new and fresh. I was really doing it! The good news is that I still get that feeling today. I love what I do, and it amazes me all of the time that people pay me to do it.

Flying High to Capture a Great Sunset

Before I bought my DJI Phantom 4 Pro I would often see a great sunset about to happen, but I knew that I wouldn’t have any time to get somewhere with an interesting foreground. Now that I have the drone I can quickly get it up in the air and over to something to see the sunset. I have really settled a lot on the water tower and Cumberland Avenue. I love the way that Cumberland bends into the sunset, and the water tower provides something of interest at least in the foreground. I am still learning this thing so every flight is another one to figure out just how to get what I want. Here things worked out to make an interesting photo for me.

Missing the Snow Moon

The real story of the night was the eclipse of the snow moon. Of course clouds moved in right at moonrise to kind of put the damper on any thoughts of shooting that. I was at home anyway with my daughter so unless the conditions were perfect we were not going out. I did turn the drone around though to see the moon rise a few times. I love the sky over the river with the moon coming up. This is my only photo of the snow moon, but I had a beautiful sunset to occupy my time.

More on Facebook Live

When I made it up and realized that the sky was going to light up I decided to go live on Facebook Live. This is a cool feature that allows me to share exactly what I am seeing from my quadcopter. The audio feed comes from my phone which is right in front of me. Here you get to hear my boring commentary, and as a bonus my daughter chips in a bit at the end. I just need to let her narrate my videos as they would probably be more interesting.

Finding a Good Time to Photograph the Moon

The moon is always the same exposure so for the most part it really does not matter when you photograph it. I like to photograph it when it is blue hour, and it is low in the sky. It is just easier for me to do so as I don’t have to point my 400mm lens with the extender up into the sky. The lower the moon the better chance I have of getting a steady shot of it. I really need to invest in a good sturdy tripod to use on the moon. What you have to remember when photographing the moon is that it is a very bright object in the sky. If you leave your camera on an automatic setting you will not get any detail in the moon. You can read a list of ten tips for better moon photos that I made a couple of years ago here. I think that I actually like photographing the moon more when it is not full as it shows a little more contrast in the craters. A nice sky with very low humidity helped me make a nice exposure here. I need a little longer glass to get in a little closer to the moon, but for now this will do.

The Week In Photos

In case you couldn’t tell I had a fun week last week making pictures. Some of my favorites from the past week can be found here. I also put together an Exposure page from the Indiana State football game in Minnesota that I shot here. That is one of my most viewed Exposure posts of all time. It would take a big event to top the views from the Colt World Series this past year, but this one is getting there. It is not always about views, but it is nice for people to see your work as well.

The Moon Comes Out of the Earth’s Shadow

Sunday night I shot the blood moon over West Lafayette. The clouds parted just in time for me to make my photos. As the show was ending I stayed out to make a few more photos. I liked the idea of just part of the moon showing. The bottom usually has the most character anyway so why not make a few more frames. Just as the moon was where I wanted it a large, fast moving cloud came through. Luckily it was not too big as it passed quickly. I could see the overcast skies coming so I made one last photo before going inside. I like the look of this photo, and the simple nature of it.

The Skies Clear Just In Time For a Great Show

Last night I had just about given up on seeing the rare super moon eclipse when I saw a break in the clouds. I loaded up my car and took off to a country road that I have not photographed on in a long time. Early on in the life of this blog I spent some time on that road learning how to compose a shot. It was a gravel road at the time, and now it has been nicely paved. The little trip west allowed me to see the moon a little sooner than I would have if I had stayed at home. On a night when I thought that I would not see the moon I was pleasantly surprised that I could. With the short notice that I could shoot the moon all I came up with was this shot of the moon set against the black sky. I wanted some foreground interest in my photo, but I did not think that we were going to see it. Oh well I can get the shot I was thinking about in 2033.

Photographing the Blood Moon is Not Easy

The last time that a blood moon occurred I made a terrible mistake. I did not put my CF card in my camera, and I was just shooting jpegs on my SD card. Not having the RAW image was not a good thing. I made sure that I had everything that I needed this time though. I knew that once the Earth casts its’ shadow on the moon it would get dark in a hurry. I would need all of the data that I could get to make a good image. I realized while I was shooting the moon just how bad my tripod has gotten. I normally do not have a heavy lens on it so I didn’t realize just how rickety it had become. It was basically a glorified monopod as I had to support it while shooting the moon. At exposures of 1/10th and 1/15th of a second that is not a good thing. I may have to fix that problem in the near future. Even at that slow of a shutter speed I was pushing the limits of my Canon 7D Mark II. For my sports work I don’t like to use the camera above ISO 2500. I was at 6400 and even 12800 during this shoot. I did not stay there long as I could see the grain on the LCD screen. That is not a good thing. Normally the moon is easy to shoot if you just expose for the moon. A blood moon is so dark that it presents a new challenge of finding enough light to expose it properly. I think that the next one of these will occur in 2033. By then the cameras should be very capable of solving this problem.

The Blue Moon over Central Indiana in July of 2015

Stopping to Photograph the Blue Moon

Last night on my way home from photographing the Kokomo Jackrabbits game I kept looking at the blue moon. I saw the moon rise through the trees at the stadium, and I kept thinking that I needed to get a shot of it. It would be nice to be sitting somewhere to have a little perspective in the shot, but by the time my game was over it was too high for that. It is still fun to photograph the moon. It seems like a simple task when you are starting out as a photographer, but it can really trick you. You just need to remember that you are photographing the moon and nothing else. Your cameras meter will not read the scene correctly so it is up to you to find out where you need to be.

Photographing the Moon

As I said above photographing the moon can really fool your camera. You have to set your camera up so that you control the exposure. I usually crank my ISO down to 100 and set my f-stop to f/8 to start. I made this photo at 1/200th of a second. It was actually part of a bracket of three exposures set 1 stop apart as I guessed the reading I would need. I like to do this as I guess sometimes so that I get some coverage on each side of my guess. This was the shot that was one stop overexposed. It turned out just fine, and I was able to make a couple of more very quickly. I have written a short post giving some more tips on photographing the moon a while back. You can find that post here. It is not comprehensive, but it will help you make better photos of the moon. The good news about learning to photograph the moon is that you see it nearly every night. Sometimes the shadows of the craters make a less than full moon more interesting than a full moon.

Tomorrow The Sports Continue

As I said above I was at the Kokomo Jackrabbits game last night. I will be back there tonight as well to photograph that game. That means you have some baseball coming your way. Saturday night I will be in Indy photographing the Charlotte Knights as they come to town to face the Indianapolis Indians. I will have more landscapes to show you, but the sports will come first. Yesterday was actually a very good day for me as I booked a few fall dates for athletics. I am much farther ahead than I was last year, and I am pleased with where I am. This should be a fun school year. I may have a couple of surprises up my sleeve in the next couple of weeks to share with you.