astro-landscape

Super Moon in Idaho

Last night I had the opportunity to take some of my photo students out to a sagebrush field at the top of campus to photograph the moonrise. It was a Super Moon and very stunning! It was neat to see it come up in the notch of Camelback Mountain, which is to the east of campus. The moving clouds made for additional interesting effects in the sky.

Archaeology and Photography

This past week I was able to spend several days at the Idaho State University Anthropology Department’s archeology field school over in west-central Idaho. Archeology site director, Dr. Andy Speer and his students were very accommodating in letting me poke around shooting stills and videos, along with capturing sound bites. Hopefully a nice documentary will come out of all this and will help future summer archeology field schools.

The field school/archeology dig site was in the Sweet Ola Valley on a private 1700 acre ranch located in the Boise National Forest. What an incredible view! The area is rich in history and more documentaries are there if I just had the time to keep digging!

The first night there, I couldn’t work on my astro-landscape work due to thunderstorms that kept rolling up the valley. Night two was crystal clear but I was too exhausted to stay up! The following night started off favorable, but then clouds kept scudding right though my field of view, but I at least captured one interesting image.

Here’s a few still photos from the documentary project. Enjoy!

More Arbon Valley Star Trails

The first night of December, I went up to Crystal Summit with my long-time friend and colleague, Wilson Hurst, to engage in some astro-landscape photography. Clear skies brought a considerable drop in temperature….5oF (-15oC)….the micro-brewskies stayed nicely chilled! After three hours (which seemed like all night!), we packed up our gear since everything was beginning to ice over. Here’s a few shots from our adventures in the Rocky Mountain deep-freeze!

Sun and Stars over Arbon Valley

After days and nights of freezing fog and clouds, I finally caught a break for some astro-landscape photography. Once the sun fell behind the horizon, the Milky Way was incredible. Unfortunately, it was directly overhead and I was aiming to the south in order to capture the sun setting in Arbon Valley. In the distance there’s Bradley Mountain to the left and the Deep Creek Mountain range falling in the background.

Photographing at 6,000-feet (1,829 meters) on a clear January night gets cold….8oF (-13C)!!! But, it was a pleasant evening listening to hoot owls and coyotes. In addition to watching airplanes cross the sky, there were satellites and meteorites as well. It’s interesting the different colors appearing from various light sources that our eyes simply do not detect at night (our rods and cones lose their color vision in low light levels). I had to finally give up after four hours, as my equipment, including my 14mm super wide angle lens, was completely covered in frost and ice!

Road Tripping in the Western States: Astro-Landscapes, Wall Drug, & Giant Prairie Dogs

Recently, after months of planning with colleagues (Dr. Tom Mitchell and Mr. Robert Breshears) from the photography program at the University of Central Missouri, myself and Idaho State University student John Lowry rendezvoused with our counter-parts at the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Our primary objective was astro-landscape photography, which involves daytime images of the landscape that transition into night versions with star movement. All total we had seven faculty and students from both institutions.

During the last few days of May, we watched temps at the Badlands soar into the upper 90s, with nights dropping into the 50s. The temperature swings made camping an interesting adventure. Besides typical camp life and cold showers, we made numerous trips throughout the Badland region for making traditional photographs (with a mix of vernacular snapshots) of ubiquitous bison and prairie dogs. One afternoon included a trip to the infamous Wall Drug, where snapshots were made of tourists riding the giant jackalope!

After three days in the Badlands, we broke camp and struck out for the Black Hills, with stops at Keystone and Mount Rushmore. I found Rushmore disturbing with its extensive commercialization and grand architecture…hmm a potential critical theory paper in the making! Nothing like I experienced back in the 1970s and 1960s. Everything changes with time.

The last stop on our photo road trip was Devils Tower, Wyoming. Here I managed to craft an excellent astro-landscape photograph, which transitions from daylight into night with star trails above the Tower. The following day my Missouri compatriots departed to return to the Midwest, while John and I pushed westward. Photo opportunities presented themselves throughout Wyoming, including detailed shooting at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center (Japanese concentration camp) and Yellowstone/Grand Teton National Parks.

Starry Night on Christmas Eve in Arbon Valley

Just a quick post on astro-landscape photography of the Milky Way shot tonight on Christmas Eve. I found this beautiful spot just as I entered Arbon Valley, which is just over the mountain and through the woods from my house. For this shot I was facing east-southeast, towards Old Tom Mountain and that’s the highest snow covered peak in the first photo. I started shooting around 4:45pm just as the sun was setting and continued until 7pm. It wasn’t too bad until about 6:30pm when the temps dropped to 10 degrees F (-12C). The second shot was repositioned to include Scout Mountain, which is north of Old Tom.

Something new was encountered on this photo excursion, the sound of energy! I was setup under a telephone pole. Unfortunately, some of the wires are in the shot. Anyway, all was quiet sitting there in the dark along side the snow-covered road when all of a sudden I heard this deep throbbing sound. It kept getting louder and for awhile I was looking for a plane over head, but nothing showed up. Finally the sound was pronounced and sounded like it was right on top of me, which it actually was. I walked over to the utility pole and it was vibrating with the pulsing of the energy overhead through the wires. Eventually it died down, only to return later during the photo shoot. Shortly after the sound of electricity, coyotes started their singing in the valley below. Very strange and interesting encounter!