night photography

International Dark Sky Park

In November, I went out to Craters of the Moon National Monument with several of my photo students. The monument has been designated an International Dark Sky Park and the night we were there was on a new moon. That was one of the “darkest” experiences I have ever had, with the exception being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when I was in the Navy.

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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!

Journey to Ancient Cyprus

Recently I had the opportunity to speak at the 3rd International Conference of Photography and Theory, which was held in the ancient city of Nicosia (Lefkosia according to the Greeks), Cyprus. Here’s a gallery of some of my favorite shots from the trip, including a very post-modern Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Enjoy!

© 2014 Terry Ownby, All Rights Reserved.

NYC Encounters From a Tourist Perspective

After a number of years without having a “real” vacation, I splurged and took my sweetheart of nearly 30 years to New York City. We definitely did the tourist gig and went to many of the must-see city icons: 9-11 Memorial, Grand Central Station, Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, and Times Square. Of course we also visited China Town and had lunch in neighboring Little Italy. The MTA Subway provided our transportation, but a looming union strike made it a bit worrisome. By the end of the trip, all was well. Our digs for the week was the Grand Hyatt, which sits between Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building. It was great being in the heart of the city!

Since this trip did not include several photo students as in the past, I chose not to carry my large professional camera gear. Instead, I opted for a small, light-weight digital rangefinder-style camera from Fujifilm….it was a silver and black X20. Very 1960s retro look! It took great shots (all those in this blog post) and looked so stylish for my tourist modus operandi.

For those of you who know my food photography, I apologize for not capturing the incredible seafood and lobster paella I had at my favorite Spanish tapas bar in Greenwich Village. I was too excited to dive in to the food to worry about photographs! Sorry!

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!

Star Trails at Chesterfield Reservoir Idaho

This first weekend of November, I ventured back up to the lake near the Chesterfield ghost town for some astrophotography. A storm front was beginning to move in from Seattle, so it was very windy and exceptionally cold. My sweetheart decided to join me on this outing and this was her first exposure to hours of patiently waiting for the stars to come out and images to be captured. What an initiation she endured!

In addition to shooting star trails (in the tradition of my friend and mentor, Wilson Hurst), I also tried photographing the Milky Way. Visibility of the stars to the east side of the lake and straight overhead was remarkably good. Unfortunately, I had not anticipated the glow of city lights to my north, which clearly is visible in my star trail shot. The light pollution came from Idaho Falls, which is about 65 miles (105 km) away.

Looking north at Chesterfield Reservoir. © 2013 Terry Ownby.  Nikon D800, 28mm @ f3.5, Bulb, ISO 100~400.

Looking north at Chesterfield Reservoir. © 2013 Terry Ownby.
Nikon D800, 28mm @ f3.5, Bulb, ISO 100~400.

Looking East at Chesterfield Reservoir, Idaho, with storm front moving in from Seattle. © 2013 Terry Ownby.  Nikon D800, 28mm @ f3.5, 30s, ISO 6400.

Looking East at Chesterfield Reservoir, Idaho, with storm front moving in from Seattle. © 2013 Terry Ownby.
Nikon D800, 28mm @ f3.5, 30s, ISO 6400.

Milky Way directly overhead. © 2013 Terry Ownby. Nikon D800, 28mm/f3.5, 30s, ISO 2000

Milky Way directly overhead. © 2013 Terry Ownby.
Nikon D800, 28mm/f3.5, 30s, ISO 2000

A toast to my friend, colleague, and mentor, Wilson Hurst. We discovered Big Sky Brewing while photographing stars in the Tall Grass Prairie in Kansas. Here's a toast to you, Wilson! © 2013 Terry Ownby. Nikon D70, 18-70mm.

A toast to my friend, colleague, and mentor, Wilson Hurst. We discovered Big Sky Brewing while photographing stars in the Tall Grass Prairie in Kansas. Here’s to you, Wilson! © 2013 Terry Ownby.
Nikon D70, 18-70mm.