Friday, April 11, 2014

More Endangered Than Most



Desert tortoise populations have declined up to 90% in recent decades due to human activities such as housing developments, energy development and grazing. They spend up to 95% of their time in burrows, where they may get trapped or succumb to heat if the burrow collapses due to a vehicle or large animal. They like sandy soil, and when visiting sand dunes people can cause these collapses. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages endangered species, and many desert tortoises are on land administered by the Bureau of Land Management. A center was established by the BLM to care for desert tortoises, mainly surrendered pets.

In the last 2 days some many news reports have falsely implied that the BLM was euthanizing the protected wild tortoises. The misrepresentation of fact must be intentional, since the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center clarified the situation in a press release months ago:

 Aug 26, 2013
Statement Regarding Media Reports on Status of Desert Tortoise at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Nevada

Recent media reports regarding the status of desert tortoises at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center (DTCC) have implied that the FWS is currently euthanizing desert tortoises at the facility. We want the public to know that the FWS is not euthanizing healthy tortoises. 

The DTCC was established in 1990 to receive wild tortoises in harm’s way from development and has taken in unwanted pets since 1996. Over 1,000 tortoises arrived at the DTCC each year, and approximately 98 percent of those are surrendered or stray pets. Science-based protocols developed for desert tortoises brought to the DTCC have been instrumental in helping the FWS maintain a healthy population of desert tortoise in the wild. Managing to recover desert tortoise, a threatened species, is a complex task in which all options need to be considered, and all risks and benefits to the species must be assessed. 

Many pet tortoises, unfortunately, are diseased or otherwise in poor health, and run the risk of spreading disease to wild tortoises. These tortoises cannot be relocated to the wild, or otherwise contribute to recovery of the desert tortoise population. Sometimes euthanasia of unhealthy pet tortoises is necessary, but only as last resort, and only after we evaluate other options. All healthy tortoises at the DTCC will be relocated to sites that will support the recovery of the species. 

Progress is being made on translocating the healthy DTCC tortoise population to the wild. A Programmatic Environmental Assessment is complete, and tortoises are already being translocated by the FWS to an approved site in Trout Canyon, Nevada. Public scoping for a second translocation plan was completed Aug 22, 2013, for a proposed translocation area south of Coyote Springs, Nevada. 

The Animal Foundation (TAF), Lied Animal Shelter continues to take in unwanted pet tortoises from the public. However, the fact remains that the DTCC does not currently have the capacity or the funding to accept and care for additional tortoises. 

Recovery of the desert tortoise in the wild continues to be our top priority. However we are deeply concerned about the growing number of unwanted pets, and will continue to work with our partner agencies toward finding a suitable solution for tortoises that cannot be returned to the wild. Posted on August 26, 2013 https://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-planned-killing-of-desert-tortoises/responses/8917

The factual misrepresentations are coming up in a story about a Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy who reportedly owes $1.1M in grazing fees to the BLM, and who following decades of debate over the issue in federal court has been issued court orders to remove his cattle and to not interfere with removal operations if he fails to remove them himself. The matter has gained national attention in recent days as people have flocked to the ranch to side with Bundy's resistance to the court orders. Various political scapegoats are trotted out by media outlets with an agenda to promote, and many of the protesters onsite now resisting federal authorities are reveling in repeating the misinformation. The incident could turn into quite a sideshow in the coming days. 
#bundyranch #deserttortoise #mojavedesert

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ten Photos for Flickr's 10th Bday!

Flickr is celebrating their 10th birthday this week, and they've invited members to nominate ten of their favorite images shared there over the past 10 years. You can place your image in the #Flickr10 group on Flickr, and if you're lucky, perhaps Flickr will share your photos on their blog.
One of my "most interesting" photos according to Flickr's ranking algorithms, which provide some of the most strategic advantages Flickr has over other sites for photography:






Of course I had to include a travel photo:



and it was a tossup between Bodie and Burning Man for coolest place to shoot, but Bodie won out:



Weather seemed like a good theme to represent as well:


Here are all 10 photos in a set over on Flickr:

Solar Rainbow in Yosemite ValleyLight Painting in Badwater BasinHagia SophiaLightning in a Sunset ThunderstormStarry Night over Bodie ChurchRim Fire, Yosemite - time-lapse video
Natural Firefall (255,478 views on Flickr so far!)Horsetail Falls at SunsetThe WaveRGB UFOs (wow, over 1400 Flickr favorites, thanks!!)

Flickr's 10th Bday, a set on Flickr.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Seasons of Topaz



Seasons of Topaz, my latest time-lapse video,with "Sierra Wave" lenticular clouds, pogonip ice fog, rain, snow, sunrises, sunsets... a year's worth of weather in 3 minutes: http://youtu.be/W07_Yol2Ad4


The music, used with permission, is "Odyssey" (instrumental version) by The Wyld, as heard in the McDonald's commercials during the Sochi Winter Olympics.  Drop by their Web site for links to their social media pages where you can say "Hi": 
http://thewyldmusic.com/ 



Thursday, January 16, 2014

Meteor Shower from Comet ISON?



Meteor Shower from Comet ISON?*
Robert Lunsford of the  recently posted details on a possible meteor shower from Comet ISON passing near the earth's orbit on its way towards its rendezvous with the sun.  I had heard that the earth could reach the debris in the January 12 -15 time frame, so I went out early on 3 mornings to see what I could pick up.  I've condensed hundreds of photos from those nights into the HD video below.  

As illustrated in a diagram on Robert's post here, the incoming meteors were expected to appear to radiate out from a point in the constellation Leo:
Meteor Activity from Comet ISON?
http://www.amsmeteors.org/2014/01/meteor-activity-from-comet-ison/

Meteor trails look longer away form a meteor shower's radiant point though, so the first two nights I shot north to minimize star movement and northeast in case the movement of the earth through space caused extra collisions with comet dust to the east.  On the third night I trained my 24mm lens on Leo and I used a sky-tracking mount to follow the constellation while shooting almost continuously for hours.  I did capture a bright and colorful meteor trail:


Unfortunately its length and direction, along with a second meteor captured 10 minutes earlier, implies that its radiant point was across the sky near the Big Dipper, so those were more likely to be late arrivals from the Quadrantid meteor shower which peaked on January 3.

So did I catch any meteors from ISON?  I swear that I can see little flashes in my original images as they were getting down-converted in resolution to video, but it's hard to peer into 22 megapixel images to detect the smallest details on a 2 megapixel monitor.   Even my video gets compressed for re-broadcast from video hosting sites, so it's even harder to show others what I captured.  The question might not be definitively answered until I re-examine the results some time from now when I can re-process the images in "4K" video format and can view the 4X higher resolution video on a 4K monitor (4096 or 3840 resolution).

The increasing brightness of the moon and its later rise times started interfering with meteor viewing on the third night, so I decided not to shoot on the fourth night.  I've shot dozens of meteor showers in the past, but this time I was particularly focused on trying to capture the faintest of meteors, so it was good to "push the envelope" and develop new insight and techniques which can fine tune my meteor shower shooting in the future.

Here's another shot of that meteor, with room to see Leo just to the right:






To see more of my time-lapse videos from more major meteor showers, drop by my  channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/JeffSullivanPhoto

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Comet Lovejoy C/2013 R1 1/4/2014 85mm 30fps 1080p HD Time-lapse Video


This video converts 762 individual photos shot at 85mm focal length into 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second. Each photo was cropped to approximately 3840 pixels on the longest side ("4K video"), then they were converted to HD video at 1920 x 1080 resolution (1/4 the original resolution).
This was shot before dawn on January 4, 2014 on a standard tripod (no tracking mount).  Most of the streaks passing through the frame occupy several photos (which have an average exposure time of 2.5 seconds each), so most appear to be satellites.  It was shot less than 24 hours after the peak of the Quadrantid meteor whower though, and Comet Lovejoy isn't sll that far in the sky from the radiant point of that shower, so if I hunt through all of the 7262 photos I might find a Quadrantid meteor or two.

This blog post is a test of sharing a 1080p HD video from Flickr to Blogger... click on "HD" and the full screen icon in the lower right corner to see it in the highest possible resolution!  It may need to play twice before the player gets it fully buffered for smooth playback.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Testing Embed of Google+ Posts in a Blog Post

Although I have a new WordPress blog set up so that it should have my Google+ posts available for people who might happen to come upon my content through my blog, the tool that was supposed to copy and maintain my G+ posts on my blog seems to have missed some of my most popular posts.  Fortunately there's now the ability to take at least those most popular ones and add the content into a blog post.

So let's try this out...



It works! Best of all, I think G+ users can interact with the G+ post directly on the blog... +1 it, comment, share. How cool is that?  I've tested it with WordPress as well: http://www.jeffsullivanphotography.com/blog/2013/12/29/embed-google-posts-in-your-blog/

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Best Photos of 2013

This image was developed (post-processed) in 2013, but exposed in 2012, so which year gets credit?
Around this time of year many photographers assemble their "Best of the Year" images. It's hard to pick favorites among so many amazing moments I experience in a year, let alone apply the added value judgement of "best".

So here are a few candidates. The 10 best? You decide!

Monitor Pass Sunset Sun RaysWater Vapor over BadwaterRim Fire in Yosemite, 116mmLight Painting in Badwater BasinPoconip at Topaz LakeMoon Beams Over Bodie
Moon in Penumbral Lunar Eclipse Rising Over Mono LakeLenticular Clouds at SunsetMilky Way over BodieSunrise Moon Set by Mt. WhitneyBreaking Morning FogSunset Beach at Sunrise
Twilight on The California CoastStorm Cloud Reflection at Valley ViewMerced River ReflectionFall Colors in California October 2013FloatingMono Lake Moonshine
Lenticular Cloud over Mono LakeComet PANSTARRS from Death Valley National ParkInto the Night

Best of 2013, a set on Flickr.
Here are a few more of them displayed large:










Monday, November 25, 2013

Yosemite National Park Photo Workshops


I'm working on workshop dates for Yosemite for 2014.  I'll post updates on my new blog when they become available: http://www.jeffsullivanphotography.com/blog/yosemite-national-park-photography-workshops/

Night Reflections in Yosemite ValleyHalf Dome over Sunrise Mist in Yosemite ValleyMoon Rise Behind Half DomeYosemite Falls in WinterStorm Cloud Reflection at Valley ViewHalf Dome, Full Moon
Winter WonderlandA Moment of PeaceThe Day Was Off To A Good StartSunset at Glacier PointSolar Rainbow in Yosemite ValleyRim Fire in Yosemite, 116mm
Fall Morning Mist in Yosemite National ParkBreak in the StormTrees and MistCathedral Beach in WinterYosemite's Rim Fire Under the CloudsFire on a Massive Scale
Under a Starry SkyRim Fire in Yosemite at 85mmYosemite Falls Moonbow Star TrailsValley View in PinkIce and Pollen in Tenaya LakeBridalveil Falls
Yosemite National Park, a set on Flickr.