Wednesday, October 29, 2014

CBS Features Bodie and America's Ghost Towns

America's Best Unrestored Ghost Town, Bodie
CBS aired an excellent segment on America's ghost towns last Sunday, including Bodie, California. Here's the segment featuring Bodie from their Sunday morning show:

The haunting remnants of America's ghost towns

Living not far from the park, I have the privilege of leading many dozens of photographers through Bodie each year, for special night access and to photograph building interiors.  Here are photos from our photo workshops, and visits to our favorite local ghost town:

Star trails and the Iridium 11 communications satellite are seen over the Bodie Church
Sunset in Bodie

Moon rise and moon beams over Bodie Bluff

A dusting of snow on Bodie in the spring

Inside the Boone General Store

The Miner's Union Hall in pre-dawn light

Milky Way rising over the Standard Mill

Bodie's 1937 Chevy coupe at dusk

Highlighting Bodie's landmarks under the Milky Way

The peaceful twilight hours in Bodie

Roulette wheel in the Sam Leon Bar

Evening golden hour in Bodie as the last warm rays of the sun touch the town
You can see over 200 of my photos of Bodie in an album on +Flickr :

We've raised roughly $25,000 for building stabilization in Bodie through our photo workshops there.  When we have dates for our interior access and night photography workshops in Bodie for 2015, we'll publish them on my Web site:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks October 21-22!

Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks October 20/21!
An Orionid meteor next to the constellation Orion

The annual Orionid meteor shower is created when Earth passes through trails of comet debris left in space long ago by Halley's Comet as it orbits around the sun. The meteors, or "shooting stars", develop when pieces of rock typically no larger than a pea, and mostly the size of a grain of sand, vaporize in Earth's upper atmosphere.

This is a composite shot of the best meteors that I caught during the Orionid meteor shower in 2014 over the course of several hours in Central Nevada:

Orionid Meteor Shower 2014
I used a star-tracking mount to follow Orion and produce that composite, so when I created a time-lapse from the same footage, it turned out like this:


For a perspective fixed on the ground with the sky moving, here's a time-lapse video from chasing the Orionid meteor shower in 2012 in the Mono Basin in the Eastern Sierra:

In 2014 Liz Horton at +ABC11-WTVD in Raleigh for using this Orionid Meteor shower time-lapse video to inform viewers about the Orionid meteor shower.  Here's ABC11's report informing viewers of the upcoming shower:

My 2015 Orionids photo featuring Venus, Jupiter and Mars has done well  on +Twitter so far:

Where will you pursue this year's Orionids?  In 2015, I suspect that the morning of the 23rd could be good after the moon sets.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

How to Photograph Comet Siding Spring by Mars, October 18-19

Comet C/2013 R1 Lovejoy and a Geminid Meteor, December 2013
Comet Siding Spring will pass Mars tomorrow, Sunday October 19, 2014.  The Orionid meteor shower is also underway, so you might get lucky and catch a meteor as well, like I did with this Geminid meteor I caught with Comet C/2013 R1 Lovejoy last December.

I see that my exposure was 8 seconds at ISO 5000 on a 50mm lens. It was an f/1.4 lens, so I was able to shoot at f/1.6. No star tracking mount was needed for up to a 10 second exposure with that lens.  With that long of an exposure, shouldn't the stars appear to be moving across the sky?  Using the "500 Rule", as long as the focal length times the exposure in seconds doesn't exceed 500, you should be fine.  So 50 x 8 = 400, and you get no visible star movement.

If you try a 400 mm lens however your maximum exposure goes to 1.25 seconds, so you'd need a star tracking mount.  Most people don't have star tracking mounts, so a good compromise might be an 85 mm lens offering f/1.8 or wider, keep the exposure around 5-6 seconds or less, and boost the ISO a bit is necessary.  The comet is approaching Mars now, so try it tonight, Saturday, for practice.

Seen from mid northern latitudes this weekend, Mars will be visible to the southwest from the end of evening twilight until it sets around 9/9:30 pm or so.  Good luck!

I performed lens tests with Comet C/2-013 R1 Lovejoy in 2013. I've put together a time-lapse video today to show you how they did. I've uploaded the video to YouTube here:

+NASA Goddard has produced a cool visualization showing how Comet Siding Spring will pass Mars, in this video:

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall Colors Report for Eastern Sierra Mono County October 16, 2014

Eastern Sierra fall colors, Mono County October 8, 2014
The latest reports are saying that many locations survived this week's wind storms better expected, and although there are many many bare trees at higher elevations, there are also colorful ones and others which still have green and will continue to change over the next 1-2 weeks. So it looks like we'll have prime conditions in Mono County this week, as good as it's going to get.

Here in Antelope Valley at 5000 feet elevation in the northern end of Mono County, the cottonwood trees are just starting to turn, so the Walker/Coleville/Topaz area could be nice for those in 1-3 weeks.   and I hope to get out to check current conditions further south in the county later today or tomorrow, and hopefully meet up with some of the folks we've met through photography in recent years.

These images of colorful aspen trees were taken in Mono County last week October 9, before the winds.

More fall colors photos from the Eastern Sierra:


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

500px Wants Your Feedback

How has the site 500px been for you lately?
Do you like their new Groups functionality?

They want your feedback, follow the link in their tweet to the questionnaire:
See you there!