Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Watch the Moon Rise at Sunset Tonight, October 4, 2017

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve: Super Moon Rise

The moon will rise shortly before sunset tonight, providing a perfect opportunity to photograph the moon near the horizon at sunset.  Here are 38 degrees north it'll rise about 15 minutes before sunset, and be about 1.6 degrees high, or three moon widths, above a zero-degree horizon at sunset.

Mono Lake Moonrise (Re-edit) 

About ten minutes later as you may start to see the earth's shadow rise above the horizon, its blue color contrasting against the adjacent pink-orange last light of the sun in the "belt of Venus" effect, the moon will be about 3.5 degrees high, seven moon widths.

Super Moon Reflection

In apps such as The Photographer's Ephemeris and PhotoPills you can fine tune the times and moon direction and elevation for any shooting spot you might want to plan for.  Plan well enough, and you can anticipate compositions that place the moon reflecting in lakes, or beside or just over natural or man-made landmarks.

Moon Rise Behind Half Dome

Similar opportunities present themselves on the opposite horizon with the moon set at sunrise, so look at your favorite astrophotography app and start planning! You can combine opportunities, such as catching a moon coming out of eclipse, as it sets behind a nearby ridge.

Partially Eclipsed Moon Setting, October 8, 2014

Or place the moon on a man-made structure like the tip of the Transamerica building in San Francisco.  I started shooting this sequence of images about 15 minutes ahead of time to show how the placement of the moon can be accurately planned in advance, and rendering the images as a time-lapse video lets you see the entire sequence:

Plan to Shoot the April 14/15 2014 Lunar Eclipse: Example Landing on the Transamerica Pyramid
As calculated, the moon ends up centered on the tip of the pyramid!
For a discussion of advanced considerations, read the article, "I've planned my supermoon eclipse shot: what could possibly go wrong?"

For a bonus on the tomorrow morning, I see in my SkyWeek+ app that the planets Venus and Mars will be within 1/4 degree of each other before dawn on October 5.  The StarWalk+ app shows me that they will be rising by about 5:10 am roughly due east.  Photograph them on and close to the horizon, then conditions should continue to improve improve by around 6 am as they're rising out of the thicker air and haze close to the horizon.  At that point they are still low enough to be captured in landscape shots as the oncoming twilight increasingly illuminates the landscape.  The sun rises close to 7 am, so they may fade as the sky brightens, and Mars in particular may be long gone by 6:30 am.

Venus Jupiter Moon Conjunction

You never know what you might come up with.  A while back I shot the moon with Jupiter and Venus rising nearby, and my photo was used in an article by astronomer Don Olson of the University of Texas, in an article in the August issue of Sky & Telescope Magazine!

I haven't looked up the phase that Venus is in, but if you have a strong enough lens, youc an see that it's illuminated in a crescent phase.

Multi-Colored UFO?

The first step is to anticipate and plan for some great opportunities with the moon and/or planets. Then get out there and shoot! Tonight at sunset and tomorrow before dawn offer you a couple of good ones to start with. You never know what you might discover!

Friday, September 01, 2017

Slinkard Fire Time-lapse at Topaz Lake, August 31





Time-lapse video of the Slinkard Fire as it burned downhill towards US-395 and the Best Western Motel at Topaz Lake on the California/Nevada border last night, August 31.

#SlinkardFire

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park to Open Thursday, June 29, 2017

Milky Way as seen from Tioga Pass Road at 10:32 pm, June 21, 2017.

Yosemite News Release
June 27, 2017 4:00 pm
For Immediate Release

Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park Open to All Vehicular Traffic Thursday, June 29, 2017

Tioga Road will open for Bicycle and Pedestrian Use on Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park (Highway 120 through the park) will open for the season to all vehicular traffic beginning at 8:00 am on Thursday, June 29, 2017. There will be limited visitor services available from the Tioga Pass Entrance Station to Crane Flat. Tioga Road will open for bicycle and pedestrian users at 8:00 am Wednesday, June 28, 2017.

All visitors on the road are encouraged to use caution as there may be dirt, debris, and water flowing over sections of the road. Visitors are encouraged to keep an eye out for maintenance vehicles working on the roadway.

There will be minimal services available along the Tioga Road for several weeks. There will be no drinking water. Visitors should use the vault and portable toilets located along the roadway to help protect water quality in the Tuolumne River watershed. Food service and lodging are not available along the Tioga Road. There is no mobile phone service at this time and 911 emergency calls will not be operational. There are no gasoline services available along Tioga Road. Visitors can purchase gasoline in Lee Vining and at Crane Flat.
For maps and visitor information, visit the Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center, open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, the Big Oak Flat Information Station, the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, and the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center in Lee Vining.
Tamarack Flat Campground is the only campground that is currently open along Tioga Road. This campground is first-come, first served and fills early in the day.   

Anyone planning to hike or backpack near Tuolumne Meadows and in all high elevation areas of Yosemite should be prepared for winter hiking and camping conditions. Trails are still impacted by snow and ice. River crossings are high and swift moving. There are several high water areas currently impacting the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the John Muir Trail (JMT) in Yosemite National Park. Trail conditions may vary at any time.

When driving in the park, motorists are urged to drive slowly as bears and other animals are active and may be present on the roadway.
For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, please call 209-372-0200 and press 1.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Mono County Tourism Scores Magazine Cover at 2015 Cannes Film Festival!


When the Mono County Economic Development, Tourism, and Film Commission wanted to put its best foot forward with a publisher designing a magazine for global film location scouts, they turned to Eastern Sierra photographer Jeff Sullivan.  A landscape photographer and guidebook author living at Topaz Lake, Jeff has led dozens of photography workshops for night photography at the local ghost town of Bodie, as well as landscape photography workshops in the broader Eastern Sierra region of California, especially in the Mono Lake to Tioga Pass to Mammoth Lakes area of Mono County.  

The publisher, Boutique Editions, liked forwarded samples of Jeff's work so much, they selected the Bodie image above for the cover of Location International 2015!  The magazine is launched each year at the Festival de Cannes in May.  The publicity enjoyed by Mono County continued from there:
"The magazine is distributed to 15,000 movie professionals worldwide, and is also available at Locations Trade Show in LA; Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity; Berlinale; MIPTV and MIPCOM; Sundance Film Festival, Utah and at AFM in Los Angeles." 

It's Here!
Producing stunning photos of locations is nothing new to Jeff.  He wrote a 320-page guidebook to the best photography locations in California from Mono County and Yosemite to San Diego: "Photographing California Vol. 2 - South".  Locations, and great photos of them, are exactly what he focuses on.  Using the proceeds from the sale of this book to fund the creation of in-depth regional guides, he's on a mission to help you discover "the best of the West"!


The popularity of photo sharing and social media sites in recent years had given him excellent opportunities to showcase his work.  Participating on Flickr since 2006, he is one of the most-followed photographers on this site popular with serious photographers, with over 45,000 contacts and an average of about 10,000 views per day.

Posting his images on the new Google+ social media site in 2011 as he worked on his guidebook earned him a Top 100 ranking on the site in the site's first two years, amassing nearly 2 million contacts.  At least one of the common beliefs about social media post success id true: competent photos really do give social media posts a huge boost!  This helped Jeff succeed with his photography workshop business, since a post's reception on Google+ has been determined by Internet marketing consultants to be the #1 factor in helping a site achieving favorable placement in Google searches.*
* It's puzzling that many organizations invest in maintaining social media activity, but don't pay more attention to the quality of the photography in their posts!  That's like entering an auto race at Laguna Seca Racetrack in a Honda Accord.  Unless you drive a track-ready Porsche, your family car has no business running with race cars.  Similarly, investing in online marketing activity but using consumer-quality photography will cause your investment in marketing on the Internet to under-perform against the competition as well.  If you're going to compete with the best in the world at anything, including getting your social media posts noticed with the lowest possible investment of time, put your best foot forward and don't skimp on high quality, eye-catching images! 
Mono County and Boutique Editions weren't the only organizations noticing Jeff's work in 2015.  A travel company in the U.K. noticed his work and named him a "Top 100 Travel Photographer in the World 2015".   Upon his book release in late 2015 he took a celebration lap of the Western U.S. and Canada, and one of his photos from Yellowstone National Park won an Outdoor Photographer Magazine "iPhone and Instagram" contest.

To see Jeff's work from 2015, both new images and reworked images from past years, see his blog: "Top 10 Favorite Travel and Landscape Images From 2015".

Snowy Fall Aspen
Late Fall Colors on Conway Summit

Shaft of Water and Light
Sunset Rainbow at Topaz Lake
Rainbow over Standard Mill
Rainbow Over Bodie's Standard Mill

Award-winning landscape photographer and astrophotographer Jeff Sullivan has been exploring the American West for four decades.  Honing his DSLR photography since he took a 35mm darkroom photography class in eighth grade, Jeff started his freelance photography business in 2006.  He has led dozens of photography workshops in Yosemite, Death Valley, the Eastern Sierra and the historic Wild West ghost town of Bodie, California.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Manzanar National Historic Site

Manzanar National Historic Site, California


Mount Williamson, Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar
On February 19, 1942, seventy-five years ago today, the President of the United States authorized our government to incarcerate Americans. More than 110,000 American citizens and immigrants of Japanese ancestry were forced to give up their homes, businesses, and ways of life. 

This chapter of American history is included in history and civics education in California, but it doesn't seem to be common knowledge nationwide.


Ansel Adams photographed in and around Manzanar while it was in use.  My 2006 photo to the right was taken near where he captured his photo "Mount Williamson, Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar".

I included Manzanar on page 90 of in my 320-page photographers' guidebook "Photographing California Vol. 2 - South".


Manzanar Internment Camp