Solar Eclipse and the Apocalypse in the Pacific Northwest

Yesterday, Thursday October 23, 2014, was apocalyptic. The weather we had here in the Seattle area was remarkable and unprecedented.

We had thunder and lightning, heavy rain, high wind, flooding, and a tornado. Yes, a tornado. The second one in a month. First was a waterspout in south Puget Sound. The second was in Longview, Wash.:  Tornado on KIRO TV

And during all this, a Solar Eclipse.

 Just Peeking:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The horns of a solar eclipse peek over the flag flying at the intersection of Northwest and Birchwood Avenues in Bellingham, Wash., during the partial solar eclipse on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The horns of a solar eclipse peek over the flag flying at the intersection of Northwest and Birchwood Avenues in Bellingham, Wash., during the partial solar eclipse on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

Yep, A Solar Eclipse.

I didn’t expect to see it. The clouds and rains continued throughout the morning. I thought my plans to shoot it were thwarted so I opted to get caught up on house chores.

While doing laundry, I kept an eye out for the clouds to part. Oddly enough, the rain stopped and the sky cleared just as I put in the last load into the dryer. Sweet.

Must put my plans back into action. To save time, I preset my D300s with my 80-200 f/2.8

First Attempt at the Cross:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Walnut Street in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. While shooting this, I realized a thin veil of cloud would help bring the foreground object and eclipse into the dynamic range of the camera.

Lacking the phone and my computer as they were in the house, I grabbed my B+W ND3 neutral density filter to look at the sun. The eclipse hadn’t started yet.

As I didn’t know the weather would cooperate, I hurriedly finished the laundry (ie threw it on the bed. LOL) and headed out to check on a few spots I planned out.

So, I headed out to my first place: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at the intersection of Walnut and Eldridge Avenues.

While driving there, I saw how the wind was whipping a large U.S. flag on a tall pole as I passed it. So I turned around to photograph the progressing eclipse.

But, after shooting a few frames, I looked at the photos and saw how over exposed the images were.  With that, I chose to use my ND2 neutral density filter with its 6 stop loss of light. This allowed me to shoot at a high shutter speed while maintaining a wide aperture..

In It’s Glory:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A seagull lands on the flag pole at the intersection of Northwest and Birchwood Avenues in Bellingham, Wash., during the partial solar eclipse on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A seagull lands on the flag pole at the intersection of Northwest and Birchwood Avenues in Bellingham, Wash., during the partial solar eclipse on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

Plus it cut the light to protect the interior of the lens and lessen the intensity of the light hitting the sensor. With a few better exposed frames, I left then headed to my original place.

Upon arriving, I found a parking spot that gave me great flexibility to move, but I couldn’t align the cross with the eclipse. The positioning required me to shoot through a tree. But I was able to frame the duo with the branches of the tree.

However, I couldn’t get a decent exposure. Either the eclipse was blown out, or the foreground was black. Very difficult to expose for it well.

Requiem II:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Walnut Street in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Walnut Street in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

As much as I hated it, I needed clouds. Thin clouds would cut down the light and allow the eclipse to show. This would help balance the exposure.

After 10 minutes, I decided to drive to Assumption Catholic Church. This also allowed the eclipse to progress and the clouds to move in. When I got to the church, it was clear it wouldn’t work.

By this time, the clouds were moving in rather quick. I headed back to the parking lot by the Episcopal church. When I arrived, the eclipse was lower to the horizon and the clouds were cooperating. The tree was no longer a bother.

Requiem I:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Walnut Street in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Walnut Street in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

While shooting, I noticed how the cross would silhouette against a bright cloud that also dimmed the eclipse. The clouds were moving fast, so I needed to move fast. And what do you know?

A pickup truck was parked right where I need to be. So with me running around this truck in the parking lot working the eclipse before it disappeared, I’m sure it looked weird to anyone watching as I ran around the truck pointing my lens towards the heavens.

My favorite photo is the one titled “Requiem I.” It’s simple and clean

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on these various Social Networks:

  1. Follow Me on Google+
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Paul is a Seattle-based photojournalist specializing in news, sports, feature, travel, and portraiture. He also photographs weddings and portraits in Bellingham, Whatcom County, and Skagit County.

He is available for assignments in the Pacific Northwest. Contact him at paulconradphotography@gmail.com or (206) 450-8632 for availability.

The 2014 October Challenge Swim Meet

Sometimes, the most seeming disorganized event can be the pearl in the oyster when it comes to images. Case in point, the 2014 October Challenge Swim Meet in Bellingham, Wash., at the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center on Saturday Oct. 11th.

The Bellingham Bay Swim Team sponsored meet featured over 300 swimmers in five teams from the Pacific Northwest. Swimmers in high school and below competed in many different events.

Butterfly:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Cole Avery, 17, of Bellingham, Wash., competes in the 200 yard butterfly during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hannah Aquatic Center  in Bellingham on Saturday afternoon Oct. 11, 2014. Avery ended with a time of 1:57.16 winning the event.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Cole Avery, 17, of Bellingham, Wash., competes in the 200 yard butterfly during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hanna Aquatic Center in Bellingham on Saturday afternoon Oct. 11, 2014. Avery ended with a time of 1:57.16 winning the event.

The first thing I did was find and introduce myself to one of the hosting coaches. It’s a good idea to let them know you’re there and shooting. Make sure you get a roster and list of events from the coach. You need to keep track of the races you shoot and the competitors names.

Warming Up:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Swimmers warm up during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hannah Aquatic Center  in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 11, 2014. Over 300 swimmers up to age 18 from four swimming teams in the Pacific Northwest participated in the competition.The annual event is hosted by the Bellingham Bay Swim Team.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Swimmers warm up during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hanna Aquatic Center in Bellingham, Wash.

What I usually do is take a photo of the scoring board before the event starts so I know what event and heat number is competing. Then I focus on the faster swimmers to see who is more aggressive. Those are the ones that will get you a good facial expression as they are trying harder.

Breast Stroke:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Rowan King, 15, of Bellingham, competes in the 200 yard breaststroke during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hannah Aquatic Center  in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 11, 2014. Over 300 swimmers up to age 18 from four swimming teams in the Pacific Northwest participated in the competition.The annual event is hosted by the Bellingham Bay Swim Team.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Rowan King, 15, of Bellingham, competes in the 200 yard breaststroke during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hanna Aquatic Center in Bellingham, Wash.

As I shot, I circled the name of the competitor I concentrated on then verified the name with the coach when I had a few moments. I also shot the scoring board after each event to get the time. And then when it switched I shot another. Doing that bookmarked the series of images so I could get the correct identity of the event and swimmer.

Cheering:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - As their teammate Rowan King, 15, approaches the edge, Cole Avery, 17, of Bellingham, left, and Kean Rouse, 16, of Ferndale, cheer him on as he competes in the 200 yard breaststroke during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hannah Aquatic Center  in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 11, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – As their teammate Rowan King, 15, approaches the edge, Cole Avery, 17, of Bellingham, left, and Kean Rouse, 16, of Ferndale, cheer him on as he competes in the 200 yard breaststroke/

Here’s a few tips:

Get Low: Don’t be afraid to get a little wet. Lay down at the edge of the pool where the swimmers turn around. Laying down gives you a better angle to capture the faces as they swim. Except the backstroke swimmers.

Protect Your Gear: This may sound like common sense but keep your camera bag and extra gear to the side away from the pool and away from the swimmers. Make sure your bag is closed. I inadvertently left mine open and a swimmer who had just finished, began to drip water in it. They were unaware. Luckily, just a few drops made it in. But keep it closed, covered, and on a shelf away from spectators and swimmers.

Breaking Through:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Rowan King, 15, of Bellingham, Wash., comes out of the water as he competes in the 200 yard breaststroke during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hannah Aquatic Center  in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 11, 2014. Over 300 swimmers up to age 18 from four swimming teams in the Pacific Northwest participated in the competition.The annual event is hosted by the Bellingham Bay Swim Team.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Rowan King, 15, of Bellingham, Wash., comes out of the water as he competes in the 200 yard breaststroke.

White Balance: Due to the fluctuating color balance, like in High School football stadiums, leave set it to automatic. This is to get a more correct exposure meter reading and make it easier to keep your colors “accurate” during your workflow.  When shooting, you’ll notice the color change frame to frame as you scroll through your images.

Exposure. Most my images were exposed about 1/3 to 2/3 under. I wanted a fast shutter speed and the pool was dark. It was cloudy out and the windows are on the north side of the pool so it doesn’t get direct sun. So to keep a reasonably fast shutter, I underexposed a touch.

Backstroke:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - McKenzie Pham with the Bellingham Bay Swim Team compets in the 200 yard backstroke during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hannah Aquatic Center  in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 11, 2014. Over 300 swimmers up to age 18 from four swimming teams in the Pacific Northwest participated in the competition.The annual event is hosted by the Bellingham Bay Swim Team.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – McKenzie Pham with the Bellingham Bay Swim Team competes in the 200 yard backstroke.

Aperture: Keep it around f/4. You want a little depth of field but not too much as you want to keep your shutter speed fast. But don’t forget to get creative and play with slow shutter speeds.

Lenses: I used both my 80-200 and 17-35. The wider focal lengths for features and the longer for competition shots. With the exception of a few shots when I first arrived, I avoided using  the wide lens as that meant getting close to the pool and increasing the chance my gear will get splashed.

******  Waterproof Housing: Although I wanted to, I was not able to use my underwater housing. I have a Ewa Marine U-BFZ100 that I like to take so I can get a few underwater shots. However, as the officials don’t allow being in the pool, usually I lay on my belly, and stick the camera as far down into the water as possible. But the design of the pool dictates that and this pool’s sides were not conducive.

Example of an Underwater Shot

©Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Aspen High freshman Keely Roberts approaches the middle of her 6th lap during the 500 yard freestyle of the Tri-Met at the Aspen Recreation Center in Aspen. Roberts won with a time of 6:53.13.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Aspen High freshman Keely Roberts approaches the middle of her 6th lap during the 500 yard freestyle of the Tri-Met at the Aspen Recreation Center in Aspen. Roberts won with a time of 6:53.13.

 

 

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, and just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on these various Social Networks:

  1. Follow Me on Google+
  2. “Like” my Page on Facebook
  3. Follow me on Twitter
  4. Follow me on Pinterest

Paul is a Seattle-based photojournalist specializing in news, sports, feature, travel, and portraiture. He also photographs weddings and portraits in Bellingham, Whatcom County, and Skagit County.

He is available for assignments in the Pacific Northwest. Contact him at paulconradphotography@gmail.com or (206) 450-8632 for availability.