Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Wilderness

The #BloodMoon: Adventures in Night Photography

What do you get when you combine a Blood Moon, Supermoon, the Harvest Moon, AND sunset?

A rare celestial treat!

I went with a few friends to Artist Point to photograph the lunar eclipse as it rose over Mount Shuksan. Cheryl, Carol, and I went to meet local Bellingham photographer Mark Turner of Turner Photographics to walk out to Huntoon Point.

At Huntoon Point, there is an unnamed pond which has great reflections of Mount Shuksan. I’ve not really shot anything there, but it was new to me. To get a really good reflection, I reversed the column on my tripod and shot it upside down about 3 inches from the water. All photos shot with my Nikon D300s. My gear listing is at the end.

Last Rays on Mount Shuksan:

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography - The setting Sun ignites Mount Shuksan in its red hues as seen form Huntoon Point near Artist Point in Whatcom County, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography – A photographer sets up for the lunar eclipse as the setting Sun ignites Mount Shuksan in its red hues as seen from Huntoon Point. Lens was 17-35 set to 17mm. Exposure: 1/15th at f/22, WB manual set to Daylight, ISO 200. Camera timer set to 2 seconds, and delayed shutter opening to lower vibration.

Mount Shuksan is in the Cascade Mountains in the Mt. Baker-Snoqulamie National Forest of northern Washington. It is one of my favorite mountains due to its rugged beauty.

Getting Low

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - My camera at Huntoon Point. Flipped the column so I could get it as low as possible to capture as much of the reflection as possible.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – My camera at Huntoon Point. Flipped the column so I could get it as low as possible to capture as much of the reflection as possible. Photo from my Samsung Galaxy S6.

With my gear hanging precariously from the tripod head, I shot the reflection as the Sun began setting. The view was stunning. The alpenglow was fantastic!!! I’ve been here before, but the clouds and smoke prevented me from shooting any reflections.

Alpenglow:

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography - The last rays of the setting Sun bathe Mount Shuksan as its reflected in a pond Huntoon Point near Artist Point in Whatcom County, Wash., on Sunday evening Sept. 27, 2015

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography – The last rays of the setting Sun bathe Mount Shuksan as its reflected in a pond Huntoon Point.  Lens was my 17-35 set to 17. Exposure was 1/8th second at f/22. White Balance set to daylight, ISO at 200.

This evening, we were truly blessed with crisp, clear skies, and an amazing sunset that colored the mountain so beautifully. As we were waiting, a trumpeter started playing music on the ridge opposite of Shuksan. I had already flipped my camera up and moved it away from the shore and switched to my telephoto, so it was pretty easy to swing it around to capture this sight: the musician against the sky hued from the setting Sun.

Lone Musician:

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography - A trumpeter plays as the Sun sets during a lunar eclipse over Mount Shuksan in Whatcom County, Wash., on Sunday evening Sept. 27, 2015

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography – A trumpeter plays as the Sun sets during a lunar eclipse over Mount Shuksan. Tripod mounted Nikon D300s with my 70-200 lens set to about 150. Exposure was 1/6th at f/4, ISO 200, WB set to Daylight.

As the Moon began to rise over Mount Shuksan, you could barely see it. It was quite dark, like blood. However, the brightness of the Moon compared with Shuksan was equal. It made the exposure quite easy. The resulting photo was well exposed with little contrast and made for minimal post-processing.

On The Ridge:

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography - Lunar eclipse over Mount Shuksan as seen form Huntoon Point near Artist Point in Whatcom County, Wash., on Sunday evening Sept. 27, 2015

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography – The full Blood Moon begins to rise over Mount Shuksan. The brightness of the Moon and the mountain were equal making exposure fairly easy. Lens was 70-200 zoomed to 200, Exposure was f/4 at 4 seconds (notice the slight star trails), WB set to Daylight, and a slight crop in.

The red is a result of the rays from the sun being bent by Earth’s atmosphere. It’s the same reason that sunsets are red. The red light rays bend more than the blue.

As the Moon rose in the sky, the alpenglow on Shuksan faded forcing me to up my ISO to 800. This was so I could use a fast enough shutter speed to keep the Moon from blurring due to movement.

Over The Peak:

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography - Lunar eclipse over Mount Shuksan as seen form Huntoon Point near Artist Point in Whatcom County, Wash., on Sunday evening Sept. 27, 2015

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography – The Moon begins moving out of Earth’s shadow as it continues to rise over Mount Shuksan. The alpenglow on the mountain was gone and to keep the movement of the Moon to a minimum, I had to increase my ISO to 800. It introduced a little grain, but it was easily removed via noise reduction in Adobe Camera Raw. My 70-200 zoom lens set to about 100mm, aperture at f/2.8 and shutter at 4 seconds, WB still at Daylight.

As the Moon rose over the peak, I zoomed out as I liked the composition better. It gave a sense of place and just looked better as the peak was now pointing at the Moon. And one think I don’t like about 99% of moon photos, especially eclipse, they’re just a photo of the moon without any setting. Boring if you ask me.

***TIP: To keep the Moon as natural looking as possible, I set my white balance to manual on the “Daylight” setting. This keeps the Moon Natural, however, it adds a touch of blue to the landscape. The blue doesn’t bother me and adds to the overall photo.

As soon as maximum was over and the Moon was coming out of Earth’s shadow, it was pretty much time to go. The contrast between the Moon and surrounding mountains was too great to capture. It just resulted in a blown out Moon and barely visible surroundings. Also, my exposure was kept to below 4 seconds so the movement of the stars was minimal. I used my ISO to keep it that way.

Mark, Cheryl, Carol, and I packed up and headed back to the car. I was not fully aware of the images I caught until I arrived home and downloaded them.  As a rule, I don’t judge images from the back of the camera.

To keep the adventure simple, I carried minimal gear:

  • Nikon D300s body
  • Nikkor 24mm f/2 AI lens
  • Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8, Nikkor 17-35 f/2.8 lens
  • SB-910 speedlight with Odin remote trigger and receiver (if I found a foreground subject)
  • My Vanguard Abeo Plus 323CT tripod.

The gear was placed in an old Lowe Pro fanny pack that fits nicely into my Camelbak hiking pack. I also brought along my regular hiking gear, protein bars, a sandwich, and the bladder full of water. Forgot my coffee though, I was bummed.

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Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Paul Conrad is an award-winning, nationally and internationally published freelance editorial photographer living in Bellingham north of Seattle, WA, in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazine throughout the United States and in Europe. He is available for assignments anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.

His clients include Getty Images, Wire Image, AirBnB, The Bellingham Herald, and many local business in Whatcom County. Previous clients are Associated Press, the New York Times, L.A. Times, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, and many others.

His specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings.

Hiking the Chain Lakes Trail at Mt. Baker

On Thursday August 21st, my brother-in-law Kurt, friend Zach, and I hiked the chain Lakes Trail near Mt. Baker. It’s a moderate trail that ranges from easy to difficult. In fact, the last two miles of the trail is downhill. Along for the fun was Zach’s dog Domino.

Baker View:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad © Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Coleman Pinnacle, left, and Mt. Baker from Ptarmigan Ridge. We hiked about 1/2 mile down the trail before turning back to Chain Lakes Trail.Photography - Hike ;along the Chain Lakes Trail with Kurt, Zach, and Domino on Thursday August 20, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Coleman Pinnacle, left, and Mt. Baker from Ptarmigan Ridge. We hiked about 1/2 mile down the trail before turning back to Chain Lakes Trail.

Starting at Artist’s Point, we began the 7 mile loop at about 10:30 in the morning. It was cool and breezy. The sky was deep blue with patches of clouds around Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker. You can see steam rising from Sherman Crater.

 Kurt on the Trail:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Kurt passes a patch of fireweed as we approach Ptarmigan Ridge.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Kurt passes a patch of fireweed as we approach Ptarmigan Ridge.

The crater is the active part of Mt. Baker. For those who don’t know, Mt. Baker is the second most active volcano in the state of Washington. Right after Mt. Saint Helens.

Booyah! Scenes from “Dante’s Peak” came flashing in. How does one outrun a Pyroclastic flow?

Couple and Cairn:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A couple  pause at a cairn along the Chain Lakes Trail several hundred yards past the Ptarmigan Ridge turn-off. I came around the corner and saw them then the cairn. I used a shallow depth of field to set them against the forest.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A couple pause at a cairn along the Chain Lakes Trail several hundred yards past the Ptarmigan Ridge turn-off. I came around the corner and saw them then the cairn. I used a shallow depth of field to set them against the forest.

I packed as I’d normally pack when going on a day hike: a little too much. I used my Camelbak with a 100 oz. bladder full with fresh water, Petzl headlamp with fresh batteries, light jacket, compass, gloves, water filter, Leatherman knife, regular knife, eating utensils, protein bar, protein shake, jerky for snacking, and trail mix.

 Looking West from the Trail:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Coleman Pinnacle, left, Mt. Baker in clouds, and a few other peaks looking west from the trail.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Coleman Pinnacle, left, Mt. Baker in clouds, and a few other peaks looking west from the trail.

In the pack I also carried my 55mm f/2.8 macro for close-up shots in a soft pouch inside a waterproof bag, my Nikon SB-910 flash, SB-29 off-camera cord, my D300s, my 17-35 f/2.8, lens cleaner and cloth, and an extra battery. As weight was a bit of an issue, I left the tripod at home.

Starburst:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Sun forms a starburst through a grove of pine with the southern cliff face of Table Mountain on the left. I worked this to try to get the starburst. The aperture was at f/22 on my 17-35.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Sun forms a starburst through a grove of pine with the southern cliff face of Table Mountain on the left. I worked this to try to get the starburst. The aperture was at f/22 on my 17-35.

The weight in the pack was nominal, but I like to be prepared: both photographically and in case of an accident.

Fireweed:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - This was a pain to get. I was laying on the ground, holding my camera with one hand, and lifting myself enough to get the fireweed to line up with the tree line. Aperture on my 17-35 was at f/5.6 and at 17mm.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – This was a pain to get. I was laying on the ground, holding my camera with one hand, and lifting myself enough to get the fireweed to line up with the tree line. Aperture on my 17-35 was at f/5.6 and at 17mm.

After heading out, it was clear the photo ops would be phenomenal. The wildflowers were still in bloom, the sky fantastic, and although the light was mid day, it was just gorgeous.

As we hit about a mile out on the trail under the ridgeline of Table Mountain, we saw Mt. Baker in the distance over Ptarmigan Ridge with Coleman Pinnacle jutting into the bluebird sky. The passing clouds framed it wonderfully. The scenery towards Baker Lake was stunning.

Asters at Iceberg Lake:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Blue asters above Iceberg Lake along the Chain Lakes Trail. I used my 17-35 at 17 mm with an aperture of f/11. These are tiny flowers so I had to get super close. At f/11, it gave me sufficient depth of field to get the lake and surrounding mountains visible, but not overpowering. I like how they're a little out of focus.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Blue asters above Iceberg Lake along the Chain Lakes Trail. I used my 17-35 at 17 mm with an aperture of f/11. These are tiny flowers so I had to get super close. At f/11, it gave me sufficient depth of field to get the lake and surrounding mountains visible, but not overpowering. I like how they’re a little out of focus.

As we approached the fork in the trail, I saw the silhouette of a figure against a snow field under Mt. Baker. I took a few frames for posterity. Nothing grand. But here’s a link: Silhouette on Ptarmigan Ridge

Along the way there were some small patches of Fireweed, asters, and daisies. I’m no horticulturist, but I’m certain they’re daisies. As we walked between the lakes, the wildflowers were amazing. The fireweed were tall, the asters stunning, and the scenery unbeatable. Even this Colorado boy was stunned by the backwoods beauty.

Wildflowers

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Wildflowers along  the shore of Iceberg Lake.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Wildflowers along the shore of Iceberg Lake.

While we took a break at Iceberg Lake, Kurt decided it was time for a bath, well, sort of. He went to the water’s edge as he wanted to jump in. Instead after feeling the chill, he opted to cool down and wash his head. A wise move since we didn’t bring any blankets. And I wasn’t going to cuddle with him while he warmed up. LOL.

Kurt Shaking it Off: 

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Kurt shakes off the icy cold water after dipping his head in Iceberg Lake. It's called Iceberg for a reason Kurt.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Kurt shakes off the icy cold water after dipping his head in Iceberg Lake. It’s called Iceberg for a reason Kurt.

After the lakes,  we continued onto the trail which followed the saddle between Table Mountain and Mazama Dome. This provided a splendid view of the valley towards Mt. Shuksan.

The View From the Saddle:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Taking a break in Herman's Saddle, Zach takes photos of Domino as he lays in a snowfield. The peaks of Mt. Shuksan are shrouded by clouds. You can also see the road to Artist's Point on the left. You can see Mt. Sefrit and Nooksack Ridge in the background.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Taking a break in Herman’s Saddle, Zach takes photos of Domino as he lays in a snowfield. The peaks of Mt. Shuksan are shrouded by clouds. You can also see the road to Artist’s Point on the left. You can see Mt. Sefrit and Nooksack Ridge in the background.

From this viewpoint, it was pretty much downhill. Seriously, it was about 2 miles of downhill trail. Relatively easy-going. Unfortunately, Domino began getting tired and as a result, slipped on some sharp rocks and earned a slight cut. He was limping, but still strong.

Getting a Better View:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Kurt climbs atop boulders on Herman's Saddle to try and find an easier route back to Artist's Point. We opted to stay on trail.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Kurt climbs atop boulders on Herman’s Saddle to try to find an easier route back to Artist’s Point. We opted to stay on trail.

During one rough section, in order keep him from hurting his foot any more, Kurt carried him about 50 yards through one part of the trail that was bedded with sharp rock.

A Little Help From a Friend:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Kurt carries Domino through a rough part of the trail that was covered with sharp rocks.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Kurt carries Domino through a rough part of the trail that was covered with sharp rocks.

Half way down, we paused to take a break. We found a small grassy area to chill. This gave Domino a little time to recoup as we also caught our breath and reenergize with some trail snacks. Domino thought it was his playground and just did what dogs like to do, rolled around in the grass.

Happy Puppy:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography -Domino finds a little joy while rolling around in a grassy patch along the trail.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Domino finds a little joy while rolling around in a grassy patch along the trail.

Exhausted and beat at the end of the hike, I already decided I want to backpack in and spend a night at the lakes shooting the stars and trying to capture some of the Aurora Borealis we can sometimes see from Bellingham.

Selfie:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Had to stop for a selfie of me against a valley. I was about a foot from a cliff edge. No worries, I made it out safely.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Had to stop for a selfie of me against a valley. I was about a foot from a cliff edge. No worries, I made it out safely.

What a View – The Last Section of Trail:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography -Kurt, Zach, and Domino head down the trail after we leave Herman's Saddle. The view was fantastic. The light, clouds, sky, and greenery worked well together.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Kurt, Zach, and Domino head down the trail after we leave Herman’s Saddle. The view was fantastic. The light, clouds, sky, and greenery worked well together.

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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  3. Follow me on Twitter
  4. Follow me on Pinterest

Paul Conrad is an award-winning, nationally published freelance photographer living in Bellingham, Wash., in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazine throughout the United States and in Europe.

His specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings. He is available for short and long-term assignments.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Shooting the alpenglow on Mt. Shucksan while waiting for the rise of the super perigee Moon on Saturday evening June 22, 2013. As I liked the reflection better, I turned the center post of the tripod upside down to get my camera closer. Unfortunately, I inadvertently hit the focus ring and knocked it out of focus.

Tape: A Small, Yet Useful Tool

Think about this: What minor tool do you use regulary, that if you forgot, it would impact your image taking?

It was a beautiful clear evening and the super perigee Moon was coming up on Saturday June 22, 2013. Checking a few of my favorite shooting spots, The Photographer’s Ephemeris said the Moon should be rising above Mt. Shuksan in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. So, I loaded up my gear into the car, kissed my wife on the forehead, and drove to Picture Lake at the Mount Baker Ski Area.

Setting Up:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Shooting the alpenglow on Mt. Shucksan while waiting for the rise of the super perigee Moon on Saturday evening June 22, 2013. As I liked the reflection better, I turned the center post of the tripod upside down to get my camera closer. Unfortunately, I inadvertently hit the focus ring and knocked it out of focus.

But the one simple tool I forgot: A small roll of gaffer’s tape. I usually keep a roll in my camera bag, but earlier I had taken it out to tape up a backdrop to some poles. It last forever. I bought my trio of black, white, and gray, from Glazer’s Camera for about $12

For some reason, I took it out of my camera bag the day before and forgot to put it back in. I did not realize I forgot it until I arrived at my destination and began setting up for the shoot.

What I usually do is simple. After setting my camera up, I focus the lens, turn off the autofocus, and tape the focus ring. However, without tape, this was a futile effort.

Taping the Lens:

A small piece of Gaffer's Tape would've prevented a costly mishap

As Picture Lake was still frozen from the winter, I set my camera up on my tripod nearest I could to a melted portion of the lake. After spending about 15 or 20 minutes shooting, I wanted to get my camera lower to the water to get more of Mt. Shuksan reflected in the melted portion of the lake.

So I took the tripod and flipped the center pole. Then I put the tripod back where it was and adjusted the composition. I used video mode to do this. However, I unknowingly bumped the focus ring and for the next 20 frames, the mountain was out and the freezing water was in focus.

Upside Down:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Shooting the alpenglow on Mt. Shuksan while waiting for the rise of the super perigee Moon on Saturday evening June 22, 2013. As I liked the reflection better, I turned the center post of the tripod upside down to get my camera closer. Unfortunately, I inadvertently hit the focus ring and knocked it out of focus.

After taking a few shots, I checked the images. They looked good and the composition was better as you can see more of the mountain in the water. However, I did not zoom in to check the focus. Always zoom in to check the focus of your photos. It never hurts.

As the Moon began to rise over the ridge on the right side of the mountain, I continued taking photographs.

Out of Focus

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The super perigee Moon rises over Mt. Shuksan in Whatcom County East of Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday evening June 22, 2013.This out of focus shot could have been prevented with a 10 cent piece of tape.

After the Moon was fully over the ridge, I pulled the rig out of the water and began checking the images. It was not until then that I noticed the images were not in focus. Not a lot I can do but continue to shoot.

But, I was able to salvage one frame from this: The alpenglow on Mount Shuksan before the super perigee Moon rose over the ridge.

The One Salvaged Image:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography -  Mount Shuksan is reflected in a thawing Picture Lake as it is lit by the setting Sun on Saturday June, 22, 2013, while the super perigee Moon begins its ascent into the sky.

After getting home, I downloaded and was hoping the images were not as bad as I thought. The were.

One simple piece of tape most likely would’ve prevented the mishap. But, I got one good shot at least.

So back to the original question: What one little thing do you use on a regular basis that if you forgot, it would impact your photography?

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

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography The last rays of the setting Sun bathes the snow-capped peak of Mount Baker in alpenglow as the lights of the city of Bellingham, Wash., begin to turn on during evening April 23, 2013.

Mount Baker in Alpenglow

Just a quick posting of a beautiful photograph I captured of Mount Baker from Tuesday evening April 23, 2013.

Mt. Baker in Alpenglow:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The last rays of the setting Sun bathes the snow-capped peak of Mount Baker in alpenglow as the lights of the city of Bellingham, Wash., begin to turn on during evening April 23, 2013.

Several weeks before I shot this image, I was driving westbound on Bakerview Avenue in Bellingham, Wash. It was just before sunset when my wife Heidi and I just left the gym. As we were stopped at the light, I looked in the rearview mirrow and saw Mt. Baker in this beautiful light. The alpenglow was gorgeous.

On Monday evening while driving home, It was a starkly clear day. I told myself if it was going to another crisp and clear evening, I was going to skip the gym and drive to Lummi Shore Drive, which is west across Bellingham Bay from Bellingham.

It was a crisp day so I left the gym early, drove to Lummi Shore, and captured this.

Prints available for purchase for all sizes up to 24″ x 36″
Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. All comments are appreciated.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography

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