SuperMoon

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.

8×12 and larger Canvas and Metal prints available from my website at Paul Conrad Photography. Or email me at paulconradphotography@gmail.com to ask me question about ordering.Don’t forget to sign up for email updates with tips and tricks to improve your photography.

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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.

#Supermoon over #Bellingham

It was the Supermoon on the horizon that had me rushing all over. This year’s “Supermoon” was actually one of the largest. 14% larger than the Moon when full at apogee.

The so-called Supermoon is technically a full moon when it is at perigee. Or the point closest to Earth in its orbit. On top of that, the Moon was full less than 30 minutes before it reached perigee.

First Shot – Moon Over Museum:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The super perigee Moon rises over the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday evening August 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The super perigee Moon rises over the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday evening August 10, 2014. If it weren’t for the power lines, this would’ve been the shot. I think they’re incredibly distracting.

Using both The Photographer’s ephemeris and Sun Surveyor by Adam Ratana. I use both apps on my smart phone. The ephemeris is used to help me find a spot during the day time to line up a foreground subject. Then I use Sun Surveyor to find the near exact spot I should be. The big advantage SS has over TPE is that it shows the real path of the Sun or Moon as it transits the sky. TPE is a good general tool and not much else.

Second Shot – Moon Over Museum:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The super perigee Moon rising over Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday evening August 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Although very similar to a photo I shot last year of a supermoon, I like this better because there are no distracting power lines.

My subject was the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash. It was built-in 1892 and is a beautiful red brick building with white trim. It was formerly the Whatcom County Courthouse, but a new courthouse was built and so the old one became a museum and local landmark.

One problem: getting a clear view of the museum and moon. Because of all the power lines, it’s difficult to get a good shot of the museum and moon in a line-free photo.

So as I set out looking, I came across a great view of the courthouse and I could see a touch of the moon. ONLY problem was all the power lines in the way. I was on a hill just east of Squalicum Harbor watching the Moon rise over the distant ridge line just behind the museum. I stay and shot some frames anyway for posterity. I like it at it shows the size of the moon, but the power lines are annoying.

Just One More:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The super perigee Moon rising over Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday evening August 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – I like the glow from the Moon on the haze behind the museum. Adds a sense of mystery.

I then drove to the one spot I planned to shoot from. Clear shot of the museum and the moon. But it’s also very similar to another Supermoon shot from last year. But the big difference in this is that the moon rise was just before sunset. So the exposure was more workable. Plus, I imported into Lightroom which made the post-processing of the image even easier. I was able to get the Moon to look more natural against the tower of the museum.

Not like they’re actually rare events, I’m hoping on the next one to find a better spot. Perhaps the Twin Sisters would be a great shot with the Moon rising over them?

Prints of this image and many others available for purchase on my website Supermoon Over Museum.

View more of my images from the Bellingham area at Urban Scenes: Bellingham, Wash.

Which photo is your favorite? And why? Let me know in the comments below.

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

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Fixing a Photo to Make it Better

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali.

Even though perfection is not attainable, by attempting to reach it, you become a better person and a better photographer.

It’s one of my favorite shots so far this year. Definitely in the top 12. But to me, it had an annoying flaw.

On Monday I chased the rising full Moon. The race started in Whatcom County north of Bellingham, Wash., and ended in downtown. Here’s the earlier post showing Mount Baker in alpenglow and the Moon rising over a ridge: A Quick Update, and a Few Photos

Supermoon over Whatcom Museum and Art Gallery- Final Image

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The full super perigee Moon rises over the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., on Monday evening July 22, 2012.

Earlier in the day I used The Photographer’s Ephemeris to plan my shoot for evening rising of the full Moon. I wanted a nice shot of the Moon as it rose over Mt. Baker, but to get a clear shot I’d have to drive into Canada. That was clearly out of the question. Not that there’s anything wrong with Canadians, I just didn’t want to drive that far.

So I set my sights on local landmarks. With the TPE on my phone, I drove to a spot to see where I could get a clear shot of the Moon over the courthouse, the tallest steeple in Whatcom County, and a few other places.

Although the TPE is a valuable tool, it only shows where on the HORIZON the Sun or Moon will rise. It does not give the approximate trajectory as the object arcs its way across the sky.With that I use the Sun Surveyor app on my phone. I just point it in the direction I want to shoot and it shows the trajectory of the Sun or Moon across the sky. It’s pretty cool. And fairly accurate. However, you MUST calibrate your phone each time you turn on the app. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow my advice and calibrate the app. The trajectory was way off and I cancelled shooting the Whatcom County Courthouse and Museum.

So instead I headed north and shot the alpenglow on Mount Baker and the Moon rising over a ridgeline. After that, I decided to take a chance and drive to the Courthouse and try to get it. I really love the old building. It’s classic late 1800s architecture and well maintained.

The Moon wasn’t high enough to be visible yet. As the Courthouse become visible, you could see the glow of the Moon to the LEFT of it and not the RIGHT which the uncalibrated app showed. So I had time to find a spot.

I stopped about 1/4 mile from it and within minutes found a clean unobstructed shot. The courthouse is surrounded by power lines and poles for some strange. But I got lucky and walked down an alley and found a spot with a clear view of the courthouse.

First “completed image:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - You can notice the cyan haze around the Moon in the original version. After getting rid of the black ring, I worked on reducing the cyan glow. The end result is a much better looking photograph. The full Moon rises over the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., on Monday evening July 22, 2012.

Now using the Surveyor and properly calibrating it, I could tell if I moved about 10 yards to the left, I’ll get the Moon between two spires. When I did, and the Moon finally came out from behind the courthouse and it was a beautiful sight. The yellowish Moon between a perfectly lit red brick with white trim Victorian era building.

But UGH!!! Can’t get the exposure to work for me. Either the moon is perfectly exposed and the building underexposed, or the moon’s blown out and the building perfect. And I’m a “Get it in Camera” kinda guy.

The Black Ring:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - I could not see the dark ring around the edge of moon unless the image was blown up to 100% or more. But knowing it was there, I needed to fix it.

When I got home, I actually chose a frame with the moon slightly overexposed and plenty of detail in the building but it was dark. Importing the NEF file into Adobe Camera Raw, I adjusted it for color balance favoring the tungsten lights on the building over the sunlit moon, added 100% to the “highlight recovery,” 100% to the “fill light,” and left the rest alone.

When it imported to Photoshop, I did some pre-burning of the moon to add a little contrast. With relatively simple curve adjustment brought out the color and texture of the courthouse without overexposing the moon. Then I added a warming layer at 25% to add just a touch of warmth to the photo and knock out some of the blue in the sky as I thought it looked fake.

It looked super nice. However, upon closer inspection of the moon, I noticed a black ring just inside the edge and a cyan halo around it. Ugh. What would cause it? Investigating the cause led nowhere. Until I took the NEF back into ACR and played with the adjustments.

The “fill light” setting was a touch too high. So I dropped it a bit, but it was still there, barely. Then using clone and heal, removed it as best I could. The used the “Replace Color” tool found under “Image > Adjustments,” I selected only the cyan channel and a very narrow band, and changed the color slightly (by a +5 or so) and dropped the saturation to a -5. This fixed it for me.

Before / After:

Minor adjustments was all it was. Just a simple matter of paying attention to your settings both in camera and while you’re post-processing.

Have you ever had an image you weren’t happy with? What did you do to correct it?

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 super full Moon rises over a ridge in Whatcom County north of Bellingham, Wash., on Monday July 22, 2013.

A Quick Update and a Few Photos: Mount Baker in Alpenglow

With my photography biz picking up, I’ve been rather busy and have neglected to post new entries.

I’ve got more work from Getty Images, a few local companies have hired me to shoot portraits of their staff and products, getting wedding and engagement inquiries, and have been out shooting my personal stuff. And I’ve kept a day job working in a retail store.

With that being said, you now know why I picked the one photo as the lead photo for this blog. So, I’m going to get the ball rolling and kick this adventure into high gear.

With that being said, here are a few photos from just this past week. On Monday, I chased the super perigee Moon, or “SuperMoon,” while it rose over Whatcom County and Bellingham, Wash.

“Rolling Ball”

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A super perigee Moon appears to roll down a hill while rising in the southeaston Monday evening July 22, 2013, in Whatcom County north of Bellingham, Wash.

I was on Ferndale Road watching the light on Mount Baker. The beautiful alpenglow was palpably delicious. I saw a field of potatoes ready for harvest. Their flowered tops flowing in the breeze.

As the Sun set in the northwest, I had my lens focused on Mount Baker to the east. I turned around to see the setting Sun through the wheat grass. I quickly removed my camera from the tripod and shot a few frames. With a wide aperture to capture only the grasses in focus, the Sun appeared as a small orb in the lower left. I also underexposed a few stops to keep the grasses in silhouette.

“Amber Waves of Grain”

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The setting Sun silhuoettes wheat grass growing along Ferndale Road in Whatcom County north of Bellingham, Wash., on Monday evening July 22, 2013.

Just moments after the Sun dipped below the horizon, the remain light bathed Mount Baker in a beautiful purple alpenglow. I had to quickly shoot some frames before it disappeared. Just after that, the full Moon began rising above a ridge south of Mount Baker. I could just see the glow of the Moon.

“Purple Mountains Majesty”

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The setting Sun alights Mount Baker in alpenglow on Monday evening July 22, 2013.

I repositioned my camera with my telephoto to shoot it. It reminded me of a photo shot by the great photographer Peter Turner called “Rolling Ball.” Photographer Eric Meola wrote about this iconic piece on his blog titled “Finding Pete Turner’s Rolling Ball.”

After shooting that photo, I chased down another opportunity I scoped out earlier in the day: The rising Moon above the old Whatcom County Courthouse. That adventure is for an upcoming post. Nothing like seeing a beautiful, awe-inspiring scene to have it ruined because of the limitations of digital cameras. I’ll update with a link to the blog. But for now, here’s a link to the photograph: Full Moon over the Whatcom Museum.

Here’s a quick view of some future blogs:

•    Before/After: Fixing a Photo
•    Critiquing photos: 3 easy steps to help you learn photography
•    Spray and Pray: Don’t hope you get the shot, plan to get the shot
•    Photo Updates: (Victoria’s Secret, Daily shoots, etc.)
•    What I learned working retail ( I worked at Home Depot for a while).

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on various Social Networks:
Pablo Conrad Photography

“Like” my Page on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Pinterest

Follow Me on Google+

My Page on 500px