Saturday, July 16, 2011

Yosemite By Moonlight

Another sojourn to Yosemite National Park, one of my favorite places to be.  Especially since I can now get in free ... well, $10.00 for a lifetime pass, but that counts as free.  This time for another beautiful full moon, which by the way you can't see unless you leave the park.  The mountain walls are too high and the moon too far south.  What we DO get is moonlight for pictures.  We spent the first couple hours taking images of ferns, flowers and miscellaneous "stuff", waiting for the main feature.
Gee .. flowers you say.  The trials of getting this image are great.  First I slid down the cliff carrying 20 pounds of camera and tripod, with keys and other miscellaneous equipment swinging from lanyards around my neck ... to the swamp!  Do you know what grows in swamps besides flowers?  Mosquitos ... BIG ones!!!  By the time I got my tripod set up low to the ground in order to take this picture, I was bitten numerous times, had wet tennis shoes and very wet dirty knees on my jeans.  Finally ready to take the picture ... the wind starts blowing.  What you get are lots of blurry images, since the shutter speed needs to be very slow due to the fading light.  So one out of 35 flower pics isn't bad, right??
Here's the swamp ... so you can visualize the conditions .....
Next we're off to try painting with light.  We each picked a tree or object we wanted lit, but by now it's pitch dark.  Traipsing through the meadow with camera, tripod, same stuff around my neck but adding a flashlight (wrist mounted), an SB900 flash (big and heavy) and pieces of gel to cover the flash and add color.  Shutter times now are anywhere from 45 seconds to 5 minutes.  It takes as long for the camera to produce the image in the display (so you can see where to set the camera since it's so dark you can't really see through the viewfinder!!)  as it does for it to take the image.  Lots of patience and waiting in this game.  First results are here ... orange gel.
In case you are interested, 400 iso, F 3.5 for 45 seconds.  You set the camera on "bulb", push the shutter button, place the gel over the flash and hold it where you want the light, setting off the flash.  When the shutter finally trips after 45 seconds, this is what you get.  The first few times I got beautiful light on the grass in front of me and on the photographer next to me.  What I REALLY needed was a helper to work the flash and lure the mosquitos away.  My favorite red gel was next.
The first few images had a little too much red in them.  My photographer/nurse friend Cyndy said they  looked like blood vessels ... yuck!!  You can also use a flashlight, running it over the areas you want highlighted ... but it's not as dramatic as the gels.
Okay, I'm tired of fumbling around with all this equipment.  Time for just a straight moonlight lit image of El Capitan.  I have to say nature does an amazing job.  When I got back, I put this image in Photoshop and went to work on it.  I made several adjustments, then compared that image to the original.  The original with no adjustments was so much better!!!  I deleted the shopped one and kept the original ... here it is!!
I love this image.  So that's it ... I was up at 4:00 a.m. Thursday morning in order to acquire an entry registration to the Nike Womens Marathon.  I stood in line in Stockton for 3.75 hours and had to spend $215 (I got the entry) ... back by 1:00 p.m., I couldn't nap because my dog wanted to play ... and play ... and ... you get the picture.  I finally got home from Yosemite at 12:30 a.m.  Hence it has taken me two days to rest up and get these posted!!  LOL  Note to self:  leave a can of OFF mosquito spray in the truck and let someone else drive so you can sleep!!!

1 comment:

  1. Once again, beautiful shots. Bring your gel with you when you come to G.C., (no full moon, but some sunrises and sunsets)a photographers paradise.