Here I am biding my time waiting to depart for my next photo trip. Winter is always a slow time of year for photography. Unless, of course, you like cold, snowy winter scenes, or you head to the southern half of the world where it is summer. But not this year. I am patiently waiting for spring and my trip to the Big Sur coast in central California.
Although I am biding my time, I have also been keeping my photo gear limber by doing some shooting along the coast in La Jolla. I have been patiently waiting for those times when the tidal conditions and sunset colors collide to make for "keeper" images. There was some success but it took several trips to the beach.
I have also been experimenting with some night sky photography. My first attempt was to get an image of the full moon rising over the visitor center at the Tijuana Estuary. That's a pretty specific mission, I know. But, being a volunteer photographer for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex, I had been requested to see about some unique shots of the refuge and I had thought a moonrise over the visitor center would be "unique". To prepare, I researched when a full moon would rise with sufficient ambient light to properly expose the visitor center.
Next I wanted to learn how to photograph the really dark, night sky with stars. After much reading, I decided that the Anza-Borrego desert would be a good place to try star photography. So my photo-buddy Bruce and I spent a couple of night in Borrego Springs trying to practice what we had learned about taking pictures of the stars. I was particularly interested in getting "star trails", not just the static stars. Getting good star trail images requires hours of exposures, making for late nights. Fortunately, this early in the year the sky is dark enough for star photography fairly early and we were back at the motel long before midnight.
In early April, Bruce and I attended a Night Sky Photography workshop sponsored by the Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park (www.joshuatree.org). The workshop was conducted by Dennis Mammana (www.dennismammana.com), an astronomer, night sky photographer and author. Dennis was very passionate about teaching proper techniques and procedures to obtain sharp focused and correctly exposed images. During the late night hours we practiced what Dennis had admonished. On one evening, we were visited by the Space Station which traversed through the sky where we were practicing.
It was a lot of fun trying these night shots and it has given me enough confidence to try again. Hopefully the night sky in Big Sur will not be too foggy or cloudy to shot the stars while I'm there. The plan is to try for a moonset over the Pacific Ocean. There is also going to be a full lunar eclipse at that time that I will be trying to photograph. Good luck with that! I'll let you know how that worked out when I return from Big Sur.