Capturing the Scene

The enhanced picture

The enhanced picture

Yesterday, I posted the picture of Sunday’s sunset as my camera saw it.  I wanted to show you what I saw on the canvas of my mind.  While better, this still doesn’t do justice to the fiery glory of that sky.

I probably wouldn’t have mentioned it were it not for what happened last evening.  Sylvia had called from Glen Lake and as we were talking I heard the distinctive sound of air brakes.  Sylvia said a big truck had just stopped in front of the cabin.  Soon, I heard a male voice with a Carolina accent.  The driver asked for permission to shoot a picture of the lake, which Sylvia granted.  I heard him say, “My wife won’t believe this when I get home to South Carolina!”

The time was about 9:30 PM and the sun was below the horizon.  The cabin is a couple hundred feet or so above the lake.  The view is spectacular.  Sylvia said, “I don’t know what he could have captured in this light.”

He was pleased.  I heard him thank her as he returned to his truck and continued on his way down the road.  (It’s down in every direction from the cabin, except across the road which continues to rise.)

With today’s digital photography he may have done okay.  I’m surprised at what my new camera does.

That’s what inspired me take “digital liberties” with today’s image.

More to follow on this topic.

Posted in sky


The bard wrote these lines for Brutus in his play, Julius Caesar.  “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”

My mom used to put it this way, “It’s to late to close the barn door after the horse is out.”  You probably know more expressions of the importance of timing.

I’ve seen the critical nature of timing many times while trying to catch action in a photo.  Thanks to digital photography and burst mode, I’ve been able to capture action in a still shot.

Last night, I saw that illustrated in nature.  I was on the phone with my son, Scott.  I was walking toward the office to check on something when I looked out the window.  I continued to the office, picked up my camera and went out onto the front deck.

Sunday sunset

Sunday sunset

Unfortunately, the camera does not capture the vivid contrast that my eye saw.  I didn’t want to mess with the image so this has only been resized.

As our conversation continued, I told Scott what I was seeing.  And as I watched, the glory began to fade.  Rather slowly, but it was also obviously fading.

Have you experienced the importance of timing?

Posted in sky

Dramatic Sky

On Saturday, I went out to check the garden.  The peas were ready for picking.  Everything else was looking good.  That’s when I realized that there was something different about the light.  A glance at the sky sent me back to the house to fetch the camera.

Here’s what I had seen:

We don't often see shelf clouds like this

We don’t often see shelf clouds like this

On the front deck I capture more images.

This looked ominous

This looked ominous

Peas can wait.  I’m taking pictures.

The front kept moving toward me

The front kept moving toward me

A couple of seconds later, I could see an interesting boundary passing over head.

Does it make you feel uncomfortable?

Does it make you feel uncomfortable?

There would be no more images of interest in this system.  I turned and walked back in the house.

Shortly after the door closed the rain began.  Heavy rain.  Very heavy rain.

Zucchini and butternut squash are not appreciating all this rain.  I don’t like to see their yellow leaves.  However, it was fun to watch this front approaching.

Dark & Stormy

No doubt, you’ve heard that cliché story opener, “It was a dark and stormy night.”  That overused line actually applied here last night.  It was a little after two AM when I awoke.  I hadn’t been asleep very long, so why was I awake?

Then a light came on.  Went back out.  What?  Out of bed.  On my feet.  A bit more alert.  It happened again.

Lightning!  A muted rolling thunder followed sometime later.  It was far away.

I looked out the bedroom window.  The action is to the south.

In the office, I lifted the blinds.  There was a light show going on over Kalamazoo.

Thirty second exposure

Caught in the act

You can see lightning bolts in this image.  They are not as bright as you might like.  This is the result of average brightness over the 30-sec exposure time.  Still, they are clearly visible if not as dramatic as they appeared to my eye.

The colored lights in the lower center frame are not part of an alien navigation beacon system.  It’s just a reflection on the window I was shooting through.  The light on the right is in my neighbor’s house.

Come four AM, I was finally asleep.  Heavy rain had started to fall on the roof a couple of minutes earlier.

Another Fun Visit

Yesterday afternoon, our friend Sharkey stopped in for an overnight visit.  Sylvia and I always look forward to her visits.  We know we’re in for a lot of good conversations and laughs.  We didn’t do instrumental music this time, but we did sing.

In the evening, Sylvia and Sharkey were sitting at the table playing a word game.  They were getting into it and were enjoying themselves immensely.  I was in a corner reading and relaxing in my recliner.  The sun was about ready to set when I noticed a bit of color on display.

I started walking toward the office.  The camera is kept there, and the way leads past windows with good views of the western sky.

Sylvia asked, “Did you see that sun.”  “I saw it and have the camera,” I replied just before stepping onto the front deck.

Sunset and thunderstorm -- Awesome

Sunset and thunderstorm — Awesome

I didn’t capture any lightening, nor did the image contain the sounds of thunder that followed.  A short while later the rain arrived on our roof and grounds.

Looking for a Ringer



Feeling encouraged by the warmer air and the fact that Saturn is now at “opposition” (which gives us our best view), I made plans to do some star gazing.  Actually, it was planet gazing that I had in mind.  It has been years since I’ve had a good look at Saturn’s rings.

Activities started with retrieving my large (10 x 80) binoculars from their case.  Then I carefully cleaned the lenses.  With tripod and mount it hand, I assembled them all in front of the office widow.  It was good to go.

I double checked the online star map and retrieved my own star map for easy reference.  Now I only had to wait for darkness.

Around 11 PM, I went out.  Some clouds were in the sky.  Perhaps they wouldn’t interfere.  They did.  Clouds thickened.  I went to bed.

I’ll try again tonight.

Posted in sky

Looking Up

It was shortly after 6 PM Wednesday evening, and I was driving home.  I looked toward the east and saw a vapor trail.  That is not at all unusual.  However, this one seemed to end at some scattered clouds where it became a bare space cutting through those clouds.  I found myself praying that it would last long enough for me to capture the image.  Fortunately, it did.

The eastern sky was interesting to me

The eastern sky was interesting to me

From behind the barn, where I took the shot above, I walked toward our back door.  The color and texture of the sky seemed to be begging me to “take my picture.”

It is skies like this that make me love my Michigan home

It is skies like this that make me love my Michigan home

I captured the above image while facing north-northwest.  Notice how much lighter the sky on the left.  The sun is over in that direction.


Finally, I pointed the camera northwest and zoomed in a bit tighter.  The shot overlaps the previous image.  It was those wispy clouds that pleased my eye.

We are now in my favorite part of spring.  It’s warm enough to go outside without a jacket, but the grass doesn’t need cutting.  :yea:  Yet.

Posted in sky

Ladies of the Night Sky

Last night was beautiful.  The weather was warm and the sky was clear.  I looked up at Venus as she made her way toward the western horizon.  She had sisters with her–the ones that we call the Pleiades.  With camera on tripod, I used a 30-second exposure to capture the scene.

Venus and the Pleiades

Venus and the Pleiades

At first glance, I saw only six of the seven (Pleiades) sisters. Celaeno, the dimmest of the lot is there midway between Taugeta and Electra on the right.  (See it here.)

You may detect some motion in the photo.  There was some.  During the thirty seconds that the shutter was open, the camera moved over eight miles.  (An angular rotation of 450 seconds of arc)

As I was completing my shoot, other ladies of the night passed by not forty feet from me.  They were the female deer that we see regularly.  It was the little bit extra.  Like whipped cream atop your hot chocolate.

My mind was on another lady.  Not a lady of the night, but a lady at all times.  I’m talking about my lovely bride, Sylvia.  I went back in the house, put the camera on my desk and took a seat beside my wife.  We spent the next hour talking about the day and about a hundred other things.  On that high note, I ended my day.

Surfing at Sunset

Last evening, I saw a bit of color in the sky.  It wasn’t spectacular, but it looked just right for my purpose.  I wanted to test the automatic settings on my new camera.  I had worked enough with the point-and-shoot unit that I knew how to get it to do what I wanted.  Would the new one work as well?

The following shots are straight from the camera.  I only resized the images, no cropping and no other processing.

A wide-angle shot captures the context.

A wide-angle shot captures the context

Before I clicked, the display indicated “Strong Back Light.”  To my surprise the shutter activated twice on this shot.  Then the screen said the camera was processing.  What you see above is what came out.

I zoomed in to capture the sunset part of the scene.  I expected to see more color.

A larger percentage of sky left the foreground darker

A larger percentage of sky left the foreground darker

There is one part of the second picture that looked interesting.  To look closer, I zoomed in yet again.

Looks almost like a surfer

Looks almost like a surfer

In two minutes, I had concluded my experiments with satisfaction.  One more done with many, many more to go.

Good Friday

Today, most of the Christian world observes Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  His final words are translated thus: “It is finished.”  The Greek word is “tetelestai.”  That word is a term of commerce that was used to indicate that a debt had been paid.  Today, we would be more likely to use “Paid in Full.”  Do enjoy the day.

Posted in sky

Moon at First Quarter

Last Friday the moon was at first quarter.  I tried to get a better image with my new camera.  It was better, but not yet what I want.

Moon at 1st quarter - 3/27/'15

Moon at 1st quarter – 3/27/’15

The resulting image was improved with thanks to PhotoShop Elements 8.  I have since discovered something (read part of the manual) that should work better.  I’ll have to try that soon.  I’d just like to have a clear night that’s not so icy cold.

Posted in sky