Archive for June, 2015

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San Francisco, circa 1984 with Canon A1 and 50mm 1.8 (Scanned from old slide)

June is here and the temperature is rising. Sometimes it is nice to get outside and shoot in the evening. Dusk and dawn images often have beautiful light that make even a drab and boring scene look fantastic. As the night continues the air becomes more placid and the cooler breeze is often a welcome recompense.

The light is soft and reflective showing moods as the sun dips ever further below the horizon and twilight moves from bright oranges and reds to more pastel magenta, purple and deep blue.

@twitter-sanjuans (10 of 15)

Victoria BC and the Olympic Mountains of Washington, from San Juan Island, WA EOS-M with Canon USM 80-200 4.5/5.6 (inexpensive lens) 1 second at f8, Summer 2014

Here in the Pacific Northwest above the 45 parallel we enjoy a long and enduring twilight period. Closer to the equator the sun tends to drop like the proverbial rock and twilight is brief. Way up north in places like Alaska or Aberdeen Scotland where my lovely wife was born, the evening shades of twilight linger well into the next morning.

On days like yesterday when the mercury was playing in the 90 degree zone, it is the evening hours that call photographers to the light. Those glorious soft pastels from photons and atmosphere dancing in the sky should bring joy to hearts of those that capture light. Together they sing the hymn of a downy image that takes our breath away.

It is here that a photographer can enjoy spectacular results with less than top grade gear. Although a camera with a preferably large image sensor will result in a creamier texture and better blending of the palette, tack sharp and excessive contrast are not required. It is here that the more modest lenses can run with the gods of glass and nay feel ashamed.

Hale-bopp (1 of 1)

Comet Hale-Bopp with Canon New F1 and Canon 85mm 1.2L 15 seconds exposure (scanned from old print)

After the last bits of light dim from the sky one may feel tempted to point the camera to the heavens and behold the spectacle that is our universe. Astro-photography need not be the exercise of astronomers with giant telescopes and tracking camera mounts. Mere mortals can use more terrestrial minded gear and sometimes get brilliant results. Back in 1997, Comet Hale-Bopp came through and provided a spectacular display that was bright and frankly enormous. The naked eye was all one needed to soak up its grandeur. I decided to make an image with my Canon F1 and the amazing 85mm 1.2L lens. I really wish I still had that lens 😦  The 15 second exposure was a little long for the focal length and there is some minor star trails, but the image looks great anyway.

It is dusk and dawn that provide some of the most beautiful photographic images made, and this is the time of year to enjoy them without freezing to death 🙂 Remember that larger sensors or even cameras that have small sensors with fewer mega-pixels, yes I said FEWER, deliver the best soft and low light images. These cell phone cameras with 10-15 mega-pixels have sensors that are so small the pixels are tiny and crammed onto too little space. This affects the individual pixel’s ability to soak up soft and subtle details in the light and makes low light images frankly, crappy.

Depending on the subject matter the absolute sharpness is often secondary to the continuous tone of color and the transitions of the palette. I have included many images here that were taken with nice cameras but not necessarily top grade lenses.



Canon S110 @24mm (5.6mm) f2.0 and 1/4 second c.2015

@twitter-sanjuans (5 of 15)

Victoria BC and the Olympic Mountains of Washington from San Juan Island, WA EOS-M 80-200 4.5/5.6 1/4 second at f8 Summer 2014


Port of Vancouver, WA from Hayden Island, OR Canon G9 at 70mm (15mm) f8 for 8 seconds Summer 2012

jupiter (1 of 1)

Jupiter through a telescope. Not my best effort but EOS-M with tmount adapter shooting through Celstron 26mm Plossl eyepiece for effective magnification of 48x. 1/8 sec 1250mm f14. June 2015


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