Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Milky Way Shoot

Alright guys, back from vacation and ready for some blogging action… you’ll notice the website continues to grow, the home page actually is working, and we have a new section in development that will focus on videogames… but more on that later.

I just wanted to do a brief blog on the photo portion of my camping trip. Now, I love photography. Not quite as much as videography… but I still love shooting stills. However, when I’m on vacation, I’m often the only member of my family without a camera (not an exaggeration). I feel I document so much of my life, this one-week can fall on someone else’s shoulders. That sounds worse than it is.

As I was packing, still practicing minimalism, I found myself hesitating to bring my camera. In the end I couldn’t handle the thought of going without it. That sucker is apart of me… I did compromise by deciding to leave the tripod at home thinking, “I won’t need this.” Famous last words.

I avoided busting out Veronica (that’s the name I gave my camera) for most of the trip. There were camera flashes everywhere. None were mine. I snapped a couple moments with my iPhone, but that’s it.

This photo for instance during the last sunset on the dunes, one of only a handful of pictures i took with my phone.

The dunes in Oregon are supposedly 50 miles of coast and running up to 2 miles in land (you can Google that to see if I’m telling the truth or not. Haha). That’s quite the beach to hike as often as we did. Mammoth mountains of sand that seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see, and get into every nook and cranny of your clothes. At night, you find yourself under more stars than you can imagine. And not only that, but the accretion disk of the Milky Way becomes visible.

I’ve mentioned before my love for space, as in the absence of stuff. But I don’t recall professing my love for the night sky. Astronomy was one of the only classes I actually read the text book for in college, I read it from start to finish and I believe I had the highest grade in the class (not to boast... but i demolished the curve of 68% with my 98%).

I love the sun, and I especially love the moon. But it’s the stars that really have my heart. It’s the stars that humble me, and remind me how insignificant I am, or how trivial my hardships are. I don’t know where I intend to settle down. But I do know it’ll be somewhere far from city lights and where looking at the stars means heading to the back yard.

Anyways, seeing the sky like this flooded me with awe. Reminded me that I want to do time lapse of the sky some day. That I want to capture this. Easy. My camera can handle that…

No tripod.

Crap. 30 second+ exposures handheld are impossible. 1 second hand held exposures are probably impossible. But some family was still in town and packing to join us at the campsite. They could bring my tripod… no luck. And the weather turned cloudy/rainy… forecast said three days of rain. I missed my shot. We’d be gone by the time the skies cleared.

The day before we left (I’d been stewing over this whole thing mind you…) the clouds broke. I wasn’t missing another chance. We looked for a cheap tripod in town that would do the trick… nothing. So I had a great idea: use my camera bag on the ground. That will stabilize the shot well enough, though I won’t be able to see what I’m pointing at.

30-second exposure (the longest the shutter will stay open on the Canon 7d without holding the shutter open manually, or using a cable release.), 2.8 on aperture, 6400 ISO, focus set to infinity (And Beyond!). The shots turned out ok… some blurring here and there, but all things considered, not terrible.

We tried to use flashlights to paint the foreground like you might use a strobe too. People on the far dune thought we were signaling them. They shined a flashlight back. Then used a green laser. I turned and told my nephew not to look at it because I had heard that green lasers are especially damaging to your retina.

That split second of lost attention was all my camera needed to leap from her perch into the sand and down the hill. My nephew was then exposed to a slew of words he’d probably not heard before.

Here's the image just before the camera's shutter closed and she took a swan dive to the sand.

Devastated, we headed back to camp. I trudged on, solemnly and cleaned my poor camera. You would have thought I lost a loved one the way I was acting.

The body cleaned up fine. No sand inside AT ALL; a testament to the build quality of the 7d. The same cannot be said for my 24-70 2.8L lens that, I had just finished a review for (and might need to revise.). I just shipped the lens to canon for repairs. I’ll let you know how she’s doing as soon as I know.

Anyways, Take Care, Ladies and Gentlemen. It’s good to be back and ready to work.


Oh... Here's an example of the image I wanted:

Milky Way over Utah

I've still got practicing to do...

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