Sunday, July 17, 2011

Travel TidBits: Fireworks and Moon

Travel TidBits:  Fireworks and Full Moon

I have long admired photographers who capture the night with its mysteries and shadows, and over the years I have tried to capture what I see with varying success [maybe I will show you some of those in another Travel TidBit!].  Being a morning person, my energy wanes after dark and I rather find myself at home.

However, stimulated by an article on the Adorama web site written by Mason Resnick [] on how to photograph fireworks, I went out and scouted for a good place where I can see the Shoreline fireworks and then on the 4rth I went out and celebrated among many other onlookers. 

To prepare, I followed the advice I give to my workshop students:  Know your camera, dig out your camera manual from the bottom of your storage, and refresh your memory.  Now for me, I had never used the ‘bulb’ setting and in the afternoon, I studied up and set my camera since doing this in the dark can be tricky.  Geared up with a blanket, tripod, camera and cable release, I sat on the lawn of the golf course and just enjoyed the fireworks.  Oh yes, my finger on the cable release and counting the seconds that I wanted the shutter to stay open (usually between 3-5 seconds).

Fascinating how the clouds are illuminated by the colors!

At the end, smoke was hanging over the area and even without the light burst, made an interesting parting shot before braving the crowds heading home in a gigantic traffic jam..

Amazingly, after downloading what a pleasure so the see the outcome!  
I really need to go out more often and dare the night!

Hold that thought:  July 15:  Full Moon. 

The newspaper listed the moon rise at 8:48pm – would it be dark enough with the sun setting at ~8:30p?  Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.  So I called a friend and the 2 of us packed our photo pack, tripod, cable release and met shortly after 8p to see what we would find.  This time, I thought about the composition and wanted to capture reflection of the moon over water – a favorite for a lot of photographers.  So, we parked outside the gate of Shoreline Park as the sun was setting– we don’t want to be locked in for the night [which has happened to me some years ago – with an angry ranger scolding me before unlocking the gate!]

and dusk was falling over the marshes.

At the lake shore, we set up our gear wondering whether the cloud bank towards the east would hinder or add to the images?

And then right on time, we actually saw the moon light just peeking over the East Bay Hills before vanishing behind the clouds (light in middle of the image between the trees). 

As night fell, our patience was rewarded!!

Moon just raising over the clouds.

It was a mild night and as the moon marched across the sky, we walked on to look over the water towards the light in the East Bay:

The light was casting a net over the water!

Later that night, the stars and the moon started to vanish behind the growing clouds

but the light from the below cities colored them beautifully.

Turning around the darker sky was full of stars.

When we walked out of the park I couldn’t believe it was close to midnight – I had been so absorbed in the beauty of the raising moon, the stars and the landscape around me that I had not noticed how long we lingered.  It was quiet and beautiful.

Back at home, I lit some candles and had a cup of hot tea reflecting on the evening.  Typically, when I go out at night it is in the city.  But this evening showed me how much beauty is in the quiet outdoors and how much we can see when the full moon shines down on us.

Til next time,