Wednesday, January 23, 2019
MLK Day on January 21st, 2019 offered a good opportunity for an extreme low tide at Pigeon Point in California during the full Moon following the total lunar eclipse over the Americas the day before. With such a gravitational pull on the Oceans, the tides at Pigeon Point went down to -1.65 feet at 4:39 PM. I decided to go down to the hidden sea cave that is not really well known because it is hidden from public view and it is only accessible during negative tides. It is a beautiful and fragile environment, but it is also somewhat protected from the Pacific Ocean waves during the lower tides. It also seems to be a nudibranch breeding ground that I love to photograph because the cave provides enough light to photograph but also eliminates water surface reflections of the sky above that can obscure the subjects in the water. I didn't really know what I would be photographing other than I wanted to try an HDR of the sea cave to try an capture the beauty of the sea cave in an extreme light zone.
After I did that with my wider lens, I went looking around the pools and soon came upon a classic member of the regions tide pools, the Sea Lemon Nudibranch (Anisodoris nobilis). I have a fantastic macro zoom lens that is ideal for real life tide pool invertebrate photography. It is a Nikon ED AF MICRO NIKKOR 70-180MM F/4.5-5.6. I'm glad I brought my foam kneeling pad because it was a relief to rest my knobby knees on it as I set up my travel tripod. As soon as I set up my camera and took a few photographs at different settings, I figured it might be interesting to just let the interval timer shoot a series of shots just to see what a time-laps would look like at one second intervals. I had no idea if this was a good interval for sea slugs and as I was shooting, I was thinking that two second intervals might have been more interesting for a 24 frames per second playback, but as it turns out, I think I was right to choose one second intervals for the playback effect of the sea slugs movements. During questionable time-lapses, it is often easy to over think the shot and to cut it short, only to ruin a perfectly good sequence. So I stretched my legs and looked around at other pools while the intervalometer did it's thing.
I sort of got lucky in that the Sea Lemon did a U-Turn in the field of view that enabled me to continue the captures beyond say 300 for a typical 10 second playback. The final sequence that you see is three different set ups as the Sea Lemon moved around, the first one was zoomed in closer and the sun had not quite set, but the light was diminishing rapidly. I realized through some test shots that the longer exposures was blurring the Sea Lemon so I needed to make sure the shutter speed was faster. I was able to shoot at 0.4 seconds with an f/8 aperture and a 640 ISO. You can see that the wave like edge of the Sea Lemon's foot is a little blurred compared to the rest of the body as is the gills and antennae. The second sequence, I kept the same settings but I moved the lens zoom from 180mm to 130mm that allowed me to capture a longer sequence with a larger framed area. I changed the settings to accommodate for the diminishing light in the third and final sequence by opening the aperture to f/5.6 and slowed down the shutter to 1/15th of a second, but it was still too dark, so I had to boost up the ISO to 6400 just to see how it would work. It turns out that it worked just fine for a time-lapse and it is still quite impressive for up close still shots. I use the Nikon D810 and the low light ISO settings are impressive in reducing noise at higher ISO settings. The last sequence was great because the Sea Lemon does an exit stage left and down to wrap up the shot! I could tell in scrolling through the shots that it was going to be a good time-laps but I didn't see a surprise visitor in the second sequence that was a creature that I have never seen before. It appears in the upper right hand corner of the image behind the U-Turning Sea Lemon and appears to be a Six-lined Nemertean (Tubulanus sexlineatus) that crawled just behind or under the Sea Lemon and reappears in the lower left hand corner of the frame in a clearer shot of the worm like sea invertebrate. It was a perfect Nemertean photo bomb! :D
Watch it in high def at my website: jeffparryphotography.com
Please let me know if you like it and if you have any questions!
Thanks for reading my blog!
Monday, November 5, 2018
Follow the Good Times article: Front Lines of the Dark Skies Movement at Pigeon Point is about my recent efforts with the Santa Cruz Chapter of the International Dark Sky Association to reduce light pollution in the area. I have become increasingly interested in astronomy through the Santa Cruz Astronomy Club and I have done what I can to mitigate the light pollution from the hostel that I manage at Hostelling International USA at Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Currently all the outdoor lights are fully shielded so the light points down in less than 70 degrees. This prevents glare disability and still illuminates what needs to be seen such as the sidewalk, road or entrance. The curtains are mostly red, so any light that does shine through is warmed red that greatly reduces loss of night vision but does not completely block out all the light in the morning so guests can tell that the Sun is shining. Many of the outdoor lights are a warm yellow/orange that greatly reduces the attraction of insects but also limits the blue-rich white lights that effects melatonin production, a major hormone that helps regulate sleep and the circadian rhythm in all life forms. I have also used red lights that are closer to the ocean so as not to disturb marine life.
A major study of light pollution was released recently that has results showing that "Due to light pollution, the Milky Way is not visible to more than one-third of humanity, including nearly 80% of North Americans"
If you are wondering what you can do to help, please visit the very helpful website at the International Dark-sky Association to see how you can easily change your lights and what you can do to educate your neighbors.
Sunday, February 2, 2014
I was able to photograph a secret spot in Santa Cruz that was particularly good in mid January 2014. My friend Joe Hutson was out and snagged a few good tube rides. Shot with a Nikon D600 and a 500mm f/4.0 P at 1600 ISO 1/2000 second and f/8. The slide show is of two different waves. Keeping Joe in focus with this manual focus lens was the difficult part. Shot in Aperture Priority in continuous shutter. Joe made it look easy.
Here is a link to the photos on my website:
I got a new toy. The Nikon 500mm f/4.0 P prime telephoto manual focus lens. With a x1.4 teleconverter and a x2.0 TC I will effectively have a 700mm and a 1000mm telephoto lens as well. This shot of the Pacific Harbor Seals resting on the offshore rocks just off Pigeon Point was captured with my 500mm. They are incredibly sensitive marine mammals so I had to keep my distance at 50+ feet so as not to break the Marine Mammal Protection act, but also not to scare my subjects into the Ocean. As I know this reef intimately so I was able to sneak up onto them and set up my camera and tripod with out disturbing them very much. They did all notice me as this photo exemplifies, but I was able to mess around with my settings and get off a few different shots before the setting sun went down too far and before the seals looked away or moved around. I shot it at f/4 so the depth of field would be shallow enough to blur the background and focus the eye on the subjects in focus. The bokah appears to be real nice in this prime telephoto lens. ISO 200 1/100 second. Post production in Lightroom 4.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Along with the cold winter nights are the cloudless nights that afford incredible views of the starry universe at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. A relatively windless night helped me to capture a clean time-lapse as the tripod has little or no movement during the process. All 260 shots were 30 second exposures on my wide 15mm Sigma fish-eye lens. The aperture was wide open at f/3.5 and the ISO was at 1600. My Nikon D600 is able to do time-lapse on its own, but not at the largest file sizes possible. It is able to capture timed photos with out external intervalometer being plugged in. I also had the exposure delay working so the mirror would slap up 3 seconds before the shutter opened in order to minimize any shake the mirror might make when the exposure is rendering. I programmed the timer to take the next shot every 35 seconds so the 30 second exposure plus the 3 second exposure delay plus the remaining 2 seconds could have enough time to write the data to the SD card. I purchased an extra battery back-up so I could do these long exposures plus the multiple exposures with out running out of battery power and not have to plug in the camera to an outlet. Fortunately it was just a short walk from my bathroom window so I did not need to camp out next to my camera but could in fact relax in my home. I did have to be careful not to turn on my bathroom light or not to use a flashlight as I walked from my home to the camera as it would have been captured by the 30 second long exposures. I wish I had the power to tell flight traffic control to do the same ;) After about 5 hours I had 270 photos that I could edit one and sync the settings to the rest in Lightroom 4. I then used LR to create a Slideshow with presets for the 24 frames per second that I needed to develop the slideshow. Unfortunately it does not save the photos in RAW 4K but in the lower resolution 1080P. I think its good enough for now but I would like to publish it in 4K. Anyone out there who can point me in the right direction with out breaking my credit card debts would be awesome! Thanks for reading and please do remember to follow. :D Jeff
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
I was thinking about scoping out the north side of Pigeon Point at night to test out my old Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens on my D600 to see how it would shoot for a time-lapse of the stars, waves/tide, lighthouse lights and occasional airplane flyby. The night was moonless on November 5th 2013 at about 8:30 pm and my old lens aperture is so wide at f/1.4 that I could use less ISO sensitivity and thus achieve less digital noise. The 50mm has relatively little distortion on my full frame sensor as well. The problem was all the lights on at the hostel. I wanted to have longer exposures so I could blur out the ocean waves and still get all the stars. There was quite a bit of lens flair from all the lights that I had to crop out of the frame so it would not look like the Martians were attacking! Actually a red tail lite from a car pulling into the parking lot on the lower left (out of frame) caused the main (red) lens flare directly in the lighthouse beam on the left. It was getting kinda misty and the farmer next to the lighthouse had warned me he was going to spray fungicides that night so I knew I only had a little bit of time to test a bunch of shots. I finally settled on 2 second exposures at ISO 1600 at f/1.4. The flash pattern at Pigeon Point is every ten seconds so the two second exposure on the 6 beam fresnel lens would capture some nice beams in the mist. I was also experimenting with exposure delay and that essentially drops the camera mirror a few seconds before the shutter releases to avoid camera vibration in such a sensitive exposure. That meant I had to delay the time between shots a little longer than I normally would. I also delayed a few seconds for the memory card to write the large amount of RAW data before it could accept the next time-lapse photograph sequence. So with 2 second exposures I had a 5 second delay between photos. I set it for 100 shots and just enjoyed the view while my Nikon D600 took the photos. It was towards the end. Shot 89 I believe, that I saw the meteor enter the atmosphere right above the lighthouse. I thought to myself, I hope I got that shooting star in one of my time-lapse sequence photos, but knew the probability was iffy because of the delays. I also knew that if I did get the timing right, the super wide f/1.4 aperture and the 1600 ISO at two seconds would be perfect to get it! Sure enough, frame 89 out of 100, there it was! I did very little post production in Lightroom other than adjust the white balance and to crop out the lens flairs from the hostel lights and to focus on the meteor's entry into Earth's atmosphere. Turns out it was the tail end of the South Taurid meteor shower that peaked on the 4th and ended on the morning of the 5th. Please visit my website to see the largest version.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
I was aware of the 'Triple Conjunction' of the planets Mercury, Venus and Jupiter on the horizon just after sunset during the last week of May 2013, but the coastal fog had been lingering the past few days and I did not know if I would get a chance to see it. But tonight, May 30th the sunset seemed to have a clear enough sky to melt into the sea with little atmospheric interference to obscure the planets just after sunset. I drove a short distance down south to a farmed area just north of Gazo's Creek State Beach. After bush-waking through tick infested grasses I found a sketchy trail down to the beach, around some flooded rocks and scrambled up a to a rocky point that almost perfectly lined up with the planets I wanted to photograph. I only had a 180mm lens so I knew I could not get too far away or else the lighthouse at 115 feet tall would look too small in the overall composition of the picture. Franklin's Point may have offered a better alignment but I don't have a 600mm lens with f/2.8! A bit of wind reminded me I could not do really long exposure with out camera shake. I was able to keep the ISO down to 50 on my new Nikon D600 with my 70-180mm Nikon lens I focused it at 116mm with an aperture of f/5 and opened it up for 6 seconds after a 2 second delay from my timer to reduce camera shake. In Lightroom 4 I was able to crop it a little bit to my liking and then use the Graduated Filter I could lighten up the foreground oceanscape to give it some context and highlight the beautiful setting without having to just focus on the lighthouse and the sky with the 3 planets. Here is the wide angel scean before the planets became visable earlier in the sunset twilight! Enjoy :D Thanks for visiting and please leave some comments! Mahalo! Jeff