Watching the sun set into the haze from forest fires – this is starting to feel like an annual photoshoot :-\ The photos were taken at 7:51, 7:53, 7:55, 7:56, 7:57, and 7:58 pm on August 14th (actual sunset time was 8:30 pm). I edited them to keep the background about the same level to show how much the sun dimmed as it set.
I didn’t set out to create a sequence, but I could see that the sun was sinking quickly into the haze and decided to keep taking photos until it disappeared. Given the low light levels (and the fact that I was shooting hand-held), my expectations for sharp photos were low. But, to my surprise, I had at least one good shot for each “phase” of the sunset, and thought that I might as well see what I could do.
As I processed the photos, I wondered if I could keep the background at the same level from shot to shot, thus emphasizing how much the sun was dimming as it set. It was easy for the first few and a little trickier for the rest, and even though it’s not perfect (the backgrounds aren’t quite the same across all 6 photos), the effect I wanted to show is clear, and striking. I’ve gone back and forth with these photos quite a few times, just to watch it again.
Looking back I still can’t believe that only 7 minutes elapsed between the first and last photo. Clearly I’d started taking the photos at exactly the right time to catch this murky sunset – my timing couldn’t have been better!
A few random-ish photos taken out and about in Vancouver for this week’s Flashback-Friday post. (I missed Throwback Thursday this week…)
1. Sometimes two U-locks are not enough
Bike theft is very common in Vancouver. Not just whole bikes, though, but pretty much whatever can be taken away (a friend had their bell stolen – just the bell, for some reason…). Unfortunately, not every bike owner is aware of how make best use of their lock(s): locking the frame to the bike rack isn’t enough as it leaves the wheels exposed. What mystifies me about this bike is the second lock that is just locked around the frame – it’s not doing a thing to help prevent any part of the bike being stolen. I’ve seen lots of cases where a wheel has gone missing because the lock didn’t pass through it, which is why I often carry two locks: one to lock the frame and one wheel to the rack, the other to lock the second wheel to the frame. It’s not foolproof, and it’s a pain carrying two U-locks, but if it makes my bike look like too much hassle to pinch then it’s fine by me.
One of the notable features of Vancouver is its crow population. Every dusk they can be seen streaming east to a roost in Burnaby where hundreds if not thousands gather to spend the night. It’s quite the sight. Occasionally they fly right over our apartment, and I was glad to be able to get so many in the frame at once. It’s even more remarkable that the phone focussed on the moving birds…
3. Sun halo
I always look up. Maybe it’s my training as an astronomer. Or maybe I became an astronomer because I always look up… On sunny days I always check to see if there’s a halo or a sun-dog near the sun. A good way to view a halo is to block out the sun using the corner of a building. In this case I was fortunate enough to have a small corner along an otherwise featureless edge of this building. The dark building and uniform blue sky actually make a nice abstract picture in themselves, but the corner jutting out into the frame really forced me to look for a way to make it into a feature. Tilting the camera (well, phone) gave me this interesting angle. Simple lines and plain colours. Works for me.
4. Vancouver on a sunny day
Back in 2015, I was working in the Mt Pleasant area of the city and could just see Crown Mountain from my office. I can never resist a photo-op with Crown, and I walked up the steps of one building to catch this view over the flat-topped roofs across the road. With blue sky and lovely wispy clouds, the Google Photos HDR processing actually worked to make this phone pic worth posting.
Going, going, going…. The sun fades into the smoky murk last night, disappearing from view over half an hour before sunset. We abandoned our hiking plans this weekend because the smoke was really bad near Whistler. Kicking back at home, maybe venturing out for a less strenuous day hike instead. The photos were taken about 7-8 minutes apart – there’s one lone sunspot on the sun right now, maybe just about visible in the first two photos.
I couldn’t resist taking this series of photos as the sun set. I’ve already taken some during the current round of wildfires, but since the smoky conditions rolled in last week I’ve been wanting to capture how quickly the sun fades as drops into the layers of smoke.
After setting up one photo to my liking, I copied those settings (especially the crop – which can’t be defined in pixels in DxO, a major oversight in my opinion) to the other three, re-centred the sun, and adjusted the colour and contrast. My original idea was to match the brightness of the sky, but that led to so weird-looking photos, so in the and I let the sky do what seemed to work best while I concentrated on the sun itself. Apart from the edge-response in the first image where the sun is bright, I’m really quite happy with the way they turned out.
I did take a couple more photos while the sun was barely visible, but these didn’t work – I couldn’t process them in a way that produced an image that showed anything. Thankfully, I don’t think they were needed to demonstrate my point.
On a side note, this didn’t post to Twitter, so I’m guessing that the IFTTT applet I’m using doesn’t support Instagram slideshows. Phooey.
A little black disc against a big bright disc: Mercury (lower left) wanders across the face of the Sun. The fuzzy patch in the upper part is sunspot 2542.
My original idea was to dig out my solar filter and attach it to one of our SLRs, but that meant trying to work out which box it’s stored in. It was much easier to simply project the image onto a white sheet of paper. Having said that, it took a few attempts to get the camera to focus on the image, and then angle the paper so that it wasn’t too shiny (it’s amazing how shiny paper is when projecting the Sun). I was also impressed with the camera’s resolution, even showing up the fibres in the paper. With the breeze and heat haze from the Sun itself, it took quite a few photos to get a handful that were sharp enough to show. This is one of them. Obviously 🙂