Disappearing act

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.

Evening(ton) Crescent

Last night’s most slender of crescent moons 🌙

On Sunday night I scanned the western horizon to see if I could make out the tiniest sliver of a crescent moon with no luck. Last night I thought I’d stand more chance (given that it was now 4.5 % illuminated), but was still unable to spot it for some time after sunset – until about 25 minutes later and suddenly there it was: a slim crescent low in the sky. Knowing how unpredictable our 55-200 mm lens has become, I opted for resting it on the balcony, propped up on a small wedge (rather than wobbling in the wind on a tripod), and using the 10-second timer. Before I took my moon shot (ha ha), I made sure to focus on something distant as the camera was having trouble focusing on the faint moon (I used the radio towers on the summit of Mt Gardner), and turned off the autofocus and image stabilization.

I took 4 or 5 photos with that arrangement and picked the one that suffered least from atmospheric effects too (a problem when the moon is so low in the sky; barely 7 degrees above the horizon). The wind had blown around the foreground trees to a distracting blur, so I cropped them out of the final picture. Then all I needed were a few adjustments to the exposure, contrast, and vibrance and I had my photo. I really like the gradient from blue to yellow across the image.

I don’t think it’s the thinnest crescent I’ve captured, but it might be one of the faintest. I like that subtlety.

Postscript: I feel I should explain the odd title of today’s post. The BBC radio show I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue has a “game” called Mornington Crescent, where the aim of the game is to be the first person to say “Mornington Crescent”. (Read more on Wikipedia to learn how this can even make sense!) Since the photo is of a crescent moon taken in the evening, I couldn’t resist the play on the name of the game, although it would actually make more sense if the photo were taken in the early morning. Maybe I’ll save that for another day?

Red sky at night…

Don’t normally post twice in a day, but tonight’s hazy sunset tonight was quite beautiful, albeit for a sad reason thanks to the forest fires in the Cariboo.

I couldn’t resist grabbing the camera and watching the sun dip lower into the haze, watching the exposure time increase from 1/2000 s to 1/250 s. I liked how the vapour trails were lit by the sun, and how the sun is framed between the trees, both of which add some interest and shape to the photo. In processing photos like this, I’m always faced with the challenge of deciding how much to reduce the highlights before it starts to look unnatural and posterization starts to be noticeable. I also added a slight hue shift to make the yellows a little more orange to fit in with the look I wanted for the sun. I think it’s worked OK. I’ve posted another photo on Flickr.

At this time of year, I’m not normally thinking about rain, but I’d be happy if some could fall on the BC Interior to damp down some of the fires.

Well played

Well, that’s one way to end the weekend. Well played Vancouver.

I threw the camera over my shoulder on a whim as we headed out to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Walking back from the restaurant, we saw the sky glowing orange and took ourselves over to False Creek to admire the glassy calm water reflecting the gorgeous colourful sky. Definitely one of the most colourful sunsets in a while.

Some dislike it, but I am a fan of the distinctive roof of BC Place, if nothing else because it breaks up the monotony of high-rises on the city skyline. Add in the coloured lights used in the stadium and the scene is made.

I’m so glad I took the camera.

Dinosaurs in the sky

I, for one, welcome our new giant flaming pterodactyl overlords.

I hadn’t even seen that shape when I took the picture – I just liked the contrast between the deep red sky and the frame provided by the blue-grey foreground clouds. It was only when I showed it to Maria that I said I thought it looked like a dragon. “Or a pterodactyl” was Maria’s reply. And so it came to be a giant flaming pterodactyl head. At which point the quote from the Simpsons immediately popped into my mind, and I just knew I had to post the photo on Instagram.

Flow

Not a waterfall but flowing water nonetheless – some soft wave action from a glorious couple of minutes at sunset a few weeks ago.

This photo was taken the same night as this one when the sun broke through the clouds only moments before sunset. I was captivated by the gentle wash of the waves and the reflection of the pink light on the wet sand, which gave me the idea of taking a photo with a long-enough exposure to blur the waves and give the viewer a sense of that motion. It took many attempts as I did not have a tripod, plus I had to wait for the right combination of waves and wet sand. But eventually I got one that was more or less exactly what I had in mind (indeed, this was one of those rare photographs that I actually envisioned before I took it). To top it off, the contrast between the blue water and the pink reflection is just lovely to my eye.

Earthshine crescent

So the sunset didn’t amount to much, but then the moon appeared.

I was so hoping that last night’s sunset would be as awesome as the one ten years ago so I could post a glorious photo today and wonder at two sunsets on the same day a decade apart. While it looked promising, I either missed the peak colour or there wasn’t much to get excited about.

As it got darker I suddenly had a thought: I’d checked the phase of the moon a couple of days ago and figured that by now it must be visible in the evening sky. I went back out onto our balcony and there it was: a gorgeous slender crescent, with more than a hint of earthshine. Camera time! I really like the fact that there are some clouds in the sky, and the moon is even shining through them. Very photogenic.

As a side note, I think Earthshine Crescent sounds like it would be a lovely road to live on 🙂