Lights in the 4th of July Night

My first photos of the Milky Way

I mentioned in my previous post that I finally had a great opportunity to capture the Milky Way and a few other fun nighttime photos on our recent trip to northern New Mexico, and I wanted to share a few of them today.  I took these photos after we watched the awesome fireworks show in Raton earlier that evening on the 4th of July.

I hope you will view this post on my actual site and not in the WordPress reader today, as these photos will show up much better there.

While Hubby and I have witnessed the amazing dark sky stars many times on our RV camping excursions over the past five years, I’ve really never had a good opportunity to photograph them for various reasons.  On this trip, however, I finally had that opportunity, even though I didn’t have my tripod.  I simply improvised by setting my camera on picnic table at a nearby campsite that was not being used, and I propped the end of my lens on a little box, using my cable release to hold the shutter open for about 30 seconds on most of the photos.

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Beautiful Milky Way
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Milky Way and a great shooting star
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Milky Way with a little ground perspective and a small shooting star at bottom left
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Big Dipper above our friends’ RV (He was walking around the RV with his flashlight.)
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Big Dipper in the west (outlined in Photoshop) and a little shooting star at upper right

Three of the young adults with us were outside with me as I was taking the photos, so we decided to have a little fun doing some light painting.  It was the first time that any of us had attempted this, and we had a lot of fun.

Here is one of the better light paintings of the night, just as it came out of my camera.  So fun!

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Finally, I ended my photography exercise that evening by capturing a nice photo of our RV under the beautiful starry sky.  It is a photo that I will treasure always, and I hope it helps to visibly show just one reason why we dearly love RV camping in the remote areas that we tend to frequent.

 

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This brief exposure to night photography only makes me want to go out and try it even more.  The young adults with me had a great time, and I wish more young people would take up photography as a hobby.  It seems like such a great fit for many that I know personally, and I know that those three will always remember our fun time together, just as I will.

Fair Fotos – Long Exposure Night Shots

For the first time, I had the opportunity to take my camera gear and tripod to the fair this year to try some long-exposure night shots.  My husband accompanied me and helped to get things set up and keep from getting trampled by people near the carnival rides that I wanted to shoot.  It would have been tragic for someone to run into the camera and tripod there at night, and I highly recommend having someone accompany you for that very reason if you ever attempt these type of photos.

Just for the record, I shot at 100 ISO, used my Tokina wide-angle lens that I absolutely love and used my remote.  Certainly these shots can be attempted with other lenses, but the wide-angle lens helped to capture more of the field of view without having to back up further and possibly have more people and objects in the viewfinder.  I also used the lens hood for it, too.  For this first time out, I kept my UV filter on the lens, knowing that it would probably impact the photos a bit (flares), but given that the midway was so crowded with younger kids and teenagers who were not necessarily watching out for someone like me with a camera, I was honestly a little afraid of taking it off and risking something happening to the lens, even with my “lookout” on the watch.

I was quite pleased with a few of the shots overall, but it was also a good learning opportunity.  I quickly learned that to get a pleasing image, I needed to do more than just randomly open and shut the bulb manually with the remote.  I needed to watch the pattern of the ride very closely to attempt to capture a full light pattern.  It was also difficult this time out to find a position with no obstructions of some kind in the field of view.  In a less crowded and obstructed midway, I might could have done a better job at finding more suitable locations to shoot from.

Ferris Wheel @ 5 seconds… (was mostly still at the time)…

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Ferris Wheel @ 11 seconds… (was running a bit faster)…

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Orbiter ride @ 10 seconds…

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Ferris Wheel again, different angle @ 13 seconds –
Really liked the patterns in the center of this one…

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Back to Orbiter ride, different angle @ 2 seconds –
Obviously needed a little more time,
but I liked the ride worker in the foreground…

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Another ride (I forgot the name) @ 8 seconds –
Pattern was very random but managed to catch one circle pattern…

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Same ride @ 5 seconds –
More symmetrical pattern near end of ride cycle…

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Orbiter again, much better angle with the sign @ 6 seconds –
This is my favorite shot of that ride, and the smaller Tornado ride
is also seen in motion toward the bottom left of the Orbiter…

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Below are good examples of the need to watch the ride pattern.  I took several shots of the Eclipse ride throughout its life cycle, and caught some bonus shots of the Ferris Wheel in the background at various stages, too.  I like this series of photos that start with the spinning Eclipse and stationary Ferris Wheel, then work their way to the stationary Eclipse and the spinning Ferris Wheel.

Eclipse @ 6 seconds – half ride pattern/revolution…

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Eclipse @ 12 seconds – full pattern/revolution…

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Eclipse again with spinning Ferris Wheel @ 8 seconds –
One full pattern/revolution on Eclipse near lower/slower end of ride cycle…

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Eclipse @ 11 seconds near end of ride cycle…

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Eclipse stationary with spinning Ferris Wheel @ 9 seconds…

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The Hammer @ 8 seconds – one full revolution…

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The Hammer @ 4 seconds – half revolution…

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We had a truly great time taking the photos as a small part of our evening at the fair, and I suspect that I will give it a try in future years as well, as long as the weather cooperates as well as it did this year.  We had several people stop by to chat and ask about how to take these photos, and we even showed some of the photos in the viewfinder to a few of them.  I love visiting with people, and it’s even more fun to talk photography… lots of fun, for sure!

I’m ready to set out again sometime soon for my next long-exposure night shoot… just need to decide on my next target!  It’s just such great fun, and people love to see the results!

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