Last Sunset of 2015

Last Sunset of 2015, Bear Mnt. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Last Sunset of 2015. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

Here it is…vantage point is just above the NCAR building in the Flatirons. Main subject is the 8,461-foot Bear Peak with Bear Canyon to the right–my hike for the day. The Maiden and the Devil’s Thumb (“Boulder Boner”) are visible to the left.

What will be in store for the New Year?

New Year’s Eve: Back Up Day!

Sawhill Ice, #2. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Sawhill Ice, #2. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

Before you head off to that New Year’s Eve party, consider backing up all of your image files onto at least two other storage units (DVDs, CDs, portable hard drives, whatever). Some even put one of these storage units “off site”, perhaps at a relative’s home, in case of fire or flood.

Just ask yourself what would happen if your hard drive failed right now–what would you lose without a back up plan?

Of course, the print is the ultimate back up–no electricity failures or disc corruption to worry about. You and your grandchildren will always be able to view a nice print!

Industrial Cemetery

History of the Industrial Revolution, #2. Denver, Colorado, 2015
History of the Industrial Revolution, #2. Denver, Colorado, 2015

 

Here is an attempt to capture something of the mood and history of the industrial revolution from sort of a pessimistic perspective. The smoke, the horse, the erect man, the female figure, the gravestones–all are contributing elements to the story. Even the contrails provide a symbol of the post-industrial/modern era.

The site is the Riverside Cemetery in north Denver–a very interesting spot to spend an hour or two contemplating local history and the eventual fate of all of us human beans (on this eve of yet a new year).

Neo-Topographics, Dacono (Weld County)

Three more images from the project

Red-Tailed Hawk Nest, Silver Peaks, Dacono, Weld County, Colorado, 2015
Red-Tailed Hawk Nest, Silver Peaks, Dacono. Weld County, Colorado, 2015 (southeast view, I-25 east access road, just south of Hwy 52)

 

Homestead Decay, Grandview Blvd, Dacono. Weld County, Colorado, 2015
Homestead Decay, Grandview Blvd, Dacono. Weld County, Colorado, 2015 (northeast view, Grandview Blvd, across from Erie Auto Salvage)

 

Ag to Industrial Park, CR 12 and 15, Dacono. Weld County, Colorado, 2015
Ag to Industrial Park, Dacono. Weld County, Colorado, 2015 (northwest view, near County Roads 12 and 15 intersection)

The Day (or two!) After a Full Moon

Moon Over Boulder. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Moon Over Boulder. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

The “day (or two) after”, rather than the exact date of the full Moon, is my favorite time to think about a landscape photograph with the Moon hanging just above the horizon right after sunrise. This makes the tonal range much easier to capture–the brightness of the Moon is not so different from the surrounding scene once the Sun wakes up–and the long first shadows and early morning light on the undulating terrain features can be beautiful.

Shooting the day of the full Moon, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult because the Moon will be very low or setting just as the Sun gets high enough to equalize the bright Moon with the darker landscape. You can shoot earlier, while the Moon is higher in the sky, but the sky and terrain will be even darker and the contrasts much harder to capture in a single image. With tall mountains very close to you on the western horizon, or if you are in a valley, the Moon will be gone still earlier–when the sky and ground are quite dark. If a high contrast image is what you are after, all of this might be just fine for you. (See such an example below in which I let the Moon “blow out” with a slight star effect.)

Some alternatives…

The above example was a capture from December 27th, 2015, two days “after”. (The “day after” had been an obvious lost cause due to a low overcast in the morning.) In this case, the Moon was a waning gibbous disc at 94% and the spread between sunrise and moonset was just a bit too long (sunrise at 7:22a.m., moonset at 8:48a.m.). I would have liked the Moon lower at sunrise–and a few sunrise-pink clouds in the sky, too!

Ideally, you can find “a day (or two) after” that will give you some better variables.

First example: On January 24, 2016 (a “day after” the full Moon) the sun rises in Boulder at 7:16a.m., then the Moon ( a 99% disc) sets eight minutes later at 7:24a.m. With this situation, you’ll get the Moon very low just as the Sun’s rays hit the landscape. This could work as long as terrain on your western horizon does not point up more than maybe 5-10 degrees above the “real” horizon. If I were shooting the same scene as above, though, there is a good chance that the Moon would fall behind the mountains before the Sun rises.

Second example: On January 25, 2016 (two days “after”), the spread is much better. Sunrise in Boulder occurs at 7:16a.m. and the Moon doesn’t set until 8:01a.m. (97% disc). This means the Moon will above a level horizon for some 45 minutes after the sun strikes the landscape, thus giving you a bit of time to find the best compositions. With high terrain in the west, though, this time will naturally be reduced.

Another very rough way of looking at this last situation is that the Moon, at sunrise, will initially be about 10-15 degrees above the horizon at my latitude (a fist or so at arm’s length)–is that high enough for it to be above my western mountains at sunrise? Probably so, as long as I am not pegged right up against said mountains, or in a deep valley.

What morning you choose to go after the Moon all depends, then, on your goals. Do you want to challenge yourself with a high contrast scene, or do you want to work with a more evenly-lit landscape?

Here are two excellent sites to check for appropriate planning and scheming info:

–The U.S. Naval Observatory Sun and Moon Data (for times on specific dates)

The Photographer’s Ephemeris (also gives you angles from any location to where the Sun rises and the Moon sets)

Moon Over Boulder, Pre-Dawn. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Moon Over Boulder, Pre-Dawn. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

Talking Scat: Two of the Best Commercials Ever

These two video clips get my very enthusiastic nomination as the best commercials EVER. Who ARE those ad writers…???

Images are involved, so that’s good enough for inclusion in this photography blog! Furthermore, to be good photographers, I feel it is imperative that we keep and cultivate that cheeky and mischievous inner child we all have hiding away in a corner of our now-adult, partially-blocked, hearts and–to feed that artistic little tyke within–there is nothing better than hearty snort-laughing at poop and farts.

So, there.

Yes, Thomas, both of these are indeed real products, in case you had doubts.

The first is a pre and post-bowel movement air freshener called PooPourri. The attractive spokeswoman with the perfect British diction is hilarious, her comic delivery is spot on:

 

The second advertisement is also of the scatological kind…a trend, perhaps?…and involves cute little unicorns (sort of). The product being marketed is a most helpful addition to the toilets in your home–the SquattyPotty–and it is guaranteed to…well…to make your “evacuations” smoother, more complete, and more natural:

Sugarloaf Mountain (Like a Box of Chocolates)

Sugarloaf Summit View, Dissipating Storm. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
Sugarloaf Summit View, Dissipating Storm. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015

 

you never know what you’re gunna get.

It all depends on the season, the foliage, the weather, the clouds, the wind, the time of day, the light. It is always different.

Yesterday, as the storm started to clear, I didn’t get the views of a snow-covered Continental Divide I was hoping for. Still, it was a joy and a challenge to photograph my usual friendly landmarks on the peak, dressed as they were in yet another set of unique costumes.

Here is a quick tour of a few of my key photo op stops. If you have ever been up there, you will surely recognize these scenes.

The baby aspen grove on the way up:

Breaking Storm. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
Breaking Storm. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015

 

Looking back down the trail, the big, proud, “Lone Pine” up on the right slope:

Up Through the Clouds. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
Up Through the Clouds. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015

 

The burned and scarred “Patriarch of Sugarloaf”, standing guard on the upper mountain:

The Patriarch. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
The Patriarch. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015

 

The “Fraternal Twins” snags up on the left, one of which resembles a goalpost:

The Fraternal Twins. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
The Fraternal Twins. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015

 

The Burn, on the north slope, a nest of spiked pinnacles:

The Burn. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
The Burn. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015

 

The small grove of low trees hanging on by their rooted toenails on the windswept summit:

Sugarloaf Summit, Dissipating Storm. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
Sugarloaf Summit, Dissipating Storm. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015

 

The slowly shrinking summit stump:

The Summit Stump. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
The Summit Stump. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015

El Tió, A Catalan Christmas Tradition

El Tió de Nadal. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
El Tió de Nadal. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

 

It sort of loses something in translation, but:

“Caga tió,
caga torró,
avellanes i mató,
si no cagues bé
et daré un cop de bastó.
caga tió!”
Shit, log,
shit nougats,
hazelnuts and cheese,
if you don’t shit well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
shit, log!

There are even much longer versions of the verse.

You repeat this little ditty as you tap the log mock-threateningly with a stick…then a gift for you magically appears from under the log! Kids love it, of course. and it’s one of the Catalan traditions this 25th of December.

(For another interesting tradition, check out the “caganer”–or, “shitter”–you’ll find in nearly every Catalan Nativity scene. There is symbolism and deeper meaning involved here, as well as the obvious humor–check the link. Kids love to spot the caganer (pronounced kah-gaw-NAY) hidden somewhere in each Nativity display they come across.)

Hope you have a Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus, or whatever it is you might celebrate.

[NOTE: Those with some knowledge of Spanish/Castellano may be tempted to translate “Tió” as “uncle”, but that is incorrect. Tió is a Catalan word meaning “large branch” or “trunk” or “log”. Note the accent symbol is over the letter “o”. Tío is the very different word you are thinking of in Spanish/Castellano which means “uncle”.]

Happy News for Sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)!

Sunrise, First Flatiron Profile. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Sunrise, First Flatiron Profile. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

After the northern hemisphere winter solstice yesterday, the days are now getting LONGER! Yep, spring is in the air…just around the corner…almost there…hang on, you’ll make it!

 

Some images from this morning’s sunrise as seen from Flagstaff Mountain, above Boulder:

The low fog moves off to the east…

Winter Sunrise. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Winter Sunrise. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

A bit later, the sun’s rays stream across the frigid cityscape…

Receding Storm in Winter. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Receding Storm in Winter. Boulder, Colorado, 2015