Phoenix Mountain Preserve

On this particular evening I had intended to test out a different lens for making high res panoramas. However when I got to the trail and was unloading my gear from the car I realized that I had left the vertical arm of my Nodal Ninja at home. Sad Face. 

It was still a nice sunset :-)

This was from just a few minutes into the mountain preserve from the 40th St entrance. I don't make nearly enough images from the lower portions of this area as I should, I am a bit focused on the summits. One down, unlimited to go...

Four Peaks Wilderness

As I mentioned several weeks ago I'm a bit crazy and I love the cold. I get pretty excited when a hat and gloves are more than just a good idea to wear in the car while the engine warms up. So I was thrilled with our very short and mild cold spell we had at the beginning of the year. On New Years Day my wife and I hopped in the car and drove around trying to get close to the snow. We ended the day on the side of the Beeline Highway watching the sunset and the moonrise over the Four Peaks Wilderness area.

A couple of my favorite spots in this panorama are Weavers Needle and the headlights coming down Four Peaks Rd. There's also some car lights on the hills east of Weavers Needle, I'm not sure what road they are on so please comment if you know!


A rather fitting sunset for the city of Phoenix that truly calls attention to our mythical namesake.

This panorama was made at the same location as the image from the previous post, "A Cloudy Day" and less than an hour apart. I had originally intended on making a time-lapse on this particular evening but I am very pleased I settled on a pano instead!

I highly recommend going full screen :-)

I would love to hear any feedback that you may have on the panorama viewer, it is something new that I am trying out. Thank you!

A Cloudy Day

I was born in Michigan but our family moved to Arizona before I was old enough to deal with the negative side effects of cold weather and snow. Consequently I am thrilled when it gets even close to "cold" here in Phoenix, and cloudy days are truly a blessing!

This image is from Mummy Mountain in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Most of Camelback Mountain is visible on the left and the lights of downtown Phoenix are just to it's right. 

Columbia River Gorge

Sometime in the last year or two I saw an image on 500px of the Vista House in the Columbia River Gorge that greatly inspired me (regretfully I am not sure which one it was). I was very surprised to learn that this incredible view was less than hour outside of Portland, OR.

I happened to be passing through Portland recently and I am grateful to have now experienced it for myself.

Beauty is truly all around us.

A larger version can be viewed on Flickr.

Moonrise Over Gray Peak

Sentinel Dome, Yosemite National Park

My last evening in Yosemite was certainly the most rewarding. Shortly before capturing Sentinel Silhouette I made this large panorama. I was very happy to get the moon which was only visible for a couple minutes between rising and disappearing behind some clouds. If you click on the first Snapshot in the viewer above you will see the moon. Enjoy!

El Diablo: Behind the Scenes

The view from the "Deck Boom Down" camera.

I met Tom "Senior Pushbroom" during a photo shoot with Guinness World Records for the world's smallest roadworthy vehicle (made by The Coulson Group). He happened to be skating at the location selected for the Guinness shoot so naturally we asked him to join in.

From the Guinness still photographer.

It took a while after the Guinness shoot for our schedules to line up but it was definitely worth the wait. We went back to see Austin from The Coulson Group to get some input on a custom camera mount for Tom's deck. Austin designed, cut, welded, sand blasted, and painted the mount on the spot! 

With the mount finished we headed out to the hills of Arizona.

 With 6 GoPros mounted on Tom and the deck. Our plan was to get as many unique angles as possible, we really wanted to let the viewer experience Tom's perspective. This picture only shows 5 of the cameras (Helmet, Wrist, Chest, Deck Boom Up and Deck Boom Down), the last one was on a long boom pole coming off Tom's back.

One of the stationary cameras got some video of a lizard sunbathing. It's pretty entertaining watching the Lizard get scared off the rock when Tom comes shooting past. Sadly I couldn't find a way to fit this into the finished video. Here is a clip of that:

Here is the raw run of the underside deck cam:

And the finished product!

The Washington Coast

Fireworks on the shore of Camano Island.

I've just returned from a family trip to the Pacific Northwest. Since this was not a photography focused trip I don't have quite as many images as normal but I still managed to record a 7,580 image time-lapse sequence driving from Astoria to Seattle. I still have some fine tuning to do with that but I included a raw version below. I made quite a few videos with Instagram's new Hyperlapse app, which I am really enjoying. The driving time-lapse is part of some testing I am doing to see if I can approximate the Hyperlapse app's smoothness. I should have an image from the Columbia River Gorge up later this week (The Vista House is up!).

Bramping Time-lapse Part 3

Unfortunately I don't have excellent records of my next series of tests. I made four bramping attempts during a family excursion to Mexico. The day after returning from Mexico I left for a two week out of state work trip and regrettably I am just now writing this almost a month later. I don't think I made any adjustments during ramping but I cannot remember. 

*as mentioned in Part 1, I am chronicling my experiments with bulb ramping time lapse for my own future reference and to hopefully provide some insight to others who are getting started.

The Third Setup: Mayan Palace, Puerto Peñasco

Sunset: 7:36 pm

Civil Twilight: 8:04 pm

Nautical Twilight: 8:38 pm

Astronomical Twilight: 9:14 pm

Camera Settings:

f/5.6 | ISO 200 | ND0


Promote Settings:

Start Exposure: 1/80 | Interval: 15 sec | End Exposure: 25 sec | Ramp Duration: 37 min 

Finally a decent (but not great) transition! I did much better with the timing of the ramping but balancing my slider with rocks was a bad idea. I started ramping one minute before sundown and ended ramping at 8:12, 8 minutes after Civil Twilight. I don't think I intentionally chose 8 min past Civil Twilight, but I can't remember exactly what made me end there. Getting the ending time closer to Civil Twilight really did the trick.

The Fourth Setup: Mayan Palace, Puerto Peñasco 

My second setup in Mexico unfortunately didn't work at all. After getting a decent transition I decided to start the sequence earlier, which required an ND filter. That was my first time using an ND filter with the Promote Controller. I did not pay enough attention to it and missed the prompt to remove the filter and the unit timed out.

The Fifth Setup: Mayan Palace, Puerto Peñasco 

Sunset: 7:35 pm

Civil Twilight: 8:03 pm

Nautical Twilight: 8:37 pm

Astronomical Twilight: 9:13 pm

Camera Settings:

f/5.6 | ISO 160 | ND4


Promote Settings:

Start Exposure: 1/250 | Interval: 15 sec | End Exposure: 40 sec | Ramp Duration: 45 min 

So far I have been doing all of these tests in the exact same location at the resort. I thought the consistency would be helpful in comparing results later on. I made one small change on this setup that I didn't realize would have such an impact. Instead of letting the slider sit on the ground I put it up its tripods. This small change in composition made it so that two large flood lights were now in view of the camera below the reflection pool. It's an interesting effect to say the least you can see it in the video below.

This sequence started ramping right at sundown and ended 45 minutes later at 8:20 pm, 17 minutes past Civil Twilight. I ramped a little longer than on the previous test but I also increased the ending exposure, which I think evened it out.

In this version of the video I did reduce highlights using Camera Raw because the spotlights really blew everything out.

The Sixth Setup: Mayan Palace, Puerto Peñasco 

Sunrise: 5:45 am

Civil Twilight: 5:17 am

Nautical Twilight: 4:44 am

Astronomical Twilight: 4:07 am

Camera Settings:

f/5.6 | ISO 320 | ND4


Promote Settings:

Start Exposure: 20 sec | Interval: 12 sec | End Exposure: 1/500 | Ramp Duration: 40 min 

This was my first night to day transition and for some reason it has the most flickering that I have experienced so far. The ramping started at 5:02 am (15 minutes before Civil Twilight) but I think that was a little to early, either that or the clouds / landscaping lights were messing me up. 

Overall I am pleased with my progress. The series of tests that I did in Mexico produced reasonable transitions. I think the next step is to pick a location in Phoenix and keep shooting it until it is perfect.

Lessons Learned So Far:

  1. Visit the shooting location prior to setting up the time-lapse to gather appropriate exposure information.
  2. Keep ramping times close to Civil Twilight (at least in the environments that I have been shooting in so far).
  3. If using a ND filter be sure to keep a close eye on the promote so you can remove / add the filter at the appropriate time.

Sentinel Silhouette

After a recent working excursion in Reno, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Yosemite National Park on the way home. It was my first time in the park so I spent most of my stay hitting the highlights and learning the lay of the land. I usually like to pre-visualize at least one image before a trip but I had no idea what to expect when I got there so I didn’t have any particular images in mind.

Here is the first image that I have had the chance to clean up. I am still working on putting together some gigapixel panoramas and a few time lapses, which I will hopefully have up soon.

Of the five full moons this year that (roughly) coincide with the moon’s moment of perigee, the full moon on August 10th at 11:11 AM Pacific held the distinction of occurring during the moon’s closest approach to Earth for the entire year. Though technically perigee occurred 27 minutes before the full moon, at this moment the moon was 356,896 km from earth. The moon will not be this close again until September 28th, 2015, when it will be a mere 356,877 km away.

These events are often referred to as “Super Moons”, though “slightly bigger than average moons” would be a more fitting name. I enjoy photographing the moon at these times because every little bit helps but I try not to fall too much into the hype :-)

Sentinel Silhouette was captured on August 9th shortly after sunset from the top of Sentinel Dome in Yosemite. Since this particular evening was very close to the fully illuminated and “slightly bigger than average” moon, a large crowd had gathered at the summit of this easily accessible dome. The woman in the photo was a member of a group who had been coming to Sentinel Dome to observe the “super moon” for multiple years. After the moon had risen and the sun had set she was standing on top of a large metal plaque embedded into a rock that points out the various landmarks in the surrounding area. Using her foot to trace the lines along the plaque created her unique stance.

Bramping Time-lapse Part 2

During my second attempt at bulb ramping I added my motorized slider into the mix. One of the reasons I chose the Promote controller is its ability to interface with other devices. Otherwise I probably would have gotten the CamRanger. I built my slider myself following instructions from The Chronos Project. The Promote works like a dream with my slider.

*as mentioned in Part 1, I am chronicling my experiments with bulb ramping time lapse for my own future reference and to hopefully provide some insight to others who are getting started.

The Second Setup: Civic Space Park Downtown Phoenix

The subject of this test is titled "Her Secret is Patience"

Sunset: 7:39 pm

Civil Twilight: 8:07 pm

Nautical Twilight: 8:41 pm

Astronomical Twilight: 9:19 pm

Camera Settings:

f/5.6 | ISO 200

Promote Settings:

Start Exposure: 1/60 | Interval: 15 sec | End Exposure: 8 sec | Ramp Duration: 1 hr 35 min 

I had a ten minute delay set in the Promote so I started the sequence ten minutes before sundown (though cramping would not start until actual sundown). The sequence would finish 5 minutes before astronomical twilight. After the first test I decided I would have the ramping last until roughly 15-20 minutes after Civil Twilight. I thought that was necessary because of the bright ambient light in front of the Herberger. The location for the second test was darker so I went with an end time closer to Astronomical twilight. 

However it turned out that the ramp duration needed to be much shorter at this location as well. Here is a comparison of the actual exposure at 8:27 pm (20 minutes after civil twilight) against a simulated 8 seconds (created using camera raw) of the same image. I much prefer the look of the 8 second exposure.

What I Would Do Differently

The biggest issue with this test is that the bramping duration is still too long. It needed to end much closer to civil twilight. After having the same issue twice I will definitely be shortening the bramping duration for the next test.

The unedited (no color correction, de-flickering, etc.) assembly. 

Bramping Time-lapse: Part 1

This week I finally started testing my recently acquired Promote Control. This is my first foray into day to night (and vice versa) transitions during time-lapse. I will be documenting all of my tests here for my own future reference and to hopefully help someone else out with getting into the "Holy Grail" of time-lapse.

The First Setup: at Herberger Theatre in Downtown Phoenix

Modified using Camera Raw

Sunset: 7:41 pm

Civil Twilight: 8:09 pm

Nautical Twilight: 8:44 pm

Astronomical Twilight: 9:23 pm

Camera Settings:

f/5.6 | ISO 100

Promote Settings:

Start Exposure: 1/6 | Interval: 15 sec | End Exposure: 25 sec | Ramp Duration: 1 hr 41 min 

Promote settings.

Unedited 25 second exposure. This is what the ramping was originally headed for and it is far too bright.

I started the ramping right at sundown, with the intention of it ending right at astronomical twilight. About halfway through the sequence I realized that the ending exposure would be way too bright. I used the live modification feature on the promote to start reducing the final exposure but it was too late to get the effect I really wanted. This is a bit of tough spot for exposure because there is no direct lighting on the side of the sculptures that are facing the camera and the fancy streetlights are very bright.


What I Would Do Next Time:

Simulated 5 sec exposure 25 minutes after Civil Twilight.

Next time at this location I will set the ending exposure to be 5 seconds. I will also have the ramping end approximately 20 - 25 minutes after civil twilight begins because the ambient light was so bright here that past that point you couldn't see much of the sky anyway.

The unedited (no color correction, de-flickering, etc.) assembly. 

From the Keys

Last week I had the opportunity for a very quick trip to the Florida Keys after finishing a job on the mainland. I put most of my focus into my 360° video rig but still took the time to do some still photos. I only had about 36 hours in the keys and I spent most of it in Key West running around seeing what type of trouble I could get into, photographically speaking that is :-)


This panorama of the port was one of the images that came from this trip, I will have several more images / videos popping up in the next few weeks.