Sunday, September 15, 2013

Delta River Star Trails...

I'm going to go about things a bit differently from now on. Facebook's new (or old, not sure) policy of using my images for their profit without any compensation to me doesn't sit well with me. Yes, they let me use their platform to promote my work, but they also make money off of the advertising, of which I also get none.

Moving forward I'll post recent images, or reworks, here or at the gallery at the PhotoWorks Studio Gallery, from which I can link to the Facebook page. If it turns out that FB also wants to use those than I'll stop posting images there altogether. They already have quite a few of my images (and yours), and at this time it doesn't appear I have any recourse to keep those from being used. Hopefully at some point some legal action can be taken, but for now it is what it is.

To purchase this image please visit
Now, on to the fun stuff. On a whim my buddy Jason and I decided to head out to the delta to do some star trails. Actually, I came up with the idea and Jason wanted to tag along as he wanted to try out a new piece of firmware that works as an intervalometer, meaning the camera does the work of taking the exposures once it's programmed to do so. Mine is external and works like a charm. It is much more fun to have someone along on shoots.

We set off a little before midnight. It takes about 45 minutes to get out there, and it's a big area but having been many times I had an idea of where I wanted to setup. However, as we turned off of HWY 12 onto a delta road outside Rio Vista, one of thousands of windmills there wasn't spinning, which would have been a perfect anchor for a star trail shot. Thing is, it was windy as hell  and neither of us wanted to go through shooting the star trails and have them blury from wind-shake. We both have fairly sturdy tripods but when the shutter is open for over a minute, the slightest wiggle is noticeable. Onward we ventured.

We eventually found a spot where we could use the Explorer as a decent wind blocker, and things were on. I eventually got things set up to shoot at f/4, ISO 500, with one minute exposures. I had the 6D and a 24-70. Jason had his 5D MKII and a 17-40. The 17-40 is a great lens for this kind of work, but the 24-70 was just fine.

In the past I've set these up at f/4, ISO 200 with four-minute exposures, usually between 17-25 shots, using my Sigma 17-70. Can't use that with the 6D so a friend has been generous enough to loan me his 24-70. Oh yes, I will be getting one, along with a 17-40 at some point. Anyway, rather than 18-20 four-minute shots I went with 60 one-minute for a couple of reasons. First off, I wanted to try something different with the 6D. Secondly, using the original method hasn't provided really bright trails, while I've seen brilliant images elsewhere using higher ISO with shorter exposure times.

Jason fiddled around with different settings and I think came up with seven-minute exposures at 1200 ISO at f/4. Not exactly sure, though.

The place we landed was at a gate into one of the windmill farms. It made a nice anchor. The moon was out at 3/4 so finding Polaris was a bit tricky as it was difficult to see the dippers. For those not familiar with astronomy, Polaris is at the tip of the ladle of the Little Dipper, and the two stars that makeup the bottom of the Big Dipper are used to point to Polaris. I used a compass and we figured it out. Thankfully, once the moon set and we could see, we picked the right star.

Once everything was set I pushed the button and let the rig do its work. Jason finally got going to we spent the next hour or so arguing about which group of three stars were Orion's Belt. I lost. We also talked about how cool it would have been to have this area when we were in high school, for a variety of reasons.

It was around 3:30 when we finished up I was happy with mine and Jason was happy he was able to figure out the firmware (I have forgotten the name).

To purchase this image please visit
The result is above. I'm happy with this one because it came out really bright. That's not only nice for this image, but I realized I could use it for other captures, one in particular that just called for this - The Dancing Lady of Treasure Island.

While I like the image as I originally processed it, from the beginning I wanted to add some sort of star field to the sky above and behind her. Now I have it.

I'd also taken a couple of shots of the Milky Way, and added that in for good measure.

I'm also considering adding these trails to the images with the Point Reyes, the beached trawler in Tomales Bay near Inverness. I think the trails in that image could do for some enhancing.

Another spot where you can check out some of my work is at I've had the account for some time but haven't used it. Now, with my decision to stop using Facebook for posting, I've resurrected the account there. Plus, there are some fantastic photographers there, and I'm thinking a ton of inspiration will ensue!

Don't forget, I'll be showing at the RAW Artists Ecompass event at 1015 Folsom in San Francisco. It would be great to see you there. It's quite an exciting time for my work and it's nice to see it getting attention. I will be joined by a wealth of other up-and-coming local artists. Tickets for the event are $15 pre-event, $20 at the door, and you can pre-order at -

Also, please let me know you're coming at PhotoWorks by Don at RAW Artists

Those who pre-order will entered in to a drawing to win a 32x24 signed canvas wall piece! Out-of-area folks are eligible*!

*No purchase of art necessary. Drawing will be held at the event and the winner need not be present. However, if the winner wishes to have their canvass shipped, they will be responsible for shipping costs. If local they can stop by PhotoWorks by Don Studios to pick up the prize. Winner will be responsible for any local and state taxes.

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