To capture a shot of a meteor you need a cloudless, moonless sky, a tripod-mounted camera, a remote shutter release, an exposure long enough to see meteor trails but not so long as to capture star trails, and a glass or two of wine.
This photo was taken during the Perseid meteor shower, which is visible in North America from mid July to mid August. The view is looking south over the Juan de Fuca Strait to the town of Port Angeles, Washington, the bright light source in the distance. Shot with a Nikon D300, 11 mm focal length, f/2.8, 33 sec, and long-exposure noise reduction (LENR). LENR works by following each exposure with a second exposure of the same length but with shutter closed. The second exposure is then subtracted from the first to remove noise. This, of course, doubles the time to take the shot.
The sky was almost as blue as the sea last Tuesday when I walked onto the ferry that was docked in Victoria harbor. Ninety minutes later I arrived in Port Angeles. After waiting for border control, I walked ten minutes to the post office where I found my box half-full of nothing of interest. I stuffed the mail in my pack, walked back to the ferry, then returned to Victoria.
I spent the ninety-minute ride in each direction standing on the ferry's upper deck, camera in hand. Today I had my telephoto, a 70-300vr, as the strait crossing calls for a long focal length to photograph the vessels sharing the sea with us: the Clipper catamaran, container ships, military and fishing boats, a Westcoast Air sea plane taking off to the mainland, and many kayaks hugging the shore. The 70-300vr isn't fast, but in good light and kept below 300 it is sharp and the vr helps keep it stable.
I used the short trip to test two recent purchases: an REI Overnighter backpack and a Nikon D800E. I bought the pack at the REI in Seattle and the D800E in Victoria. The D800E purchase was the product of a long period of rationalization as I am long past the point of being over-camera-ed.
In the bright, harsh light I focused on color. I'm happy with the D800e’s performance but these aren’t technically demanding shots. A steady hand is all that is needed. I shot them at a larger aperture (smaller F-stop) than what I'd typically use on a bright sunlit day because of recommendations to keep the Nikon's aperture below 11 to minimize diffraction This will require further testing as I need small apertures for times when I want depth of field.
The backpack purchase was another in a seemingly- endless quest for the perfect pack. My dream is Tardis-like in size, light of weight, and stylishly unassuming. The REI pack comes close: it is light and unassuming, with looks that are more luggage than back pack. The Overnighter drew me in with padding that reinforces an easy-to-fill rectangular shape. When zipped open, the pack's carrying capacity is easily visualized, unlike a typical load-from-the-top backpack. The pack will play double duty: carry-on and day pack. Cargo will be a DSLR, a few primes (10, 20, 35, 85), and accessories such as charger, storage, a 62mm polarizer, blower, and wipes. In the space left I'll stash toiletries (when flying) or jacket and lunch (for walking around town).
Winter has arrived on the island: wind, snow, and temperatures below zero. Of course, if you're from, say, Winnipeg, you may find this shorts-and-flip-flops weather, like the fellow on line in front of me yesterday. But having sent much of my life in Texas and California, for me the weather is too cold for man or beast.
Two from yesterday. The day started with a colorful sunrise over the Juan de Fuca Strait (taken with the 17-55 at 55mm f/5.6), but it ended with a snowy drive to Victoria and back (35/2.0d at f/6.3), both on the D300.
I've returned from Portland, Silicon Valley, and Port Townsend, a trip spent visiting friends and shopping. Hiked a couple of days, back-to-back, Mission Peak in the east bay and Mount Tam in Marin. (Pictures to follow.)
This shot was taken yesterday, on the rocky return voyage sailing the Coho from Port Angeles to Victoria under a clear blustery sky. I braced against a ferry doorway to stabilize against the strong cold winds. Shot with the D800E, 70-300vr, 240 mm, f/8, iso 320.