Those bad clouds

What happens when you’re super excited about something, and then it doesn’t happen? That energy has to go somewhere, right? Last week, I decided to put my disappointment about missing the lunar eclipse into taking crazy double exposure photos of Tarantula and the moon. It was possibly more challenging than photographing the eclipse itself, AND it made me giggle, which cheered me up.

It all started last Tuesday evening, when I was nerding out about the Super Blue Blood Moon! I love taking pictures of the moon (as y’all know), and lunar eclipses (the “blood moon” part) are especially fun to photograph. Unlike a solar eclipse, you don’t need crazy equipment to keep your eyes and your camera safe. You just point the camera at the moon and click click click click. Yayyyy. Cool moon pictures.

The total eclipse was supposed to start at… 4:50 am on Wednesday morning here in Washington state. My friend K and I planned to get up at 4 am and meet up so we could witness/photograph the wonder together. Great plan!

4 am is quite a bit earlier than I am used to getting up, though, so I decided to pack my camera stuff the night before. That way, I could roll out of bed, grab my fancy new camera bag, and go see the moon!

I was getting everything ready when I looked up and saw the super moon watching me through the window. It was pretty neat. Some trick of the light made a mini reflection of the super moon right underneath the moon itself. I liked it because it was still a pretty detailed reflection. So I took a few photos. But not too many because I thought I would have way cooler ones in the morning.

I love my little blurry mini moon. It almost looks like the mini moon IS the moon and then there’s some crazy bright planet/star lurking behind it!

BUT when I woke up at 4 am, it was CLOUDY. Cobalt, nice husband that he is, even went on a mini walk outside to see if our apartment was blocking the moon. He came back with sad news. No eclipse for me.

I was so grumpy on Wednesday. People were posting such cool photos online. Blood moon over an observatory, blood moon over the ocean, blood moon, blood moon, blood moon! It seemed like everyone saw it! And yet, I had nothing. It’s not like I slept through my alarm, or I forgot to charge my camera battery. It’s just that sometimes, these things happen. It was out of my control.

On Wednesday night, when the moon rose, I glared at it. It was still kind of cloudy, but you could see the moon. It was taunting me. Oh now you decide to show up, moon.

A part of me suggested that maybe I take some full moon pictures anyway. My camera was already prepped for moon photos. So I grudgingly set everything up and took a few photos of the moon from our deck.

Dang. That’s a sweet moon.

Tarantula watched me from the back door. That’s when I got the idea. What if… I took a picture of the moon and then, using the multiple exposure mode on my camera, took a picture of Tarantula so that it looked like she was watching it?

Crazy challenge accepted! Finally all my grumpiness had somewhere to go: This photo was going to require some serious planning.

The way the multiple exposure mode works is that it takes two (or more, depending on what you tell it) consecutive photos and smashes them together into one photo. So I had to take two perfect photos back to back. Which was hard because the moon and the inside of my house are lit quite differently. Also Tarantula is quite a bit closer to my camera than the moon is. ALSO… I had to remember where I framed the moon in the photo and then somehow get my cat to look in that general direction.

It took two different lenses (take picture of moon, switch lens to portrait lens, adjust settings, take picture of cat) and a lot of trial and error.

This was my first attempt. Moon looks good, but T’s not really looking in the right direction. Also I didn’t really like the closet in the background behind her.
Cobalt was on cat-attention duty. He tried: saying KITTY!, snapping his fingers, and getting out her favorite butterfly toy to get her to look where I wanted her to look. This picture happened because she leapt out of the frame for the butterfly. I was going to redo the whole series anyway, so I just snapped a quick second picture of her and the camera smashed the two together. I think it looks like a record cover. What would the title be?

I’m still sad that I didn’t get to see the eclipse. But at least I got to have fun with my camera, which is one of the things I was looking forward to. I’ve been trying to take pictures that tell a story. Sure, a photo of the eclipse would have told a “Potassium got up super early so she could see this sweet lunar phenomenon” story. But these photos tell a pretty neat story too. I mean, how often do cats get to look at a moon in their own living rooms?

Now it’s your turn! Did you see the eclipse? What’s something that’s disappointed you lately? How did you handle your feelings?

Self portrait

HOW IS IT ALREADY DECEMBER?!

It feels like the eclipse was just yesterday!

The sun goes down SO EARLY now, guys. You know it’s sad days when you’re in Seattle on the first day of December and you think “Wow! The sun is up so late here!” :-/

Anyway, on Sunday, I was sitting in our office so that the last glimpse of sun hit me in the face. It was great – so warm and bright. Then I looked up and saw that the sun was illuminating my face in a reflection in the window. I decided to try to capture it with my camera. I think it turned out pretty well. I love that you can’t even see the camera. There are just some Potassium eyes hovering there. Wahaaaaa.

In case you wanted to see the self-portrait part even closer – here is a crop.

Creeeeeepyyyyyy. Where’d that Potassium come from?

Apparently it’s a creepy-themed week. On Saturday, Cobalt and I took advantage of the super low hanging fog we had to make some silly monster flicks. Then I made the creepy self portrait. And then, when I tried to photograph this weekend’s super moon, the clouds decided that it needed to be creepy too.

No Learjet required

Well you guys know about my obsession with taking moon pics. I think I’ve eclipsed myself now with this pic of the moon jumping in front of the sun!

So who watched the eclipse yesterday? Who got to see totality? Does anyone feel slightly more blind today? I hope not. :(

My sister, Deoxyribolove, came into town for the event and then we drove down into Oregon to get the totality part. The 97% we were supposed to get in Washington just wasn’t enough.

After spending the weekend frolicking around Boise, we set up camp on an old golf course in Ontario, Oregon, which was in the zone of totality. I spent the evening collecting golf balls and photographing Deoxyribolove doing poi with glow sticks.

Some of the golf balls I found had had a rough few years since the golf course closed.
So many colors…
I like this one because you can see her moving around while she makes crazy circles.

It was a great evening for camping, minus the mosquitos. We headed to bed early to hide from those little suckers. But we had great views of the Big Dipper from our tent and a nice breeze keeping us cool all night.

In the morning, we had coffee and oatmeal and then set about preparing the campsite for the eclipse. Cobalt and I had bought a pack of eclipse glasses from an American-Astronomical-Society-approved site a while ago so those came out. We also brought a colander for playing with the eclipse light and a variety of recording devices: my Zoom audio recorder for recording us reacting to the eclipse, our GoPro for a video of the same thing, and my DSLR + an old 70-200 mm lens (+ 2x multiplier) that I acquired from my grandpa. Pretty sure it was not built for a digital camera. I am so happy that I got everything to play nicely with my camera.

SAFETY NOTE: I did NOT have the correct filter for my DSLR so it only got to photograph the sun during totality (see pic above). The rest of the time, I just used my 50 mm lens to play with the sunlight.

There were so many things to play with! Of course the colander made crazy shapes on the tent wall. But so did my hat, my hair, leaves on the trees around us, and even the crooks of our elbows!

In case you were wondering, this is not how you use a colander to look at the eclipse. I just thought this would be a fun way to document our playing around with light. Luckily Deoxyribolove was willing to be my model. 
Eclipsing sisters. There’s the sun through our bent arms. Deoxyribolove had all these sweet suns going through her long hair too!
Some pictures were an all-hands-on-deck kinda deal. Here Deoxyribolove is making the cute sun shadow while Cobalt holds a piece of paper up to the tent. I was photographing and rapidly changing camera settings and focus to get that little sun as crisp as possible.
Whoa. Leaves make sun shapes on sister, Cobalt shoulders, and paper.

And then it started to get very dark. It was weird at first. Kind of orange and red-tinted. And then it got darker, and darker, and darker! And then the golf course lights came on and then we got that perfect ring up there. We only got 1 minute and 26 seconds of totality so I told myself I had one chance to take a picture with my crazy camera set up. I wanted to make sure I spent some time just experiencing the eclipse.

So as we got closer to the ring phase, I turned on the GoPro and the Zoom recorder so they could happily record the event while we forgot they were recording us. Then I set up my camera on the tripod and aimed it sort of in the direction of the sun (can’t look through the lens at the non fully eclipsed sun). And then as soon as we hit the ring, I sprang into action: pointed camera at sun, focused lens (definitely no autofocus on this lens), snapped photo, and hoped that the exposure time was right. It looked awesome! I snapped a few more with different exposure settings even though I wasn’t supposed to and then I stopped and watched the rest of totality with Cobalt and my sister. We may have taken some selfies…

So cool! Of course there are a million other things I wish I had done and looked at or noticed. A minute is so short and even though I told myself I only got one try with the camera, I was thinking about photography a little more than I wanted to be, especially when I was trying to just be in that one moment.

For the record, the GoPro did a pretty good job of capturing the rapidly darkening sky all around us and the Zoom audio recorder recorded us (and all the other people at the golf course) freaking out. I think the big lesson here is that we’ll have to go see another total solar eclipse sometime. Maybe next time it will be longer. And maybe I’ll leave the fancy lenses at home. We’ll see…

I hope you had fun with whatever eclipse viewing you did too! We certainly did. 5 stars, would watch a total solar eclipse again. :)

Thank you orange shirt guy who offered to take this picture of us. I’m sorry, I have no idea what he looks like because I had my eclipse glasses on the whole time. I could only see his orange shirt out of the bottom of the glasses.

PS: Points if you knew where my title came from. I had the line from “You’re so vain” stuck in my head the whole time…

Even the moon is red

Hi guys. Potassium here. We’re going to take a break from the gorgeous food photos and take a peek at (Potassium’s favorite photography subject) the moon!

So we are getting a lot of smoke in here in Washington right now. There are a bunch of major wildfires burning in British Columbia, Canada. And because of the way the winds are blowing, all their smoke is coming here. If you are interested, here is a super helpful infographic from the Seattle Times that explains all the wind craziness.

Plus we have had an epic heatwave (in the 100s on this side of the state and in the 90s to the west). So basically, we now know how it feels to be a smoked ham (or cheddar, if you prefer cheese to ham like I do).

Annnnnyway, all the smoke in the air has made for some eerie days.

It seriously looks like a post-apocalyptic world out there. Who’s read The Road? Am I right?

But then when the moon comes up, it’s such a shocking shade of orange. Practicing for Halloween are we? I played around with settings on my DSLR to take a range of pumpkin-colored moon pictures, like the one featured at the top of this post.

Speaking of celestial objects, who’s getting excited about the eclipse? What percentage of totality will you have in your city? Is anyone driving anywhere?

That’s all for now. If you’re living in a smoke-covered zone, try not to go outside too much!

A lunar grin

Hi team! How’s it going on this lovely first Friday of March? I’ve been super busy as usual with this program. Some of my recent activities include: eating peanut M&M’s on the air for my internship, photographing a science rally for Science, and combatting a vicious cold! Now we only have two weeks left in this quarter and everything is going nuts (like my M&M’s!). All four of our huge assignments this quarter are due back to back to back to back and then back to back to back to back again with revisions. Yikes!

But even with all of this craziness going on, I couldn’t help noticing the moon these past few nights. In case you were wondering, yes I’m still obsessed with the moon. Two nights ago, I caught it chilling with Venus when Cobalt and I went to run some errands. Then last night, I saw it grinning through our back door as I was getting ready for bed. “Oh I see what you’re doing there, moon,” I told it. Then I ran to get my camera. But by the time I came back, the moon was already hiding behind one of the apartment buildings in our complex. “Don’t think you’ve won,” I told its faint glow, all I could see from behind the building. “We’ll meet again tomorrow night…” So tonight I sat on the couch scritching a sleepy Tarantula and doing homework, just waiting for the sun to go down. Finally the moon appeared, smile and all. A HA! Caught ya, moon!