Star Trails Over the Badlands

In yesterday’s post, I featured a few of my favorite images of star points (stars in sharp focus) and some of the Perseid meteors. In today’s post, I’m featuring a couple of star trails I captured over time, one evening while photographing the Perseid meteors. Capturing multiple, long exposure images, I later combined them using StarStaX software. Here are two images I captured:

In this first image, the star trails (which rotates around Polaris, the North Star … Polaris is just out of the frame in this shot, on the upper left corner of the image):

Star Trails captured over Badlands NP

If you look closely (photo above) you can see about 3 meteors traveling across the sky. In the lower right of the frame, a couple of airplanes saw the need to fly across my photograph!

In this next image, I had positioned my second tripod setup a bit to the left so I could capture Polaris near the center of the frame:

Star Trails captured over Badlands NP

After seeing both the star points images and the star trails images, which do you like best?  I think I prefer the sharply-in-focus star points, but both can result in wonderful, night photographs. Also, do you see the different colors in the stars? The color difference is due to the age of the star … younger stars burn “hot” and have a bluish color. Older, dying stars are warmer in color.

Photographic Equipment Used:

Top Image:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Rokinon 14mm manual lens, f/2.8 lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 3200 and ISO 5000
  • Aperture f/2.8
  • Shutter 30 seconds
  • A total of 76 individual images were combined in the top image, using StarStaX software

 

Bottom Image:

  • Canon 1D Mark 3 body
  • Tamron 17-35mm, f/2.8 lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 500
  • Shutter 297 seconds (just under 5 minutes/exposure)
  • A total of 7 individual images were combined in the bottom image, using StarStaX software

 

 

Posted in 2016, Astrophotography, Blog, Landscape Photography, National Park, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Perseids Over the Badlands

I’ve finally got through all my recent Perseids meteor shower images I captured in early August as they fell over the Badlands NP in South Dakota. As you view these images, please note that the rock formations in these are all illuminated by the larger-than-preferred moonlight falling over the landscape (the moon was at ~80% illumination). As a result, the meteors were not as bright, and not as many seen, as would have been seen if the moon was much “smaller”. But on the up-side, the moonlight did help to illuminate the landscape :o)  Here are a few of my favorite images captured of the meteor shower:

Perseids Meteor Shower over Badlands NP

Perseids Meteor Shower over Badlands NP

Perseids Meteor Shower over Badlands NP

Perseids Meteor Shower over Badlands NP

Perseids Meteor Shower over Badlands NP

All above images were captured using one of two setups I had running. Below, you can see the equipment used for these images. This set of images used a new lens I had just purchased for night sky photography, the Rokinon 14mm manual lens. I had heard this was a great lens for night photography and I am very pleased with it’s results. The stars appear quite circular, not distorted as can be the case with some lenses. And the colors seemed to be very nice. I think this is now my “go to” lens for night photography!  :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Rokinon 14mm, f/2.8 manual lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 3200 and ISO 5000
  • Aperture f/2.8
  • Shutter 30 sec.

Using a second setup, I captured some vertical shots of the stars and night sky. I’ll share some of those images in another post.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Astrophotography, Blog, Landscape Photography, National Park, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: Human Watching

Do you ever get that funny feeling you’re being watched? It’s not uncommon for me to be in my kayak and get that feeling. And it’s not that uncommon to find that the “watcher” is a deer, in this instance a White-tailed Deer doe that was intently watching me as I slowly kayaked past her during my kayak outing earlier this week. This is one of the reasons I love to photograph from the kayak … you sit so low that you present much less of a threat to wildlife, allowing you capture close-up images. Here is the little lady, intently “human watching”:

White-tailed Deer doe

In another post, I’ll feature another interesting mammal I captured during that kayak outing.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens, shot at 400mm
  • Handheld from the kayak, with IS “ON”
  • ISO 1600
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/80 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Fun Friday post, Mammals, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Cattin’ Around

Early this week, while kayaking a local Missouri Conservation Area, I heard the unmistakable call of a Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis). Slowly coasting past the bank, I found the catbird as it sat in a tree branch overlooking the water’s edge. Here are a couple of my favorite images:

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

I’m working on the night photography shots I captured in the Badlands NP a couple of weeks ago. I captured so many frames, that it is taking me longer than expected to get through the editing process, but should have them ready within a few days.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “ON”
  • ISO 1600
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/60 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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A Little Post-Kayak Gaura

On Monday morning, I arose early and headed out with the kayak. I had a wonderful, peaceful couple of hours as I drifted around a nearby lake. Ran across quite a bit of wildlife (will post images in later posts), but as I was pulling the kayak out of the water to load into my truck, I saw some wildflowers growing about 50 yards away, along the bank. After loading the kayak, I headed down with my camera. I found a couple of species of wildflowers growing, but the prevalent one was this Gaura (Gaura longiflora), sometimes called the Butterfly flower. I typically find this wildflower growing on some of the nearby prairies, so was a bit surprised to find it along the lake bank. Here are a few of my favorite images:

Gaura wildflower

Gaura wildflower

Gaura wildflower

Gaura wildflower

Gaura wildflower

This Gaura species can grow up to 5-feet tall. The white flower petals turn pink as they mature. The name Butterfly Plant comes from the flowers resembling a small butterfly.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens (since I was kayaking, I my macro lens was at home)
  • Handheld, with IS “ON”
  • ISO 200
  • Aperture f/5 to f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/400 sec. to 1/1,250 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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Prairie Pronghorn

Another mammal photographed in the Badlands NP a week ago was the Pronghorn Antelope. Pronghorn can be found in the Badlands NP, but usually very small numbers and far away. This guy was busy foraging on the prairie grasses and was well within shooting distance:

Pronghorn Antelope grazing on the prairie

Pronghorn Antelope grazing on the prairie

Pronghorn Antelope grazing on the prairie

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “ON”
  • ISO 250
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/2,000 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Mammals, National Park, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: Got Milk?

When visiting the Badlands NP in summer, I always enjoy finding the Bighorn Sheep, particularly the young lambs. At this time of the year, the ewes are trying to wean the lambs from nursing … but the youngs ones find it is easier to nurse than graze!

Bighorn Sheep lamb nursing

Bighorn Sheep lamb nursing

When the ewes won’t allow nursing, the lambs will often resort to other antics, in this case, nuzzling up to mom first:

Bighorn Sheep lamb nuzzling against mom

But that typically doesn’t work, either!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “ON”
  • ISO 640
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/200 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Fun Friday post, Mammals, National Park, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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A Big, Gold Star in My Book!

During my short stay in the Badlands NP last week, I once again found some very interesting wildflowers growing. On our previous trip to the park, my wife and I had seen these wildflowers, but hadn’t determined what they were. During last week’s trip, I had some free time (since the evening sky was totally clouded up one evening, making meteor photography impossible) and did some online research. I found that these beauties are Evening Starflowers (Mentzelia decapetala). My research found that the Evening Starflower is a hardy 2 ft. annual or biennial from summer until frost. Flowers open in the afternoon and make the moonlit night a further wonder. Here are some of the many images I captured of this wildflower:

Evening Starflower wildflower

Evening Starflower wildflower

Evening Starflower wildflower

Evening Starflower wildflower

All of the above images were captured during the afternoon, while checking out the park. When I started settling down to set up my gear for meteor photography, I captured the following images in early evening. Notice that this wildflower tends to grow along the slopes of the rocks/hills in the park:

Evening Starflower wildflower

Evening Starflower wildflower

Looking closer at the plant as it blooms in the early evening, here are some of my favorite images:

Evening Starflower wildflower

Evening Starflower wildflower

Evening Starflower wildflower

Evening Starflower wildflower

Evening Starflower wildflower

As with any image I capture, I’ve tried to define why I was so fascinated with this wildflower. I think the timing of the bloom is one thing … buds in the early morning and blooms later in the day and into the evening. I also think the wonderful fullness of the plant, and the number of blooms per plant are a factor. And a nice, full plant seemingly in the “middle of nowhere” catches my interest.

During my research, I find that seeds for this wildflower are commercially readily available. Some of the growing conditions include:  part shade to full sun, thrives in varying amounts of water, and very cold tolerant (from growing zone 3 to zone 8). After returning home, I have decided that I’m going to purchase some seeds and plant this lovely wildflower in at least one of my two rock gardens, where I have some succulents planted! I think they will add a nice touch there. :o)

Coming up, more images from the Badlands … including some meteor shower images.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Most of these images were captured using a Canon 5D Mark 3 body and Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5 – f/5.6 IS lens
  • Some of the images were captured using my Android phone camera
  • Aperture and Shutter were variable.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Landscape Photography, Macro Photography, National Park, Nature Photography, Travel Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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My, What Big Ears You Have!

One of the traits of the Mule Deer … very large ears! While waiting for the evening sky to darken and the stars to become visible, a pair of Mule Deer approached my location in the Badlands. Here are a couple of images I captured of the grazing deer:

Mule Deer grazing in the Badlands NP

Mule Deer grazing in the Badlands NP

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “ON”
  • ISO 1000
  • Aperture f/9
  • Shutter 1/15 sec. and 1/30 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Mammals, National Park, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Therapy in The Badlands

The last few days were busy traveling to/from, and photographing in the Badlands NP in South Dakota. Shortly after my wife, Karen’s recent death, I had a lot of decisions to make. One of them was whether to continue traveling and photographing nature. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Karen, who supported me whole-heartedly in my nature photography activities, would not want me to stop. With that in mind, I decided to take a few days off and travel to the Badlands NP in South Dakota, a place both she and I have been to many times in the past few years. On this trip, I would concentrate on photographing the Perseid meteor shower, recently proclaimed to being an “outburst” this year, with even more than the typical 100 meteors/hour being observable.

Karen particularly loved the colorful rock formations that are found throughout the park. So I decided to take along some of her ashes and sprinkle them among the colorful formations she so much enjoyed seeing and photographing. The photo below was captured with my phone camera, near the spot where I sprinkled her ashes:

Badlands NP landscape

I think she would be pleased with becoming part of this landscape. Imagine looking over this beautiful area for each day of the rest of your life!

I did manage to capture some of the Perseid meteors, along with some of my favorite subjects to photograph in the Badlands:  baby bighorn sheep, black-tailed prairie dogs, beautiful wildflowers, and much more. Over the next few posts, I will be sharing some of my favorite images captured in the Badlands last week.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Android phone camera, shooting as a Point/Shoot camera
  • Edited image in Lightroom 6 and Photoshop CS5

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Landscape Photography, National Park, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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