July 23, 2020 at 8:53 am (California, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Time-lapse) (, , , , )

I had been seeing some amazing photos of Comet NEOWISE the past couple of weeks but due to light pollution I could not see it from my home. So I took another road trip to the Eastern Sierras. First stop was one of my favorites: Alabama Hills in Lone Pine. The above photo was taken on Day 3. Unfortunately when I zoomed in the focus slipped and since it’s too dark to use auto focus or even manual focus, one needs to finesse the infinity symbol on the lens. It is definitely my best as far as composition and lighting, which was from a passing car. ISO 25,600, f4, 10 sec

Same view, with another section of the rock formations illuminated by headlights. I will include photo details. These were all taken with the Nikon D750 full frame sensor camera, 24-120mm Nikon lens. The blue ones were taken with white balance at tungsten setting. ISO 25,600, f4, 8 sec

Day One (Sat. July 18) with foreground illuminated by my red headlamp. It’s early in the evening (around 9:30 p.m.) but dark enough to see the comet’s tail. ISO 10,000, f4, 1.6 sec.

I was in the Arches Trail parking lot and thought all those folks were there to watch the comet. Nope. I guess it’s a “thing” to walk to the arch at night. Many were there to illuminate the arch with artificial lights and photograph it with the Milky Way, which was to the south.  f4, 6 sec

Milky Way with Jupiter and Saturn. ISO 10,000, f4, 10 sec

International Space Station flyby. I didn’t realize what it was until I had finished the images. It is much brighter than a jetliner and has no blinking lights. ISO 6400, f4, 6 sec. The next two images show it moving eastward. You can check with a NASA website to see when and where you can see it in your area. There’s no cell service in the hills, even though it is a hop, skip and jump from “downtown” Lone Pine, so don’t plan on using Google while you’re there.

Same exposure.

f6.3, ISO 6400, 15 sec. I was trying out different settings to find the “sweet spot.”

This was using the sunlight white balance, which tends to make the scene rusty colored. You can see the arch illuminated by photographers in the lower right. ISO 25,600, f4,10sec.

The comet “set” around 11 p.m. nose-down. The long exposure reveals the split tail. I have night blindness and can’t see faint stars or auroras well, but I could definitely see this comet with the naked eye after my eyes acclimated to the dark. Using a red headlamp to adjust camera exposures keeps the night vision intact. ISO 25,600, f4,10 sec. Most images show jetliner streaks. A few streaks might even be meteors.

This one shows the illuminated arch.

When I was at the Alabama Hills in early June, I was lucky to have found a campsite with gorgeous rock formations, which were illuminated by the full moon. Stars and the Big Dipper were still visible even then. Now there is no moon, and it takes passing headlights to add interest in the rock details. 120mm, ISO 25,600, f4, 10 sec.

Day 2 was at Mono Lake. A photographer I met at Alabama Hills said he’d been skunked at Mono Lake two nights in a row due to clouds. I could see the thick clouds weren’t clearing quickly and didn’t want to walk down to the tufa formations and wait, wait, wait for nothing. I found a wonderfully open spot on forest land above the lake. This was the only decent image I got during the few minutes the comet was visible. I spent the rest of the night making time-lapse images, which I will work on this week.


Day 3 also threatened to be a wash-out at Mono Lake, and even though I had planned to do some hiking in that area, my gut told me to return to Alabama Hills. Glad I did. Because it was now Monday night, there were plenty of primitive campsites to choose from. (No potties). I didn’t realize it, but my site overlooked the Arches Trail parking lot. The comet and a jetliner trail are both visible. ISO 2000, f4, 10 sec, 9:22 p.m.

Darn it! The clouds covered the comet for quite awhile.

The nose was emerging.

In the clear! The two images I began this post with were among the last I took here. I’m going to post my favorite again. I only wish it had been properly focused. I guess that means I’ll have to try Topaz or something that promises to sharpen images like this, hopefully without the noise that comes with high ISO exposures.

Even though the comet was closest to earth last night, I stepped out in my front yard to see it. The Big Dipper was visible, but the comet was washed out by lights of Paso Robles. It’s just a small city, but the lights were too bright. Stay tuned for the time lapses when I get them done!


Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre
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A Tornado Kind of Day

October 22, 2017 at 11:52 am (Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Time-lapse, Video) (, , , , )

Funnel cloud forming

We didn’t actually see a tornado, but we almost did. This funnel cloud shaped up very nicely as viewed from Chattanooga, Oklahoma around 6 p.m., Oct. 21. My photographer friend recognized a storm spotter vehicle and we turned around to follow. As the squall line came in, it looked like some snaggle-toothed clouds were trying to make themselves into tornadoes, which had been predicted. (Technically, they aren’t tornadoes until they touch the ground.)

This funnel took about 3 minutes to form in the video, but I condensed it to 30 seconds. It didn’t quite have the energy to reach the ground, but we received a tornado warning on our phones as we watched it. The spotter (you can see the vehicle on the horizon to the right) may have called it in. We made it back to Lawton before severe thunderstorms hit, but this squall line formed around five small tornadoes in the area before the evening was over.

Thunderclouds from Hackberry Flat

Our initial plan that day was to visit Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge to see the sandhill cranes, but the dire weather predictions made us stay closer to home. I’m glad we did. We visited a small state park an hour north, then headed to Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area.

My friend is doing a photo collection of Oklahoma murals, so we stopped in Cordell so he could add this one.

Ornate box turtle

This ornate box turtle, Terrapene ornata, was found wandering in a cemetery. The red eyes mean it’s a male. Female eyes are yellowish brown.

He checked me out every so often to decide if I was safe.

We also saw a coyote on top of hay bales.

Red tail hawk

At Hackberry Flat we began to hear thunder in the distance. It was sunny and breezy and we looked around, surprised. The skies took on a great deal of drama as the cold front met with the warm, humid air to the north and west of us.

The red-tailed hawk added its own flair to the wind-blown backdrop.

Cotton fields surrounded the area, and at times looked like snow.

The skies changed by the minute. We knew we should head home, but we squeezed in as much photography as we could. The severe weather was to our north and moving away from us.

Little tails threaded down from the wall cloud now and then, then were reabsorbed. We made it back to Lawton before we were hit with thunderstorms from this supercell. The KSWO-7 meterologists were busy busy busy last night keeping track of the little tornadoes and large hail in our viewing area, but thankfully all we got at my house was wind and rain.

Another Oklahoma experience!

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Total Eclipse of the Sun

September 3, 2017 at 4:02 pm (Nature, Nature photography, Night Sky, Photography, Time-lapse, Video) (, , , , )

Solar eclipse as viewed from the Rowe Audubon Sanctuary along the banks of the Platte River, Gibbon, Nebraska, August 21. I used a Nikon D750 with an 80-400mm lens for the stills and the video of the eclipse’s ending, and a Nikon D600 and Canon SX60 for landscape videos. A solar filter was used on the lens prior to totality.

Since I live a day’s drive from the path of totality of the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, I decided to make the trip to near Kearney, Nebraska to see what may be a once-in-a-lifetime event. Read the rest of this entry »

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Simple Tips to Better Photography

August 1, 2015 at 12:06 pm (Bird photography, Black-and-White Photography, Colorado, Colorado birds, Dinosaur National Monument, fine art photography, Infrared Photography, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Time-lapse, Video, Wildflowers, Wildlife) (, , , )

Sunset at Mid-Hills campground

Visual Poetry

When I was an interpretive park ranger at Dinosaur National Monument last summer, I created a photography program to give amateur photographers ideas on how to improve their vacation photos.  The “Simple Tips to Better Photography” was a non-technical tutorial on the art of seeing. With today’s do-it-all-for-you digital cameras, most of the technical stuff is already done by the camera, and often done quite well.

But what snapshooters need to learn most is what I call visual poetry.  They need to learn how to make a compelling photograph.  Too many people don’t use their telephoto lenses to their best advantage, and that is one of the most important tools they have to capture the compelling part of the photograph.

Although this presentation is focused on landscape and nature photography, the same can be said about photographing people.

I began my presentation with a discussion about visual poetry, adapted for general audiences: Read the rest of this entry »

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Stars 1, Satellite 1, Meteors 0

August 13, 2014 at 7:35 am (Nature, Nature photography, Night Sky, Photography, Time-lapse)


Satellite streaking through the stars in 15 second exposure

I went to the High Uintas in Utah (north of Vernal) to watch the Perseid meteor shower.  The moon rose an hour after sunset so I thought I might have a chance before its brilliant light washed out the visibility.   I did several hours’ worth of time lapse photographs to capture any that might streak by.  Zip.  Nada.  I did catch a satellite though.

See the stars move through the sky – 50 minutes in 22 seconds

Dusk settles on Spirit Lake, the stars appear, then the moonlight tints the lake and trees onshore.

Text and photographs copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

Original hand-painted BW photographs for sale:  Etsy

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