Ground is Lava

Location: Mojave, CA | Settings: F5.6 / ISO 50 / 215 second exposure

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For this shot I wanted to stay away from the spectral look that has seemed to dominate the end of my 2015 light-fossils. For the new year I'd like to focus more on specific color choices as well as adding in multi-layered light-elements.

For this shot of a Lambeosaurus Light-Fossil, I used an orange-tipped Night-Writer along with a flash of red from off-screen left and frame-right, held low to emphasize the cracked earth texture. Looks like lava to me :) 

One of the parts to this image that isn't very noticeable is the moon in top-center of the composition, just underneath the dinosaur. If I were to print this large, it would be more of a focal point.

The most distinctive feature to the Lambeosaurus dinosaur is it's cranial crest, which is mostly hollow. Educated guessers think that the cranial crest could have functioned as part snorkeling device,  for communication purposes, and for distinctions between species and sexes. 

Here's a cool link I posted before about how a Parasaurolophus might have sounded like (based off a 3d printed skull with air blown through the nasal cavity, I'd imagine the Lambeosaurus to sound a bit like this.

Check out my full collection of Light-Fossils in the Gallery below:

Smoke on the Water / Fire in the Sky

Location: PCH - Big Sur, CA / Settings: (Composite) Light art at F5.6, ISO 100, 367 seconds. Stars at F2, ISO 3200, 15 seconds.

Gear: Canon 6DZeiss F2 28mm lensManfrotto 190x tripodWireless Remote, and Night-Writer kit.

This night was unusual in light of the fires going on in Monterey County (Tassajara Fire), just North of the area we were camping at in Big Sur.

Smoke drifted South once the Sun had set and the smell of fire got stronger as I made my way North on the PCH - I pulled over at a spot I thought would be good for catching the Milky Way over the Pacific and captured this image of my light-skeletons looking out into the abyss.

The smoke gave an orangey-yellow hue to the densest part of the Milky Way - I had to do some tough edits on this file to pull out the detail along with some noise reduction.

A great app I've been using for getting rid of the noise is one called 'Noiseless' (for Mac) - it's not perfect, but it's the best I've come across yet. 

For a quick tutorial on how to do composite shots like this - see my EDU section - Q5 - it's at the bottom of the page.

While there are photographers focusing on 'SOOC' - straight out of camera - a practice of light-art in which the image in the camera is untouched (shown as it was captured - not edited in any way). In regards to light art, I am not one of these people - I think technology should be taken advantage of in every aspect it can to give the viewer a better vision of what we as night-photographers are out trying to capture - our nocturnal perspectives.

If it means editing the file to pull out important details in RAW processing, so be it. That's what capturing in RAW format is for - more information contained within your images.

That said, I do not believe in adding things that are not there to begin with. My composites are always taken on location, using two images - taken at two different camera settings - I do this for the purpose of capturing the dynamic range between what's best for capturing the light art, and what's best for capturing the environment.

Spectral Brontosaurus

Location: Big Sur, CA / Settings: (Composite) Light art at F5.6, ISO 100, 230 seconds. Stars at F2.8, ISO 6400, 15 seconds.

Gear: Canon 6D24-70mm LensManfrotto 190x Tripod, Proto Night-Writer, and Remote shutter.

I had been to this location a few times before and knew about the interesting doorway at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, CA. After checking to see where the Milky Way's position would be around 10pm - I decided to try my luck for clear skies and another spectral dinosaur for my Light-Fossils series.

Luckily, the skies were very clear this night, and the Milky Way looked amazing behind the rock portal.

There were a few other photographers at the same spot, so I was able to make a few new friends and they were nice enough to let me take a few shots between their exposures. They gave me a few insightful pointers as I tried to create the rainbow dinosaur you see above. Longer tail here, more of a spine there, etc.

As fate would have it, one of the photographers - David, runs a Central Coast photography workshop called www.rainbowspirit.com - he was very knowledgeable about the Central Coast area and gave me a few tips on locations I visited the next day. Thank you David!

Here's a shot at Bixby Bridge - a California landmark seen in just about every car commercial.. This image makes me think of this familiar scene.

I'll end this post with a strange image I shot along the PCH heading North towards Bixby Bridge. The Moon is setting into the Pacific Ocean, illuminating a smokey orange horizon caused by the Tassajara Fire - a 1200 acre blaze near Monterey, CA.

Fire-buds

Location: Giant Rock - Landers, CA / Settings: 11 shots at F2.8, ISO 3200, 13 seconds

firebuds

Info on how this shot was created:

Gear: Canon 6DRokinon 14mm LensManfrotto Tripod, and Remote Shutter-release.

For this quick gif I set up the camera in a half-circle space around the fire and shot 11 images - moving the camera and tripod a foot or two each shot and combined the shots using the animation window in photoshop.

animation tip

Just a couple of friends telling stories around a campfire with the universe above twinkling on to oblivion. Have fun out there!

PSA: Don't Play with Fire

Location: Salton Sea, CA / Settings: F9, ISO 100, 214 seconds

Info on how this shot was created:

Gear: Canon 6D, 24-70mm Lens, Manfrotto Tripod, and Remote Shutter-release.

I wanted to create a smoking effect along with a bit of fire coming from a skeleton holding a match - so I used white el wire for the smoke, a red sparkler for the fire, and whitered, and orange LEDs for my character and match. 

Some insight on the image:

This is a more serious topic than usual - it's June now and the fire season in Southern California is about to kick off shortly. In light of the 2007 fires in San Diego and 2009 fires in Los Angeles, please try and be extra careful out there with cigarettes, campfires, and fireworks. Here's some images if you need a reason:

harris fire over mount miguel

Harris Fire in San Diego, CA - October 2007 (not shot by me - found on wikipedia)

station fire 2009

Station Fire in Los Angeles, CA - August 2009 - I shot this image from a rooftop in downtown Los Angeles of a mushroom cloud rising North East over the San Gabriel mountains. Note the 747 airplane to the bottom left of the cloud for scale!