Ren and I took a walk along the beach a few days ago. Just taking advantage of the nice weather and the fact that we live on the lake. I did not take my camera. We were just going for a walk, but as a photographer, my eye is always looking for an interesting scene and my phone takes excellent photos. Not every photo needs to be planned out and shot from every angle. Sometimes it’s nice to just play around. So here are just a few of the things that caught my eye as we went for a walk on the beach.
These were all shot with my Samsung Note 8, and are the unedited jpegs.
The trick to getting bokeh with a phone is to get in close to your subject. My phone will focus on an object closer to the lens than I can with my camera unless I’m using a macro lens.
The shore here is mostly rocky with sandstone, but suddenly it feels like a beach on the west coast.
Because of the high levels of the lake earlier in the year, there are many trees on the shore.
I do like working with the phone sometimes, I approach a scene differently and will sometimes get a shot I wouldn’t have taken with the camera. Sometimes I will even reach for the phone even when I have my camera with me.
As much we hate litter, sometimes it has some amazing surprises for usI like the contrast in textures and colors with this.
For me this one is all about the textures.
Are any of these going to be award-winning photographs or end up hanging on my wall? Probably not, but I did have fun and ended up trying some things I might not have tried otherwise. Sometimes it’s interesting to look at a scene without preconceptions and see what you can make out of it.
One of the things I looked forward to when we moved out to the lake was the opportunity to do more photography. I’ve done a fair amount of landscape photography, but the weather has not been cooperating for night photography.
This last Saturday morning I got my chance. It wasn’t ideal, but it was good enough. The Moon was a few days shy of full, but was going to set a little after 4 AM. With the time change that gave me a bit over 2 hours before twilight. Being mid-March the core of the Milky Way would be rising about the time the Moon was setting.
I’ve talked before about the need for dark skies when doing astrophotography. How dark you need depends on what you are trying to do. We are only a few miles from Tulsa, and we certainly have plenty of light pollution, but there are still lots of possibilities in these conditions.
The Moon Setting over Lake Keystone
I got up about 3 Am and bundled up. The temperature was about 31 degrees. The key to being comfortable in cold weather is to wear lots of layers. One tip I’ve learned when photographing in cold weather is to pick up some hand warmers from HotHands. I cannot work my camera with gloves on, and having frozen fingers seriously diminishes my enjoyment. Toss a pair in your shoes and they keep your toes warm as well.
The Moon was still up, so I headed a few miles down the road to a small Corps of Engineers park named Cowskin Bay to get a photo of the moon setting over the lake.
Highway 412 Bridge and Keystone Dam
We live on a peninsula in between two branches of the lake where the Arkansas and Cimarron Rivers enter the lake. A few miles east there is a bridge over the lake.
Highway 412 Bridge and Keystone Dam
From the bridge, you can see across the lake to Keystone Dam. Just above the road is a tall ridge, and ever since we moved out here I knew I wanted to get a picture from that ridge of the bridge, lake, and dam. It was more difficult to get to than I expected, I was carrying a camera and tripod, and the grass was covered in frost, making it a little slippery, but I made it to the top without falling.
If you look closely you can just make out the Milky Way rising over the bridge, but it’s mostly lost in the light pollution.
The light trails from the traffic add a nice touch.
The Milky Way Rising in my Front Yard
It was getting close to twilight, but there was one more photo I wanted. A few days before when I was heading out the door to go to work, I noticed that the Milky Way was rising right outside my door. I didn’t have time to do anything about it then, but I wanted to see if I could get a good photo that morning.
This was going to be a challenging shot. There is a lot of light outside our trailer, and it was going to be difficult to get enough light to image the Milky Way without overexposing the lights in the yard. Fortunaly there are tools to help with this.
I took a total of six photos exposed to avoid overexposing the landscape. Then I loaded them into some free Windows software called Sequator. If you are going to do astrophotography, then you want Sequator. I told it which parts were sky and which were land, then set it to align the stars in the sky, to reduce light pollution, and automatically adjust light levels. Essentially it stacked all six photos, giving me an effective exposure of about 2 minutes for the sky, but only added enough of the landscape to reach the proper exposure. It also reduced noise in the photos to produce a much sharper image. By stacking photos and aligning the stars, Sequator lets you do much longer exposures using an ordinary tripod than you could without it. And it’s Free.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. We really appreciate it.
We’ve been rather busy lately with the move and the medical issues, so I haven’t been posting much. I have still been taking pictures though, and I was editing some of them this evening. Here is just a quick look at some of my recent night photography.
Last month we had a lunar eclipse. This was my first time to try and photograph a lunar eclipse, and it was touch and go if the clouds were going to clear out in time. Fortunately they did. I took this about half an hour north of Tulsa.
I recently purchased an IOptron StarTracker. This rotates the camera at the same speed as the stars rotate in the night sky and allows longer exposures and higher focal lengths without star trails.
We had a new moon, which is the best time to take night photos, but it was pretty cloudy in Oklahoma, so Ren and I headed back up to Salina KS where it was predicted to be clear that evening. The predictions proved accurate. I found a dark area NW of town and spent the evening learning how to align and use the tracker.
This was mostly about learning to use the new tool.
The Andromeda Galaxy. ISO 2000, 55mm f/5.6 165 seconds
The Nebula in Orion
ISO 800 55 mm f/5.6 225 seconds
Since we have moved to the lake, I expect to spend a lot more time at the lake taking photos. This is sunset at Keystone Dam.
ISO 100 12 mm 13 seconds
Also shot at Keystone Dam ISO 100 12mm 1/120 seconds
On our way to Arkansas to enjoy the fall colors, Ren and I stopped at a small city park, Sequoyah Park, to stretch our legs and take the dog for a short walk. This is a pretty little park near downtown, and the trees were in fine color, so naturally, I took some photos. It was on a Friday morning so we pretty much had the park to ourselves. I thought the contrast between the trees, the grass, and the clouds made for some interesting compositions.
Scott looking to make sure his shot was perfect; taken by Ren.
We were afraid we had missed the peak of fall colors, but, here in the Cherokee capital, it seems we might have chosen the perfect weekend to do our seasonal color trip. This park runs right along the Tahlequah Creek which runs into the Illinois River just east of the town. There are two historic WPA bridges crossing the small creek which gave it a great composition.
Ren often looks for the shots with her phone’s camera so I can see what she’s talking about. This is one of those shots.
One of our favorite places in Oklahoma and Arkansas is the Talimena National Scenic Byway. We have taken it many times, but this year we decided to just do the mountain range this amazing drive between Talihina, Oklahoma, and Mena, Arkansas. The Ouachita National Forest was where we found ourselves searching out many waterfalls.
Little Missouri Falls on the Little Missouri River in Ouachita National Forest taken by Ren.
Our total mileage was 557 miles to find some amazing colors and waterfalls. Most of the mileage came because we had driven so much within the National Forest, but the trip one way was approximately 215 miles to get into the forest. All in all, you don’t always need to travel to distant or exotic locations to get a good photo. Sometimes you just need to look around you and imagine the possibilities
Most of my photos come on our travels, but we can’t travel every weekend. For various reasons, we have been staying closer to home recently. When we can’t travel I try to find good subjects for photography in my local area.
Keystone Lake is just a few miles upstream from Tulsa on the Arkansas River. With Oklahoma subject to periodic droughts, the Keystone Dam is often not very impressive, with just enough water flowing to generate power, but Oklahoma has been pretty wet this year, and there have been very heavy rains upstream, so they are running a lot of water through the dam right now.
We got up early to try and get a photo of the Moon setting over the dam, I had the location planned correctly, but I messed up on the timing. The Moon was setting just as we drove up, and I could not get the camera set up in time to get the shot. Still, we had some interesting light, and there was a strong mist from the dam that developed into a heavy fog. We stayed for a few hours and I took pictures in the changing light. Ren is very understanding and patient with my early morning photo jaunts.
The area below the dam was filled with birds, thousands of them. The Pelicans were passing through on their annual migration. As the sun was rising they began to feed.
As we were leaving we found that most of the flock were on the lake side of the dam. It was hard to tell in the fog but the lake was covered in Pelicans for as far as we could see. This photo only captures a tiny portion of them.
While I did not get the photo I was after, I am still pleased with the photos that I did get.
So often Scott is the photographer between the two of us. I tend to be the scout; the one who finds the moments and places in time for him to capture with his Sony A6000. However, there are times I feel a need to take photos. Unfortunately, I take photos with my Sony A5100 so rarely that I forget how what buttons do what on it. I have been trying to be better at this, but it is just so much easier to take photos using my Samsung Galaxy 9.
I decided one Saturday morning during the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market it was time to pull out my actual camera and practice taking photos. Normally, I meet my daughter Amber at the coffee shop just feet from my apartment, but she was unable to walk the market with me this Saturday so I had no excuses; it was going to be a perfect morning to take photos and I really needed the practice.
Grabbing my fabric bags to put produce in and camera bag, I set out at just before sunrise to decide where would be the best place to start snapping photos of this magical event. Our local Cherry Street Farmers’ Market starts up every spring on the first Saturday of April and ends the third Saturday in October from 7:00 am until 11:30 am. The street for three blocks is shut off to traffic and people wonder about cheerfully. It is where the community comes together to purchases their weekly produce, samples the treats, and celebrate the beautiful Oklahoma mornings.
Our farmers’ market is not like what you will see in the movies or on television, it is only has four, maybe five vegetable vendors, maybe two or three artists, a couple of food trucks and a smattering of prepared food vendors. It is pretty small, but it is perfect for our square mile community. We all like it this way because most of the vendors know what each customer is looking for and they even know our names! Often my daughter will pick up my produce when I am not able to attend the market due to Scott and I traveling and the vendors know that she is mine and shopping for me. Yes, I do love our farmers’ market.
One of my favorite things about the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market is that there is live music being played every weekend. One weekend it will be the Falsey Twins who play the blues, another weekend the piano man will be banging on his upright piano (an actual wooden upright piano) while his wife belts out a ballad, and yet another weekend there will be an old-timey musician playing causing everyone to break out in shared song and dance. Everyone seems to enjoy the music, no matter the genre; they are extremely generous when they toss money in the bucket of appreciation.
Most importantly, the best thing you will find at this little Saturday farmers’ market are the people who have made it possible. There is so much work that goes into putting on such an event. Someone has to get up before 5:00 am, set up the closure signs, get vendor spots set up, take care of the city permits, and all the other things no one really sees as they wander through the market tasting, buying, and enjoying. They are amazing people who are dedicated to being on our little bit of heaven every Saturday from April until the middle of October no matter the weather. Yes, they are what makes this event so magical.
I was able to take so many wonderful photos that September morning while the morning light was still low and making everything golden. I am not able to tell you what my settings were on the camera, but I can tell you that it is days like this that get me excited about taking photos and maybe making someone smile. Even though the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market is gone for a short while, I can look back and remember the magical morning I had.
Thanks for spending time with me today,
All photos in this post were taken by me and are my property