Crystal photos

Been cleaning some crystals and since I was playing with my macro lens I decided to do some crystal photography, both to play with technique but also to see up close where the cleaning still needs to occur.

Most of these crystals need a lot further cleaning; with all the facets and how stained they were to begin with; this will be a long process to get all of the staining out of the cracks.  

Love the parallel secondary growth and all the facets.

Back side of the above crystal. Looks as if the original growth was a smoky, then two different growth periods.

Still has plenty more iron oxide staining to clean up, but love the colors on this fluorite chunk.

There is a lot pointing at you!

A pyrite double ball. Love the shapes and facets on these great crystals!

This is uncleaned, the pyrite was starting to tarnish when I extracted it; the colors are amazing!

This is a great healed crystal!

 

Macro Experiments

Was a beautiful Mother’s day, took a few minutes this afternoon to play with my prime macro lens to become more familiar with the depth of field options, bokah and focus.  

Wanted the whole flower in good focus. f/18, 1/100s, iso-3200, 90mm.

Wanted a shallower depth of field, with focus on the center of the flower. Turned out pretty cool! f2.8, 1/160sec, iso-100, 90mm.

Was interested in what the bokah would be like. f5.6, 1/100s, iso-320, 90mm.

Wanted to get good focus for the large depth of field. f22, 1/100s, iso-12800, 90mm.

Was trying to get the pedal in good focus, was curious about the fuzz. f5.6, 1/100s, iso-500, 90mm.

Was curious how the focus would blur with a small depth of field on the tip of the budding flower. f2.8, 1/100s, iso-320, 90mm.

Hoping for good focus throughout. f/8, 1/100s, iso-1250, 90mm.

Was focusing on the flowers with a shallow depth of field. f/2.8, 1/100s, iso-160, 90mm

Going for deep focus to contrast with the above photo. f/20, 1/100s, iso-10000, 90mm

Wanted to get the curve.  f/20, 1/100s, iso-8000, 90mm.

Was trying to get the stem as it was in the shade. Got some grass blades in the foreground blown out. f/14, 1/100s, iso-1000, 90mm.

This was a difficult shot because it was breezy. f/5.6, 1/100s, iso-320, 90mm.

Love the budding oaks! f/16, 1/100s, iso-1250, 90mm.

More oaks. f/16, 1/100s, iso-3200, 90mm.

Was standing taking a picture straight down. f/16, 1/100s, iso-2500, 90mm.

What a cool time of year! f/16, 1/100s, iso-4000, 90mm.

Was curious on how these lichen on the oaks would turn out. f/22, 1/100s, iso-6400, 90mm.

f/20, 1/100s, iso-10000, 90mm.

Decay, with a leaf gall wasp cocoon. f/8, 1/100s, iso-400, 90mm.

f/22, 1/100s, iso-12800, 90mm

Crystal photography using a Macro lens

As I’m experimenting with my new Macro lens and crystal photography.  I am trying to figure out how to better shoot crystals using a macro lens, which I am really enjoying! 

I have been cleaning some crystals in an Iron Out bath recently and thought I’d take some progress shots.  These are crystals dug earlier this year and some last year.  Here are some of the experiments.

These two both came out of the same area of the little seam I was in. Both had interesting secondary growth patterns! f11,1/100, iso400, 90mm

This one had small crystals growing in the overgrowth gap. Interesting etching as well. Needing a good depth of field for these macro shots. Manual focus, f11, 1/100, iso1250, 90mm.

This crystal has some interesting faces in the overgrowth. Trying to capture the point and the faces in focus, so needing a deep depth of field. f11, 1/00, iso1000, 90mm.

Amazonite. f11, 1/100, iso125, 90mm

This crystal has some neat little gemmy sidecars. f11, 1/100, iso1250, 90mm.

I love this side shot showing the color zoning in the crystal. Love the sawtooths at the top left! f20, 1/100, is0640, 90mm.

Side view of 1/2 of this crystal.

Was going for a shallow depth of field for this end crystal which shows the iron staining and multicolors this fluorite has to offer! f5.6, 1/100, iso100, 90mm

This is part of a much bigger fluorite crystal that disintegrated once I tried extracting it. But the apple green contrasting with violet is amazing! Background was the 12 inches of spring snow and the crystal was backlit by the morning sun. f3.2, 1/2000, iso100, -0.7 step, 90mm.

This is two of the three pieces I was able to salvage. They are still pretty stained with iron oxide, will continue giving a iron out bath. f9, 1/100, iso100, -.7step (oops), 90mm.

Macro Experiments

Been trying out the new Macro lens to see if I can get used to when to use which aperture setting.  Since it was a beautiful spring day, I walked around the yard with the lens experimenting on different subjects.  

Checking out Erin’s garden, which includes a bunch of crystals. f5, 1/320, ISO100, 90mm

Douglas County Petrified Wood, Colorado Smoky Amethyst Quartz, and a Douglas County Smoky Quartz Amazonite plate. Again in the garden. f11, 1/100, ISO100, 90mm.

Some convection on a storm a bit north of here, getting used to the fixed nature of this prime lens (this is my first foray into prime lenses). f11, 1/400, ISO100, 90mm.

Black and white convection shot, at the top of the stack. f11, 1/640, iso100, 90mm.

Manual focus on the seed in this dandelion shot. f11, 1/100, iso160, 90mm.

Was going for a shallow depth of field here with the foreground in tight focus. Manual focus, f2.8, 1/1250, iso100, 90mm.

This guy was cool, letting me get so close. Needed a deeper depth of field to get the entire grasshopper in focus, didn’t quite achieve that though got most of his head in good focus. f/6.3, 1/320, iso100, 90mm manual focus.

Working on really tight focus on all of the head. Didn’t get the antennae though. Manual focus, f6.3, iso100, 1/200, 90mm.

Got him itching, even bugs have allergies? This one was a bit tighter in focus, not because of the change in aperture, but rather the antennae are more in line with the body I think. Manual focus, f6.3, 1/200, iso100, 90mm.

Caught this hawk soaring! f14, 1/400, iso100, 90mm

The goal for this shot was to get the little anthers in focus while also have the rest of the flower which requires a deeper depth of field. Manual focus, f14, 1/100, iso1250, 90mm.

Here I was trying to get the further away anthers in sharp focus to highlight the curly anthers. Still trying to get it in mostly focus, but the foreground is a bit out of focus. Manual focus, f18, 1/100, iso2000, 90mm.

For this shot the goal was to get the flower and anthers in tight focus, didn’t know what kind of bokah to expect. Manual focus, f5, 1/100, iso250, 90mm.

Was trying to get the anthers in tight focus to highlight them with a really shallow depth of field to focus the eye on the anther and pollen. Manual focus, f2.8, 1/500, iso100, 90mm.

There was a tiny little ant crawling around the flower, wanted to try and get him and the flower in focus. Manual focus, f13, 1/00, iso400, 90mm.

I saw the ant walk into this hole in the tree, so I did a tight focus on that hole and waited for him to peek his head out. Manual focus, f13, 1/100, iso250, 90mm.

This dead flower stalk had good depth between the flowers, so I wanted to see what the extreme shallow depth of field would look like on this lens. I find it amazing the few inches blurs that quickly! Manual focus, f2.8, 1/640, iso100, 90mm.

The goal here was to get good overall focus, with the seeds being primary focal point. I liked this because you can see all the way to the core of the dandelion flower and I wanted to try and highlight that. Manual focus, f22, 1/100, iso800, 90mm.

Had some Mt Antero beryl showing in the garden, so tried to get crisp focus on some of the Colorado blue. Manual focus, f18, 1/100, iso4000, 90mm.

This quartz crystal needs a cleaning someday. The goal was to get all the facets in focus, so a deep depth of field from the macro lens. Manual focus, f18, 1/100, iso1600, 90mm

Morning Photography

February 3rd 2017 was a cold, brisk morning in Larkspur.  We had a good fog all night and the temperature went down to 15 degrees in the morning.  I started my daily journey toward the megalopolis while dawn was just unfolding and I felt the urge to turn around to grab my camera.  It was beautiful out!  

So, I turned around and went back home and grabbed the camera.  Along the first 5 miles of my route I stopped many times and took some photos.  I then was treated to an elk herd that was in plain view so I stopped and watched them for a while.  

A fun start to my drive to work!  As always these photos are previews, click on the photo for a larger version.

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My road home

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crull cabin larkspur colorado

More on Crull Cabin…
http://larkspurhistoricalsociety.org/?page_id=1174

bokah frost fence wire

I was happy with the bokah effect on this shot!

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elk larkspur

I especially like this picture with the frost on the scrub oak.

Watching the 2016 Perseids Meteorite Shower

This year has been a lot of fun watching meteorite showers, and Perseids 2016 did not disappoint.  I was able to watch the skies a week prior to the peak on the east side of the Collegiate Peaks near Buena Vista, then again the night before, during and after the peak of the Perseids (peaked Aug 11, 2016).

The Perseids are created by the dust trail from comet Swift Tuttle as our orbit intersects with its debris each year.  This year was a special “outburst” year thanks to our cosmic friend Jupiter whose gravity altered the course of some debris last year; making way for a more dusty intercept on this year’s orbit for Earth!

In Colorado about a week before the peak, the days were socked in with clouds and some rain, but after midnight the clouds cleared out and provided a wonderful display of the stars and Milky Way over the Collegiate Peaks from the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area south of Buena Vista Colorado.  Although I didn’t capture it as it was left of my field of view, I saw a massive fireball which I can only assume was a Perseids meteorite!  Several other meteorites I witnessed that night were likely Perseids.

Milky Way and Mt Princeton

Milky Way over Mt Princeton, with Mt Antero on the left. A small meteorite also captured!

I took this picture with Sony Alpha A7RII with Rokinon 14mm f2.8 prime lens.  Manual focus was set to infinity, f2.8 and exposure was 8 seconds at ISO 12800, obviously on a tripod.  I have found that opening the exposure over 8 seconds leaves a blur/trail with stars that I do not like, so I had to adjust the ISO to absorb more light.  I made some minor adjustments in Lightroom.

Star Trails

Star trails from several stills over Mt Princeton.

I thought this was a fun shot, it was a video capture of the stars including Milky Way using the A7RII Star Trails app.  This is a fun little app but I have not explored it deeply yet to discover if there are many creative uses for it other than the obvious.  A couple of satellites are also present streaking across the sky over each 8 second exposure.

Fast forward a little under a week, to the days around the peak of Perseids 2016.  Each of the nights here where I live near Larkspur Colorado it was cloudy and stormy before and after dusk.  But luckily each night all the storms moved off east and the skies cleared up in time for the moon to set and give great dark skies for viewing this “outburst” year.

I set up in my front yard pointing towards the south/western sky which is the largest portal I have through my trees.  I was able to witness many Perseids shooters and caught a couple in my field of view.

Stacked Milky Way photos (6 of them) with a Perseids meteorite

Stacked Milky Way photos (6 of them) with a Perseids meteorite

In the above photo, I took the 3 shots before and after the meteorite and stacked them in Photoshop.  A brief summary of the process that I’m still only beginning to use

  • Open all the photos as layers in Photoshop
  • Select all layers and then use the alignment feature of the stack
  • Create a Smart Object
  • Use the Smart Object / Stack Mode function and Median setting to combine all the light of the photos into a single picture

This is the first time I played with this workflow and will be exploring it further to fine tune the results, but i’m quite impressed of what Photoshop can do merging the light of several photographs; remember I only like to take up to 8 second exposures of the stars, so this gave me almost a minute worth of light.  I think that too many pictures will confuse the auto-alignment feature of Photoshop, I tried another experiment with 12 photos and the results looked horrible.  I have to play with this more (if you have any suggestions here, would love to hear from you in the comments!)

Perseid Colors

Amazing color on this closeup of a Perseids fireball caught on the eve of the peak.

I caught another amazing meteorite and did a digital crop to show the spectacular colors of Perseids meteorites!  This was the largest shooter I saw the eve prior to the peak.

Then came the peak, which again was forecast to be up to double of other years!  I set my alarm each hour after dark and went outside to witness the show, but it was very cloudy and even had a thunderstorm to our south.  I was getting bummed as by 12:30 we were still socked in with clouds!  At the 1:20 alarm, however, the sky was crystal clear; amazing what can happen in less than an hour here in the Colorado foothills! The sky stayed clear until dawn, when it got cloudy again.  Perfect timing, mother nature!

I typically count meteorites in two categories (that’s all I can keep track of that late in the night); one is total number and the second (I use my hands for this one) is for “large” meteorites.  Large ones are definitely not all fireballs, and is definitely subjective, but I like to remember how many ones I see that make me go “cool” or “wow”.  Here is the play-by-play I posted to facebook for each 30 minutes I was watching…

  • First 30 minutes, 54 shooters, 13 were large and several fireballs. Finally cleared up after a cloudy evening.
  • Next 30. Count now at 83, with 29 being large, the last two were fireballs. This half hour has had more larger ones per capita…
  • Next 30. 122. 39.
  • Next 30. 159. 51.
  • Next 30. 189. 66.
  • Last 30 minutes. 231. 87.

Given that I live in a forest and have a limited window into the night’s sky, I think this is an amazing number, one of the best I’ve seen in the many many showers I’ve watched! I caught about 50 of these on my camera, which is definitely the most I’ve ever caught, but due to the wide angle (14mm, Rokinon f2.8 prime lens) most were really small and overall uninteresting.  I did catch some spectacular fireballs in the field of view; but missed most which is par for the course.

Perseids Meteorite

Perseids shooter, very large (fireball) showing the Milky Way and wonderful colors as it burned up in our atmosphere!

Perseids and Milky Way

Perseids over the Milky Way

Perseids

This was the morning of the peak of Perseids 2016, this large fireball left a vapor trail for many minutes.  Extremely lucky that it stopped at the bottom of my field of view!  I was surprised that I actually caught this one!

Closeup of a Perseids Fireball.

Closeup of a Perseids Fireball!

Fireball vapor trail

Vapor trail immediately after the prior fireball, this lasted several minutes and was distorted as the upper atmosphere winds moved it irregularly.

The night after the peak I was exhausted, so I missed setting the alarm reminding me to get up in the early morning hours.  I did go out about 4:30 and saw a burst of about 15 in 15 minutes, 2 of which were “large” on my subjective scale…which surprised me on the morning after the peak!  My cell phone app states that the shower’s window is July 17th through August 24th, so there are surely many more nights to experience this year!

Fourth of July Pictures

It has been a busy summer so far, lots of family activities and work projects have called for long hours.  On the fourth of July we headed to my folks house near Red Feather Lakes Colorado for some needed R&R; and for my daughter and mom to finish a 4-H project, her very ambitious quilt!  I took the camera and was able to catch timelapse video and some interesting pictures.  The video is forthcoming, but here are some of my favorite stills.  As always, images can be clicked for a larger perspective!

Their house had three outside lights and each day there were a variety of moths hanging out on the side of the house.  I’ve never seen thing large of a variety in one spot before.

Signoid Prominent Moth (Clostera albosigma)

Signoid Prominent Moth (Clostera albosigma)

Big Poplar Sphinx Moth (Pachysphinx modesta)

Big Poplar Sphinx Moth (Pachysphinx modesta)

Big Poplar Sphinx Moth (Pachysphinx modesta)

Big Poplar Sphinx Moth (Pachysphinx modesta)

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St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

Fly on Columbine

Fly on Columbine. Colorado’s state flower and state pest! 🙂

Morning Glory Plume moth (Emmelina monodactyla)

Morning Glory Plume moth (Emmelina monodactyla)

Morning Glory Plume moth (Emmelina monodactyla)

Morning Glory Plume moth (Emmelina monodactyla)

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St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

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Boogie and the Big Poplar Sphinx Moth

Boogie and the Big Poplar Sphinx Moth

St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

One-eyed Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus cerisyi)

One-eyed Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus cerisyi)

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Green Fly

Green Fly

Small-eyed Sphinx Moth (Paonias myops)

Small-eyed Sphinx Moth (Paonias myops)

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 Angulose Prominent Moth

Angulose Prominent Moth

White Furcula Moth (Furcula borealis)

White Furcula Moth (Furcula borealis)

One-eyed Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus cerisyi)

One-eyed Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus cerisyi)

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Didn’t rain too much, but this storm put off a great rainbow!

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Tooks some photos of the quilting process.  Many will go on Daphne’s presentation and in her record book.

Daphne's first quilt on Grandma's quilting machine

Daphne’s first quilt on Grandma’s quilting machine

Mom's Pin cushion

Mom’s Pin cushion

Mom's fabric all sorted

Mom’s fabric all sorted

My son, my dad, and I took a drive up to Deadman Fire Watch Tower / lookout.

Deadman fire watch tower

Deadman fire watch tower

Rawah Wilderness

Rawah Wilderness from Dead Man fire watch tower

Crystal Lakes and Northern Colorado Front Range

Crystal Lakes and Northern Colorado Front Range from Deadman fire watch tower

Deadman fire watch tower

Deadman fire watch tower

Old Deadman wooden tower base

Old Deadman wooden tower base

Lush green floor in the forest

Lush green floor in the forest

Interesting forest panorama

Interesting forest panorama

Larimer County meadow looking at the Rawah Wilderness

Larimer County meadow looking at the Rawah Wilderness

Deadman Creek valley

Deadman Creek valley

Reflect & Refract

Reflect & Refract

North Fork Cache de Poudre River

North Fork Cache de Poudre RiverJul

Castle View JV Track

When asked for volunteers for this year’s Castle View JV Track season; I wanted to try out my new camera and learn how to take sports pictures so I did it; I was going to be at all the meets already.  I have never taken track pictures before and was excited for the challenge.  In summary, I found that taking pictures up close and personal is the style I like.

For archival purposes, here are the pictures that made it to the coach’s blog.  Going back and looking at them I feel I did get better technique and quality as the year progressed, so I’m happy with the experience and look forward to doing more in the future!