Give a Girl a Laser

We planned another night of astrophotography (night time shooting of the stars) trying to build on my previous experiments of capturing the Milky Way Galaxy by getting better quality images. I wanting to try a technique called Photo Staking, to increase the sharpness of the image, and reduce the noise from shooting with very high ISO settings. We also had some fun too, bringing a laser point and flash light to the shoot, with the hopes a capturing some awesome light painting scenes. Once the Moon set behind the mountains if the Kitsumkalum Valley, we were set.

So right off, the above image is not photo-stacked. This is right out of camera, after converting it from RAW to PNG format. Using a 14mm wide lens, at f1.4 with a 15 sec. exposure, and ISO 4000. I let the exposure go as normal, then for a a couple of seconds, I used a flash-light to light up the foreground. I will photo-stack this scene later on this week, and if it looks awesome, I post it. I did a few shots like this, looking at different positions of the sky with the landscape in it. Hopefully some of them will look great.

You know the old saying, “give a girl a laser and…” Well, laser girl had some fun too. After a couple tries, adjusting the shutter and ISO, laser girl went on to light paint her name on the cliffs of Kalum Lake, across from the Look Out. She had a blast. You can see her name, in amongst the red swiggles painted on the rocks with laser light. I believe this was our fourth attempt tonight. Not bad for just trying this out for the first time with a laser pointer. And by the way, the pointer meets the new Federal Laws on owning and possession of a laser.

And that is me, the ghost of Thomasso, playing the highway, in the middle of the night, doing ridiculous poses for the camera. I had fun too. In this shot, the shutter was set to 30 seconds, ISO 400, on my Sony A77. So I let the camera go, and Suzette held the flash-light, turning it on for just a second, while I moved into the position. Then she turned on the light for a second, then off again, as I moved to another position. We did this until the shutter time was up. It was the last shot of the night.

I should point out again that none of these photos were touched up in post editing. These are as they are, right out of the camera. I only converted them from RAW to PNG format. This session was, more or less, an experiment trying new techniques with my camera’s long exposure for photo stacking, which I was start sometime later next week when I do the post editing. Until then, have a wonderful night!

Night Out at Redsands Lake!

With the meteor showers peaking this weekend, I thought this would be a good time to try one last time to try and photograph the night sky–again. Suzette was cool about going back to Redsands Lake for the evening, hanging out at the beach and spending the first part of the night while I shoot the night sky with my camera. She was for this–one hundred per cent! We packed some food, and our beach towels, and the BBQ of course. We were going to have an evening out at the beach. It was awesome.

You could not ask for the perfect day. It was a hot summer’s day, with the temperature hovering around 28C at the lake, and the forest fire smoke started to clear, leaving crisp blue clear skies all around. The water was a little cool, as Suzette got her toe wet, but I never went in, I guess I was a chicken. But the sand was great. The BBQ was yummy, as we ate hamburger and salads. I was full. We then sat the chairs along the water’s edge, and I set up the tripod, and mounted the camera on top. No one seemed to mind the camera set up on the beach so late at night.

Looking at the above image, you can see where the lake got its name from. The sand here is red. Though not so great for walking through barefoot with all the small twigs, but the sand is great for just laying on.

In the above image, I was using a 14mm (prime) wide lens, at f1.4, set to infinity. In this shot I had the ISO up to a ridiculous 12000, and it took me a lot to post-edit the noise out. This is over the lake, looking South at the milky-way Galaxy, almost at Sagittarius, or close to the galactic centre. The bright orange star is Mars, to the left. I had my doubts that the reflections in the water would work with the stars. This was a 20sec exposure.

Another shot of the Milky-way just 40 degrees up from the horizon. Same lens, 14mm, but a 30 sec exposure, set to ISO 8000, on my Sony A77. Lots of noise, but awesome detail.

So we called it around 12:30am, and headed for home. The road was not too bad for driving on–actually better becuase we knew there was no traffic at this time of night. Oh, yes, we did a few really good shooting stars! Another awesome night!

The Terrace Street Fair 2018

It is the annual Terrace Street Fair, on main street (Lakelse Avenue) where they close a block, of the down town core, to street performers and vendors, where you can do arts and crafts and enjoy some local entrainment. This year, as usual, the weather awesome. It was another warm day. When we got into town, down to the block party, there were some Belly Dancers, dancing away, in their costumes. This was a family event, so there were lots of fun stuff for the kids, and adults.

We did not stay very long, partly to how hot it was, and also we needed to get ready for our main adventure, which I will post about in the next post. There were a few people, mostly sitting in the shaded areas, enjoying the sites, that we saw. There were also some artists pain picture right on the street that you buy, or bid on. And there lost of art that you could also buy that was on display. Oh, and the kids games seems to be a hit with the kids, as long as it was in the shade.

You can probably see in these photos that the day brought with it lots of smoky skies from the forest fires up in the Telegraph Creek area, further North of Terrace. As the winds blew to the South, the sky got more smoky, until you could hardly see the mountains across the Skeena Valley. The top image, looking East towards Thornhill, BC, you could just make out Copper Mountain, The image below, looking West on Lakesle Avenue, Mount Remo and Sleeping Beauty Mountains were just faint outlines.

Now on to our next adventure…. Back to Redsands Lake!


Hiking Pine Lake, Just North of Terrace, BC

If you are in the Skeena/Kitsumkalum Valley, and you are looking for something to do, then I suggest taking the 15km drive out to Pine Lake, on the Old Kitsumkalum Service Road. You will not be disappointed, unless it is pouring down rain. For us, it was an awesome sun filled day, with near 30C heat, and not a rain cloud to worry about. The 6.1 to 7km trail, and the lake, are worth the trip. There are some places for setting up for camping, and there is a small boat launch, but ideally, the trail around the lake and kayaking are the two best ways to enjoy the place.

We sort of did the trail backwards, we headed North first, around the lake, but all was good. Everyone we passed, were coming towards us. The trail is easy going, but then a little steep in one spot, but this should be very manageable, even for the novelist hiker. There are foot bridges and board-walks for the marsh areas, and the trail is well marked.

Even Suzette with her sore ankle, found the hike not to terribly taxing on her foot. You just need to take it slow in some spots. We also met a few families, who brought there young children, and the kids looked like they loved the place–even the dog.

SQUIRREL! Yup, we found a family of them, scurrying through the forest, and when we walked by, they ran up a tree right along the path. Easy shooting with a 28 to 300mm telephoto lens to capture the wildlife here. We also saw a family of Loons too.

Next time, I want to paddle my way around this lake. I was admiring the Kayakers, as they glided by on the water. The lake seems to have a bunch of little islands and outlets to explore. You will not see those on the trail.

The hike took about an hour and bit, only becuase we were talking our time. This was my first time here in over thirty years, so a lot has changes since for me. I use to go here a lot when I was still in school. The trail is in great conditions, but some of the board-walks and bridges are showing their age. Just remember to really watch your step, and look out for the holes on the trail too. We found a few of them.

This was a great hike, and I highly recommend it. You are close enough from town that we were getting some cell signal, and there seemed to be lot of people around too. So you are not to far off the beaten path for a day trip in the wilderness. The road is a little rough, so take that slow, but you can get to the lake in a small car. I rate the trail as easy to intermediate, becuase it is over 6 km long, so bring some water on a hot day. Enjoy it!

Day Two of Riverboat Days 2018

Day two of River Boat Days, and lots of places to be and lots of thing to do, and it is another screaming hot day out. Our time is limited because we decided to change it up a little differently as compared to last year, but more or less, we started the day off early. We noticed that the town was a little bit less active as compared to last year, but this could be from all the heat, and possibly from more people leaving town for road trips. Hard to tell, but the town was busy enough. So, our first stop: Soap Box Races.

So the Soap Box Racing course was in the Skeena Mall parking lot, at the West Side of it. It was not a large course, but good enough for the soap box racers to glide by down. This was one event that we should have stayed a lot long to watch becuase apparently they had some famous locals racing each other. That would have been fun to see. Anyway, the cute thing I saw while we were there was an RCMP Officer using his photo radar gun to clock the speeds the drivers were doing through the race. We only stayed for a couple of races before we moved one to the next events.

It is no secret that Suz loves purple. She has many garments, and items with that colour, and even on this hot summer day, she showed her both inner and outer colour–purple. This was her favourite soap box racer, obviously. Sadly, she could not take it for a test drive, and I am sure the owner would not let her take it home. Yes, a match made in heaven.

Right across the street (Lakeles Avenue) was the men’s and women’s beach volleyball tournaments. Just like last year, sand was laid down on the parking lot, so the players had a nice 30cm layer of it to play on. The shot above are a couple of teams of the women’s three on three team playing. We stayed and watched this for a while before we moved to our next stop.

We drove into Thornhill, on the West side of the Skeena River, where I live, and stopped at the Northern Motor Inn, who were hosting the Slinger’s Races. The idea is teams from different restaurants complete against each other by going through an obstacle course, slinging a try full of glasses and bottles filled with water. Just like servers in real life, you have to navigate as you would in a real life bar. And yes, there were many spills! In the shot above, I just caught this server loosing her glasses full of water on the ground,costing her points as she approached the finish line. It was fun to watch. The Northern Motor Inn came in second place.

As we wrapped up the day, we drove out to Onion Lake around midnight, and on a very clear star-lit night sky, to see the shooting stars. I also wanted to do some night sky photography, being the night was so clear. I got some incredible shots of the Milky Way! Yes, we lots of shooting stars too–no disappointments here. The perfect ending to an awesome day!

Looking Back: My Photos, the Day After the Fireworks

I thought I would share may photography experience with you in regards to shooting fireworks. I tried about three different techniques last night, seeing what would work on my camera, and what does not. So I tried several different combinations with my Sony A77ii, and found some really weird issues. Remember, your are shooting at night, so longer exposures, are kind of what you are going for.

So, what worked: Setting the camera into Manual Mode, adjusting the focus to infinity, and shoot with an ISO of 100, at f1.4, using a wide lens, like 28mm. With this set up, I found that anything from 1.5 to 4 seconds worked great for the actual fireworks. Anything longer, you just get a bunch white light with little detail. The low ISO gives me little noise, and the wide open shutter lets in as much light as possible, and focusing to infinity, makes sure everything is in focus. And the most important piece of equipment, besides the camera, is a good sturdy tripod. I more or less played around with the exposure times, by programming it, and then using my 2 sec. timer for the shutter release, so to avoid camera shake.

What did not work: Using an high ISO, and setting the camera to Auto. None of the camera’s Auto functions would give my anything close to what I wanted. Even in Aperture Priority Mode, the camera was unable to focus and set the correct exposure as the fireworks were going off.

So setting everything to Manual Mode, including the Focusing, is obvious, but playing around with the exposure seemed to yield me a best verity of results. To long if an exposure, you get white light and too much “busy” in the shot, and to short, you seem to lose the brilliance/volume of each explosion. And fireworks are really unpredictable, unless you are the one setting them off. So every shot is basically a surprise. Also, every camera seems to be different too, I noticed. The guy across from me (Canon) was shooting in manual mode too, but his exposures times were a lot longer than mine, but getting somewhat the same results.

Anyway, I hope this helps you.

The Riverboat Days 2018 Photos Are Up!

I uploaded over 200 photos from the 1200 that I took of the parade (Aug 4, 2018) and a lot of them turned out awesome in my opinion. I had to be picky-choosy because of the time and size restraints, but mostly time, as it took me about two hours to get everything sorted, and another half hour to upload everything to the website. So, enjoy the slide-show. You can see them at you own time by clicking the photo links on the right hand side of this page.

If you look to the right side of this Post, look under the “Pages” menu, and click on “North Coast Terrace, BC” link, to view the galleries. The 2018 parade link is towards the bottom of the list–at this time. 

Sea of Yellow

Just after the River Boat Parade, me and Suz took off to her work so she could deal with one of the pilots who was looking for keys over at the helicopter hanger, so I took off into the field near by to shoot the yellow flowers.  Everywhere you look, in the Skeena Valley, you see these yellow flowers. They are everywhere. I am not to sure what they are called, but it is crazy how well they do in this hot dry season.

I wanted to get some shots of them. I thought it would look neat how the yellows and greens looks in contrast to one another. I only had time to shoot a few photos, but almost everyone of them turned out great. It was hard to choose what ones to post, so I went with these two.

I used my 28 to 300mm zoom lens for these shots. It only goes to F3.6 wide open, but the depth of field was good enough for my taste. Anyway, enjoy. It was a screaming hot afternoon, and still more summer left to go!

The Start of River Boat Days In Terrace, BC

It was a very busy day, as we started the first of three days of the River Boat Days celebrations here in Terrace, BC. The parade was our start for today. Then, off to the George Little Park for live music, then cruising around checking out the other events going on. Lastly, the fireworks along Ferry Island. It was a busy!

We were going to do the breakfast at the Happy Gang Centre, but is was over-flowing with people waiting in line for the yummy food, so we waited for a few minutes, but then decided that we were cutting close for time as the parade was going start soon, so we left to claim our spot on the road for it.  This year we chose the South-West corner of Kalum and Lakele Avenue. Because there were high clouds in the sky, we figured that we would sit out in the Sun. We had hats on, but the heat was not to bad. The Day reached 28/30C, with some slight breezes, but it was a good day. The parade was a little different from last year, which was a great change-up, as it would be boring to see the same parade over, and over again. The theme for the parade this year was “diversity,” which seem to hinge on multiculturalism, and ethnicity. So, the parade offered a rich array of cultures and backgrounds seen throughout the Skeena Valley. I should point out to that I shot over twelve hundred images, so there many to chose from, so I narrowed it down to about two hundred. This week I will post the photo album for all to see. 

After the parade, there were many places to go and see–more then we could do. We did a lot of driving around, but we had many pit-stops for getting drinks and ice-cream to cool us down with. But right after the parade, we checked out the Farmer’s Market, and then watched the Bands play their music in the George Little Park. We also did a bit of walking, looking a the tent-vendors and attractions along the way. 

To end the night off with, were the Fireworks along the Skeena River, on Ferry Island. It seemed shorter this year, but I think they just packed more fireworks in the ten minutes they lasted compared to last year. The launching area was closer to the Northern end of the island too, making for nice effects of the light reflecting from off the water. 

We choose a different sot too this year to sit and watch. Same side of the river, on the Thornhill side, but almost right across from the launching area of the fireworks. We were close, an awesome spot. Some of the blasts, I thought, seem like they would rain right down on us, that is how close we were to them. The sounds were extra loud from our spot too. The fireworks started at 11:00pm, and by the time we got home from waiting for the crowds to thin out, and drive away, it was midnight. 

It was an awesome day. With the super hot weather, and all the activities going on, you would think it was summer in California. Well, it sure feels like it!

Golden Coloured Lawns

The little bit of a wet sprinkles we got from the overcast sky, that was not enough to quench the parched earth of nearly three weeks of awesome summer weather, and even before the hot weather set in, moisture was scares to begin with before that. It is hot and dry, and next week’s forecast is giving us more hot weather to come. The forest Fire rating sign is pushed all the way over to the right, in to the “Extreme” zone, to camp-fire bands are everywhere throughout the valleys and beyond. If it makes a fire, it is prohibited in the forests in the Skeena Valley. But water restrictions are everywhere too. If your lawn is a rich green, then that means you are probably using more than your share of the water that you are allotted to use. So, it is cool to have a golden coloured lawn, as it means you are doing you part in water conservation.

During drought like conditions, having a golden coloured lawn is cool to have. You can imagine that there are people who will break the rules and try for the perfect green lawn, just becuase they want to stand out from all the rest of the lawns in the neighbourhood. Sadly you are just wasting water. Your lawn will retain it green wonder once the cooler season returns. You just need to be content until then. But sadly, some will not take heed to the restrictions, and water their lawns with everything they can pour out of their water pipes. Meanwhile, once the water supply dwindles, then we all suffer.

So it was with great dismay, seeing this property owner vigorously watering his lawn by leaving his sprinklers on all night long, for more then three days (that I could tell) we hung our heads with shame.

Perhaps the city fined him? I do not know.

Everywhere you look, the heat wave’s effects are showing. Even some of the trees are showing signs of drying up, along with the bushes and marshy areas in the valley. So far this is a hot summer for North Coast Standards, and more is on its way.