Leaving the clouds behind: Shooting the blood moon at the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge

We decided to escape from Sacramento. We didn’t know where we’d end up, but just wanted to get out from under the cloud cover that would prevent us from shooting the blood moon eclipse. Laura was our navigator while Linda and I gave suggestions.

We ended up at the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge a little over 100 miles when you don’t take the direct route. We knew there was a viewing area that would give us a perfect view of the moon rise over the Sutter Buttes (a low mountain range). However, smoke from the recent fire was still hanging low on the horizon as if mocking us for traveling so far to shoot the moon! I was hoping to still catch some of the moon rise through the smoke haze.

While waiting I shot some pictures of the wetlands and at sundown, turned my camera around to shoot the sunset. Not a cloud visible. Then I turned my attention to the moon rise. There were five of us with cameras and tripods set to shoot, but we couldn’t find the moon! Finally as it rose slightly above the haze, one of the photographers found it and helped the rest of us hone in on the red sphere.

I went in with the realization that I was only shooting with a 300 mm and I wouldn’t get professional images. But, I was still a little disappointed with what I did get. This morning when I looked at some other photographers’ images, I saw similar quality. So maybe I didn’t do so bad. My lens did what it could. Hindsight, rent a longer lens and use your heavier tripod! But am I into it that much?–I don’t know.

Oh, we really didn’t have to travel out of Sacramento. The clouds dissipated after dark! But, we had fun!  The next morning I iced my foot again! Foot surgery is a bummer.

Frozen: Shooting and light painting silos at night

Night photography–a lot of fun and a great learning experience. The only problem with night photography is that you freeze. And, there’s more than one way to become frozen. This time we went along Highway 99 in the Yolo County area to shoot the full harvest moon, the sunset and light paint silos. We met at about 6:30 p.m. and didn’t get back home until 10:45 p.m. We’re an adventurous bunch.

The first set of silos were located along the Sacramento River. As soon as we began setting up our cameras we knew it would be cold. It was a cold wind that blew across the farming area, and soon the physical “frozen” set in. We caught what we could of the moon and sunset and then moved to another vantage point to shoot the silos. I’m slowly getting gear for night photography. I have a couple of light sticks which don’t throw much light and a nifty new flash light that has range when it’s on white. Now I have to get gels to cover the flash light, and I can light paint on my own.

I became mentally frozen when it became dark and we started shooting long exposures. I couldn’t figure out how to dial in the right shutter speed! I stood there becoming more and more frustrated when one of the photographers finally helped me. Once he showed me what to do, I was set for the rest of the night. Yes, frozen in two ways! I think I should have started this hobby 15 years earlier!

All in all, it was a great night. By the time we got to the second silo, the wind had stopped and it was warmer. I had a lot of fun at the second silo because our coordinator had talked to the owner, and we were able to walk around the grounds. A couple of cars and workers were there also.

Night photography is fun, but bring a lot of layers because you don’t want to get frozen.