Los Angeles sunset from Griffith Observatory
UPDATE: You can see my final shot from this outing in my post Los Angeles after sunset.
Last weekend I made a quick trip down to Los Angeles to visit my sister. It was long overdue. Of course one of the top items on my agenda for the weekend was to get a good high resolution panoramic of this captivating city and culture incubator. Given my limited stay on this trip, I did some research on possible locations that offered a good vantage point on the city. After much consideration, I made a safe bet on Griffith Observatory.
I highly recommend a visit to the observatory. Not just for visitors but also for anyone living in Los Angeles (most just don’t even know it exists…LOL) There are some really cool exhibits inside, telescope observations, breathtaking views of the city, a cafe, gift shop and hiking trails. The weather is also quite pleasant up in the mountains where it is located. It offers a great way to spend an evening relaxing. I suggest taking a cab ride as opposed to driving. Parking is going to be a challenge. I used the Uber private driver service and it was a $16 well spent indeed.
This was going to be a quick trip so I only packed my 5D Mark III, 24-105mm f/4L, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, and Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8. I also packed a small Manfrotto tripod. I wasn’t very satisfied with how far I could reach with the full frame 5D Mark III – one of the many little things I miss about the 7D. The final panoramic came out great but I did not get as much specific detail as I would have liked. Nonetheless a great shot. It is still in processing/editing and will release to limited print once it’s ready. In the meantime, here is a shot just before sunset I would like to share with you (above) and a few others below.
Thanks for stopping by.
Star Trails along the northern coast of California
Star trails are a must do, during any astrophotography session. They are perhaps some of the easiest shots to obtain. Simply point your camera towards Polaris (the north star), set your ISO as low as you can go (usually ISO-100) and open your shutter for as long as you can – the longer the better.
I took this shot with the 5D Mark III + Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 @16mm, f/2.8, ISO-100 and a 30 minute exposure. It’s fascinating to see and experience. I topped my stargazing excursion with this shot. If you notice any off-color specs, those are hot pixels. As a result of the ultra long exposure, even at low ISO, the sensor will heat up and introduce this type of noise.
The image was not edited. Processing was done with Canon DPP and some color contrast enhancing in GIMP.
Milky Way Galaxy dust lanes as seen from the north coast of California.
This last weekend I had some down time and took off for the north coast to explore and visit friends. Anyone familiar with that part of California must also know how remote some parts can be. The upside is there is almost no light pollution. Being in the heart of summer also meant I could stay comfortably outside well after dark. Once your eyes adjust to the pitch black night, all the stars reveal themselves and after about 20 minutes you can see the all the Milky Way galaxy dust lanes with the naked eye.
I have always wanted to explore the wider view as well but never really had such an opportunity. One look up at the sky and I couldn’t help but think this was going to be easy to capture with my Canon 5D Mark III – as it usually captures at least twice what I can see. I figured I could stack a few wide shots and be done.
In anticipation of this trip I added a new lens to my kit, the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8. I will post more on that later. I am very satisfied with how it performed. The shot above is a panoramic of several shots at 16mm, f/2.8, ISO-1600 and 30 seconds. I also shot dark frames (with the cap on). However once I got back home and started processing the RAW files I realized I did not need the dark frames, nor did I need to stack the shots. I am impressed by the high dynamic range of the 5D Mark III RAW image data.
The image processing was done in Canon DPP. The panorama was stitched with PTGui. The final editing and prep was done in GIMP. This was where most of the work was done, mostly with light curves and masks to limit the effects of light pollution from the San Francisco Bay – even though we were several hundred miles north, the effects were still noticeable – see lower right corner of sky.