Moon Rise and Ice On A Salty Lake

Blue Hour Moon Rise

Moon rise Mono Lake, New Years Eve

New Years Eve moon rise at Mono Lake

2018 has already gotten off to a great start, as I enjoyed a great sunset at Mono Lake on New years Eve, then the “supermoon” moon rise at Mono Lake on New Years Day. The angles and timing of the moon rise vs. the sunset seemed to work out well for Mono Lake for both dates. On the first evening, the clouds interfered with the moon rise, but clearer skies to the west let the sun’s light through, for a great sunrise.

The second night, the moon was a little bright relative to the landscape as it rose, but the view of it was uninterrupted, so I was able to capture a nice sequence of moon rise shots as the moon rose over Mono Lake’s interesting “tufa” calcium carbonate rock formations.

One of the most fascinating details, particularly on the first night, was the ice forming on the surface of the lake. Temperatures were close to freezing, but Mono Lake is nearly 3X saltier than the ocean, so ice would not normally form on the lake at that temperature. Mono Lake’s tufa rock formations form underwater, where springs deliver calcium-laden water. I noticed in places where fresh water was upwelling to the surface, spreading out and then freezing as it cooled. Apparently in the winter when there is little or no wind to encourage mixing, the fresh and salt water does not necessarily mix well and the less dense fresh water rises tot he top and can freeze. You never know what interesting things you’re going to see next as you spend time outdoors!

Mono Lake Icy Sunset Reflection

Mono Lake Icy Sunset Reflection

The other photos from the sunset weren’t too shabby either. I’m so fortunate to live surrounded by such great scenery and weather!

Eastern Sierra landscape photography.

New Years Eve sunset reflection at Mono Lake, California.

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Jupiter Mars Conjunction January 6-7, 2018

Moon, Mars and Venus Setting over Mount Whitney

A past conjunction: the moon, Mars and Venus setting over Mount Whitney

The planets in our solar system orbit the sun in a plane, the “ecliptic plane”.  Seen from the side within that plane from here on earth, they appear to travel in a line in the sky.  As the planets travel in different orbits at different speeds, they sometimes seem to pass one another along that imaginary ecliptic line in the sky, as seen from here on earth. From the United States, the pass will occur between the mornings of January 6 and 7, 2018. Mars and Jupiter will pass within 1/4 degree, 1/2 moon width, of each other.

For the image above from the moon, Mars, Venus conjunction on February 20, 2015, I identified several locations to the conjunction as the moon and planets set over Mount Whitney, near Lone Pine, California. This time the planets will be about 3 times closer to each other.

Here are some actual photos of Jupiter and Mars approaching each other in the sky on recent nights:

Jupiter Mars Conjunction January 7

Jupiter and Mars on December 30, approaching conjunction January 6/7 2017

Approaching Jupiter Mars Conjunction

Jupiter and Mars January 2, rising before dawn

Astrophotographer Jeff Sullivan

On January 5 Jupiter and Mars continue their approach towards conjunction January 6

Here’s a time-lapse of the planets rising on the morning of January 2:

The images and sample time-lapse were captured at a modest 200 mm focal length, the event will be more interesting when they are close enough to shoot at 300-400mm or more, their movement towards each other becomes even more obvious, and while the moons of Jupiter become even more apparent. The two planets will rise over the eastern horizon around 2:45 am on a zero degree horizon here in the Pacific time zone (at a compass angle of 112 degrees, a bit south of east), but I’ve been watching them past 6 am on recent mornings, so you can catch them from when they rise well into twilight. With my actual horizon being more than zero degrees, the planets will appear to rise closer to 3 am for me.

Here’s my result showing the progress of the planets, footage from the mornings of January 2, 3, 5, and 7:

Aside from the planets close together, what else might have been shot? With a long enough exposure and an interesting horizon, a time-lapse video of the planets rising could be interesting, somewhat like this prior shoot of a planetary conjunction setting:

Moon – Mars – Venus Conjunction Setting Over Mount Whitney from Jeff Sullivan on Vimeo.

I chose not to travel to an interesting landscape for this event due to a stormy weather forecast for much of the week here in the Eastern Sierra, including rain on January 6.

Venus Jupiter Moon Conjunction

Venus Jupiter Moon Conjunction, August 23, 2014

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2017 Best Nine: Nature, Landscape, Travel Photography

2017 Best Nine photographs from California

2017 BestNine photographs by Jeff Sullivan Photography.

There a site that can analyze your Instagram feed and arrange the nine most popular ones into a new image for you to share. Scroll to the bottom here to create yours:

Drop by my #2017BestNine on Instagram and leave a comment to let me know when you’ve uploaded yours, and I’ll go check yours out!
https://www.instagram.com/p/BdU4kyqjrJv/?taken-by=jeffsullivanphotography

The site will also let you create your #2016BestNine if you haven’t already done so:
Best Nine of 2016?

Last year I also created my #2015BestNine, as shown here:
Best Nine of 2015?

Another option you have is to include statistics on your account for the year:

2017 Best Nine photographs from California

2017 BestNine photographs by Jeff Sullivan Photography.

It says roughly 40,000 “views”, but they seem to actually be likes. If the views-to-likes ratio is similar on Instagram to what I see on Flickr, the views would be roughly 10X more, or 400,000.

I had a few more “views” (or likes) in 2016, but had to upload more photos to get them:

2016 Best Nine photographs from California

2016 BestNine photographs by Jeff Sullivan Photography.

Overall my audience growth is pretty slow on Instagram, and I still have a lot more views on Flickr, the photos get views for longer, and the strong keyword tagging and search features means that the photos get found occasionally for commercial licensing. Obviously Instagram’s parent company Facebook has tremendous resources to invest in Instagram, and with nearly 600 photos there already, I remain optimistic that I’ll see more of an uptick in activity on my photos on Instagram in 2018!

My most popular photo on Flickr, with 1,538,443 likes, 21,292 favs, 1023 comments:
Water Cuts Rock

My most popular photo on Instagram?  886 likes, 33 comments:


The stats themselves don’t mean much, obviously I’m focusing on my photography not social media or I’d have more Instagram activity.  If I produce compelling work, the rest will eventually take care of itself.  But with little times to spend on social media and photo sharing sites, it’s useful to pay attention to where what little time I do have is best spent. So I’ll continue to pay attention to where my photography seems to get the best reception.

Other ways to look back at my new 2017 images and fresh edits of older ones?  I collected my favorites in a post on this blog:
Top 10 Travel Photos 2017

I selected those from over 100 that I nominated during the year as I was taking them, stored in a 2017 Favorites album on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreysullivan/albums/72157676554197004

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Recent Artwork Uploaded for Printing and Gifts

Prints, mugs, T-shirts, and more, available for a limited time only, all with a money-back guarantee from Fine Art America:
Photography Prints

Sell Art Online

Sell Art Online

Sell Art Online

Sell Art Online

Art Prints

Photography Prints

Photography Prints

See more of my current print and gift offerings at:
https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/jeff-sullivan.html

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The Road To Bodie Is Open!

November Snow in Bodie State Historic Park, California

Winter approaching, November 29, 2017

Bodie Road, State Route 270, is currently open all the way to the historic Wild West “ghost town” of Bodie.  The park is open year ’round, but the road is subject to closure when conditions warrant.  The Open Snow long range weather forecast says that models predict that we could some precipitation moving in after January 5, so if a winter visit to Bodie sounds good to you, get up there in the next week or so, while the road is open!

All Rodents Lead to Bodie, Bodie State Historic Park, California

Several inches of snow in Bodie, May 8, 2015.

If we do get some snow, will that close the road?  If it looks like the first in a series of storms, it’s probably simpler and safer to leave the road closed for the season.  Bot now that the ground is frozen up in the dirt portion of the road, it’s less likely that wet conditions will make the road muddy and subject to damage from vehicle traffic (or cause vehicles to get stuck).  So a brief and not-too-deep snowfall won’t necessarily close the road.

Bodie on a Snow Day, Bodie State Historic Park, California

May 20, 2014

Some of my favorite visits have been in May when we get a late snowfall.  I’ve seen the road stay open with as much as 8″ of snow on it.  It doesn’t get plowed, so at those times you must have a vehicle with high clearance, and it’s best to have 4WD to minimize the odds of getting stuck.  I believe there’s a chain control sign at one point on Bodie Road, so you could well be required to have 4WD and “M+S” mud and snow rated tires, or snow chains installed on vehicles without 4WD.

Window on Bodie, Bodie State Historic Park, California

Snowy Day in Bodie May 20, 2014


Thanks to Mono County Tourism for reminding me that the road is open! And thanks for sharing my Bodie photo, with credit, on Instagram and Facebook. The image is from one of the night photography workshops that I lead every summer… about 5-6 times most years, and over 30 times already! I should hear back on my 2018 date request by February.


There may not be much snow on the ground at the moment, but it doesn’t take much to create a whole different atmosphere in town, and there is probably noticeable patches of snow on the surrounding peaks. So if you can make it up soon, check out Bodie before the road closes for the winter!

Big Wheel Keep on Turning

Cold Seat

View from Ranger's Roost by Parking Lot, Bodie State Historic Park, California

Snow in Bodie on May 22, 2017

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Spring in Yosemite Photography Workshop Highlights, 2017

Sun Rays on Yosemite Valley Morning Fog (color)

Sun Rays on Yosemite Valley Morning Fog (color)

Yosemite Valley SpringWe had great conditions for my Yosemite in Spring photography workshop in May, 2017: mixed weather with morning fog, brief rain to created mist alongside Yosemite’s granite monoliths, clouds to decorate sunrise, “moonbow” lunar rainbows at night, a rainbow in Bridalveil Fall that I anticipated from the sun elevation and compass direction, blooming dogwood trees and wildflowers, waterfalls, creeks in high spring flow, and so much more. Of course all of this needed to be experienced from the right vantage point at the right time of day.

Outdoor Photographer Magazine published today that they selected one of my photos from this workshop as the winning image for their recent Iconic Locations challenge.  See their write-up on their site for more information on how the image was created:
https://www.outdoorphotographer.com/iconic-locations-assignment-winner-jeff-sullivan/

OP was kind enough to share the image on their Facebook page and Twitter timeline as well:

Congratulations to @jeffsullivanphotography for winning the recent Iconic Locations Assignment with the image, Sun Rays on Yosemite Valley Morning Fog. “On this sunrise at Yosemite’s iconic Tunnel View overlook, it had rained the day before, but the skies were forecast to clear up overnight, so I figured that it would cool down enough to have the water vapor condense as a ground fog. When we arrived the next morning, it was just thick enough to reach the treetops, creating some nice photographic opportunities. “There had been several dozen people at this viewpoint minutes before the sun rays appeared, but once the sun cleared the mountains, nearly everyone decided to go get breakfast. Someone in my workshop asked about that, but I said, “Let’s give it another five minutes.” Sure enough, when the sun closed the gap in the clouds and started shining down between them, light rays started moving around the Valley. “The dynamic range of the scene was too great for one exposure, so the sun ray image was created from five bracketed exposures, adjusted in Adobe Lightroom and combined in PhotomatixPro HDR software.” * * * #OPAssignments #iconiclocations #travel #adventure #tunnelview #Yosemite #landscape_lovers #sky_captures #landscapephotography #fantastic_earth #landscape_captures #ic_landscapes #ig_exquisite #ourplanetdaily #landscapelovers #instanaturelover #welivetoexplore #allnatureshots #specialshots #landscapestyles @yosemitenps

A post shared by Outdoor Photographer Magazine (@outdoorphotomag) on

Here are more images from that great photography workshop in Yosemite National Park in May:

Yosemite Light Rays on Valley Fog

Yosemite Light Rays on Valley Fog

Light Rays On Morning Fog

Light Rays On Morning Fog

Yosemite Valley Morning Light

Yosemite Valley Morning Light

Rainbow in the Mist

Rainbow in the Mist, Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite National Park, California

Moonbow Reflections 2017

Moonbow Reflections 2017, Upper Yosemite Fall, Yosemite Valley.

Half Dome Behind Parting Clouds

Half Dome Behind Parting Clouds

Climber Lights on El Capitan

Climber Lights on El Capitan

Morning Fog in Yosemite Valley

Morning Fog in Yosemite Valley

See other posts on this site for more images from my photography workshops in 2017: www.JeffSullivanPhotography.com

I’ll release 2018 dates shortly. Let me know if you’d like me to notify you when they’re released.

Half Dome Morning Reflection

Half Dome Morning Reflection

Lower Yosemite Falls Moonbow

Lower Yosemite Falls Moonbow

Confluence

Confluence

Cloud Forest

A post shared by Jeff Sullivan (@jeffsullivanphotography) on

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Top 10 Travel Photos: 2017

Geyser Basin Milky Way and Meteor

Geyser Basin Milky Way and Meteor – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

This year was another productive one for landscape and night photography, with some nice results produced from Death Valley, California to Yellowstone, Wyoming.  Some of the nicer results produced from trips taken in prior years included results from several trips to Utah.  Two upgrades I made during the year that helped recover more results included Lightroom 6 and Photomatix 6.  See my recent post “Why Do Your Fall Images Look Better This Year?” for more on that.  I successfully avoided camera upgrades, but soon I’ll take critical looks at the latest Canon and Nikon models.

Death Valley sand dunes in sunset light, California desert

Death Valley Dunes in Sunset Light

Yosemite's El Capitan in the Fall, Yosemite National Park, alifornia

El Capitan and Fall Colors, Yosemite National Park

Sunrise and weather photography in Yosemite National Park, California

Light Rays in Yosemite Ground Fog, Yosemite National Park, California

Merced River Morning Light Reflection, Yosemite National Park, California

Merced River Morning Light Reflection, Yosemite National Park

Milky Way Over Fall Colors. Eastern Sierra, California. Astrophotography.

Milky Way Over Eastern Sierra Fall Colors

Surrounded

Lone aspen tree surrounded by a forest of aspen. Eastern Sierra, California

Yosemite Morning Sun Rays

Morning Sun Rays, Yosemite National Park, California

Storm Chasing in the Eastern Sierra

Storm Chasing in the Eastern Sierra, California

Star Trails With Vertical Milky Way Reflection

Star Trails With Vertical Milky Way Reflection, Sierra Nevada, California

Sunrise Rain Shower, Mono Lake, Eastern Sierra, California

Runners UpSunrise Rain Shower Reflection – Mono Lake, California

Geminid Meteor Shower, Nikon D750

Geminid Meteor Shower, Death Valley National Park, California


Another take on 2017 is the collection of most-liked photos I uploaded to Instagram:

New 2017 Results from Past Years

Snow Showers in Yosemite Valley

Snow Showers in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Virgin River Narrows Downstream

Virgin River Narrows Downstream, Zion National Park, Utah

Bodie State Historic Park: Colors of Decay, Arrested

Bodie State Historic Park: Colors of Decay, Arrested

I have many more images that I considered for my favorite photos and moments of 2017, and I’ve collected over 100 of them in 2017 Favorites album on Flickr.

My Favorite Landscape / Travel Photos from Each Year, 2005 – 2016

Here are some of my collections from prior years.  It has been a great dozen years of adventure, I can’t wait to see what I can find to show you in the next 12!

2016 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2016 Top 10 Landscape/Travel Blog Post

2015 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2015 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos Blog Post

2014 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2014 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2013 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2013 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2012 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2012 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2011 Favorites album on Flickr
2011 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2010 Favorites album on Flickr
2010 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2009 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2009 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2008 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2008 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2007 Favorites photo album on Flickr 
2007 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2006 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2006 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

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Top 10 Travel Photos: 2016

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve: Super Moon Rise

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve: Super Moon Rise

Virgin River Narrows

Virgin River Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

From Here to Infinity

From Here to Infinity – Mono Lake, California

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California

Ancient

High Sierra , Sierra Nevada, California

High Sierra Sunset Reflection

Sunset Moon Rise, Topaz lake, California and Nevada

Sunset Moon Rise and Rainbow, Topaz Lake

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve, California

Jellyfish Cloud Over Mono Lake

Moon and Belt of Venus over The Minarets, High Sierra, California

Sunrise Full Moon Set on Summer Solstice

Merced River Fall Swirls

Leaves and Foam in Eddies of the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California

Kanarra Creek Hike

Kanarra Creek Hike, Southern Utah

New 2016 Results from Past Years

Dry Lake Bed Sunrise

Dry Lake Bed Sunrise, Death Valley National Park, California

I have many more images that I considered for my favorite photos and moments of 2016, and I’ve collected over 50 of them in 2016 Favorites album on Flickr.

My Favorite Landscape / Travel Photos from Each Year, 2006 – 2016

Here are some of my collections from prior years.  It has been a great dozen years of adventure, I can’t wait to see what I can find to show you in the next 12!

New: 2017 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2016 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2016 Top 10 Landscape/Travel Blog Post

2015 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2015 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2014 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2014 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2013 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2013 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2012 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2012 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2011 Favorites album on Flickr
2011 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2010 Favorites album on Flickr
2010 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2009 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2009 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2008 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2008 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2007 Favorites photo album on Flickr 
2007 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2006 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2006 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

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Geminid Meteor Shower 2017

Geminid Meteor Shower, Nikon D750

Geminid meteor shower at 14mm, with some foreground. Nikon D750 / 14 mm.

The Geminid meteor shower is generally acknowledged to be the most active meteor shower of the year with rates of about 120 meteors per hour. It was discovered in the 1800s, and rates seem to be increasing, with some attributing it with up to 180 meteors per hour! While the Geminids aren’t known for producing a lot of bright fireball meteors, the Chi Orionids are, and the radiant point isn’t all that far from the Geminids, so you still have decent odds of catching fireballs, even if they aren’t from the “correct” comet debris stream and apparent radiant point in the sky.

This composite brings the meteors from roughly 3 hours into one image:

Peak Night, Geminid Meteor Shower

3 hours of the Geminid meteor shower further back at 14mm, emphasizing the sky. Canon EOS 6D / 14 mm.

Geminids 2017, Night Before Peak

Night before peak, Geminid meteor shower 2017. Canon EOS 6D / 14 mm.


Moon rise the night before the peak of the Geminid meteor shower,a few nights ago, along with a quick collection of some of the meteors I caught on that night:

It was 8 degrees F when I arrived just after dark to shoot the meteor shower on this night. I don’t even want to know what temperature it was when i picked up the camera later in the night!

Fireball During the Geminid Meteor Shower

Geminid meteors and a bright fireball, likely a Chi Orionid meteor.

As NASA notes about the Geminids:
“The Geminids are a meteor shower that occurs in December every year. The best night to see the shower is Dec. 13 into the early hours of Dec. 14. The Geminid meteor shower is caused by a stream of debris left by the asteroid, 3200 Phaethon. When the Earth passes through the trails of dust every December left by 3200 Phaethon, we see the Geminid meteor shower as the dust (meteoroids) burn up in Earth’s atmosphere creating meteors. Geminids travel through Earth’s atmosphere at 78,000 mph and burn up far above the surface.”

I shot with two cameras the night after peak as well, but they didn’t capture enough meteors to make processing the images a priority. I’ll get around to it at some point, but it’s pretty clear that the meteor rate on the night after peak is far, far below the rates on the peak night and on the nights leading up to it.

For more of my photos from the Geminid meteor shower, you can see my photos of it since 2010 on my Flickr photostream.

Geminid Meteor Shower 2010, Canon 5D Mark II

Geminid Meteor Shower 2010. Canon 5D Mark II / EF 16-35 mm lens at 16 mm focal length.

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Leonid Meteor Shower at Topaz Lake

Leonid Meteor Shower at Topaz Lake
The Leonid meteor shower isn’t one of the stronger of the fairly well known meteor showers, all the more reason to take on the challenge and see what can be captured!  Fortunately there are several other meteor showers active on the same night, so we’re not entirely dependent on having a particularly good year for the Leonids shower itself.

Technically speaking, in this result, three of the meteors point to an origin point to the left of Orion, so are probably Leonids (or alpha Monocerotids). The others point to the right of Leo and are either Northern Taurids, Southern Taurids, or Delta Eridanids.

And in the “Murphy’s Law” of astrophotography, two of the brighter meteors occurred just before and after the camera was shooting!

Here’s a description of the Leonid meteor shower from NASA:
“It’s time for a shower. November brings the Leonid meteor shower. This shower is called the Leonid shower because the meteors seem to come from a point in the constellation Leo. But they are really much closer to Earth than these stars are. The starting point, called the radiant, is found in the part of Leo that looks to be a backwards question mark. This part is sometimes called the ‘sickle.’
A meteor is the streak of light that we see when a meteoroid enters Earth’s atmosphere. The Leonids usually contain many bright meteors with trails that can be seen for several minutes. And, you may see fireballs.”

They predict that a particularly active Leonid meteor shower may return as the earth crosses the debris stream from the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle in 2028.

While I probably won’t be planning big expedition-style road trips specifically to go catch the Leonids in a particular location, they are a nice bonus to have available for landscape photography trips in mid-November.  Whether a late fall trip or an early trip to the desert, the Leonids do make a useful data point to consider in years when the night sky will be dark during their peak.

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