Monday, November 24, 2014

Sample 149 - Shooting Stars

Here's a composite, stitched from 8 exposures, 4x2 @ 18mm.
Each exposure was constant at 30 Seconds, f/4, ISO 4000. Landscape orientation.
The sun rose pretty early, at around 4:30-5:00am. Post-processing includes Levels and Saturation. 

So here's why I was not able to post over the weekend (come to think about it, I should probably keep the weekends free); A great group of friends of mine spent Friday night and Saturday morning over at Bauang, La Union. It's no Boracay, but I can tell you that the light conditions here were okay enough for me to do something I've always wanted to try: Astrophotography with my X-E2.

I have to admit that the light and weather conditions were not optimal, and I could only do so much with the lens I had (the 'kit' 18-55 f2.8 - f4), but I still had loads of fun playing with settings, making adjustments, finding the best numbers to set, and burning through my 3 batteries. At one point I thought I found the Milky Way, but all I saw were dots... Heck, that was good enough for me!

This was my very first shot. 18mm, 30 Seconds, ISO 800, f/2.8.
Later in the evening I found out that 30 Seconds was too slow; the stars begin to trail at that shutter speed. 

Second shot. I'm told that's the Thunderbird Resort in the distance.
I've always loved taking car light trails, but plane light trails? 

Third Shot. The 'starscape'(?) facing the mountains seemed to be more detailed throughout the evening into the early morning... Why was that, considering that there would be more 'light pollution' from there?  
Here's the Fourth Shot, completing the first shoot session of the night. Haze, generating rays of light, helped this shot. 

I was shooting at around 9-10pm that night, and fog and clouds began to show up. Turns out, that was good timing, because dinner was ready by around that time. Fellowship ensued.

We didn't take note of the time, and I was getting sleepy. I remember taking the camera out to shoot once more, just to stay awake.

The clouds were a nice touch after all. 

There were only 7 of us, and there happened to be 7 tents available. It was a blessing to have a whole tent to myself. And again, look; the lights were so much stronger here, but how in the world did the stars pop out here more compared to when the camera was facing the open sea? 

I eventually slept, setting my alarm to 4:30am. I scrambled out of the tent to shoot at around 4:35am.

The clouds and fog were gone by this time. 4 out of the 7 men were still knocked out at this point. The 2 other brothers who were still awake went away to check out a fishing boat coming back to the shore. Later, I heard they caught a shark. 

Hello, Orion. The stuff you learn from Men In Black.
Far as I remember Betelgeuse is Orion's head, and those are the Pleiades near his belt. 

The sun eventually showed its light to a point signalling the end of this shoot, at 5:15am. 

After this wonderful night, I've learned:

  • That the X-E2 could be pushed to ISO 6400 to produce shots that would still be acceptable to me. 
  • 30 Seconds is too long, if you want to avoid trailing. 20-25 seconds would be good. 
  • Aperture could change the whole shot dramatically even with a one-stop adjustment. 
  • The X-E2's built in level is a great help. dpreview may say it isn't always reliable, but I'd definitely use it to help when my tripod need to stand on sand. 

There may be more, but I'm definitely looking forward to the next opportunity to shoot the stars.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sample 148 - Sample 63, Revisited.

You've probably noticed I posted this scene again, but this is a different picture; I played with the levels and saturation more on this one. 

"And, again I say... In God we trust, because in Christ, we trust. 

'Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.' (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14 NKJV)"
- Sample 63, The Beauty In Faith

Christ established faith in us. As Christ is always with us, He develops this faith, and thank God, He is faithful to perfect this faith - He is faithful to finish the work He began in us. God is not a God of unfinished business.

There is no more room for fear. There is no more room for fear of lack or complete absence of progression. The Word says that even the righteous man may stumble seven times but he will keep coming back up. Christ is the reason why we keep coming back up. Christ is the reason we keep on going. It isn't about positive thinking more than it is about Christ-consciousness.

He is with us in the light and in the dark. He knows everything we are going through, He knows our struggles, He knows what inspires us and what drags us down... And though we may have our own ideas regarding the best possibility in every circumstance, we would do well to know that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life - Yes, He Himself is all these things, and before we try to figure out His ways, before we try to think WWJD, we would do well to just remain in J's presence. 

Christ said to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness - Well, I believe Christ HIMSELF is the absolute perfect embodiment of the nature of God's Kingdom ('...peace and joy in the Holy Spirit', per Romans 14:17), and Christ Himself is not just THE Righteousness, but OUR Righteousness. 

I guess what I'm trying to say now is before we try to figure out why that rainbow is there, let's appreciate the fact that it's there. The reasons and the revelations follow. 

It's no longer a matter of us finding Christ's presence. He's the One who's with us. He's the One who never leaves nor forsakes us. He is in us, and we are in Him. Jesus paid it all. Jesus did it all. 

I remember being in a similar state of exhilaration when I saw that rainbow for the first time. Only this time, it just seems so much clearer to me that Christ's love is as uncompromising as it is unconditional, in the sense that it just keeps coming and it never stops. 

Halleluyah! What a Savior!

Sample 147 - The Range Calls

"Live first, and tell the tale when you've got nothing better to do. 

There is never a dull moment."

- Sample 146, 'Still Flourishing'

Right about this time, my brother probably stopped for us to take pictures around 20 times already, but this was one of those times when we actually got out of the car. 

When I think back at these times, I could just imagine how much of a prick I was to my parents. They were just being excited about the whole trip, and seeing as I had the DSLR, they would call me instead of my brother to take a shot of them. I would take their picture, but not before making a 'I'm not a tourist, I'm an artist' kind of smug face. 

Yes, these shots were taken during a time when, I admit, I made an ass of myself by treating my camera and my 'photography' as a status symbol. Now that I'm actually going through all these shots and now that I'm actually posting them, and now that I'm actually taking time to write about them, I feel so much better. I feel free from any presumptuous obligations and preferences I place upon myself with the ultimate purpose of presenting these pictures for the greater glory of God me. 

I suppose this has to continue to be taken offa my chest. There was a time that I would deliberately procrastinate in posting, and I would deliberately hold back from spending time to post simply until when I felt it was the perfect time. Sadly, that 'perfect time' never came, and I ended up swinging at random, choosing 'perfect' shots, making them more 'perfect' through manipulation with my 'perfect' standards in Photoshop. 

I've learned now that an imperfect shot posted is far better than a 'perfect' shot that stays on my local hard drive. Photographs are infinitely better shared.

You'll probably hear me talk about this more as I post more. It's just that I need to teach and remind myself of the value of humility and taking action more and more every day. Just like I need to keep reminding myself that I am driven and established not by the fear of failure and rejection but by God's perfect love for me. 

These shots have stayed stagnant long enough, I say. 

Enjoy these panoramas... at the time I really took them seriously. Nowadays taking them with the X-E2 is a cakewalk. 

There is never a dull moment. 



One Last Shot Of The 'Bristlecone' Pine

My blessed brother and my wonderful parents. 
My wonderful mother. Yes, it was pretty windy out at this time. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sample 146 - Still Flourishing

"The mountains and hills seemed to go on and on into the distance, and though that could have been picture perfect in itself, it seems as if The Lord was saying, 'You ain't seen nuthin' yet, son!' as a cloud in the distance burst with rain over the rolling landscape." 
- Sample 145, 'From A High Point'

I couldn't remember whether the rains subsided, or it seemed as if we were led to another side of the mountain on the way down, just to see even more things, to take more pictures. 

It's because just like that, the grey clouds were gone, and we were brought back to a viewpoint which was more overcast. I wasn't bothered by this at all; in fact, I was fascinated by what I saw next: trees that as far as I knew were known as Bristlecone pines. 

Hi, I'm Troy McTree. You might remember me from previous blog posts such as Sample 73 - Still Standing. 

Okay, I just did a quick Google search and no, these aren't Bristlecone pines... but they do look like they've been alive for quite some time. Older than my father? Probably. Older than me? Definitely. 

It gets me thinking about my current endeavors to blog and to write and to post and to share. I remember posting once, that there's so much life going on to write about it all. Now this may be true, but I suppose I would rather live that way instead of the other way around - more to write about than to live for. Seeing how these pines were still standing, how this one in particular was still blooming, I guess a lesson for me to take from this is that there's always time for writing, and time for living. 

That sounds just like something King Solomon would say. In this day and age, He would write it as part of Ecclesiastes 3, 'A time to blog, and a time to... what, live? Experience?' 

Now that I think about it, it would have been plenty awkward if I insisted on writing all about this while I was up there, with my family waiting, with the clock running... 

Live first, and tell the tale when you've got nothing better to do. 

There is never a dull moment. 

Sample 145 - From A High Point

**I am free. I enjoy it now in particular considering the shackles and chains that dragged me down before freedom came. And it isn't because of anything I did that I became free; no, it is Christ who set me free, and it is for freedom that He set me free.

This is probably why I'm a little more vocal now, a little more willing to type whatever I need to type, no longer compromising and even thinking about the reaction of other people. That stuff dragged me down.

Anyway, I was in the process of trying to document that one magical trip we had last 2008 to the Rockies, and I got sidetracked. I intend to continue it now, with a greater awareness of this freedom from the fear that holds me back.

That had to be said before I went on.**

Now, I remember that when we were in the summit of Mount Evans, or at least at the highest point where our car could reach, I was so overcome by emotion that of all things, I gathered my brother and parents into the car and we prayed. We claimed the nation for Christ. We declared blessings for the nation. I don't really remember any other points we expressed but that seemed to stick out. 

I was high. Between being so excited about seeing snow for the first time and just trying as much as I could to suck in all of God's glory seen in the mountains and trees, I felt God's goodness - His utter goodness which, as the Word declares, leads to repentance. I was high.

Alas, the time came for us to leave. The sun was setting - or rather, it was just getting darker. We had to drive back down. I don't remember what we were talking about, and perhaps we were just enjoying the worship songs being played on the stereo, but it wasn't long until I saw something that just needed to be taken by my humble, handy dandy D40. 

The mountains and hills seemed to go on and on into the distance, and though that could have been picture perfect in itself, it seems as if The Lord was saying, 'You ain't seen nuthin' yet, son!' as a cloud in the distance burst with rain over the rolling landscape. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sample 144 - Liberty In Uncertainty

Christ has set us free to live a free life. 
So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.
Galatians 5:1

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sample 143 - Pervasive Hope

JPEG HDR, cropped. 

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time 
are not worth comparing 
with the glory that is to be revealed to us."
- Romans 8:18

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Perfect love casts out all fear. Conquer in Christ. 

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