Solar Eclipse 2017

We had fun watching the eclipse today.  Livermore had ~75% occlusion at peak.  It was also Heather's first day of school (separate post coming).  They took the kids outside to watch pinhole cameras and then let them use eclipse glasses one-at-a-time so they could ensure they were being worn properly.

Heather helped me make eclipse cookies yesterday.

My sugar cookie skills could use some work...

Corinne got a kick out of the eclipse proclaiming, "Moon! I see the moon!" (by which she, of course, meant sun).

We used the colander to get pinhole-camera-style shadows.

And I had my camera set up with filters taking pictures.  I just kind of guessed at settings.  Some came out better than others.  Here's the picture from the peak eclipse:

And here's one I got as it was ending where you can see a line of spots.  I don't know if they're technically sunspots, but they weren't just dust on my lens--they stayed with the sun throughout the event.

My weather station noticed the eclipse too:

The variations in the readings are due to varying cloud cover that, thankfully, almost completely cleared out during the eclipse.

The temperature even dropped a hair:

Another Round of Summer Soccer

Heather is doing soccer again this year on Saturday mornings.  This week was her first week and it was hot.  Soccer starts at 10:50am and it was already over 90 degrees and climbing.  But she stayed hydrated and I used the time to work on my action photography skills.

It's interesting how a small change in camera settings can result in a dramatic change in image presentation.

I started with the shutter set to 1/100th of a second, which captured images like this:

The scene is representative, and fairly sharp.  You can see some motion in her hands and feet, but overall it is a static image.

Stretching the shutter to 1/25th of a second gives you a totally different result:

She's clearly moving, the background distractions are reduced via the motion blur and she becomes the uncontested focus of attention.  It's a much more interesting, dynamic image.

You can try using a wider aperture to reduce your depth of field to achieve similar separation between subject and background (which I've tried in the past), but that's tough in full sunlight.  You'll need filters to stop down the light and then capturing the subject in focus becomes difficult as your depth of field shrinks.

The trick here is to pan the camera with the subject throughout the shutter release.  It takes practice, but the results are worth it--which is why I've been practicing it.

Here's a couple more shots that came out decently.  In the first one, Heather is jumping over the pile of balls.  And in the second she is dribbling across the field.

A Hike up Brushy Peak

I went for a hike at Brushy Peak Regional Preserve today.  Water is still just coming out of the hills and turning trails into mud, but it was only a few places that were really bad.  I made it about 3.5 miles before I couldn't keep my feet dry anymore.  Luckily, I only had another half mile to go so I didn't end up with massive blisters.  But my shoes were covered with mud.

The path runs through cattle grazing land up in the hills above Livermore.  I started taking pictures of the cows.  They became quite interested in me and started forming a circle around me.  I was getting a little concerned, but they shooed away when I got up to leave.

Several times I came across a few cows just hanging out on the path daring you to approach them.

I started on the West Loop Trail and then transferred to the Brushy Peak Trail where I found a copse of trees growing around the stream as it tumbled down the hill.  So I took a rest and then pulled out my tripod to take some more "smooth" water pictures.

Once I packed up and got moving again I reached the highest part of the path (it doesn't actually go to the peak as far as I could tell).  Some nice views of Livermore from up in the hills, especially while everything is still green.

Then it was down again and through the mud to get back to the parking lot.  I hiked a little over 4 miles and it took me about 4 hours.  I wasn't intending to hike that far or be out that long, but there weren't a lot of options for trails and hiking a trail and then just turning around is lame.  My legs are going to be sore tomorrow though.  Surprisingly I don't seem to have a sunburn.


I want to be taking more pictures, so I got the camera out so that it's accessible instead of staying packed inside the travel case in my closet.  I spent some time taking snapshots of Heather and Corinne today; mostly Corinne, Heather wasn't interested.

Nothing special, but it's a slice of life around here.  And Corinne needed some more pictures anyway.  So we can pretend these are her 10-months-old pictures (just a few days late).