Sunday, November 4, 2012

Night Shots

Night time is my favorite time in the desert. It's the time when all the living creatures breathe a sigh of relief and come out of hiding. You can hear crickets, coyotes, owls, and sometimes bats. The night air feels fresh and calm. I love going out into the pitch dark and staring at the open expanse of stars and sky. The desert always feels welcoming at night.

Last week, the desert was calling me and I decided to go take some night pictures. In order to take good night pictures, you have to own a camera that is capable of gathering enough light. My old camera was a good camera, but didn't have enough exposure time and the quality of the lenses wasn't as high, so my night night pictures were often very grainy and dark. My new camera, while still not close to the quality of Bill's camera, takes much better night pictures. There's still a little bit of grain in the pictures because they are compressed when uploaded to blogger, but at least you can tell what you're looking at!

For the first set of pictures, I decided to drive out by Saguaro Lake.

Some boats on the lake,
The far shore of the lake with some more boats.

These hills separate the lights of the city from the lake. The Mesa/Phoenix/Scottsdale lights are so bright that they create some really cool night time silhouettes.
The same pictures with my car lights turned off.
  The tiny dot in the middle of this hill is a single saguaro. The white lines in the sky are planes.
For these shot's I drove over by Usery Mountain Regional Park. This is where the lights of the city begin to reappear. I always feel like the people who live in the house on the hill in the middle of this picture must have the most amazing views. Their house seems to be the highest in the area.
Some saguaros and an ocotillo silhouetted by city lights. There are a couple of plane trails in this picture
Usery Mountain is in the east, so it isn't silhouetted by city lights. The lights in the picture are from buildings at Usery Mountain Regional Park.
Usery Mountain during the day from a different angle. For some more pictures of Usery Mountain Regional Park, check out my blog about it from last year.

The next night I decided to take a picture of some of the palm trees in my backyard, and I discovered something amazing: we DO have stars at night in Phoenix! It takes a 15 second exposure to see them through the light pollution, dust, and smog, but they're there! ;)

Last night, Bill and I decided to take some city light shots. We initially wanted to go up on South Mountain, but we realized it the road up the mountain was closed at 7 p.m., so we decided to drive around and find another vantage point nearby.

All I can say about the spot we found is that it did not say "Area Closed to Bill and Lauren." ;)
There are two planes in this picture. The giant "swoosh" of lights in the middle of the picture are from a car driving by.
This picture was taken in the direction of Sky Harbor. I think the planes in the picture are either getting ready to land or just taking off because they're so low to the ground.
Downtown. Look at all that light pollution!
  Camelback Mountain.
No, that's not a shooting star. :) I think it was a helicopter. It had a very bright light that was shining in our direction for a few minutes. I achieved the star effect on all the lights by changing the f-stop settings on my camera.

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