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Night Photography - Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff, Arizona is a wonderful place to make images of the starry night sky.  In under two hours, you can find yourself surrounded by more stars than you can even imagine are in existence. With the sky is so clear and light pollution virtually nonexistent, it’s no wonder why they based Lowell Observatory here.  Just take a few steps outside of town and you’ll feel like you’re Neil Degrasse Tyson in an episode of Cosmos without all the mind-blowing facts, and more of a peaceful realization that you’re a (very) small piece of the whole puzzle.  The challenge is capturing this awe inspiring feeling that represents that view, in that place, at that time.  In short, it’s what photography is all about!

The following images were taken while camping on a trip where I almost didn’t bring my camera.  No tripod was available so sticks and stones became real helpful, real fast.  

One of the first shots.  Exposed for 30 seconds @ f2.8.

One of the first shots.  Exposed for 30 seconds @ f2.8.

This one was so much fun.  The lads were walking from the fire to the camp site with a head lamp which created this dancing light.

This one was so much fun.  The lads were walking from the fire to the camp site with a head lamp which created this dancing light.

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Urban Disc Golf - Tempe, Arizona

Urban Disc Golf

Urban Disc Golf

Ran into Zach, Brian & Jake on the way home playing disc golf.  I had tons of fun catching up and taking a few photos.  The sunset throwing light off the water and coming through the trees was inspiring, but I found myself so wrapped up in catching up with the boys I only grabbed a few snapshots.  It was still a blast having my camera with me to capture these few images.

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Hummingbirds & High Speed Photography

Another reason I carry my camera with me everywhere I go.  This little lady hummingbird let me get right up in her face and couldn’t have cared less.  Here are some photos I snagged while she did her little dance.  

Female Hummingbird
Female Hummingbird Docking

She took a break after hovering for 5-10 minutes and I grabbed these shots.

04-2014_Hummingbird 2.jpg

Just as fast as the opportunity presented itself, she was off and away.  Just another great example of why it’s important to have your camera with you and understand how to use it for each situation!

Humming Bird Flying Away

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MacGyver the Photograph You Want, Not the One You Think You’re Stuck With

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MacGyver the Photograph You Want, Not the One You Think You’re Stuck With

You don’t always have the right gear when an idea or inspiration hits you.  I had a great Christmas break up in Flagstaff, AZ where I felt I had to capture this night sky scene.  The only problem is, without the right gear, I couldn’t have taken the shot I had put together in my head. 

Flagstaff Star Trails.jpg

Now, I’m not one to complain, but this would have been a waste of everyone’s time without a shutter release chord, and I knew I’d need a beer or two during this timeframe.  So the MacGyver in me came out and I altered my rig slightly to get the final shot.

My first star trail rig included:

  • Tripod & camera (obviously)
  • A penny
  • A bobby pin
  • Electrical tape
  • Scotch painter’s tape

The bobby pin and penny allowed for a pressure point to be placed on the shutter release, while the two types of tape allowed me to get that sucker taped up long enough for the exposure.  

For all the tech nuts out there, settings were - Nikon D3100, Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 shot at 24mm @ F/2.8 for 40 - 42 minutes @ 100 ISO.  There are some simpler ways of doing this, (30 second exposures compiled together in post), but the challenge of a 40 minute exposure really excited me.

The best camera is the one that’s with you.
— Chase Jarvis // http://www.chasejarvis.com

This shot fell a little between the "necessity is the mother of invention" and "the best camera is the one that’s with you" (said perfectly by Chase Jarvis), which is where I strive to keep my creative eye.

What have you done to capture that shot? Leave a comment below or send it direct to @Collin_Reed on Twitter!


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