Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: St. Louis Canyon Canyon and Wildcat Canyon Waterfalls

Starved Rock State Park is in Utica, Illinois. The park is about 2 hours away from Chicago.

My favorite times to visit, in order, are Autumn, Winter, and Spring. Summer is too crowded and the waterfall flows are typically minimum.

I have covered the area in previous posts extensively and will wrap up Starved Rock in two posts, this being the second to last.

St. Louis Canyon Waterfall

I took that image hiking with a friend this past Autumn. I have been to this spot at least a dozen times but this past Autumn is the first time I made what I would label a good shot. Continue reading “Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: St. Louis Canyon Canyon and Wildcat Canyon Waterfalls”

Mish’s Garden: Yellow Tiger Lilies and Bee Balm Reflections – Working With Helicon Focus

Tiger Lilies put on a long show in July and early August in my garden every year. They are not deer resistant. If I did not spray these flowers, I would not have any.

I made these images following an afternoon rain. For this type of image to work, you need deal calm and I do mean dead calm, not just for a second but for minutes.

Feature Image Details

For this set of images I used a my Canon 100MM Macro F 2.8 Lens at perhaps 1/4 life size. Meta data does not capture that information so I cannot say precisely.

This is a fixed focal length macro lens. It’s an excellent lens for butterflies and small insects.

That’s a blend of 10 different images, each focused on a different rain drop or portion of the stem. Even with the varying focus spots the background is out of focus. That adds to the image, I wanted the key elements to be in focus and the rest not.

Focus Stacking

All of these images are focus-stacked.

I used Helicon Focus to blend them.

For comparison purposes, here is one of the frames, un-stacked.

Single Image – Not Focus Stacked 

The detail on the leaf at the right is missing and only one of the drops is in focus. Helicon focus did superb on this set, better and faster than I could do myself. For that I can thank the calm wind.

Here is a another focus-stacked image.

Depth of Field

Depth of field on close-up images is extremely shallow. The only way to get a completely sharp image is to focus stack.

Helicon Focus works best with stationary objects. Mountains don’t move but flowers do.

I took this set of images on a very calm day with little wind.

See links number 2 and 6 below for a focus-stacked Green Tree Frog and focus-stacked coneflowers.

More Mish Garden Images

  1. Mish’s Garden Springtime: Bleeding Hearts, Tulips, Daffodils
  2. Mish’s Garden: Green Tree Frog on Bromeliad
  3. Mish’s Garden: Alliums and Iris Early Summer
  4. Mish’s Garden: Roses and Clematis Blooms
  5. Mish’s Garden: Columbines
  6. Mish’s Garden: Purple Prairie Coneflowers – Working With Helicon Focus

Equipment List

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Bodie Ghost Town – Barbershop, Boarding House, Firehouse

The Bodie State Historic Park is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town.

Visitors can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people. The town is named for Waterman S. Body (William Bodey), who had discovered small amounts of gold in hills north of Mono Lake. In 1875, a mine cave-in revealed pay dirt, which led to purchase of the mine by the Standard Company in 1877. People flocked to Bodie and transformed it from a town of a few dozen to a boomtown.

Only a small part of the town survives, preserved in a state of “arrested decay.” Interiors remain as they were left and stocked with goods. Designated as a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park in 1962, the remains of Bodie are being preserved in a state of “arrested decay”. Today this once thriving mining camp is visited by tourists, howling winds and an occasional ghost.

Access

  • Winter hours 9am to 4pm (November 4th to April 15th)
  • Summer hours 9am-6pm (April 15th to November 3rd )

In the winter, you may need a snowmobile to get in. The road is not plowed.

The only access at sunrise, sunset, and the interiors of the building is by permit. The cost is steep but worth it. My wife Liz and I went on a photography tour at $800 a pop.

The tour gave us access at sunrise, sunset, and the interiors of the building at mid-day.

Feature Image Details

I used a Canon 11-24 F4.0 L lens at 20mm, F4.5, ISO 6400 for 61 seconds. Stars will streak beyond about 20 seconds so I shot them separately with a star tracker then merged the images.

The formula for determining when stars will stop looking like points if governed by the formula e = 400/FL.

E is the exposure time in seconds. 400 is a constant from experience and FL is the focal length of the lens in mm.

The result of this image would be 20 seconds. My exposure was 60 seconds.

Barbershop Interior

Boarding House

We did not have access to that building. I took the above shots through a window.

They were taken with a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 16mm and 19mm continuing the streak of very wide angle images.

Firehouse

Additional Bodie Images

  1. Bodie – California Ghost Town – Wheaton and Hollis Hotel – Sunset.
  2. Bodie – California Ghost Town – Wheaton and Hollis Hotel – Interior
  3. Bodie Ghost Town – Boone Store Shell Station and 1927 Dodge Graham Pickup Truck
  4. Bodie Ghost Town – Sam Leon Saloon

The first two articles discuss the importance of very wide angle lenses and tilt-shift lenses for photographing Bodie and the interiors of buildings in general.

Wide angle lenses were used again in this set.

Eastern Sierra Area

Equipment List

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This is just the beginning of my Bodie series.

There is much more coming up: Sam Leon’s saloon, the morgue, the Methodist church, a Shell gas station, the schoolhouse, the barbershop, other buildings, and milky way shots at night.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Chemung Mine – Ghost Town – Masonic California – Milky Way

The Chemong Mine, founded in 1909, is located near the ghost town of Masonic, CA. It was torn down and rebuilt three times. The structures were eventually abandoned in 1939. By the 1950s the nearby town of Masonic was abandoned also, leaving Chemung to fade quietly into the dust.

Feature Image Details

I used Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera coupled with a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 16mm. It’s a composite image. The Milky Way was taken separately but this is the correct position of the stars.

I use an iOptron start tracker to take long exposures without the stars blurring. The camera slowly rotates with the stars. I have a second EOS 5D Mark IV Canon body with Canon’s low-pass filter removed, invalidating my warranty, but granting me an extra stop of light. With the iOptron star tracker, I can easily take 2-minute exposures without the stars blurring. The end result is milky way images with far more stars than the naked eye can see.

But if you are tracking the stars, the land is blurry because it isn’t moving. One needs to blend images if using a star tracker.

These images were taken on September 12.

In late August and September, the Milky Way is nearly vertical. The core of the Milky Way is visible only for a short time after sunset this time of year.

In April, the Milky Way takes on a rounded appearance and is visible only very early in the morning (think 3AM or so). In summer the Milky Way is diagonal.

The core of the Milky Way is not visible from October through February.

Additional Chemung Mine Images

If you are visiting the Mono Lake area and the ghost town of Bodie, this ghost town is right in the area and worth a visit. Unlike Bodie, there are no hour restrictions. At your own risk, you can enter the buildings.

Bodie is far better preserved and there are many more buildings. But the hours at Bodie are restricted and you can only enter the buildings on a private tour.

Mono Lake Area

  1. Mono Lake, California, Eastern Sierra, Sunset for my favorite Mono Lake image of the trip.
  2. Mono Lake, California, Eastern Sierra, Sunrise
  3. Panum Crater Shadows, Eastern Sierras

Equipment List

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Coming Up: An Ancient 5,000-year-old Bristlecone Pine forest followed by the Ghost Town of Bodie.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland: Jökulsárlón Ice Beach and Glacial Lagoon

The Jökulsárlón lagoon and ice beach are among the world’s most magical places.

They were featured in 007 – James Bond A View to a Kill (1985) and 007 – James Bond, Die Another Day (2002) according to the Iceland Travel Guide 8 places in Iceland you will recognize from famous movies.

The answers to the three questions you are most likely to ask are as follows: Yes, Yes, Yes.

  1. Yes, the ice really is that blue. Glacial ice is compressed and has a different crystal structure that makes it look blue.
  2. Yes, the water is cold.
  3. Yes, I got wet, which is why I can properly testify to the previous question.

Feature Image Details: Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens.  I shot at ISO 500 at 24mm for 0.8 seconds at F16. If I had to pick one lens and one lens only, this lens would be at the top of the list. I see things from a wide angle perspective.

The color of that sky lasted only a few frames. Here are a couple more images right before the sky turned.

The third image looks like it’s black and white.

Five Keys

  1. Getting very close to the subject
  2. Willingness to get wet
  3. A tripod
  4. Taking exposures of about 1 second or so
  5. Waiting for the right moment. Experience shows the right moment is just as the waves are receding.

When the waves are coming in, the ice is moving and it will be blurry. Grab the shot as the water recedes and hope the weight of the ice keeps it in place.

Warning

The ice is dangerous. If a big wave comes in, get out of the way. This ice is dangerous. It can break your tripod, or leg, whatever it hits first.

Aurora Borealis Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

We were in Iceland for 8 days in March of 2017. We only say the Northern Lights on two evenings. The above image represents the weaker of the two by far.

Additional Iceland Aurora Images

  1. Iceland Northern Lights, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Búðir
  2. Iceland Northern Lights, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Búdir, Búdakirkja Church
  3. Iceland Northern Lights, Snæfellsjökull National Park, Malarrif Lighthouse

Second Trip

This was our second trip to Iceland. We returned specifically to see the Northern lights. We caught a very good display on the last evening (the above links).

Here are some links of Jökulsárlón Ice Beach and Glacial Lagoon from our first trip to Iceland during the Summer Solstice.

Equipment List

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock