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41 Day Dry Spell! | by Ben Canales
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41 Day Dry Spell!

Yesterday the newspaper informed us Oregonians that up until Friday, we had 41 days of cloudiness. 41 days of no clear nights of stars. I knew it had been awhile, but I didn't realize it's been 41 days of no star shooting!

 

Well, Friday night broke the spell with the stars brilliantly sparkling overhead. This is an abandoned home outside the small high desert plains town of Condon. I haven't been able to find any history on it yet, so if any of you know its story or owners- please tell me. I am very curious. Valorie and I found it while out on a Sunday drive getting some fresh air.

 

This was shot on a preliminary, test run of teaching someone how to shoot stars. As some of you know, I am planning on doing some star shooting workshops this summer, so I am doing trial evenings out with people to get practice and experience on going out with the sole intention of passing on techniques and knowledge. It went well with my student and I mutually learning a lot in the process. It was such a satisfaction to have someone join me that wanted to soak up as much experience, knowledge, and ideas as I could dish out. My student, Joanna, loves the stars as a personal interest and has been pursuing photography for a few years now, so to be able to combine her love of the stars with her photography equipment and abilities- she was a kid in a candy shop :-)

 

She learned fast, and more satisfying to me, towards the end, she saw the sky with her own eyes and found views and compositions that interested her and fit her personal vision and experience. In these workshops I will transfer as much technique and knowledge of star shooting as I can, but as important, I want to encourage each person to be confident in their own photography vision. I don't want to make Ben clones or fill up people's media cards with copies of my popular shots. I want people to get through the intimidation of the night, grasp the methods of star shooting, avoid common mistakes, and then believe in themselves and their imagination to set out and make their own unique star image magic. That may sound a bit cheesy, but I firmly believe in creativity and personal expression and find my inspiration in the pursuit of those attributes.

 

That being said, the first half of the night I felt I was a good teacher staying with Joanna helping her, but the 2nd half of the night, at this location, I couldn't hold back anymore! Not after 41 days of cloudy weather. I now know to not take a student to a location I haven't been to. Not because of problems in not knowing the location, but because of the EXCITEMENT of shooting stars at a new location! *laughing* This location was the second half of the night and second location. Joanna was doing well setting exposure, focus, and composition- so I started by taking my camera out to take test shots to help her, but then as she began to find interest in her own personal taste of shots, I suddenly found myself tromping out into the dark to explore compositions and angles that interested my taste. I snapped out of it and was like, "Oh man! Joanna! I am supposed to be teaching her.." but then I was like, "hhhmmm.. one more shot from this angle…" *laughing* Lesson learned: don't try to teach after 41 day dry spells of cloudy nights ;-)

 

Besides Joanna and her husband Paulo, my lovely girlfriend Valorie came along, and so did Nick and Ted. And then, to all of our surprise and delight, Darren and Larry showed up around 11pm to join us for some star shooting. It got a bit crazy with 7 photographers pointing cameras, tripods, and flashlights all over the place- with lights blinking, blazing and flashing in and out of each others comps. But, from what I saw and heard, no one got bent out of shape or took much offense at the lack of control or an image being "ruined" by someone else's light painting straying into their shot. For me, it took on a fun hangout/party feeling. It was great to share the experience of shooting the stars with other photographers excited about the stars like me. I was loving every moment of it :-) It was a great time and I've got plenty more to talk about in posts soon to come.

 

Alright, enough blabbing from me. I need to get another night of catch-up sleep. I'll talk about details and dates of the workshops in the very near future. Here's links to everyone's streams that joined me this night:

 

Joanna: www.flickr.com/photos/sunflowersister/5605340107/

and her blog:

jkmphoto.blogspot.com/2011/04/we-are-star-stuff-night-sky...

 

My girlfriend Valorie:

www.flickr.com/photos/valorieshay/5607197048/in/contacts/

Ted:

www.flickr.com/photos/outabounds/5604482438/

Nick:

www.flickr.com/photos/photographybyng/5604212550/

Larry:

www.flickr.com/photos/21613633@N07/5601670626/in/photostr...

Darren:

www.flickr.com/photos/drwhite75/5603088377/

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Taken on April 10, 2011