You’ve Been Mooned!

Been a weird couple of days. We ended up getting absolutely slammed with storms last night with an initial round of hail. As I type, we are probably less than 15 minutes from the start of what looks to be several more rounds of angry weather, except this time with a forecast of ping pong ball sized hail. Mother Nature spurned. Managed to get my butt out of bed early today in hopes of getting at least 13 miles pounded out assuming the ground wasn’t too saturated. What I wasn’t expecting is the highly humid steamy temps – by mile 10 I looked like Johnny Storm had flamed on. Heeding the “Linda Voice” (surgically embedded while I was sleeping) decided to shut it down only to resolve the gnawing defeat by going back out for another 5 right before dinner (and before the storms were supposed to hit). All this to simply say I’m exhausted and decided to go with something we will not be seeing tonight.

The Moon taken at Choke Canyon State Park in January 2022

How is that for a curveball!?! Technically, more like a knuckleball as there isn’t a perceivable spin. I am in the midst of processing more images from the Vegas and Dauphin trip and wanted to give Brad a break before his next feature. Looked in my queue and decided it was time to finish this draft.

Prepare yourself before you hit the jump, you are about to endure several more moonings!

The Moon taken at Choke Canyon State Park in January 2022

Need to give credit to Tim over at Off Center & Not Even (link here) for leading me down this path. He has been posting incredible pictures of the night skies (and colorful day skies for that matter) during the several years I’ve had the pleasure of following him. When I encountered this full moon in the Texas sky, decided I’d try my hand at it.

The Moon taken at Choke Canyon State Park in January 2022

Clearly this type of photography is outside my wheelhouse and definitely wasn’t planning to go this route when the moment came. First of all, I was without stabilizer. These shots are all taken while hand holding the Beast (after a long day of birding which had my arms already drained at that point). In addition, completely clueless on the best settings. Learning on the spot as I changed setting after setting trying to get something other than Spinal Tap’s Smell the Glove album cover.

The Moon taken at Choke Canyon State Park in January 2022

This also led to a ridiculous amount of time in the digital darkroom trying to get something I was willing to show my readers and hopefully not make Tim break a vessel laughing too hard. A shocking amount of that time was spent trying to figure out color treatments and subject placement. Assuming you have noticed by now, I am practically religious about the “Rule of Thirds”. It takes an Inglourious Basterds torture scene before I give in and put anything in the center Tic Tac square.

The Moon taken at Choke Canyon State Park in January 2022

Next up, color choices. The first shot was pretty much untouched from when it was taken. The full moon had shown up in early evening and there was still a lot of light blue dominating the sky as the sun was struggling to keep its grip on the day. No surprise, the blue naturally deepened as I continued to fiddle with every dial and button Nikon was kind enough to give me. Thinking back, I should have just grabbed my phone and did some searches – nature has a way of keeping me focused ha.

The Moon taken at Choke Canyon State Park in January 2022

Grey is likely the expected color choice. That is what our naked eye tends to see and there is definitely comfort in the customary. Hard to really go wrong there, but as it got later and later the sensors started detecting a color shift. Probably getting relief from the oppressive earth dust as it continued to climb. I decided to tweak that out a little more prominently resulting in a blueish/purple feel. Have to say, this treatment has grown on me. Note, all these are different shots, so there are some additional differences such as sharpness and contrast that are also in play.

The Moon taken at Choke Canyon State Park in January 2022

At this point it was time to experiment. Started playing around with the hues and saturation sliders until I found what has become my favorite look. More tan/sepia introduced. Not to the full levels of the Harvest Moon, just enough to give it a warmer, less icebox feel. Below is the high contrast/detail perspective.

The Moon taken at Choke Canyon State Park in January 2022

…now a little more saturation and pushed up whites at the cost of some definition.

The Moon taken at Choke Canyon State Park in January 2022

I will purposely push my images beyond what I think I like just to confirm my final decision. This next one was that push beyond..even more brightness, but ended up losing the moonscape details that puts our imagination into overdrive.

The Moon taken at Choke Canyon State Park in January 2022

Not sure I could have really done much better with a tripod, but definitely a fun experiment the next time I’m lucky enough to get these same conditions. Now if I want to pull a Peter Lik I can just slap one of these on a night sky shot and wait for the money to roll in .. ha (link here). This is my litmus test to see if Linda actually reads my posts – Peter is her favorite photographer and yes, we have several pieces about the house (none of his moon shots).

Since this blog does cater more to our wildlife subjects, thought I would throw in a few more “wild” shots. These shots are absolutely craptastic and I take full ownership of the horrible execution. Should probably mention we were camping at Choke Canyon in Calliham, Texas back in January 2022. This park sits between Corpus Christi and San Antonio. While trying to figure out how to successfully capture the moon above, something caught my eye when it moved in the nearby reeds.

Large Buck found at Choke Canyon State Park in January 2022

Linda and I happen to live in “Big Buck” country here in Illinois and very accustomed to seeing nice racks (nice racks and moons, this is turning out to be a salacious post ha). Took me bit for my eyes to strip away the distractions, finally revealing an impressive set of antlers. Kept one eye on the moon and the other on the Deer hoping it would give me a better view before the last of the light lost its grip.

Large Buck found at Choke Canyon State Park in January 2022

At probably the last few available minutes, the buck stepped out of the reeds and gave me a great look. Thank god for RAW! Pushed everything those pixels had to get you this shot. Hopefully he realizes how lucky he is to be hanging out in a state park – hunters would be salivating up here.

Large Buck found at Choke Canyon State Park in January 2022

Hope you enjoyed this slight detour while the current chaos around here gets put back under control. Brad is up next while I comb through all the spoils of our recent trip.

The winds picking up, the sky is flashing and nature is in its first bowling frame. Take care everyone, time for me to make sure everything is secured.

47 thoughts on “You’ve Been Mooned!”

  1. We love reading your blog! Your unconventional perspective and genuine voice make a difference in the world. Keep creating, because your words have a lasting impact. Thank you for being who you are!

    Thanks – TheDogGod

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  2. πŸ€£πŸ˜‚ Seems this blog came right from the far side of the moon!πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ How was St Louis? Shoot a PM and let me know. The weather was beautiful when we were there but found that the storms are just crazy everywhere (even here) sitting for days in one location and just dumping moisture. πŸ™„
    I am sure Linda reads your entire blog. If she misses one we will fill her in.πŸ˜‚ Be careful on those muddy trails.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very far side ha. St. Louis went well..for one of the dogs at least. Raven rocked it, Ruger was a shit-show (Linda’s words). That was expected though, just getting him used to the big lights and distractions of the big events. It turned out to be colder than I prefer, but no storms so that was good. Now we did get pounded once we made it back home – holy cow were those some wicked wind/hail/rain events. For the record, I have not heard any comments from Linda, so guessing she hasn’t gotten to this one yet (been a bit busy lately, and I am apologetically getting to these responses waaay late, so I’ll give her some extra time) – I recommend we do not fill her in…just saying hehehehe. So far still upright for the season on the trails (knock on wood), one of these days I’m going to clip the first root…running partner and I always joke that we hope that doesn’t happen right in front of a pile of horse shit. If so the other has full permission to take photos. Thanks for dropping in CJ, always brings a smile.

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      1. Had to laugh about the horse shit comment! As roots and acorns have caused me running injuries in my past, one of the reasons I hug trees now is to my friends with them as enemies they are brutal.
        Stay safe and as always.

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  3. I enjoy seeing Tim’s photos as well and this is nice seeing you reach out to a new genre of photography. Great shots for hand held as well. You are a great photographer and story teller so I can picture you sharing this talent with more photos like this. Your imagination can sore stepping into this new area of photos for you, I look forward to seeing more. We are in Metropolis Illinois right now and I have to say, I am so surprised at all the song birds I am seeing here that I saw at Dauphin Island. There are Indigo Buntings everywhere here. I thought I could only see them by going to Dauphin Island πŸ™‚

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    1. Yep, Tim brings us some wonderful shots. Thank you for the kind words and the same can be said of your work Sandra. Always enjoy seeing what your latest adventures bring. We will see if I keep my toe in this water, there is so much to learn. Brad also happens to be a big night sky photographer, maybe we can get him to share his work sometime. Did you say hi to Superman while you were in Metropolis? Although we are in the Midwest, we still get our share of pretty birds and the Indigo Buntings are pretty common in our parts – they like to sing for me when I run by them on the local trails. I just watched an Audubon presentation where they highlighted all the warblers and other migratory birds you can see between St. Louis and Havana (south of Peoria) – was amazed at the numbers – had no idea. Appreciate you dropping in Sandra, always a pleasure.

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      1. I would love to see his night photography, I have not taken any lately. We stopped over at Sangchris lake state park after that big storm last week and the next day was like a fall out of birds. Bird Narnia, the Merlin app was off the charts. I finally saw the red headed woodpecker. But a beauty that one is. We got into Iowa and nothing here but the regulars. The birds must go east after Illinois. 😊

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        1. We’ll see if we can convince him to share in the future. The Redheads are quite stunning – probably the 2nd prettiest one we have around here – the Pileated hold the number one spot. Hopefully the birds are still coming up from the Gulf – things are a bit slow this year as the weather has been all over the place which might be confusing them a bit. Definitely saw a blow through last week after the storm and now the Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks are starting to visit our feeders, so it shouldn’t be much longer. Take care and safe travels.

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  4. Nice to get mooned first thing this morning. No Dark Side Of The Moon in those lovely moonshots. And bucking A! Blimey beautiful buck you got there.

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    1. Crap! I got distracted, and all bucked up over that beautiful buck, and sent my comment before thanking you for mentioning my influencing you to do the unmentionable. Moon on my man!

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      1. You are quite welcome Tim – I think of your shots every time I look into the night sky (and when I look at our boring day sky). We should call you Major T[i]m – second thought, that didn’t turn out well for him in the song, scratch that hehehehe. Keep inspiring me.

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    2. Ha, a great way to start the day! Luckily there were no lunatics on the grass when these shots were taken. Isn’t that buck a beauty!?! For all I know it had been standing there the whole time just watching and laughing at me trying to take pictures of that moon. As I always say, it’s the clever and smart ones that survive long enough to earn those racks!

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          1. Both. But mainly the bucks to get their racks. It’s interesting that it’s the males of the Cervidae family that develop nice racks.

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  5. Total fun, and you managed to get great depth of field. But… I gotta ask: in your eighth photo (the first warm-toned one), up near the north pole of the moon, there is a black shape. My first thought was that you managed to snap the silhouette of the ISS flying by, but I think the dark shadow is too large… or, maybe a Texas mosquito, but the shadow is too small πŸ™‚ Now I’m speculating that your bird-photography luck kicked in, and you got an in-focus bird silhouette against the face of the moon. Perhaps the shots just before and just after might shed some light?

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    1. Interesting… I need to go back and check that – moved off to my NAS long term storage. Will post back as soon as I verify that. I think a Texas Mosquito (with a belly full of my precious blood) is a high probability. Keen eye there Sam, now I am very curious. Stay tuned.

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    2. Well Sam, I must say you have an incredible eye for detail. Went back and pulled the image off the NAS drives (along with ones before and after it). With the image itself I reduced the black level sliders and just by doing that revealed the answer to the mystery! Texas Mosquito is still and outside chance, but from the formation of the other silhouettes up and to the left I’d say it is indeed a bird. I’d like to say I planned that, but then I would have taken the shot when the entire flock was crossing through the moon (I checked, I missed that). I think this link will get you to the enhanced image: https://eddiesoft.smugmug.com/Wildlife/Wildlife-Vacations/Texas-January-2022/i-ZCLkNLH/A If that fails I’ll try a different way. Moon got a little wonky playing with that slider, but it at least shows the formation. Great catch.

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  6. Very nice moon shots! I can empathize with your attempts at figuring out settings for an unfamiliar subject as I’ve just gone through a similar learning curve. Well, STILL trying to learn, actually.

    Impressive buck gave you a nice look.

    Deer me, I may be becoming a lunatic.

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    1. We are always learning Wally, problem is I am forgetting faster than I learn these days. As far as the lunatic front.. just make sure the band you’re in doesn’t start playing different tunes… and stay off the grass hehehe. Appreciate you dropping in – really been enjoying all your posts – bringing back memories of our recent trip to your wonderful state.

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    1. I’m aware of the approaching eclipse, we are still making our plans for next year’s travels, but right now nothing special is planned beyond what we can see wherever we naturally end up.

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      1. We already booked a place, but had a very hard time finding a place along the center line 16 months in advance. Good luck finding a parking space.

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    1. Thank you Cheryl – a bit of deviation for me and need to get a little better at the settings if I want to bring you more of these in the future (lots of the shots made it into the bit bucket). Hard enough keeping all the preferred bird settings in my head – adding another genre seems daunting at the moment. I always enjoy a full moon, especially on those long ultra trail races (most of them start in the dark and end in dark…or the light again ha). Appreciate you dropping in, always enjoy your perspectives.

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  7. I am so impressed with your moon shots! I have never been able to capture a good shot of the moon, and I have to admit I’m a bit envious. I am also a little envious of your buck. We live in Texas, have traveled to and camped at a lot of the state parks, and all we’ve ever seen are does and fawns. Bucks seem pretty elusive. Great job!

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    1. Thank you so much (if you only saw the number I had to delete ha). That was certainly a nice looking buck (worthy of better shots for sure). Predominantly we see the does, but we have the privilege of seeing a fair number of bucks out and about as well. They generally move pretty late in the night, although come rut, it becomes a bit scary driving down the country roads. Keep in mind, out of season the bucks drop there antlers, so you may be seeing more males than you think depending on the time of day. Appreciate you coming by Mike/Kellye, always a pleasure.

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    1. Thank you Lisa. I am happy with this set of shots, but admittedly there was a shocking amount of snaps that ended up in the bit bucket. I guess that can be expected with a new endeavor, but thank god we are not back in the film days. Take care and hope everything is going as well as it can out there.

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