Photo Contests

Rats! I missed the deadline for the International Exhibition of Photography at the Del Mar Fair this year. The announcement brochure came after I left on my road trip, and the deadline passed before I returned. However, I did manage to prepare and submit five images for the Mission Trails Regional Park annual photography contest. They were taken from the black and white portfolio I prepared for the second
UCSD Extension photography course I took.

Del Mar Fair Results

Of my five entries for the International Exhibition of Photography at the San Diego County Fair, only this one was accepted.

The notification letter has a column for “Place” and in that column it says “5”. According to the contest announcement, they award money and a rosette for places 1 through 4. I’m not sure if the 5 really means 5th place. It might just mean that I didn’t place in the top four.


It was a warm night on the mountain, and the skies were fairly clear, and I’m supposed to be coming up with a “Night” photograph for the Del Mar Fair, so I tried for some star trails above the house at Fern Meadow. Alas, the light pollution from L.A. is too bright for really long exposures. With the wide angle lens I wanted to use for composition, it takes minutes to get noticeable star trails. I did get some star map photos showing the house. Unfortunately they are too noisy to print big. Very long exposures is still a domain where film does better than conventional (as opposed to astronomical) digital cameras.

How Not to Photograph a Lunar Eclipse

The Moon is dark during an eclipse. The Moon is small. And the Moon is moving. This is a bad combination.

A small subject means a long focal length lens. I don’t currently own any supertelephoto lenses, which tend to be big, heavy, and expensive. My longest lens is a 70-200 f/2.8 zoom, with a 2X teleconverter. That makes a 140-400 f/5.6. Long enough to show the half-degree-wide Moon in context with some landscape, but slow.

Dark subject + slow lens = long exposure

Long exposure + moving subject = blur

The really dumb part of this story is that I had taken the trouble to calculate the longest exposure that would result in minimal blur. I had even posted my results on a web forum. The answer is that shutter speeds have to be faster than about 1/4 second. But I did this calculation five or six weeks before the eclipse, and then forgot the answer. By the time I was out in the field trying to photograph the eclipse, I mis-remembered the answer as 8 seconds.

With a digital camera, getting a reasonable exposure is never a big mystery. You just look at the histogram display and adjust the exposure until it shows something usable. Using this procedure, I ended up with exposures ranging from 6 to 30 seconds. Unfortunately this resulted in so much motion blur that the resulting images are useless.