BEYOND THE STARS

MSTD Not What You’re Thinking

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Moshe Levis, Photographer / Writer

Meteors, Shutter Release, Tripod, Donuts

Early this morning (late last night, August 13) there was an annual meteor shower over California and other parts of the world. I have seen many meteor showers in my life but never took a camera to document these beautiful dust particles burning in our atmosphere.

 

“I’m probably going to sleep. I’m tired. If you’re not tired you can go watch the meteor shower tonight.” I told my friend that wanted to hang out. This is what he said: “Dude what the fuck lets go see it!!!!!! Wtf dude sleeping? there’s nothing there. It’s the same shit all the time. Sleep sleep sleep. There’s a meteor shower? Let’s go see that shit!”

From my answer, “Wanna go at 12?”, you can understand I was convinced enough to eventually go. He came to pick me up with, with two more friends in the car. One of them turned 25 at midnight. Pretty cool! Unfortunately, I left my tripod at the office and I had no remote shutter release! Damn!

We drove for about 45 minutes from Hollywood to Vasquez Rocks, California, to get away from the city lights. At first, when we got there, we thought we were alone and it was a bit creepy, but after 0.3 extra miles we started seeing more and more cars parked along the sides of the road. In an instant I felt safer then ever. We got there at around 12:30am. OK. OK. We got there, so let’s talk camera settings, right?

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Too much!

Photo by Moshe Levis

It was the first time I actually tried shooting the stars so I just tested different settings and ended up with these:

  • Camera: Nikon D800e
  • Lens: Nikkor 24-120mm
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • Shutter speed: 30 seconds (I’ll explain)
  • Aperture: f/3.5
  • ISO: 1250

Why only 30 seconds and why high ISO? Remember I mention I had no tripod and sitter release? Yeah, it made things way more difficult. Duh!

I tried bulb mode and I held the camera for about 60 seconds. You really thing I had no movement whatsoever? Yeah right!

I positioned my camera on so many different surfaces: thick fence pole, on the ground, on a car, on rocks, on boulders… Yeah that’s it. Because I was trying a bunch of settings, positions and locations I obviously missed a lot of shooting meteorites.

Aside from lack of equipment, there was the element of light. We were still too close to the city. Not only that, but every freakin’ person had a phone with flashlights lighting up their path, crapping up my shots.

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Flashlights, shakes, exposure… You name it – 25 seconds, f/3.5, ISO 2000

Photo by Moshe Levis

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Got one!

Photo by Moshe Levis

We witnessed a bunch of small and fast ones and maybe two bigger ones that were really amazing to watch. The overall experience was really fun, going out in the middle of the night to the middle of nowhere, with good friends, watching the star-filled Milky Way and a bunch of shooting stars. The shooting experience was pretty bad, which is really good. For the next time. This is how we learn.

PS: we ended up at Yum Yum Donuts at 3 am.

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Yum Yum Donuts

Photo by Moshe Levis

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