Tag Archives: Colorado

1/16/15: Zodiacal Light and Comet Lovejoy from Guanella Pass

I processed a few more image sequences of Comet Lovejoy from last night’s shoot up on Guanella Pass. It is a long-period comet and is on its way out now; it will presumably continue to dim until re-appearing in another 8000 years or so.

This first image contains a variety of cosmic curiosities, from Comet Lovejoy (the fuzzy green spot in upper left) and the Andromeda Galaxy (the fuzzy white disc in upper-right, center), to a small meteor (the thin white line, near center); meteors are often debris from comets, and thus there may be two separate vestiges of comet material in this image. Most notably though, the whitish glow emanating from the horizon and pointing toward the comet is a phenomenon called zodiacal light, the light of the sun from the other side of the earth made visible by the scattering of sunlight by interplanetary dust (that is, in space, well beyond our atmosphere). The sun had set nearly 3 hours before and was 33 degrees below the horizon, and it’s a bit unusual to capture this phenomenon in post-twilight skies this early in the Spring.


Deep sky image captured from Guanella Pass, CO. [5D MkIII @16mm, EF16-35/2.8L II, 30-sec @f/2.8, ISO 3200]

Deep sky image captured from Guanella Pass, CO. [5D MkIII @16mm, EF16-35/2.8L II, 30-sec @f/2.8, ISO 3200]

w/text: Zodiacal light, comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2, meteor, Andromeda Galaxy.

w/text: Zodiacal light, comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2, meteor, Andromeda Galaxy.



Rotating space junk intersects tail of Comet Lovejoy (5D MkIII@280mm, 25-image stack at 6sec@f/2.8, ISO 2000)



Comet Lovejoy from Guanella Pass, CO (5D MkIII@280mm, 21-image stack at 4sec@f/4, ISO 5000)



Comet Lovejoy crosses paths with satellite Coronas Photon (1D MkIII@200mm, 38-image stack at 5sec@f/2.8, ISO 3200)


Orion Nebula

Orion Nebula (5D MkIII@280mm, 8-image stack at 4sec@f/4, ISO 3200)




1/15/15: Comet Lovejoy imaged at Guanella Pass, CO (10,800′ MSL)

One quick one from tonight’s trip up to the closure point of Guanella Pass at 10,800′ MSL. Pretty dark and cold up there, and for some reason the image looks quite a bit different than last night’s. The tail seemed a bit less obvious, however I was able to capture more detail in it (note the two dark streamers coming out from the coma). The comet was naked-eye visible with off-center viewing, looked as bright as through binoculars in Golden last night.

22-image stack (light frames), 280mm, 4sec at f/4, ISO 5000:

Comet Lovejoy imaged at Guanella Pass, CO, 1/15/15.

Comet Lovejoy imaged at Guanella Pass, CO, 1/15/15.

4/15/14: Lunar Eclipse over Golden, Colorado

Now, I like a good lunar eclipse as much as the next astrophotography-loving guy, but I have to admit that I’m not dedicated enough to sit up all night in 30-degree weather to capture one. Taking the lazy-man’s route, at the last minute last night I decided to photograph the lunar eclipse, so set up both tripods and tried to ‘guess’ where the moon would be at 1:46AM. The main image I wanted to get was the moon traversing the sky over Golden as the eclipse progressed, though I knew that due to anthropomorphic constraints (read: house in the way), I couldn’t get the entire event from my vantage point.

Using the TerraLapse techniques I’ve been developing for daytime shooting (not-so-ironically on the subject matter for which the techniques were originally developed, astrophotography), I got the composite image put together this morning. It’s a lot easier and quicker with a mere 40+ images compared to the hundreds I’m often working with in daytime time-lapse compositing.

This first image was my main goal, and I think it came out as well as possible for an un-manned camera (accidentally set to a semi-automatic exposure mode). The set of 40 images span 6 hours (8:16PM to 2:16AM, when the moon left the field of view). You can see the planet Mars above the moon, with the star Spica immediately below the moon (the star Spica has recently ‘starred’ in a wide variety of astrophotographic endeavors, most notably Comet ISON’s path prior to its demise rounding the sun). The moon begins just above South Table Mountain’s “Castle Rock”, with the last visible image of the moon over Mt. Zion and Lookout Mountain (Golden, Colorado):

  • Canon 5D MkIII w/EF 16-35/2.8L II, at 16mm
  • Aperture Priority at f/8, 0.8 to 3.2 sec, ISO 400, -4 EV
  • Time interval 10 minutes


Lunar Eclipse over Golden, CO 4/15/14

Composite image of Lunar Eclipse over Golden, CO 4/15/14, ©Jeff Warner PHOTOGRAPHIC


The second set of 43 images I captured was a bit more closeup, with only sky in the frame, and spans 3 hours and 30 minutes (11:48PM to 3:18AM). I this image Mars is again above the moon, Spica right beneath, while late in the sequence Saturn comes into view from the bottom left:

  • Canon 1D MkIII w/EF 24-105/4L, at 24mm (31mm equiv)
  • Manual at 3.2 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400
  • Time interval 5 minutes


Lunar Eclipse over Golden, CO 4/15/14

Lunar Eclipse over Golden, CO 4/15/14, ©Jeff Warner PHOTOGRAPHIC


Unfortunately I didn’t get this one framed perfectly, but it worked out well enough. Three more full lunar eclipses for North America in the next 18 months, so we all several more opportunities to nail it!





10/11/13: ‘Milky Way + Hikers’ Star Trail Composite

Today I spent some time compositing the  images from Tuesday night’s time-lapse into one single image. A total of 159 30-second images (from 10:02 to 11:29 PM) were used in the image below, and effectively show everything from each image, including Brennen, Matt and Kevin’s headlamps descending the ridge. Note the size of the cloud compared to the time-lapse video previously posted; what is shown below is the apparent movement of the cloud as it came into the field of view from bottom to top, until I turned the camera off.


Milky Way time-lapse composite, Loveland Pass, CO

Milky Way time-lapse composite, Loveland Pass, CO


Here is a crop of the center-right of the image; you can see some unknown space junk traversing across the star trails. This dim ‘flare’ repeated 5 times over the course of 17 minutes, lasting for approximately 30 seconds each time, and then disappeared as quickly as it appeared. Flares are caused by satellites rotating at various speeds, intermittently reflecting the light of the sun back to the observer.

space junk traversing the star field

space junk traversing the star field


Weird stuff out there in the night sky.


10/8/13: A tribute to the fallen, a night hike for Timothy Fulkerson on Loveland Pass, CO

As I was setting up my camera gear to try and capture the aurora last night on top of 11,990′ Loveland Pass, I heard voices off in the distance. Voices? I thought I was alone up there in the dark, 37 degrees, no moon or wind, just me and the stars (though I had noted that there was one car at the top of the pass when I arrived at 2130 hrs.). I looked across the valley to see several headlamps on the saddle, descending from the ridgeline above Loveland Basin Ski Area. I continued setting up my primary camera to start ‘looking around’ to see if the aurora borealis was out, though it wasn’t in any way obviously visible, though it seemed to me that the sky near the horizon had a very, very faint reddish hue, but I’d seen that before, given all the light pollution to the west.

What were they doing up there above the pass at night?

Since the aurora was not yet obvious enough to concentrate on, I started capturing random images of the Milky Way to the south, occasionally seeing the headlights poke up above the ridge line. I could hear them chatting and calling their dog, which at one point howled back at some coyotes off in the distance. Even though I knew the aurora was liable to be behind me to the north, I kept returning to the hikers on the ridge line, wondering what they could possibly be doing on this cool October night. I decided to set up my second camera body for a time-lapse of the Milky Way over the ridgeline they were on, hoping that they would return directly to my location, providing something unusual to see, given that it was nearing midnight.

They did.

Brennen Griffin, Matt Dolbec and Kevin Millonig were on a ‘tribute’ hike, in honor of their friend, Army Spc. Timothy Fulkerson, who died in the line of duty in Tikrit, Iraq on 10/8/06. They told me a bit about Timothy and how each year since, they had done a night hike on Loveland Pass on the date of his passing in his honor, even in near white-out conditions one year ago, in 2012. I showed them some images of them high up on the ridge with the Milky Way above, and they were quite interested in seeing the results of the night’s shooting. I told them how to get a hold of me, and this morning I received this email from Brennen, quoted here with his permission, as I cannot possibly convey the story any better:

Hey Jeff,

This is Brennen Griffin.  We met last night up on top of Loveland Pass; I’m the one that lives down here in Golden.  Just wanted to shoot you my email and touch base with you about maybe getting a pic or two from you.  I know I had briefly told you of what we were up to last night but if I may, I would like to tell you a brief story behind it, as I love to share short life stories of those heroes that are no longer with us.

The soldier we were honoring last night is named Timothy Fulkerson.  You see, I was a Ranger Medic in the army for 6 years and Tim was a .50 cal gunner on my team.  Our team was extremely close, as we were a counter sniper/counter IED team that operated only at night; hence the reason for why we do that hike at night.  Tim was killed on one of our missions the evening of the 8th of October, 2006 in the city of Tikrit, Iraq.  We’ve been doing that hike ever since.  Our team suffered severe losses during our last deployment to Iraq, June 2006 to Sept 2007 and more specifically during the months of October, November, and December.  Tim was the first teammate to fall, followed by nearly half of the other members of my 13 man team.

Tim was by far the most light hearted of all of us.  He kept us laughing even in moments of pure terror.  Our team had a very high operational tempo and we rarely had contact with our families but on the night Tim was killed in action, he had sent an e-mail to his parents reassuring them that we were safe and not in harms way.  And in the purest Tim form, his last words to his parents were, “Mom and Dad, I do not want you to worry about me and my team.  It’s not that bad this time over here.  In fact, it is safer here than in Michael Jackson’s bedroom…”  and in my opinion, that last phrase that Tim shared with his parents sums up his personality and the affect he had on all of us.  In the face of adversity, and minutes away from departing for what he knew would be an intense and potentially grave mission, he still had it inside of him to reassure his family and one last time, make them laugh.

I appreciate you letting me share this information with you.  As I said earlier, I feel it is my responsibility to share the lives of those individuals with others who may never know anything of their existence.  Thank you for being there to capture a moment that means more to me than most will ever know.  Your pictures you showed us were truly impressive, I hope you got some great shots last night.

Thanks again,

Brennen Griffin

What follows below is the time-lapse that I felt compelled to create–for some unknown reason–despite my intended subject being behind me to the north. The sequence of 30-second exposures covers from 10:02 to 11:29 PM, when I packed up to head home. You can see their headlamps at the beginning of the video in the center, then a few seconds later descending the mountain to the saddle of Loveland Pass.

I was glad that I crossed paths with Brennen, Matt and Kevin, a chance meeting late in the night, high on top of a mountain pass that I once flew over often in the middle of the night, a place where I’ve spent a lot of time hiking in the winter. A chance to learn a bit about an American hero who died for his country, in defense of preserving the way of life that we all enjoy here in the United States.

Thanks to Timothy, and to Brennen, Matt and Kevin for keeping his memory alive in a way that allowed me to share it with whomever might read this.


10/8/13: Milky Way over Loveland Pass, CO (time-lapse) from Jeff Warner PHOTOGRAPHIC on Vimeo.

9/22/13: NICA Cloud City Challenge, Leadville, CO

Sunday was the second installment of the 4-race High School MTB Series, the Cloud City Challenge up in Leadville. Unfortunately all but the middle waves (freshman and sophomore boys) got wet. Here are a few from the freshman and sophomore DI/DII boys. Click the following if you’d like to see the entire set of images from the 2013 NICA Cloud City Challenge.


9/8/13: NICA Snow Mtn. Ranch High School MTB Race #1

A few from the first race of the High School MTB season, from Snow Mountain Ranch, near Granby. A hearty thanks goes out to Primal’s John Hutchinson and all the volunteers who put on a fantastic race, marred only by the fantastic thunderstorm that hit about 2 laps into the Varsity and JV races. Feel free to check out images of Golden High School competitors in particular.


1/17/12: Some Conceptual Studio Work

I spent some time in the studio completing a self-assignment which consisted of photographing some backcountry and outdoor gear using low-key lighting and background. One subject in particular proved a challenge in lighting, and here are the results (quippy tags thrown in just for the fun of it):


12/20/12: City of Golden at Night

A view of our beautiful town, the City of Golden draped in holiday lights along Clear Creek. You can see a few more here:


10/21/12: Fire in the Canyon