Brazen Goonies - Having Fun with the Camera

Some days you just wanna have fun with your camera.  No pressure to take pics of models.  No pressure try to track down some gigs for a little extra money.  Some days you wanna just head out there and take pictures for the sake of taking pictures.

I found myself recently in Lagoon Valley Regional Park in Vacaville, California for Brazen Racing's Lagoon Valley Race (aka Goonies).  This race was normally held in March during the rainy season, but was moved to October for 2016.  It's not as challenging a course as many of Brazen Racing's courses are, but with about 2000ft of climb, it will still work a person over.

I arrived at the race location around 6am and it was still very very dark.  And being somewhat far from the big city, there was hardly any light pollution.  As I walked around the staging area with my headlamp, I thought that turning the headlamp off, I might be able to see some stars.  Talk about an eye-opener!

Fuji X-T2   ISO 200   16-55mm lens at 16.5mm   f/9   30.0secs

The halo around the moon was absolutely magnificent!  I didn't have a tripod or a wider lens than the 16-55 that was on my camera, but I needed to get this shot.  So I basically lay the camera against my car's front windshield and let it go!  I had my cable release with me and set the Fuji to Bulb mode.  Having learned from a past experience, I kept the shutter open under 30 seconds because I didn't want to get any star movement.  It was more than enough.  Not only did the halo come out, but the actual color of the stars as well!  I didn't know that Orion's Belt was blue, and that there were orange stars mixed in as well!

For the above shot, I did wish I had something wider than 16mm, but even a 10mm lens wouldn't have been wide enough to capture the moon and the huge halo, while also keeping Orion's Belt in the shot.

The above shot is a zoomed-in and cropped one of the half moon.  I had to increase the shutter speed to reduce the exposure and thus bring out details of the moon's surface.  No matter what phase it's in, the moon is always quite stunning.

Once the race started, I left my Fuji behind and instead took my iPhone SE along.  Although, I didn't use the built-in camera app and instead opted for the Lightroom app for iOS.  I wanted to test its capabilities, and -- wow -- talk about crazy high quality.

iPhone SE   ISO 25   4.15mm focal length   f/2.2   1/4800sec

When you get something like the above, shot while you're running, that just attests to the quality of the iPhone SE camera and its dynamic range!  I did take up the exposure and warmed up the image a bit, but that was it!

iPhone SE   ISO 25   4.15mm focal length   f/2.2   1/800sec

For the above shot, it's always nice to see how Brazen Racing likes to motivate their runners.  This banner was located at the top of a hill.  Kind of a funny sight to see after climbing to the top.

iPhone SE   ISO 25   4.15mm focal length   f/2.2   1/4300sec

The above shot at first didn't look good at the beginning, but I increased the exposure while balancing the shadows and suddenly it tells an interesting story.  Beautiful sky overhead.  The lone runner in the distance at the top of the rise, amongst the solitude of nature.

iPhone SE   ISO 25   4.15mm focal length   f/2.2   1/2000sec

iPhone SE   ISO 25   4.15mm focal length   f/2.2   1/2000sec

I think I took the above shot on my way to the finish line.  I had to do some additional tweaking to this one in Lightroom, from increasing the exposure and saturation, and taking up the shadows.

It was a rather interesting experience using the Lightroom Mobile app for the iPhone.  I really didn't think it would be capable of much, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Now I won't have to worry about dragging my Fuji out with me on the trails because the iPhone's camera and the Lightroom app can almost match the "on the course" shots that I'm looking for.  Of course, it remains to be seen what the capabilities of the iPhone's camera will be as fall takes hold and winter comes along.  Low light action shots are not any smartphone's forte.

But ... it will be fun to experiment nevertheless!