Frivolity

Monday, February 18, 2019

Hello there, Super Snow Moon

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2019 at 12:30 PM

An aircraft taking off is seen passing in front of full moon in December of 2017. - NASA/BILL INGALLS
  • NASA/Bill Ingalls
  • An aircraft taking off is seen passing in front of full moon in December of 2017.
Move over Super Blood Wolf Moon, it’s the Super Snow Moon’s turn to shine.

Sure it’s not as snazzy a name and Tuesday’s moon lacks that added je ne sais quoi of a lunar eclipse, but the celestial orb will “look extremely large when it rises and sets,” according to NASA, the result of an illusion that occurs when the Moon is close to the horizon and our brain is “tricked into thinking the Moon is much closer to the objects that are in our line of sight.”

And, hey, it’s the second to the last one for the year, so enjoy. According to the website Time and Date, moonset in Eureka will occur at 7:22 a.m. Tuesday  — with the full moon reached at 7: 53 a.m. — and rise at 6:17 p.m.

The National Weather Service, however, forecasts rain is likely for that evening.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Grandmother Rock

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 3:07 PM

Beneath the stars and the Milky Way, Grandmother Rock gazed out across the Pacific in her endless contemplation, while the stars wheeled about Polaris above. The crescent moon, invisible past the left edge of the photograph, provided some of the landscape illumination as it set into the mists, while from inside College Cove some kind of light emanated, throwing light on Pewetole Island. The bright light on the horizon was one of five or six fishing boats out at sea that evening. Occasionally they would train their powerful beams toward shore, bright enough to cast shadows. - Trinidad, Humboldt County, California. February 6, 2019. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Beneath the stars and the Milky Way, Grandmother Rock gazed out across the Pacific in her endless contemplation, while the stars wheeled about Polaris above. The crescent moon, invisible past the left edge of the photograph, provided some of the landscape illumination as it set into the mists, while from inside College Cove some kind of light emanated, throwing light on Pewetole Island. The bright light on the horizon was one of five or six fishing boats out at sea that evening. Occasionally they would train their powerful beams toward shore, bright enough to cast shadows. Trinidad, Humboldt County, California. February 6, 2019.
It was nearly dark when I arrived at the Trinidad Head parking area. Sunset gazers had seen the sun set some 45 minutes earlier and were heading for their cars when I struck north up the beach. Night was descending and in the waning light I could see the footprints of the evening’s activity in the sand. Low tide would be in a little over half an hour. My destination was Grandmother Rock, a huge rock in the apparent profile of a figure forever staring out to sea.

Only a faint glow remained over the western horizon, and stars were beginning to show all over the sky. The crescent moon hanging over the Pacific would set in about an hour and helped cast a delicate glow on the world. The retreating tide’s fresh sand was a faint lightness stretching out before me, and I was making the only marks in the new smoothness. Rocks and driftwood slipped by as shadows beside my soft tread. It was dark enough to tempt my flashlight but to do so would have set back my night. I continued without it.

I think about mountain lions when I’m out there at night, particularly if I’m alone. It freaks me out. But for some reason I reasoned they wouldn’t be looking for me at the beach. I’m not sure there was any reason in that at all, really, but I did note that the wind was coming from the shore, so I knew they wouldn’t smell me. I didn’t read all those Tarzan books for nothing.

I heard water ahead. I’d forgotten about the creek. I could make out its shape as I approached. Close across the stream loomed the towering form of Grandmother Rock, but I needed to cross to get the angle I wanted. Mill Creek isn’t especially large but in early February it was certainly in healthy condition and was too wide to jump across. I looked around. Maybe I could find a way over there.

Splash!

My heart slammed into my chest and I froze. The splash was close. A fish? It seemed too large. I had been walking without my light, and I saw little more than shadows as I peered toward the sound.

Splash!

It didn’t sound like a critter’s splash this time. I turned on my light, already figuring what it was: the sandy sides of the creek caving in as the stream eroded them. You know the miniature cliffs that are fun to help cave in when you’re a kid. I might still be one.

With the light on I saw that I wouldn’t be able to cross without getting wet, and there was no way to line up the shot that I wanted from this side of the creek. There were some rocks I could have used to hop across but not all by myself in the dark, carrying a camera bag, a large tripod and wearing a pack. That seemed like a bad idea easily avoided, the kind of thing one might read about in the news blogs the next day.

So I would ford the stream. I took off my shoes and socks, rolled my pants up over my knees, and waded across. This had not been in the plan. It was about 40 degrees out, and don’t tell the Midwest folks, but it felt cold. And now my feet were going to be wet and my socks were going to have sand in them and I would have to do it all again on the way back, too. Ah, photography!

I set up just on the other side of the creek.. Grandmother Rock sits atop a pile of huge rocks, the chunks of stone that Mother Nature had chiseled away from what once had been a gigantic boulder as she sculpted Grandmother’s contemplative figure.

I had one idea for a photograph in my mind for this trip: a long exposure with the north star Polaris above Grandmother’s head. In a long exposure from that angle, the trails made by the stars would create rings around her that could represent different things to different people. I also wanted Pewetole Island in the image if possible. I found a single spot that would give me that angle: it was on the steep side of a sloping boulder but from there it would all fall into line. I climbed up, wedged my tripod in and perched there next to it.
The Grandmother abides. In this much shorter exposure, the stars and other celestial objects have been stopped. Sister Galaxy Andromeda is the bright, smeared “star” near the top to the left of the Milky Way. Trinidad, Humboldt County, California. February 6, 2019. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • The Grandmother abides. In this much shorter exposure, the stars and other celestial objects have been stopped. Sister Galaxy Andromeda is the bright, smeared “star” near the top to the left of the Milky Way. Trinidad, Humboldt County, California. February 6, 2019.
I stayed in that spot for almost an hour and tried different exposures and slightly different angles, some zoomed in, some zoomed out. The lights of half a dozen fishing boats shone across the horizon, sometimes themselves directing beams of light toward me bright enough to throw shadows. The fading moonlight and the final vestiges of dusk’s glow on the horizon cast the softest of light onto the shore.

The star trail image I’m sharing here was a 699-second exposure. The star trails you see show how far the stars moved across the sky as Earth’s globe rotated beneath me. Watching the stars turn I could feel I was on the surface of the Earth, the light of their myriad billions falling upon my face as the planet revolved beneath me.

I would have stayed longer to make more images but for a couple of considerations. One was that by then the tide had been coming in for half an hour and was beginning to send waves up the beach to the rock I was using, and the other was that I’d told my mom I’d come watch the second half of Warriors game with her. I packed up, climbed down, removed my shoes and socks, rolled up my pants, forded the creek again and headed back down the beach.

(And the Warriors won.)
This animation alternates between two frames, one long exposure in which the stars became streaks, and one shorter exposure from moments later in which they are still points. The smudgy “star” at the top to the left of the Milky Way is our sister galaxy Andromeda. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • This animation alternates between two frames, one long exposure in which the stars became streaks, and one shorter exposure from moments later in which they are still points. The smudgy “star” at the top to the left of the Milky Way is our sister galaxy Andromeda.

To keep abreast of David Wilson’s most current photography or peer into its past, follow him on Instagram at @david_wilson_mfx or his website mindscapefx.com, where you can also contact him, but which Wilson says he updates less frequently.
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Friday, January 25, 2019

'Sweet Victory' for SpongeBob Fans at the Super Bowl? Stay Tuned

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2019 at 1:48 PM

Stephen Hillenburg - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Stephen Hillenburg
Fans of SpongeBob SquarePants aren’t looking back in their months-long effort to have “Sweet Victory” sung during half time at the Super Bowl as an ode to Stephen Hillenburg, creator of the fantastical world Bikini Bottoms, who died Nov. 27.

More than 1 million people have signed the Change.org petition to honor the 57-year-old Humboldt State University graduate, who announced last March that he had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease more commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

“As some of you may or may not know, Stephen Hillenburg — the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants — has passed away recently,” the petition reads. “As a tribute to his legacy, his contributions to a generation of children and to truly showcase the greatness of this song, we call for Sweet Victory to be performed at the Halftime Show.”


Half time headliner Maroon 5 set the Twittersphere a twitter earlier this month when the band released a Super Bowl teaser that includes a brief appearance by SpongeBob. (Check out the 32 second mark.)



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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: A Bit of Whimsy

Posted By on Wed, Jan 16, 2019 at 12:29 PM

2018-11-10_bill-david-moon-milkyway_10-amanita_1500px.jpg
It’s not for everyone to take the world seriously all of the time, though some people probably need to, at least a little bit. But I don’t think I’m one of them. I surmise folks like that need people like me to keep things in balance, so this week I am taking creative license to present a handful of images of our North Coast through the looking glass of whimsy. Or is that mimsy?

Taking an early morning walk in the woods after the first rains, one finds mushrooms in many forms and colors pushing up through the debris on the forest floor. Some are small, some are large. Once while hiking with friends after sunset along the continent’s edge where the forest overlooks the broad Pacific, we spied a mushroom taller than the rest, a veritable tree it was. I joked that we could climb to the top of it, though I’m not really fond of heights. But when my friend Bill from SoCal began scrambling up a tuft of moss leaning on the mushroom’s side, there was nothing for it but to climb up with him. From the mushroom’s summit we watched as the crescent moon set into the ocean. Friends Morgan and Miranda stayed below and spoke in whispers over a glowing orb. I think they kept us safe.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

North Coast Night Lights: Cooks Valley Bridge

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2018 at 1:30 PM

DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
In 1993, I spent a year in Chicago. Even then I loved photographing at night; I have always been drawn to it. I would use either available light or introduce light of my own, painting it into a scene much as I do now. I wasn’t comfortable photographing with models then, confining myself mostly to scenes without people and making them interesting with unusual angles and lighting. I had a couple of photography shows while I was there, both in small galleries. After those two shows, I was charged up and submitted my portfolio to a larger gallery. But I ran into a curious thing.

“They’re interesting,” the curator said, “but you need figures in them. Figures lend a human element and a story to an image.”

I was abashed, and somewhat offended, I have to admit. But as time passed, I realized she was right. Photography is a visual language that can convey feelings, messages and stories. But there is only so much story you can get out of a sunset, or a flower or interesting lighting when there are no people present. A pretty picture can be very attractive, no doubt, and I was proud of my photographs, but when you put a person in there, tales will pop out.

Each person viewing an image will have a different experience of it, which will sometimes make it difficult for the photographer to convey specific ideas or messages. Someone might chuckle where another gasps. Individual experiences people have in their lives shape how they view the world and one person’s reaction to an image may be very different from the reaction of another person. At one show I had, a woman simply could not look at a photograph of my young son’s face that I had blended with leaves. To me it was a soothing image. But she had to turn away from it, telling me it was painful to see. I don’t know what experience she had had that could give her that reaction to the peaceful image of my little “Forest Spirit,” but it was very real to her.

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Friday, December 7, 2018

Zooey Deschanel Really Likes Eureka

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2018 at 4:25 PM

The landmark Carson Mansion. - FILE
  • File
  • The landmark Carson Mansion.
When actor Zooey Deschanel — star of New Girl and the perennial Christmas classic Elf — was asked about a must-go travel hot spot in California during a recent interview with Travel + Leisure, her answer was short and local: Eureka.

Deschanel, according to the online piece, is teaming up with Capital One on The Purpose Project to promote meaningful travel, which falls in line with her other efforts to make the world a better place, including support for The Farm Project and The Innocence Project.

During the interview — which includes a segment on navigating the perfect road trip through the Golden State — the writer notes that Eureka “probably isn’t on too many people’s radars,” to which Deschanel quickly replied it should be.

“Oh you have to go. It’s so beautiful,” she said. “Its amazing forests and hiking and it’s absolutely magical.”

Read the full Travel + Leisure story here.
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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

North Coast Night Lights: 1964 High Water on the Avenue

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2018 at 11:52 AM

“High Water Dec 1964,” reads the sign at chest level. Arrows on the pole draw the eye to the true marker far above. Avenue of the Giants at Weott, Humboldt County, California. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • “High Water Dec 1964,” reads the sign at chest level. Arrows on the pole draw the eye to the true marker far above. Avenue of the Giants at Weott, Humboldt County, California.
In 1964 a perfect storm of snow melt and heavy rains caused a historic flood in Humboldt County and the greater Pacific Northwest. Along the Eel River watershed, the raging flood waters wiped out roads, bridges, and entire communities. U.S. Highway 101 was submerged at some points. That was before my memory, and now most of its effects have been blurred by the passage of time, but there are still some physical reminders commemorating the event visible from the road.

You may have seen the high water marker on the west side of U.S. Highway 101 a little north of the Salmon Creek exit in Southern Humboldt. Another mark sits atop a pole on the Avenue of the Giants at Weott; almost out of sight at the top of the tall pole is a marker showing how deep the Avenue was beneath the surface of the flooding Eel River.

The history and mystery of this past reminder of nature’s awesome power drew my interest to the marker at Weott. I doubt that I’ve ever passed by this marker, nor the one near Salmon Creek, without at least glancing at it and marveling for a moment at the sheer volume of water that the flood had sent gushing through these places continuously for days, all up and down the river, and all over the region. That is a mind-bending amount of water pouring from the skies.
Looking south past the High Water mark along the Avenue of the Giants at Weott. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Looking south past the High Water mark along the Avenue of the Giants at Weott.

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Wild Night of Eureka High Football (with video)

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2018 at 12:16 PM

Eureka High School - ECS
  • ECS
  • Eureka High School
It was a stag-gering experience for some folks at last Friday’s Eureka High School football game against De Anza when an unexpected visitor took the field, much to the apparent delight of folks in the stands by the sounds of the video.

Watch the video by Sally Graham below:
The Loggers, by the way, handily won the game 66 to 20.
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North Coast Night Lights: Camping in the King Range

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2018 at 10:52 AM

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean from Paradise Ridge in the King Range, southern Humboldt County, California. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Overlooking the Pacific Ocean from Paradise Ridge in the King Range, southern Humboldt County, California.

The Fall Equinox of Sept. 21, 2017, found me camping beneath the stars on Paradise Ridge in Southern Humboldt’s King Range, a BLM-managed area of our beautiful and famous Lost Coast. Friends I’ve known since childhood had invited me out to join them for a night of stargazing and Milky Way photography in one of their huge glamping tents from their Wayward Glamping business. Early clouds as we set up our camp dampened my hopes for clear skies, but by nightfall the curtains had pulled apart to reveal the celestial show.

The views from Paradise Ridge are spectacular. To the west it overlooks the Pacific Ocean north of Shelter Cove and south of King Peak, the highest point in the range at 4,091 feet. To the east of the ridge, the view includes much of the South Fork Eel River watershed and far beyond to the dim horizon. Because it is so remote, the King Range offers some of Humboldt’s darkest skies, which is perfect for astrophotography and stargazing.


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Friday, November 9, 2018

North Coast Night Lights: Close Encounters on the Avenue

Posted By on Fri, Nov 9, 2018 at 3:08 PM

When the Milky Way lines up with the Avenue of the Giants. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • When the Milky Way lines up with the Avenue of the Giants.
The Avenue of the Giants is as beautiful a drive as you will find. The groves along its 36-mile course line the Avenue with some of the grandest examples of the tallest trees on Earth, the California coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens. Some are thousands of years old. If a disproportionate number of my photographs are taken along the Avenue, it is only proportionate to the beauty that is found there. The image I’m sharing today was photographed from the hillside just off the road near the California Federation of Women’s Clubs Grove, one of the special places found in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

This particular view of the Milky Way rising just so above the road is only visible for a few days of the year. Why is this? Well, we know Earth orbits the sun, going completely around it in one year. This means that each day Earth’s night side is presented with a slightly different view of the cosmos as we travel around the sun, and as our view of the universe changes, the position of the Milky Way in our sky also shifts a little every night. The most spectacular part of the Milky Way, that area nearest the Galactic Core, is now almost entirely beneath the horizon after dark and we will see less of it each night until the return of “Milky Way season” next spring, when we will again be treated to more of the Core in the night sky.

I waited for months for a night when the Milky Way would rise from the horizon above the bend in the road at this spot. In my mind’s eye, the lines and curves of the road, the trees and the Milky Way would line up and interact interestingly, and, together with light painted in by passing cars, would make a good composition. And then, as so often happens, elements beyond my control intertwined with my own endeavors, with results that exceeded my expectations. I had planned to let passing cars bathe the scene with light but I could not control how they laid their strokes of light. I don’t think I could be happier with how it worked out, and again I thank the universe.

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