(ATREX) Mission:Night Shinning Tracer Clouds over the East Coast, Thanks NASA!

(ATREX) Mission Chemical Tracers - March 27th, 2012 @ 5:13am

(ATREX) Mission : Chemical Tracers - March 27th, 2012 @ 5:13am

After weeks of delays from Mother Nature it happen….. 5 rockets in 5 minutes!  The launch began just before 5am starting a onslought of rockets and chemical trails in the upper most part of our atmosphere. I spent a lot of time driving around and staying up late at night the last couple of weeks, it all paid off this morning with a successful launch from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. I didn’t have the time this week like last week, so I couldn’t make another 400 mile roundtrip, over-nighter this week. I had some great spots less than 20  miles from the Wallops Flight Facility I “scouted” in earlier weeks…like the photo below.

ATREX Launch attempt Location 3

ATREX Launch attempt Location 3

On earlier launch attempts I had traveled hundreds of miles to get into great locations within 20 miles from Wallops Island. This was my “secret” spot that I had planned to photograph the launch from. If it wasn’t for a boat, I would have had it last Friday morning, but luck wasn’t on my side that night. Imagine this picture with  glowing eerie clouds piercing through  the sky in the early hours before dawn. I can’t help but to beat myself up, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  I am just happy that I was able be a witness to the spectacle.  Here are some other shots from some failed attempts as well as a few more from this morning.

18 miles from Wallops Island, last Friday morning,

 ARTEX Dolphins

 It was a great ride the last 2 weeks and I can’t wait for another launch.. I hope next time NASA launches 12 rockets in 12 minutes! Keep your eyes to the sky, you never know what you may find. 

Cheers-

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Quadrantids Meteor Shower 2012: PART II : Looking Back

Most people think that being a landscape photographer is all fun and games. Well, if it were that easy everybody would be doing it, right? I can honestly say that I enjoy every second that I am outside in nature with my camera. My goal is to make you see and feel the beauty and power of mother nature is her most unguarded moment.

Key Momentum

Key Momentum

If I am able to inspire just one person  to care about our planet, oceans, rivers, weather,  night skies, landscapes and national parks , than I would say I am doing my “job”.  I have received an overwhelming amount of feedback from the 2012 Quadrantid’s and it’s a blessing. I wanted to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on my 2012 Quadrantid Meteor Shower post. I couldn’t have asked for a better response.  I will be responding to comments and emails for the next week or two , so don’t worry I will be answer all of your questions!
 
I will be running a photographic workshops in April for the Lyrid Meteor Shower. If  you are interested in joining this workshop,  please contact me through my website at
 
 
Many Thanks and Best Wishes-  
 
Jeff Berkes
 
 
 
 

“Islands in Autumn” – Orionid Meteor Shower 2011

The meteor shower was a sucess! The clouds gave way granting me a grand view of the night sky. The Photo I took here “Islands in Autumn”

Orionid Meteor Shower 2011. As Seen on MSN, Spaceweather and Space.com

has been making it’s way around town lately.

Here is what I wrote Alan Doyle  @ MSN:

I also gave Alan Doyle some information about the picture  at MSN  (  http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/10/24/8470300-catch-a-falling-star-and-fall-colors ).   

Update for 11:30 p.m. ET: In an email, Jeff Berkes provides further details about how he captured that amazing image:

“I left my house in West Chester, Pa., shortly after midnight and arrived at French Creek State Park in southeastern Pennsylvania around 1 a.m. on October 22. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a crystal clear sky and a moody fog rolling off the lake. I was outside for only a couple of minutes before I saw my first Orionid meteor. I knew right then it was going to be a great night. The moon beginning its ascent around 2:15 a.m. worried me a bit, but the Orionids were flying high and bright. It was 3:27 a.m. when I captured this image, my first Orionid shot of the morning. I stayed up all night while taking over 500 photos and counted close to 30 meteors. I even had enough energy from a Wawa blueberry muffin to continue shooting through sunrise, before taking the 45-minute drive home at 9 a.m.

“I used a technique called ‘light painting’ to illuminate the foreground subjects in this shot. This is where I use a high-powered flashlight to light up objects up to 1,000 feet away. I spent the first 30 minutes checking out different angles before settling on this location. I usually do not like shooting directly into the moon when shooting meteors; however, with it being very low and behind the trees, it was not a problem for this bright meteor to burn itself into my sensor. Light pollution for once actually helped me out here by adding some flavor to the horizon and separating the trees from the sky. Around 2 a.m., I anchored my tripod along the water’s edge facing out over the lake, while the constellation Orion was rising higher off my right shoulder in the southeastern sky. I fixed the exposure time for the flashlight and then started popping off shots until I eventually captured one of these majestic meteors.”

Berkes used a Nikon D3 camera with a 17mm lens. ISO: 800. Exposure: 25 seconds at f/2.8.””

cont…

Now some will say “better the camera,  better the pictures”.  Well, in some respect maybee, but it’s combination of lens choice, camera settings and exposure times, not to mention the composition and thought process put into a single photograph. I planned to shoot there one month in advance. I actually found FIVE  locations with 150 miles just in case weather was an issue, so there was lots of planning and researching involved. I have been shooting at night since I was teenager in the mid- 90’s, so I have had a good amount of experience with using ligting techniques at night like “light painting” which I used to illuminate the foreground. The #1 thing I had here was lucky and some patience. The best meteors I saw that night never crossed my lens.. or my lense was processing the last image and I could shoot. (I need a back-up)

I find a great deal of peace at night. Maybee it’s the beauty of the stars shinning overhead or the the sound of night. I’m not sure, I just have something in me that wants get out capture nature at it’s most exciting moment. Tornado, lightning, blizzard , wildfire or the center of our galaxy…  photographing landscapes at night is my blank canvas as a photographer, I can create almost anything I want.

Here is another photo from that morning.

Orionid Meteor over French Creek State Park

 I also photographed the Nothern Lights the night MSN published the article about my “falling star” and was published 2 times in one day on MSN. In case you didn’t see the great pictures from everywhere, check them out here! http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/10/25/8474218-northern-lights-go-way-way-south

Here is the only shot I could really get.. I was in such a rush to leave that I left my tripod mount on my 70-200mm lens at home! I used my sweatshirt as a “nest”  for my camera and I took shots from on top of the basket on my SUV!  Hey it worked!  Thanks Drew, for giving me the “I forgot my tripod for a nighttime assignment” in class.

Northern Lights in Chester County, PA!