Jupiter, Clouds, And Wine-Thirty

I’m very fortunate to live in location that’s pretty good for shooting the night sky. It’s not totally dark; there are several streetlights nearby, as well as the lights from my neighbors. But it’s dark enough that I can see the Milky Way pretty well, and there are some decent mountain ridges and trees that make good foregrounds for night sky shots. So I always keep my camera and tripod ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Which is a good thing and a bad thing.

Jupiter and clouds in night sky

Jupiter shines through the clouds above my house in western North Carolina. Nikon D800, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, f/4, 20 seconds, ISO 1600.

The thing is, while the camera and tripod are always ready to go, I’m not. If I’m tired or hungry or have just poured a glass of wine, I’m not going to be too excited about going out and taking pictures, even if it is for a short period. And if I’m not into it, I’m liable to make mistakes.

Such was the case with this image. I saw these really cool cloud formations right at wine-thirty. I told Patricia the clouds were too good to pass up, even if it meant holding off on that glass of Cabernet, so I scooted up to the cemetery above my house and made a few quick shots.

Too quick, as it turned out. I was thinking too much about that wine and didn’t pay attention to the camera settings and shot everything in JPEG instead of RAW. Not the end of the world, as the JPEG file was still large enough to allow for a little post processing, but I sure would like to have this shot in RAW.

You want to hear the really crazy part? As I was shooting, I was telling myself that I was in too much of a hurry and ought to slow down and double-check all my settings. My brain knew exactly what I needed to do, but my stomach wouldn’t let me. I did actually check the settings before packing up the camera, but by that time the clouds had dissipated.

It had been close to 10 years since I mistakenly shot an image in JPEG instead of RAW. I’m sure I inadvertently changed the quality setting while I was fiddling with the dials in the dark.

The lesson is threefold. First, just because you’re not on an extended photo outing, it doesn’t give you a free pass on staying alert and making sure everything is in order. Second, even if you know every dial and button on your camera and can operate them in your sleep, you should always double check to make sure you set them properly. Third, and most important, bring the dang glass of wine with you so you aren’t rushing to get back to it!

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2 Responses to “Jupiter, Clouds, And Wine-Thirty”

  1. mayberryrf Says:

    Does your camera have custom menu settings so you can always just press one button to insure you are in your personal “default” settings?

    Also you can duplicate a potential jpeg wall hanger, then take both images into HDR, resulting in a 16 bit tiff file (no editing in HDR) which can then be imported into PS, LR, Aperture, for better editing.


  2. Kevin Adams Says:

    I don’t think it was a situation of the camera settings being wrong at the start. I think I just got in too much of a hurry while I was changing the settings (probably ISO) and inadvertantly changed from RAW to JPEG. I usually check the metadata on the LCD when I make blind changes at night, but obviously did not do so on this night.

    At least the wine was good!


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