Colorado Fall Color Travel Guide – 2017

Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake. Mid-morning. September 24, 2015.

Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake. Mid-morning. September 24, 2015.

Welcome to my Colorado fall color travel guide with over 100 pages of information (if you print it all out), 114 photos, and 17 maps. I cover some of the best known fall color locations in Colorado, and one real gem of a road that is mostly unknown to photographers and leaf peepers. Spend anywhere from a few days to three weeks exploring the beautiful Colorado Rockies at a gorgeous time of year.

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The Chinese Lens Rip Off Series – Overpriced Camera Phone Lenses

The ads show up on FaceBook all the time. They talk about wonderful lenses that will turn your smart phone into a camera that is better than a DSLR costing thousands of dollars. They brag about German engineering, a NASA optical formula, or the testing that proves their lenses are better than expensive lenses from Nikon, Zeiss, Leica, or Canon. The names of the companies change on a regular basis, but the scam is the same. Sad to say, a lot of people actually fall for this nonsense.

Posted Sep. 12, 2017. Updated Dec. 2, 2017.

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Chip East Reflects on the Last Photos of His Friend, Bill Biggart, Taken on 9/11

Photographer Chip East was staring intensely at his laptop screen.

It was two weeks after two jetliners had plowed into the towers of the World Trade Center. His good friend, photojournalist Bill Biggart’s body had been recovered from the rubble. His personal effects, including his cameras had been released by authorities to his widow, Wendy.

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Remembering 9/11


Photo by James Nachtwey for TIME magazine.

I will never forget staring at the screen. I was stunned. It was just a few moments after I got the phone call to turn on the TV. Then the second plane hit.

On this date, sixteen years ago, we experienced a great national tragedy in the United States. Not only in the lives that were lost in the terrorist attacks, the families torn asunder, and the emergency responders who suffered and continue to suffer terrible health problems as a result of working at the scene – but also in the way we view ourselves and our world. Over the last 12 months since 9/11/2016, 33 more first responders died of health issues related to 9/11.

In remembrance of that day, and to honor the lives that were lost, I am posting some tributes.

Sunspots as the Solar Eclipse Ended

Sunspots at the end of the solar eclipse. Click for a larger version.

One of the treats of the Great American Eclipse was the abundance of sunspots. They slowly disappeared as the moon moved in front of the sun, and reappeared as the moon continued on its journey.

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Solar Flares During the Total Eclipse

Solar flares on the sun’s western and southwestern limb. Click for a larger version.

It was my goal to capture the sun’s corona during totality of the solar eclipse, but I was not expecting solar flares. That was a happy accident because there just happened to be giant solar eruptions on the sun’s western limb during the eclipse. Continue reading

The Sun’s Corona During Eclipse Totality

The Sun’s Corona during a total eclipse. The star Regulus is to the left. Click for a larger version.

Totality of an eclipse is an extraordinary and never to be forgotten experience. It is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. The eclipse glasses come off and people are rapt in wonder. Where I was, everyone and everything went silent. When totality ended as the sun emerged a cheer went up and there was spontaneous applause. It is no small wonder people get eclipse fever and are already planning for the next eclipse in 2024.

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The Great American Eclipse Series

Solar flares at the beginning of totality. Click for a larger version.

The Great American Eclipse will cross the United States August 21, 2017. This is the best total solar eclipse in the U.S. in 38 years. This series of articles is your guide to the best information about the eclipse.

Originally posted June 26, 2017. Updated periodically and re-posted July 25 and August 20. Most recent update: September 5, 2017. There are now 42 articles in this series. The most important articles are indicated below.

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August 19: Eclipse Cloud Prediction from the Washington Post

It is looking iffy in the hinterland right now, but don’t give up all hope just yet. The Washington Post says their overall forecast confidence is “medium” two days ahead of the big event. The confidence level will go up as we get closer to the eclipse. They are posting a new prediction every day. If you have a flexible schedule you can still change your eclipse travel plans to head to a less cloudy place. That is my plan. This will be my last update of the Washington Post eclipse forecast.

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Keeping Track of Eclipse Weather at Multiple Possible Locations

The August 21 forecast for four prime eclipse cities as of 2 pm August 16, 2017.

If you have the flexibility to travel to any of several prime eclipse locations it is getting harder and harder to keep track of the eclipse weather and make a final location decision. The forecast is changing daily for several locations. My process for making a final location decision might be helpful to you as you make your final eclipse plans.

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The Field of View Crop in DSLRs

Image circle with full frame and cropped sensor marks.

The sensors in many digital SLRs (DSLRs) are smaller than a full frame digital sensor which is about the size of 35mm film (24x36mm). When a lens that was originally designed for a full frame digital sensor is put on a cropped sensor camera body, the field of view is different. The image created looks like the focal length of the lens has been magnified so this is sometimes called the “magnification factor”.  A 100mm lens on a digital camera with a 1.6x magnification factor produces an image that looks like a 160mm lens on a “full frame” DSLR or 35mm film camera.

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August 14 Update: Safe Eclipse Glasses, Binoculars, and Solar Filters

SUNoculars (solar binoculars) and Mini SUNoculars from Great American Eclipse.

Most vendors of safe, approved eclipse glasses, binoculars, and solar filters are out of stock, but there are a few left. Links to buy them follow.

Update August 19. As of 10 am today (EDT) the only item in this article that you can still order is eclipse glasses from Lunt Solar Systems and fulfilled by Amazon. Unfortunately they can not be delivered until August 21 which could be after the eclipse is over. If you want to try anyway: Order here. Choose “Available from these sellers” and then choose Lunt Solar Systems. Lunt Solar Systems is on the list of AAS approved vendors.

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State by State Eclipse Totality Maps

Totality Map 1 – Oregon

Eclipse totality maps from Oregon to South Carolina. If you have to make some big changes in your preferred eclipse location based on last minute weather changes, you will need a quick way to find an alternate location. These maps will be a big help. Just stay between the red lines and the closer you are to the blue line the longer totality will last. Click each map for a larger version.

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Be Careful When Buying Eclipse Materials! Amazon Changes Links from Safe, AAS Approved Vendors to Non-Approved Vendors.

The “Sold By” line at Amazon. AgenaAstro is on the AAS list of approved, reputable vendors.

This is not good. Amazon takes links that used to take you companies on the AAS list of safe approved, reputable vendors of eclipse materials, and switches them to companies that are not on the AAS approved list. This is dangerous for your eyes.

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