A Winter Day Kayaking and AstroPhotograph'ing at Elkhorn Slough

Dec 28, 2008

My friend Viktoria and I spent the day kayaking among the otters, seals and birds of Elkhorn Slough, enjoyed a seafood dinner, and then some time on the beach photographing the "Son of the Great Conjunction" as the 2% cresent moon made a close passage by Mercury with Jupiter above.

Viktoria, happy enough to break into song?

Viktoria heads to this abandoned ranch for a lunch break

We found an amazing range of bird species, wintering over here at this, the largest estuary on the west coast.

This egret got spooked by my approach

a Great Blue Heron waits for prey

This, I think, is your basic gull

These little birds played musical chairs as I paddled by, even though there were more posts than birds, they fought for position on their favorites

Picking through the mud for lunch

These pelicans look fat and happy

After a seafood dinner at Phil's, we walked to the nearby beach where I photographed Jupiter, and the moon underneath Mercury among the clouds

Venus is bright at top; Merury is fainter, just above the large cloud at center, and the moon is just stating to peek out from the bottom of this same cloud.

2 sec at ISO 200 f/3.5, Dimage A1

3 sec, at maximum zoom

One more, before moonset

The following night, back in Santa Cruz, I took some more pictures from the bluffs looking west towards the main beach and the wharf. It was the first astro photo for the new Nikon D40. Unlike the Dimage A1, the colors from the D40 are vastly more realistic and beautiful at low light levels.

10 sec f/4 ISO 200, with Nikon D40.