View from Pier 14 San Francisco

tpe screen shot

TPE Screen Shot

Comet Chasing

My son called. He wanted to go photograph the comet Pan Starrs with me. Not ever shooting astronomy thingies I didn’t know what to expect and I knew it would be an adventure. We used the iPhone app TPE that I talked about last week on my blog post about shooting the full moon to find a cool place to shoot. The idea was to have the Golden Gate bridge in the foreground. Using TPE we quickly learned that if we simply drive out to Treasure Island, in the middle of the bay, we would be in a perfect location.  In the screen shot here of TPE, the orange line shows the bearing of the setting sun and the blue line os the setting moon. You can see that the sun sets smack in the middle of the GG bridge from this location.  Perfect!  As a bonus, Alcatraz Island is positioned perfectly so, under the right weather conditions, this is a stunning composition.

There were clouds

There was wind and it was cold.  Mai used her iPhone to grab this really cool shot of David and me setting up the telescope and tripods. What a stunning shot!  It’s one of those timeless classic photos of Dad & Son.  She has always has a great eye to craft images like this.

david and dad comet chasing

David and me setting up.Photo by Mai Vu

Even though it turned out to be a bit cloudy, we were able to see the comet for about 5 minutes as it decended from behind some clouds into a clear spot before dipping into the fog bank shrouding the Golden Gate bridge. The comet isn’t big enough to include it into the scene I was visualizing. It is a tiny dim fuzzball of light. We just  zoomed on and got a nice shot if it next to the thin crescent moon.  This is David’s shot of the comet last night.

comet pann stars

Click to enlarge. Comet is left of the moon.Photo by David Cuddeback


After Mai and I dropped David at his apartment in San Francisco we went down to the Embarcadero to check out the new light show affixed to the Bay Bridge. It’s an artwork that was turned on last week and will be displayed for the next two years. It’s very cool and I grabbed a video of it for you to enjoy. I took some stills and even stitched two into a pano, but video is really the best.  The lights dance and move all the time in response to tides, wind and whatever else the artist programmed in.  I think I heard that there are about 250,000 LED lights on the bridge cabels and those moving patterns are always very interesting to watch.  In this video the moving lights look like fish swimming.

By now we were cold and tired. I still wanted to go photograph the rocket ship by the Ferry Building.  Mai nicely indulged me to shoot it and then we walked out onto Pier 41 next to the Ferry Building.  At the end of the pier I sat and  took the self portrait above. It was a full evening.

David tells me that there is another comet heading this way later in the year and it is predicted to be much brighter. I’m glad we went out to practice on this one so next time I’ll be more prepared to get a great shot.

Swimming LED Lights on Bay Bridge

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