Eileen Mandell, June 2-5, 2016, Night Sky Photography & Stampede

Night Sky Photography and Stampede Action

The Poly Photo Club joined Eileen Mandell for her 3rdnight sky photography workshop at the ranch. The sun was setting as we drove south, and cameras were at the ready to catch the blazing colors bathing the inland valley.

We spent Friday exploring the wine country, Valle Guadalupe, which always offers plenty of photo opportunities. We headed to the quiet streets of San Antonio de las Minas, a former gold mining area in the valley. After shooting the old adobes in El Porvenir, we visited Vena Cava and L.A. Cetto wineries to wrap up the afternoon on their lovely grounds.

Friday evening we enjoyed a delicious carne asada dinner. After dinner, Eileen held a meeting under the stars to help the photo students set up their tripods, measure the light, and make sure they had the proper settings ready for the brilliant night sky.

Saturday was spent at the ranch and the photographers passed the morning capturing the soft light in the canyon, the horses, cattle, chickens, sheep and dogs, the vintage tack, and the traditional architecture of the ranch buildings and cabins.

That afternoon, Raul and Gabriel rounded up the horses – about 25 of them – for a special event. Stationing the photographers on a flatbed truck for safety, the horses were stampeded within feet of them many times for some amazing live action shots; cameras were blazing. And the results were stunning!

I captured the artists getting their shots.  Eileen later showed one of her action photos in the annual Equine show in Del Mar, CA

As day turned to evening, we all enjoyed chiles rellenos by candlelight in the dining room Saturday night. After dinner, we prepared for a very special activity of our photography weekend.

Almost every evening Rancho La Bellota offers very dark skies and excellent star gazing, and Friday and Saturday nights the photographers brought out their big lenses to capture the moon setting over the canyon hillsides, star trails, and star clusters invisible to the naked eye. Our minds were expanded to ponder the infinite depth of space, and how much we miss from our city-based and light-filled perspectives.

Sunday we took a leisurely horseback ride before a delicious brunch, then reluctantly began to pack up to head home. With so many shots to download and view, I know the photographers were looking forward to seeing exactly what their lenses had captured. I’m looking forward to adding more photos to this post as they become available. Watch this space, and check our Facebook page for updates!

Our May Photography Workshop was a hit on so many levels, it’s hard to pick a favorite activity; but for me, I’d have to say it was seeing the photograph Eileen took of the Milky Way. Thanks, Eileen for capturing the moment.



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