About jcarpenter

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So far jcarpenter has created 82 blog entries.

Napili Bay Sunset


After finishing our family portraits at Napili Bay on our recent vacation to Maui (post to follow later after editing), we stuck around for a bit for sunset. Not the most amazing sunset, but it's pretty hard to beat taking seascape photos in shorts compared to cold California water. It's been a long time since [...]

Napili Bay Sunset2024-03-21T18:31:19-08:00

Orion Nebula


In my never ending quest for continuous improvement, here is my latest (and first decent) attempt at photographing the Orion Nebula. Just a tad bit better from my first attempt 3 years ago. I've been fighting with clouds and the moon all month, but I did manage to get a few nights of good data. [...]

Orion Nebula2023-12-13T09:08:37-08:00

Nolan Turns 3


They say astrophotography is the hardest/most technical form of photography there is, but I think children photography (especially your own) is way more difficult. It was a somewhat last minute planned shoot so we would have photos before his 3rd birthday, but I am still happy with the results. This age really is the best. [...]

Nolan Turns 32023-11-13T09:26:37-08:00

Horsehead Nebula


I've wanted to photograph this since I first started, but between my lack of skill and not the right camera, I haven't been able to until now. It is only 10 hours of integration, so I definitely need to add more time. Overall, I am super excited with the result! Lights: 10 total hours (Ha, [...]

Horsehead Nebula2023-11-10T12:49:08-08:00



I’ll probably end up adding more integration time to this one (and edit 20 more times), but I am impressed with how detailed it turned out with just 12 hours from a bortle 7 sky and 50% moon! Lights: 12 total hours (Ha, L, R, G, B) Darks: 30 x 120 second exposures 30 flat [...]


Bubble Nebula and Lobster Claw Nebula


Venturing out a bit from some of the more common targets I might typically shoot, I decided to shoot the lobster claw and bubble nebula. Luckily it is in just the right spot where I could get 6 hours each night. Lights: 24 total hours of Ha, OIII and SII (600 second subs) Darks: 10 [...]

Bubble Nebula and Lobster Claw Nebula2023-09-11T12:07:56-08:00

Photo Critique from Nebula Photos


Wow, such an honor to have Nico Carver of Nebula Photos critique my photo of the Elephant Trunk Nebula (along with an astonishing 359 other photos)! Crazy amount of dedication this guy has to the astrophotography community. I even got featured as the second photo in on the YouTube thumbnail. If you have 9+ hours [...]

Photo Critique from Nebula Photos2023-08-23T13:48:17-08:00

Veil Nebula


Lights: 16+ total hours of Ha and OIII Darks: 10 x 600 second exposures 30 flat and 30 bias exposures Camera: ZWO ASI1600MM Pro Telescope: Sky Watcher Esprit 100 Guiding: 50mm f/3.8 and ASI120MM Mini Computer: ASIAIR Plus Mount: Sky Watcher EQ6-R Pro Power: Jackery 240 Processing: PixInsight, BlurXTerminator, StarXTerminator, NoiseXTerminator and Photoshop

Veil Nebula2023-08-18T09:10:52-08:00



Since my brother (and his father-in-law) moved across the country, we decided to meet halfway in Colorado for our annual Father's Day camping trip. It wasn't the best weather conditions for the camera gear I packed, but still a fun time making memories with my family. Here are just a few photos from Dream Lake, [...]


Spring Newborn


Our good friends recently had a baby girl, who I offered to take photos of. Not my usual style of photography, but it feels good doing something nice for them. A ton of credit to her parents and my wife for doing most of the hard work to make this a success.

Spring Newborn2023-04-16T14:49:53-08:00

Ernest E. Tschannen Science Complex at Sacramento State


I realized that I never posted this photo of the Ernest E. Tschannen Science Complex at Sacramento State. Not the best vantage point to show off the planetarium dome, but otherwise I think it turned out pretty good.

Ernest E. Tschannen Science Complex at Sacramento State2023-03-09T12:27:51-08:00

Rosette Nebula


Man, after way too many months of clouds, rain, being gone, etc. during new moons, I finally got some clear nights to shoot the Rosette Nebula in the famous SHO Hubble palette. Lights: 12+ total hours of SII, Ha, OIII and 10 x 30 seconds of R, G, B for the stars Darks: 10 x [...]

Rosette Nebula2023-01-22T11:30:38-08:00

California Nebula


Although not my longest integration time for an astro photo, this was probably my most complicated to compile as it was my first 2 panel mosaic taken over multiple nights with multiple filters. A lot to line up! I'm thrilled with the rainbow-esque colors I was able to achieve by really pushing the OIII data. [...]

California Nebula2022-10-03T13:23:24-08:00

Andromeda Galaxy


We spent 3 nights camping under Bottle 2 skies at Plasse's Resort at Silver Lake. Our campsite was probably the worst from a camping standpoint being in full sun during 90 degree days, but it was perfect for astrophotography. I ran into some issues with the ASIAIR app on the first night when it only [...]

Andromeda Galaxy2022-08-17T14:17:25-08:00

Cygnus Wall


This is a closeup of the Cygnus Wall (or Mexico) in the North America Nebula. I shot a wider field of view of the North America Nebula when I first started this hobby. I guess you can say I've made some improvements since then! This photo contains just over 15 hours worth of data all shot [...]

Cygnus Wall2022-08-17T14:17:32-08:00

Tahoe Blue Vodka – New Bottle


These new bottles from Tahoe Blue Vodka have been in the works for quite awhile. I've been helping with test photos throughout the process to help them determine a final design that is as appealing in person as it is through photos. These ones definitely grab your attention more than the previous design and really [...]

Tahoe Blue Vodka – New Bottle2022-06-21T07:52:07-08:00

Eagle Nebula


You know that photo NASA took back in the '90s with the Hubble telescope called the Pillars of Creation? Well, that iconic photo was the first photo to get me interested in space. This is my first attempt photographing the Eagle Nebula, which if you look closely, features the pillars in the center. I ended [...]

Eagle Nebula2022-08-17T14:17:49-08:00

Pismo Beach


The family and I finally took an actual vacation (since the kids were on Spring Break). We decided to go down to Pismo Beach for a couple days. The weather was a bit cold, but everyone had a great time. I was able to sneak away for an evening at Shell Beach to explore some [...]

Pismo Beach2022-05-09T11:53:28-08:00

Dylan Turns 7


Happy birthday to my second child, Dylan, who is now 7 years old! We ran down to Springview Johnson Park in Rocklin and used the same piece of railroad we found last fall when we did Nolan's birthday photos. It had been moved slightly since then, but was setup with the bridge nicely in the [...]

Dylan Turns 72022-05-09T11:53:56-08:00

Rosette Nebula


Having shot most of the beginner winter astrophotography targets already, the famous Rosette Nebula was next. The major accomplishment on this one was the fact that it includes over 8 hours of integration from multiple nights.  

Rosette Nebula2022-08-17T14:17:58-08:00

California Nebula


Although this is a winter target for me, it seems very fitting of what California looks like in the summer... on fire! I finally feel like I am making decent progress with this very difficult niche of photography. From an image capture standpoint, I've made a lot of errors, but continue to learn from them [...]

California Nebula2022-08-17T14:18:04-08:00

Orion’s Belt


This composition of Orion's Belt, that includes the Orion and Horsehead nebulae, has been on my "to-do" list ever since I got into astrophotography. I've shot them each individually, but I really wanted to get them in a single shot for ease of processing, printing, etc. For this, I used my 275mm Radian Raptor and [...]

Orion’s Belt2022-08-17T14:18:12-08:00

Horsehead Nebula


We finally had some nights without clouds and rain, that coincided with a new moon, which gave me the opportunity to shoot the Horsehead Nebula sitting in Orion's Belt. By no means is it award winning, but I'm happy with the progress I'm making. This is 20 x 5 minute exposures with dark and flat [...]

Horsehead Nebula2022-08-17T14:18:19-08:00



Like most people, I've had a lot more time at home recently than I'd probably like. Add to that a baby that doesn't like sleeping through the night and you get the perfect recipe for astrophotography. I mean, what better use of time in the middle of the night do you have? The 3 photos [...]


Bodie Ghost Town


Another project completed for Catalyst Builders, HMA Architecture and FiveWest Interiors. This team always seems to knock it out of the park. It was a difficult home to photograph due the steep hillside it sits on, but I was able to make it work with a very tall tripod and tilt shift lens.

Bodie Ghost Town2021-10-14T07:06:57-08:00

DGS O Street Office Building


The company I work for, Valley Communications, performed the structured cabling, security management systems and audio visual systems on this new Dept. of General Services building at 1215 O Street in Sacramento. This was a last minute shoot as we needed the photo ASAP for a marketing piece. Rather than spend 10 hours cloning out [...]

DGS O Street Office Building2021-07-28T07:08:08-08:00

Lakes Basin


Another great Father's Day in the books. My brother just moved out to Tennessee, but he and his 2 kids flew back out to keep the tradition alive. We ended up camping at Goose Lake and then doing a day hike to Long Lake nearby. This photo is from Big Bear Lake on the way [...]

Lakes Basin2021-06-24T13:05:41-08:00

RAD Radio


When my wife was pregnant with our 3rd son, she got horrible heart burn at night and couldn't sleep. After trying everything under the sun to help her (us) sleep, she found pickle juice of all things. Since we were buying pickles by the pallet just for the juice I was reminded that the good [...]

RAD Radio2021-05-17T08:39:25-08:00

Rustic Modern


Wow, this rustic modern home was an absolute joy to photograph. All the dark interior wood floors and trim definitely made it a challenge to light though. This was shot for Catalyst Builders, FiveWest Interiors and Donald Joseph Architect. I was really hoping for a fresh blanket of snow for the exterior, but I seem [...]

Rustic Modern2020-12-16T08:29:33-08:00

Donner Summit


I was on my way to Truckee to shoot 3 houses when I came upon this beautiful scene right after passing over the summit. This is just a handheld panorama from the vista point coming into Truckee. The fresh snow, thick fog and pastel sunrise were just too good to pass up.

Donner Summit2020-11-30T13:04:43-08:00

Rocklin Newborn


I'd like to welcome my 3rd son, Nolan, to this world! For this photo, I used a rusty steel background I already had and then built a little bed out of barn wood that is sitting on a small cowhide. Really going for that rustic theme on this one.

Rocklin Newborn2020-11-23T19:09:10-08:00

Classic Mountain


I had the pleasure of shooting this beautiful home for Catalyst Builders and HMA Architecture. It is located in the always beautiful Schaffer's Mill in Truckee. I had to deal with a ton of smoke from the forest fires nearby, but overall made it work.

Classic Mountain2020-09-22T17:13:36-08:00

Orion Nebula


I've always been fascinated by the stars since as far back as I can remember. I've done star trail and milky way photography before, but am now just getting into deep sky astrophotography. It's a little tough from the light polluted skies in my backyard (Bortle class 7), but waiting for a moonless night with [...]

Orion Nebula2022-08-17T14:18:52-08:00

Silver Lake


It's been a long time since I've been out taking landscape photos with all this shelter in place stuff, working harder and more than ever, etc. With all that, the family and I took a short camping trip to Silver Lake to escape the heat in the valley. The trip was full of ups and [...]

Silver Lake2020-07-26T16:56:35-08:00

Most Potent Powders


I recently completed some product photography of supplements for Most Potent and now finished shooting the various ingredients for displaying on their website. It was actually quite tricky to shoot as I had to get the powder in a somewhat uniform pattern on glass so I could have the background below easy to swap out [...]

Most Potent Powders2020-06-29T07:39:02-08:00

6×17 Panoramic Film


Since I've been diving deeper into the film photography world, I knew it was time to try 6x17 panoramic film. The dedicated cameras for that format are rediculously expensive, so I sought out other options. I was able to find a company out of Italy that uses a 3D printer to make the camera that [...]

6×17 Panoramic Film2020-03-26T16:53:20-08:00



I wasn’t quite sure how to make shooting large format film more hipster-ish until I found out I could develop film with coffee instead of regular photo developer! I sort of stumbled upon Caffenol by accident when I was researching alternative developers because I wasted a few sheets of film learning that my developer had [...]


No Hands Bridge


Whenever I get a free afternoon/evening and don't have much time to travel far, I usually head up to Auburn to take some photos along the river. The river was really low, which made some new rocks appear that I've never seen before. I found a cool hole worn away in the rock that reminded [...]

No Hands Bridge2019-11-28T20:42:23-08:00

Northstar Residence


Sometimes you just get perfect light for the twilight exteriors. The sun was setting behind me and behind a bank of pink clouds, which helped add a nice pink soft light to the entire scene. This home in Northstar was shot for Catalyst Builders and Donald Joseph. This was my first time back to Northstar [...]

Northstar Residence2019-10-20T07:20:50-08:00

Napa Farmhouse


I had the extreme pleasure of shooting this newly finished home in Auburn that was inspired by many of the farmhouses throughout the Napa area. I love when I get the opportunity to work with a builder (Landmark Builders), architect (HMA Architecture) and interior designer (Pepperjack Interiors) on a shoot to create a cohesive set [...]

Napa Farmhouse2019-08-07T12:14:47-08:00

Large Format Film: Sierra Buttes


While on my weekend getaway to the Sierra Buttes, I shot a handful of sheets of 4x5 film. Since I mostly focused on shooting digital, I didn't get peak light on film. Though the vibrancy of Velvia was ridiculous even without amazing colors in the sky. Here is a black and white photo of sunrise [...]

Large Format Film: Sierra Buttes2019-08-02T08:29:45-08:00

Sierra Buttes


I try to visit the Sierra Buttes at least once every year. It is by far my favorite “local” spot to visit for the amazing scenery and relatively small crowds that visit. For nearly 10 years, I’ve tried photographing these mountains at sunrise, sunset, midnight, winter, etc. and never really come away with a photo [...]

Sierra Buttes2019-06-30T18:43:57-08:00

Winchester Country Club: Lot 317


Here are a handful of shots I did for HMA Architecture of a modern home in Winchester Country Club. Out of the nearly 40 final shots I provided to the client, none of them required any Photoshop, HDR processing, flash fill lighting, etc. All edits were done with a single RAW file in Lightroom. Gotta [...]

Winchester Country Club: Lot 3172019-06-25T12:01:13-08:00

Shealor Lakes


For our annual Father’s Day backpacking trip, we visited Shealor Lakes just off of Highway 88 near Kirkwood. It was a fairly short hike in terms of distance, but had a decent amount of elevation change considering my little one wasn’t much help with carrying his own pack. I’m guessing I was carrying close to [...]

Shealor Lakes2019-06-17T07:33:41-08:00

Scripps Pier


Apparently we planned our vacation to San Diego right when the sun lines up with the Scripps Pier in La Jolla at sunset, which explains why I made sure to avoid the crowds and come at sunrise. Here are a few early morning shots from under the pier (when the light didn't cooperate nearly as [...]

Scripps Pier2019-05-15T07:45:01-08:00

La Jolla


My wife had a work conference (free hotel) in "sunny" San Diego, so I took a mini vacation with her and the kids. It was overcast most of the trip and actually fairly cold/windy. On one of the nights she had off, I had the choice of visiting Ballast Point Brewing or doing some photography. [...]

La Jolla2019-05-07T19:18:40-08:00

Fair Oaks Bridge


Here it is, the 5th and final bridge shot, Fair Oaks Bridge. The others from the series being No Hands Bridge, Rainbow Bridge, Tower Bridge and Guy West Bridge. This was surprisingly the hardest bridge to shoot out of all 5 of them. I took multiple trips here looking at the bridge from every angle, [...]

Fair Oaks Bridge2019-04-07T05:30:19-08:00
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