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Light Painting Event in Half Moon Bay

Light Painting Event in Half Moon Bay

July 17 and 18

Click here to see and download your drawings from the “Pay it Forward” art project . (Pictures are now up! Thank you for playing.)

Click here to view my new Light Drawing video course for free on Skillshare.


Trombone portrait
Trombone portrait
In association with Coastal Arts Enterprises
and produced by Lainey Sainte Marie,

we will be light painting portraits and light drawing live on Friday evening , July 17 from 4 pm to 9 pm and again on Saturday afternoon, July 18 from 12 noon to 5 pm. Free! 

Come play with us and create some unique photographic art. Images will be uploaded to Flickr the next day and available for download, again for free! We supply the lights, camera and action.

We will be at the Coastal Arts Museum (at Zaballa Square)

300 Main St., Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

Three faces, light painted
Tai of a different color

Paint a portrait or draw from your imagination!

light drawn horse image
running horse

Contact me here for more information.

After the Pumpkin Festival

I had a great time at Half Moon Bay’s Pumpkin Festival this year. Thanks to Made on the Coast supporting local artists, I had a booth selling my photographs on Main Street which provided an opportunity to meet so many people and get some exposure.

If you asked about up coming projects, here are a few links.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse Projection Event

PPLS projection test-1

Saturday, November 15th is the annual celebration of the first lighting in 1872 and they normally have activities and music during the day. Since the Fresnel lens was removed in 2011, they no longer light the original lamp, an event that attracted thousands of people. This year I will be projecting images of the coastside and past lightings onto the lighthouse to bring back some of that experience and raise awareness of the restoration challenges. Look to the lighthouse as it gets dark. Read more about the lighthouse here.

This event is made possible through a generous grant from the Made on the Coast Emerging Artist program and the Half Moon Bay Beautification Committee.

Coastside Photographers Meet Up Group

Coastside Photographers is 200 strong and rich with fun loving photographers looking to share photo walks and expertise with anyone with a camera. We meet primarily along the San Mateo County Coast at various times each month. Check out our web page for future and past meets at Coastside Photographers.

Photography Classes

In association with the Half Moon Bay Parks and Rec, I teach Basic and Intermediate photography classes. Check my schedule in the current Activity Guide here. Watch for a special 3 night class in January dedicated to Night Photography and Light Painting.

Johnston House Light Show

On Tuesday, October 7 at about 6:30 pm, at the Johnston House, join me, just after sunset, for a projection presentation of historic images, Galen Wolf paintings and photos from around the San Mateo County Coast.

johnston house-3
Historic photo of the Johnston House projected onto the Johnston House.

The Johnston House is located at 110 Higgins-Purisma Road, here in Half Moon Bay, CA.

The weather is looking good to view a great sunset on the ocean (about 6:45 pm) and, about 10 minutes later, a full moon rise behind the Johnston House.

Johnston House Moon Rise
Full moon rises behind the Johnston House

As it gets dark,  I will begin a video presentation on the front of the Johnston House, showing photos of the Johnston House juxtaposed from the past and present.

There will also be photos of Galen Wolf paintings, an artist that documented life in San Mateo County in the 1930s and photos I have taken on the Coastside.

Oxalis Field
Oxalis Field photo projected onto the Johnston House

Bring your camera and a flashlight and something to sit on, if you like.

After the presentation, I will attempt to perform some light drawing which will also be projected onto the house.

This is a free event! Bring your friends and family! See you there!

This event is made possible by Made On The Coast, The Half Moon Bay Beautification Committee, The Johnston House Foundation and presented by me, Stuart Nafey.

Made on the Coast

Full Moon Rising – August 30 Photo Op


Weather permitting – always a consideration in Half Moon Bay – I am inviting camera folk to join me in photographing the near full moon rising behind the Johnston House on Thursday, August 30. I plan to be setup by 7:00pm and expect the moon to appear by 7:25 and the sun setting at 7:40.


The Photographer’s Ephemeris tells me to be near the intersection of Main Street and Higgins Canyon Road looking east toward the house.

Camera Tips

The moon is no larger on the horizon than it is when directly overhead. In order to increase the perceived size of the moon, you photograph it along side a landmark, from a distance and with a long lens, zooming in as much as you can to frame the picture. I have a 70-300mm lens but will be using my 70-200mm instead. It is a higher quality lens that gives me sharper pictures. More megapixels in your camera helps when cropping to retain a high resolution photograph. I use a Nikon D7000 with 16MP but have taken decent photos with the 10MP D80.


Exposure is a bit tricky. You might think that an evening shot would require a wider aperture or a slower shutter speed, but the moon can be very bright in a dark sky and to retain crater detail, an under exposed picture (according to the camera’s light meter) might be best.

The picture below was taken with the D80 and the 70-300mm lens at 100 ISO, f/8.0 aperture and 1/50 shutter speed. The original picture was both under exposed for the house and hills and a bit overexposed for the moon and the sky. I then, using Lightroom,  lightened the bottom half and darkened the sky which brought out details in both. Bracketing your exposure and layering via HDR should improve that process.

moon rise over the Johnston House
A near full moon rising behind the Johnston House, Half Moon Bay, CA

Some folks suggest starting at f/16 with a shutter speed equal to your ISO setting. Those are fast shutter speeds, but use a tripod anyway. And be ready to manually adjust your settings, as the moon rises quickly. In the bay area, the earth is spinning around 818 mph which give you only a few minutes to catch a shot like this.

But the Full Moon is on Friday

It sure is. Those pesky mountains block our view of the horizon and, in this case, the moon doesn’t appear until 26 minutes after the actual rise. Since the sun sets as the moon rises, by the time we see it, the sun is long gone. By shooting the day before the fullness, you can get some of that golden hour sunset light on the Johnston House and less extreme contrast in your exposure.

Update: Local SF and nocturnal photographer Phil McGrew suggests the “Lunar 11” rule. Start with an f stop of 11 and a shutter speed the same as your ISO setting, similar to the “Sunny 16” rule which is to start with f/16 and shutter speed the same as your ISO when in a very sunny environment.

Update 2: Despite perfectly clear evenings the previous 2 nights, the marine layer blanketed the coast with low lying clouds and we saw neither the blue moon rise or the sun set. Next month is another story when, on September 29, full moon rises 24 minutes before the sunsets and may be the best photo op here in Half Moon Bay.

Treat Social Club Photos

We took our Light Doodles Photo Booth to the Treat Social Club last night and had a great response to the portraits session. The people were fantastic, the music was stellar and the light show amazing.

I did get some time to talk with the video director for some cool insights to the software used. I built a slideshow of our light drawings which included several tango themed pictures which seemed to display just as the accordion played and the dancers were tangoing. And then a yellow giraffe head would pop up. Very trippy. Here are a few shots.

Lori with light painted trombone projected on a wall
My shot of a light painted Lori on trombone became the default image for the evening

3 people form a light painted totem pole

Red an green man in a blue cloud

Visit the Light Doodles web site or see the full portrait gallery here.

The Milky Way – Finding and Photographing

For those of us who like to sleep late, July through September are the best times to find and photograph the Milky Way and the SF bay area based Star Circle Academy can help you. Look to the southern sky from just after sunset to midnight this time of year.

Depending where you are, just looking might not be quite enough. Nocturnal photographer Steven Christenson has posted 2 helpful articles on the Star Circle Academy blog on the subject of finding and photographing the expanse that is our home galaxy and is happy to answer questions in the comments.

The Elusive Milky Way – How to Find It!

The Elusive Milky Way – Capture an Image

I have yet to capture a Milky Way photo I want to share, so I link to one of Steven’s below.

A 180 degree vertorama of the Milky Way from horizon to horizon

If the picture looks a bit strange, it is a 180 degree vertorama (a series of stitched pictures) taken straight overhead from horizon to horizon. The west horizon is at the top of the photo.

A Brand New Web Page

This site is all things me which, these days, is mainly photography. I have imported my old neglected blog, I am starting a new portrait business and I will continue to teach and post.

There is plenty to photograph and write about. The owls are living large, light drawing is looking bright and I offer a new class in September, Adobe Lightroom 4.

Shorter posts, more often with more pictures are the plan. Here is a picture now.

I believe this is a Aquilegia flavescens, yellow columbine which I photographed along side Lake Sabrina, high in the Sierra Mountains above Bishop, CA in the Inyo National Forest.

yellow columbine flower