A Personal Website Dedicated to My Lifelong Passion for
Observing and Photographing the Ever-Changing  Skies of Missouri

"About Missouri Skies"
This page is a Work on Progress
For most recent happenings visit my Blog

Missouri Skies is my personal web site that I use to share my lifelong passion for observing and photographing the ever-changing skies of Missouri.  It is sort of a "visual diary" of my explorations.   I am the creator of all the content found on this site.  The name "Missouri Skies" was derived from a column that I used to write for the local newspaper here in Albany (The Albany Ledger) entitled "What's Up in Missouri Skies".  The column was a weekly/monthly article about easily visible events, such as eclipses and conjunctions of the moon and planets,  that could be seen in the skies of Missouri .  This web site was a companion to that column and was created in 1997.   I no longer write the newspaper column.   I guess that's why I enjoy sky photography so much because I have a tougher time putting into words what I can show with an image which, as they say, is worth more than a thousand words.  My ramblings on this page will attest to the fact that my writing skills are not what I want them to be.


"I'm not a particularly verbose person.  I think that's why
I like taking pictures... they speak for themselves."  ~Jeb Dickerson

I own both the .com and .org versions or Missouri Skies.   I am proud to say that it is a non commercial web site devoid of any advertisements or banners of any kind.  I use my own money to pay the costs of maintaining the site which has become quite expensive.  I enjoy sharing my work so much that it is worth it to me, however.  It is a very simple web site in that it contains no fancy graphics, flash presentations, or any other animations that are prevalent on the internet.  I use a decade old HTML editor to put the site together to showcase some of my images that I have taken over the past 30 years.  I have no plans to upgrade the site other than to change the images and text every now and then with this simple editing software.  I would rather spend most of my time observing and photographing rather than updating the web site anyway.  I am not a professional photographer.  I have a regular day job as an educator so my observing and photographing time can sometimes be fairly limited.

   

"Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and

when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can
make them come back again."  ~Henri Cartier-Bresson

Cameras:

I use Nikon consumer grade (mid price range) camera bodies and consumer and  professional grade lenses.  I have always used Nikon equipment for one reason and that is simply because it was the camera that the woman at the store advise that I use.  It was a great decision on her part because the camera has lasted a long time and the lenses are still interchangeable with the DSLR's that I use today.  Little did she know that 30 years later I would still be in the hobby and buying  Nikon equipment based on her recommendation.   I still own and sometimes use that camera  which is a Nikon FG 35mm camera.  My mother and father purchased it for me in 1984 mainly in preparation for Halley's Comet.   It was used to take some of the images on this site including the shots of Halley.   I used it for nearly 15 years before getting anything else.

 
 
My Nikon FG photographed in 2011 with 
Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 lens.
My Nikon FG photographed with some of my camera miniatures.

 

I believe that the camera and lens is not the most important thing in photography as one might think.  I could own the most expensive cameras and lenses out there and still take terrible pictures.  The hard part for any photographer is getting ones self in the right place at the right time and to be aware of the weather and astronomical  conditions that produce interesting images.  Some of my early images, some of which are grainy and out of focus, are just as important to me now as some of my more recent images taken with the latest gear.  Thank goodness that I didn't give up after a few early failures in my exploration into photography as a young teenager.  Here are a few of my earliest works.  Each one a valuable learning experience:
My first ever try at astrophotography.  Kodak X-15 Instamatic camera held up to my grandfather's 7X50 binoculars.  Date: August of 1982
My first image of the planet Venus.  Taken with a Nikon FG and 75-300mm zoom lens. Date: November of 1984
My first big success at sky photography.  Taken with a Nikon FG and 75-300mm zoom lens.  I couldn't believe that I actually captured earthshine. 
Date: December of 1984
Some early sunrise photography by my mother, Norma Bush.  Having just moved away from the city, we all recognized very early that the skies of Missouri were something special.  Date: Winter of 1976

Amateur Astronomy Came First

My interest in photography was born out of my discovery at a very young age of the beauty of the ever-changing skies overhead.  Having lived in a suburb of Kansas City for the first 8 years of my life, I was basically unaware of the skies above me.  After moving to the rural town of Albany, Missouri in 1976 I quickly discovered that the skies were something special and a joy to look at.  I can still remember my first view of the summer Milky Way as pointed out by my mother one summer night back in the late 70's.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  A quick look at the Cygnus region high overhead with a pair of 7X50 binoculars that night showed thousands of more stars.  I had to learn more and eventually began to study the night sky every moment that I could.  My parents really supported my interests in sky watching.  Had they not chosen to move to a rural town I may never have given the sky a second thought.

Not long after my initial discoveries  I received my first telescope , a Sears 60mm refractor on an alt azimuth mount.   This telescope was given to me by my parents as a Christmas gift.   It was cheaply constructed by many standards but priceless when it came to the thrills that I would get by making my own discoveries with it.  With this scope I serendipitously made my own discoveries of the planets Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars as well as the moon and its craters.  I observed Venus first around the holidays of the year 1981 as it was an easily visible  "evening star" and sparked my interest as to what it was.  It's crescent shape could be easily seen through this telescope:



A planetarium software recreation showing the sky in December of 1981.
Planetarium Software:  Stellarium

Jupiter came next in my discoveries.  It was in the summer sky during that time and was easily found.  As can be seen in the sky map below, many other objects were in the sky right near Jupiter but I guess that I was content with Jupiter that night and didn't investigate further.



A planetarium software recreation of the night of June 28, 1982.
Planetarium Software:  Stellarium


A planetarium software recreation of the night of June 28, 1982.
Planetarium Software:  Stellarium
 
 
 

SATURN ! ! ! ! !

Members of my family still remark about the night that I first found Saturn.  It was a hot and muggy late summer evening and I  had set up the scope on my front porch and was viewing the brighter "things" in the southwestern evening sky.  The first quarter moon,  Jupiter,  Mars, and a the star Spica were all in a line with one non descript object sitting just above and to the right of the line.    I managed to aim the telescope,  not an easy chore with its rickety mount, at the object and there it was.....Saturn.  I couldn't believe that I had found Saturn.  It was a golden color and the rings were much more easily seen than I had thought possible with such a small scope.   It looked, to me anyway, like the views that I had just recently seen coming back from the Voyager Spacecraft during that time.    I quickly ran into the house yelling that I had found Saturn.  Everyone came out to look.   I have been trying to recreate that excitement ever since.  My note cards from that night appear below:


 


A planetarium software recreation of that exciting night of July 27, 1982
Planetarium Software:  Stellarium


A planetarium software recreation of that exciting night of July 27, 1982
Planetarium Software:  Stellarium
 

Meteorology

Anyone who enjoys astronomy as a hobby soon begins to gain an appreciation for meteorology as well.  You can't study one without the other.  After years of sky watching one starts to gain a sixth sense as to what is going on in the sky and what may happen.  For instance, with the passage of most storm systems comes clear skies for viewing the night sky.  Clear skies to the west and clouds overhead means that there may be a chance for a vivid evening sunset as the setting sun shines up onto the cloud deck above.  When you see high clouds moving in and possibly a halo around the sun or moon then unstable weather is probably on the way.  Cloudy skies to the west and clear skies to the east means a possible vivid morning sunrise and unstable weather on the way.    It's things like these that get burned into your mind after years of observation.

I don't consider myself a storm chaser like you would see highlighted on television.  If there are storms in my area then I will definitely photograph them but  I don't venture too far away from my home in Albany in order to photograph a storm.  Lately I have seen and heard of some irresponsible actions by "storm chasers" and don't want to be a part of it.  The internet is very saturated with tornado images and video anyway.  It seems that too many chasers these days want to get in real close to a tornado which in my opinion is dangerously stupid and not very photogenic in most cases.  Chasing isn't what it used to be anyway.  The pioneers of storm chasing did it to document and study storms thus contributing to the science of meteorology.  The chasers these days are more thrill seekers and self promoting attention getters more than they are contributors to the science.

I use various internet tools such as satellite and radar to predict various meteorological phenomena such as storms, vivid sunsets, rainbows, and anything else interesting to see.  I have received some criticism for posting so many sunrise and sunset shots on this site.   For some reason  it is kind of an unwritten photographer's rule that sunrise/sunset images are easy to take and are boring because there are so many of these images out there.  I think that many people look at it solely from a marketing point of view but I enjoy the aesthetics of it more than whether or not an image is going to sell.   I enjoy recording sunrise/sunset shots and other cloud phenomena as my way of trying to preserve some sort of record of what's going on in the sky.  I will continue to do so.
 

Northwest Missouri as a Wonderfully Interesting Place

Finally, in addition to recording the ever-changing skies of Missouri it is my goal to document the cultural and physiographic landscape of rural Northwest Missouri along with them.   Many of my more popular images of the sky also contain some sort of recognizable landmark that represents the area including churches, buildings, windmills, water towers, and other geographic or geologic features that show the character and history of the region.  Some people may think of Northwest Missouri as a boring place with nothing interesting to look at but I think differently about this.  I think that it is a wonderfully interesting place to visit and photograph.


"The goal is not to change your subjects, but for the subject to change the photographer."  ~Author Unknown
 
 
 

Theodore Cleaver was even an amateur astronomer.


Frame Grab
                  from Episode 137:

Wally: "Hey, what are you lookin' at now, Beave?"

Beaver: "The moon. Ya know, Wally, the only thing I recognize up there is the moon." 

Wally: "Well, what did you expect to see for $16.98, the signs on the planets?"

Beaver: "I guess not."

Episode 137: "Beaver's Tonsils".  Air date: February 11, 1961. 
Jerry Mathers & Tony Dow.  Created by Joe Connelly & Bob Mosher


 

Risks and Rewards of doing what I do:  I don't usually get too worked up over criticisms of my work or issues that arise due to the fact that I post many of my photos online.  I understand the risks and rewards  of doing such a thing.  Quite amazingly some of my  photos  have gotten lots of attention on the internet.  One series of shots in particular has taken on a life of its own.  That series is the Rainbow at Elam Bend series.   One particular image from this series was even spread throughout the web in a "chain e-mail".  Contrary to popular belief I did not start this e-mail.  Visits to the rainbow web page and other Missouri Skies pages of mine have soared into the tens of millions since these Elam Bend shots were taken.  These rainbow images have been used hundreds if not thousands of times on the internet for personal and commercial purposes without my permission.  As I said above I understand that this kind of thing happens when posting content to the internet.  If I didn't want this to happen then I wouldn't post at all but the rewards far outweigh the risks.

Unfortunately I was accused of stealing one of my own images by a woman in New Zealand.  A news story appeared on Television New Zealand TVNZ  on a program called Fair Go in November of 2009 detailing a woman who has claimed to have had her "rainbow photo" somehow stolen from her.  The photo that they show in the story is my photograph and they even show my web site "Missouri Skies"  and my name in print as being the one who stole it.  They referred to me as a "bloke from the states that claims he owns it."

At the time I got quite a bit of hate mail because of it.   One e-mail even proclaimed that every lawyer in New Zealand was looking for me.   The video has since been removed after the television station (TVNZ) realized that they had made a mistake and admitted that I am the one that created the photo. TVNZ had the video posted on their web site for 3 months before they took it off.    In response to my formal complaint TVNZ says that they did not breach any of the New Zealand broadcast standards of conduct in handling (or in my opinion mishandling) this entire episode.   TVNZ says that it was not their intent to vilify anybody.  They even say that the woman that complained that her image was stolen still believes that she took the picture.

Below are  12 ways that I used to prove that I created the photo.

  1. I  showed the exact location including Google map evidence:  Google Map of the Area
  2. I took people back to the exact place in this video: YouTube Video of me at the tree
  3. I have Additional photos of the exact area and scene taken the same day as the image in question: Rainbow at Elam Bend
  4. I had taken photos of the scene during different seasons.  Some even prior to 2006.
  5. I proved the exact date, time, and camera data  using EXIF data from my images
  6. I proved that I own the  Lens/Camera combination with proof of purchase documents
  7. I have full image proof.  The photo that was claimed to be stolen by the woman was a crop of a larger image.  I have the original large version.
  8. I showed proof of early publication: Missouri Conservation Magazine, page 2
  9. I showed  proof of early publication: Spaceweather web site.  Do an archive search for February 18, 2006
  10. I pointed out that if the woman accusing me of theft took the photo on February 2, 2006 then the season in the southern hemisphere would be summer.  Why no leaves on the trees?
  11. I showed a major error on TVNZ's part showing two different versions of the rainbow series instead of one shot as claimed by the woman.
  12. I offered  weather records from the national weather service to prove the rain that day
This issue has been resolved.  Please see these findings of the New Zealand Broadcasting Authority:  CLICK HERE

Another issue came up recently in which one of the rainbow photos that I own was used as the cover of a book.  I also did not grant permission for this image to be used but there it was on a book about angel healing on Amazon's web site.  I contacted the author and she said, "It was discovered by my publisher in the public domain. I don't know the source, but I have since seen it forwarded to me several times by people who just love the image. It looks to me like it is from Australia."

I quickly pointed it out that it was my image and got in touch with her publisher since she seemed to be oblivious to  how this happened.  The publisher said, "We are trying to contact the designer for this book cover project to see what happened, but from your email below I have no doubt you are the original photographer for which we are happy to credit you."  Turns out the "designer" was from India or something like that.  The publisher said that they were redesigning the cover and wanted to continue using the image but wanted a high resolution copy of it and offered credit but no compensation.  I declined the offer.
  
Rainbow at Elam Bend

Most Recent Images

Missouri Skies
Web Site Owner

Dan Bush
Albany, Missouri

All Images Copyright  1983-2012  D. Bush 
E-mail: dan at missouri skies dot org

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