Here’s something interesting. Maybe. I’ve been hearing for weeks about the bioluminescence event on the Southern California coastline, but I haven’t taken the time to go check it out. Apparently it’s not going away, though, so last night I headed out to Laguna Beach to see if I could take some pictures of it. First off, here’s Laguna Beach all by itself:

This was taken with a 2-second shutter speed, which gives it kind of a cool impressionist effect.

But now for the bioluminescence. I don’t know if this was because the blue glow was weak last night or if this is always the way it is, but it turns out you can’t really see it with the naked eye. It showed up fine in my camera viewfinder, but my eyes saw nothing but whitecaps. The other interesting thing is that the blue glow showed up only briefly and in individual spots. Small waves produced nothing. Only the bigger waves churned up enough algae to produce spots of bioluminescence. For example:

You can see five individual spots here. This was taken with a ½-second shutter speed, which might explain the large number of spots. More typical is this one:

May 9, 2020 — Laguna Beach, California

This one has a nice long stretch of bioluminescence plus one more bright spot near the middle. It was taken with a 1-second shutter speed. In the end, that ended up being the best compromise exposure time.

As it turns out, the blue glow comes and goes pretty quickly, so the only way to get a picture is to snap the shutter the instant it appears. Most of the time even that’s not fast enough. You just have to take a picture of every wave and then pick out the ones that have plenty of blue. In the end I took 65 pictures before I was told to move along.

FACT:

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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