Lunchtime Photo

It was gusty around here for a few days last week, and after the wind stopped on Saturday I noticed that the sky was exceptionally clear. So, on a whim, I decided to head out and try my luck at a star trails picture.

However, I didn’t feel like making the long trek out to Anza Borrega, so I compromised instead on Lake Henshaw, which is less dark than Anza but also about an hour closer. I knew this would mean a fair amount of light pollution on a long-exposure shot, so I decided to work with that by deliberately putting some light in the frame. The result is a picture that looks as if it were taken at sunrise. In reality, the yellow glow—from Warner Springs, about ten miles away—is only barely visible to the naked eye. But if you leave your shutter open for three hours, it turns into something very bright indeed.

I’m not sure if I’ll try this again. It has to be done in winter, when the nights are long, and for a really good shot I’d probably have to trek out to Joshua Tree or Death Valley. And even at that, there are limits to what I can get. There’s a lot of noise in this picture, due to my camera’s small, mid-quality sensor. A six-hour exposure would make the noise even worse, and would also require me to spend six hours in my car while the camera is working. I’m not sure that’s worth it.

Still, I’m glad I did this. I like the spot I found, and the orange glow from the light pollution is actually kind of entertaining.

December 29, 2018 — Lake Henshaw, California

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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