Experiments in composure….

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Being a hobbyist photographer I am still learning about composure… I am fairly confident on the technical aspects of photography but I still struggle with composure… it maybe because I am a programmer rather than a designer in my chosen profession and my brain just doesn’t work that way… I am ok critiquing others (obviously) but I do struggle with ‘design’ in general so don’t know if thats why I struggle with it.

Today presented itself an opportunity to grab some pics of a railway bridge I pass pretty much everyday… I missed the sunrise as I was rather tired and slept in a bit… shame as I think it could have added to the pics but will make an effort next time to see if it will… I also managed to miss sunset too but this was on the opposite side to where I wanted to take the shots…

So here they are… hopefully my composure is getting a little better..

Will try these again at some point to see if sunrise adds anything to the dynamics of the shot

<tuffty/>

Yet another full(ish) moon…

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Was a little disappointed with last nights result… I do still need to trawl through the many RAW files and see if there is one thats better than the one I previously posted…

At the weekend I also treated myself to a new Canon 2x extender… this is the version III and is supposed to be sharper and provide better contrast than previous versions… I already have a Sigma 2x extender but its designed specifically for crop sensor bodies and lens… ok, both my current bodies have crop sensors but my 100-400L is designed for full frame use so kinda made sense to upgrade to the Canon extender…

There are a fair few mixed reviews about extenders in general… mostly because image quality suffers from their use but this has not really bothered me too much and have alway been generally pleased with the results… granted I got better results from my 1.4x but until I can get a better understanding of what I need from a telescope then it will do for now…

As is the way with busses you wait for a clear night to come along then suddenly they all turn up… tonight looked even clearer than last night!!… so it would have been rude not to try the extender out… 😉

The Canon 2x is the same cream colour as the 100-400L which means its very cool LOL..

I took a few shots at varying apertures and shutter speeds to try and increase the sharpness and detail… the moon is still a pain in the arse to photograph as its constantly moving… my tripod is pretty sturdy but the camera setup is pretty heavy and at 800mmm focal length the slightest touch on the lens to focus and the moon is leaping all over the place making it tricky even with EOS Utility to get a clean focus on the moon… by the time its settled again the thing has moved halfway across the frame!! so you have to reposition and re-focus… a vicious circle lol…

Anyway… much happier with the shot…

ISO100, f16, 800mm, 1/50 sec

Now I have a full moon the next shot will be a crescent… I am also going to re-visit the milkyway/starry night shots too in March when the moons phase will mean a moon free night and hopefully a bit more darkness to get better shots of the stars

<tuffty/>

A weekend to forget and a Monday to remember…

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Don’t think I have felt this exhausted physically and mentally for some time…

Weekend started off good… had a nice car in at Bill’s to see if it would fit on the dyno…

Was awesome, very well presented car…

After Bill’s I went to see my parents to do my tech support thing and sort Mum’s laptop out as she couldn’t connect to the internet… then things started to go wrong… on my way home I passed what looked like a fairly serious accident at a traffic light controlled junction on the bypass… a white Fiesta and a Peugeot estate had come together and as I drove past rubber necking (as you do) I realised that the Fiesta looked familiar… in fact my eldest daughters boyfriend drove one…!

Rang my daughter… no answer… rang the wife and she had received a garbled phone call just minutes before from my daughter… it was her boyfriends car and she was there at the scene!! so I quickly turned round and got back there as quickly as I could legally go!..

Thankfully no-one was seriously hurt but unfortunately my daughters boyfriends dog was in the car and sadly died from his injuries…

My daughter was taken to hospital in an ambulance just to be sure as she was complaining of a very bad neck but thankfully all was fine… I arrived at the scene around 7pm that night and finally got home just after 2am… I was hanging…

After the trauma of that little episode Monday night gave me a nice little surprise… it was a full moon and the night was actually clear!! WooHoo!…

A full moon seems to be a bugger to shoot… very very bright and difficult to expose with decent detail… clearly I need some practice but pleased with the output…

ISO 100, 800mm, f11, 1/160sec

While I was there I experimented with settings for getting starry shots too… (ignore the composures)

ISO 1250, 10mm, F8, 10sec

ISO 1000, 10mm, f4.5, 10sec

Not a bad end to a crappy weekend…. bit more work and practice to do of course but really enjoyed the evening, felt much more relaxed

<tuffty/>

Yet another moon….

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Ok… I know I do a lot of moon shots but I find it fascinating and a challenge so tough luck lol 😉

The sky was clear and blue on my drive home from work yesterday and the moon was high in the sky and as we are close to a full moon (Monday 22nd Feb) nice and large in a waxing gibbous phase and some 80% illuminated so I decided to grab a shot when I got home…

But… as is the way it seems as soon as got my kit out and setup the clouds started to arrive and by the time a clear gap in the clouds arrived it was getting into twilight…

I took the shot and here is the result…

ISO200, 800mm, f11, 1/100

I did over process it a bit to get the detail and to try and lift the blue a bit as the background is noisy but its my first crack at it and it was all a bit rushed trying to get a shot before the clouds obscured the moon completely

My moon collection is coming along… hoping to grab a full moon Monday and then after some crescents… beyond that its going to be trying to use the moon in a composed shot which may be tricky around here as there isn’t much of any interest to act as a foreground but thats a challenge for another day 🙂

<tuffty/>

The joys of photography…

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One of the areas of photography that really grabs my interest is astrophotography and I really want to get some shots of the milkyway…

This should be achievable with a little effort but the biggest difficulties in the UK is finding somewhere dark enough away from the polluting lights of towns and road lamps and of course the weather… oh how I pray for a clear night… I don’t even care if its cold as you can layer up to keep warm…

Tonight was supposed to be clear but as is always the way it was when I left home but by the time I reached Minch common it was starting to cloud up again… that and the moon was still out which made it pretty much daylight in astrophotography terms 🙁

Well… I was there so had to at least give it a go… to get a shot of the milkyway you need a fast lens and to use a high ISO setting to bring out the colours and stars… I had already had a go last week and was getting a feel for it but the moon had set at that point so it was much darker than it was tonight but still not dark enough sadly…

The Stars... or a close approximation at least

I was hopeful of trying to improve on last weeks attempts but the weather was against me as was the light from the moon… it was far too bright to take long exposure high ISO shots and so I gave up and took a pic of my nemesis that night the moon…

I only used the 1.4x extender to see if I could pick up the quality a bit… just means its a bigger crop to get the result to fill the frame…

Waxing Gibbous

Will have to wait until towards the end of the month when the moon won’t be rising until the early hours and hope for a clear night..

I also would like to get a decent crescent shot as well as a full moon shot to add to my collection

<tuffty/>

Coaley Peak sunsets… well, nearly…

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Spurred on by the fact the sun was out (and even took a picture to prove it) I was looking forward to it actually going down as I wanted to have a go at a sunset picture…

The weather report suggested it would be clear tonight so decided to scope out Minch common to see if it would be a good place to have a go at a milkyway shot… it certainly should be dark enough and found decent place that I could potentially see the milkyway using the Android app Stellarium Mobile… while I was there I took a couple of shots…

Minch Common

Minch Common

I then drove on up to Coaley Peak and set up waiting for the sunset… it was just as windy and cold as the last time I went but this time I had extra layers and my coat… I had however forgotten gloves and my hands were like lumps of ice by the end of the shoot…

Sadly I didn’t get the actual sunset I was hoping for as the clouds finally rolled in to cover the sun before its finally decent behind the hills which was disappointing to say the least but here are the best ones of the afternoon in order as the sun went down…
Coaley Peak Sunset

Coaley Peak Sunset

Coaley Peak Sunset

…and finally into the golden hour…
Coaley Peak Sunset

After the last shot above the clouds rolled in, it got quite dark and I was freezing so I called it a day…

Useful Links:
The Photographer’s Ephemeris, a tool to help you plan outdoor photography in natural light

Stellarium App

<tuffty/>

Photographing the sun…

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The sun is out today… I plan to venture out and have a go at a sunset pic later (will post if I do) but decided to put my sun filter together for an actual shot of the sun.

I had bought a spare lens hood for my 100-400 just in case I needed to mod it at all and bought a sheet of Thousand Oaks sun filter material. I marked up a piece of double thickness cardboard to act as a filter holder and cut it out with a craft knife.
Sun Filter

Sandwiched the filter material between the pieces…
Sun Filter

And taped it shut…
Sun Filter

The filter holder just push fits over the end of the lens hood…
Sun Filter

I set up just outside the front of the house for a test shot…
Sun Filter

…and used EOS Utility to remotely operate the camera…
Sun Filter

The result was…
Sun Filter

Not too shabby… Not sure if I will still have to seal the filter to the lens hood somehow to prevent light bleeding in… it wasn’t noticeable in use this time so maybe I won’t need to but will keep an eye on it for next time I use it.

Useful links…

Solar Filter material from Amazon

http://www.school-of-digital-photography.com/2013/10/how-to-photograph-sun.html

http://photographyblogger.net/how-to-take-photos-of-the-sun-with-your-dslr/

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