Monday, October 14, 2013

Full Up

The rest of my week, that is.  I'm set for jobs for the rest of the week and most of next week also. THAT is the way for a year as a sub to be.  I much prefer this to years past when I've been up early in the morning and not gotten a job.  Now I get to pick and choose.

I subbed at a middle school and then at an alternative school today.  The teacher has a split shift.  What i liked was it gave me a chance to have lunch out.  Something I don't usually get.  Admittedly, it was only a Subway sandwich, but it was sustenance that I did not have to cart around in my bag all day.

I have to bight the bullet and try to get up in the next few mornings to see if I can get a clean shot at Comet ISON.  It is in the constellation Leo right now...speeding through it, really.  If you can identify Mars it's supposed to be nearby.  I am not certain whether it is naked eye stuff yet, but many astronomers remain do I.

I have a weird history of fascination with the stars.  I was a dreamer when i was in school...still am, really, but it's something I can control now...well, I kinda have to.  Anyway, where was I?  Oh, yeah.  I liked space and remember all to keenly the excitement I felt every time one of the Voyagers would come near one of the outer planets.  i still have newspaper clippings from when they sailed by Saturn, Neptune, and, not yours.  I followed the, what seemed to me, endless journeys of craft like Magellan and eagerly awaited Cassini and several other of the probes from the late 80s and 1990s.  I bought astronomy magazines on a semi-regular basis just so i knew what I was looking at.  When Comet Hyakutake shown in the skies I tried to take photos, but it seems that during my college days some of my film got lost and never developed.

I had my dad's 30X telescope for the longest time, then they bought me a 120X telescope for Christmas and I was extremely happy, though i had no idea what I was doing, I was very enthusiastic.  I now know what I probably should have had was a larger objective lens than I had, but, as a kid, more power is more better.  So I missed out on ever observing low light enigmas like nebulae, but at least I got a good look at Saturn and Jupiter's moons.  How many kids today go out and do that?

I eventually inherited my Grandfather's homemade 6 inch reflector, which has, with time, been relegated to an attic somewhere, and I am not even sure where all the parts are.  As a steward of my grandfather's great work and achievement, I was not worthy.  My mother will still remind me, if I ask, how he lovingly ground the glass himself and had it silvered and built the damned thing.  Clearly, Grandpa had a lot more storage room than I do...and I have a lot of crap in storage...but, enough of that.

I remember trying to witness the long awaited crash of a comet into Jupiter.  Of course, I did not have the internet, nor know how to use it to great effect that year, so I was not aware that the event took place BEHIND Jupiter and out of my view, still, I tried.  I've never been one to let lack of know-how and basic reason to get in the way of setting myself up for failure.

I have watched as Hubble made breathtaking pictures and as astronomers have used various forms of interferometry to discern the orbit of extra solar planets.  I have seen the pictures beamed back by the Huygens probe of Titan's surface, with its liquid methane rivers and lakes.  I continue to foolow the progress of the Voyagers and Pioneer 10.  This is a great time to be alive, but, like my Grandfather who turned his eyes skyward, I won't live nearly long enough to see all I want.

This year, there are at least two comets.  I took a few pictures of Comet Panstarrs.  Now, I am gunning for bigger game.  ISON is expected to be brighter that PANSTARRS by some margin.  It remains to be seen whether it is naked-eye visible in daylight as some had expected, and it doesn't help that the majority of the close pass will take place in our cloudy season.  Still, I am hopeful.  So, in the morning, before the family awakes, I will brave the cold temperatures hoping that clouds do not bar my way.  I suspect they will, but I will look out the window, anyway.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

This Month in Photography...errr, Mine. That Is, My Photography...

 Yesterday we visited a pumpkin patch and did the usual stuff.  Went through the corn maze, had some apple cider, picked a few pumpkins, and went for a ride on a small home-made train.  It was a pretty good morning. Chloe seemed to enjoy most of it with her usual zest.

 I made a few decent pictures.

 After the pumpkin patch we got a bite to eat and went home.  My parents were nice enough to come up and watch Chloe for part of the evening so Cora and I could go out for dinner together without...interruptions.  It was great to get some time with Cora.
 There have been some...developments with my photography.  Forgive the pun.  I recently picked up a piece of welding glass.  The piece of glass welders put in their mask so they don't blind themselves.  It's also a poor man's neutral density filter...except it isn't so neutral.  Neutral means it doesn't favor one particular color...this one seems to favor green.  What it does do, is slow down the light that gets to the sensor.  So much so that it can take up to a whole minute for enough light to reach the sensor for a decent exposure in broad daylight.  Usually a shot in broad daylight will have a shutter speed of less than 1/500th of a second.  That's a big difference.  It allows movement to blur or subtle changes to become obvious.  Blur is a useful tool in photography.  you can see a couple of my examples.

 Another new item in my repertoire is a flash.  They are also called speedlights or strobes.  This was a gift from Cora for our anniversary.  It's a very special flash.  It can do lots of nifty things.  It can communicate with my camera when it is ON camera, and it helps with focus in low-light situations.  It can synchronize with my shutter speed all the way up to the fastest shutter speed I have.  I can also use it off camera, so it can supplement the lighting in the photo or overpower ambient light.  This will add a new dimension to my photography!!
 The above used the flash in a soft box, which spreads out the light and softens the look to the pictures.  Below you can see how it works off camera and how my camera can command it to flash.

 The last one shows the synchronizing ability.  This was with a shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second, the maximum shutter speed of which my camera is capable.  Usually, the on camera flash only synchronizes UP TO 1/200th of a second, any faster than that and you get part of the frame blackened.  Here you can see Chloe's in-flight progress was halted and the scene is fairly evenly lit.
I would say my photo-capabilities have expanded both directions!  I cannot wait to perfect them!