Comet Neowise

•July 19, 2020 • Comments Off on Comet Neowise

Comet Neowise, July 18, 2020, 9:30pm.

Not an easy target in murky, light-polluted skies. I could not see it with my unaided eyes. I could pick it up with binoculars and eventually viewed it with an 80mm short-tube refractor.

Once I located it with the binoculars, I pointed the camera at it and made a couple of exposures, which captured it enough so I could tell it was in the frame. After a couple of adjustments I made an exposure using the Olympus EM-1 MkII “Live Composite” mode, that blends about 24 10-second exposures into a single frame. I was using the “Sky Tracker” device to avoid star trails. This image was significantly adjusted for contrast and cropped.

It’s actually a pretty impressive comet, although not as impressive as the famous Hale-Bopp comet from 1997. I am hoping to get a better shot of this one if the weather cooperates over the next several evenings.

Milky Way and Jupiter Rising

•July 13, 2020 • 1 Comment

The view from he second floor deck looking south-southeast. The bright object is Jupiter and just below and to the left is Saturn. Jupiter is approaching opposition so it will be time to get as good a look at it that is possible.

Standing on the deck the Milky way is just about invisible. With the local light pollution, all I can see – even with my glasses on – are a few scattered bright clouds. It’s amazing how much is revealed with a long exposure photograph. I was using the “Live Composite” mode on the Olympus EM-1 MkII, which ws set to capture a series of 10 second exposures and then blending them. 12mm (24mm equivalent on 35mm) f/2 lens set at f/2. ISO 1600.

I believe the total run of exposures was about three minutes. The fact that the stars are not trailed says that the Star Tracker was working. Continue reading ‘Milky Way and Jupiter Rising’

Adventures in Astrophotography

•July 10, 2020 • Comments Off on Adventures in Astrophotography

I’m not exactly sure why, at this late date, I have suddenly become interested in astrophotography. Looking through my blog posts will show occasional shots of the moon and a few star shots. The best Milky Way images came from North Dakota in 2015, where the Milky Way really popped in the dark skies. Just the camera on a tripod was good enough to capture some wide field views without star trails.

But recently I’ve had the desire to capture potentially more detailed long exposure images. Do do that requires the ability to move the camera in a way that tracks the motion of the stars across the sky in synch with the earth’s rotation. After a lot of web surfing and reading, I decided to get one of these:

The Orion Star Tracker, properly aligned on the North Star, will track the stars across the sky, allowing long exposures without start trails.

The package arrived the other day and I assembled it. It sits very nicely on an old Bogen tripod. I was, of course, anxious to give it a try, but with an 82% waxing gibbous moon, there were not a whole lot of stars visible. Nevertheless, I set up on our upstairs deck in the hopes I could see a couple of bright stars just so I could start to learn how to make the device work.

As the twilight faded, one bright star emerged high above the garage: Deneb. I could not see the North Star to get the polar alignment right on but made a fairly good guesstimate by setting the declination scale as close to 39 degrees as I could and them aiming the polar alignment scope in the direction as close as I could remember seeing it from past nights.

With my Olympus EM-1 MkII and a 25mm f1.8 lens mounted on the tracker, I swung it around and Deneb was bright enough to see in the viewscreen. I carefully focused on the star using the live view magnification that the camera provides.

This was a relatively short exposure but long enough to produce start trails if the tracking was not working. Not a great astrophotograph, but I felt it was a proof of concept. Continue reading ‘Adventures in Astrophotography’

Two-Day Old Moon – iPhone Capture

•May 26, 2020 • Comments Off on Two-Day Old Moon – iPhone Capture

(iPhone 8 capture using 25mm eyepiece projection
on 8-inch Newtonia/Dobsonian Telescope)

Last night looked like it might be nice and clear so I broke out my 8-inch Dobsonian Telescope. It’s an old classic from Coulter Optical and still works pretty well. It was a really lovely evening and the highlight was the two-day old crescent moon that appeared out of the twilight a little while after sunset. Starting to get the hang of the iPhone attachment.

Work Boats in the Town Dock, Annapolis

•May 10, 2020 • Comments Off on Work Boats in the Town Dock, Annapolis

I’ve been scanning some of my old negatives to see what is there. Here’s an image from about 1990, give or take a few years.

Old House (IR)

•May 8, 2020 • 1 Comment

Mumma Farm

•May 8, 2020 • Comments Off on Mumma Farm

I’m still messing around with the Panasonic G3 infrared converted camera.

Harpers Ferry Hilltop Overlook

•February 26, 2020 • Comments Off on Harpers Ferry Hilltop Overlook

My outing last Sunday took me to the Hilltop Hotel overlook, which I love to visit on occasion. I am continuing to get to know the new (to me) Panasonic G3 infrared converted digital camera.

Up to this point the images have not been that obviously IR images because of the lack of green foliage. but this has picked some of the effect on the trees on the far side of the Potomac River.

Halltown Post Office

•February 25, 2020 • Comments Off on Halltown Post Office

The Halltown Post Office sits at the intersection of Route 230 (Shepherdstown Pike) and Halltown Road in Halltown, WV.

Image was captured with the Panasonic G3 infrared camera and processed with Lightroom and Photoshop. Because it is the middle of winter and the trees have no leaves, the most obvious characteristic of IR images is the rendering of green foliage as white.

Halltown, WV Chapel

•February 24, 2020 • Comments Off on Halltown, WV Chapel

The Halltown Union Colored Sunday School is tucked off Halltown Road off of Rt 340 in Halltown, West Virginia.  it is a quaint chapel that dates to 1901. It is currently existing in what Tillman Crane refers to as a “state of arrested decay.” That means that it could use a significant restoration, but it is being maintained so its condition will not deteriorate further.

The image was captured with my latest infrared converted camera, a Panasonic G3 micro 4/3 digital camera. It’s the fourth IR camera I have used and, like all of the previous cameras, I’m still learning it’s characteristics. Each one has had a slightly different filter and sensor. Also, the post processing tools have changed significantly. Lightroom and Photoshop both have upgraded graphic processing engines and the new Luminar 4 offers a different but effective approach. This image was started in Lightroom with a little bit of perspective correction and cropping, and then finished in Luminar.

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