Archive for October, 2007

Treats for the Brain

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

I took inspiration from the Bad Astronomer’s Halloween plans and set up my telescope right in the front yard. The viewing was pretty poor, what with all the front lights on, but it was worth it for every “Oh cool!” from every kid who saw the comet tonight.

If even one of those kids goes home and puts “telescope” on their Christmas list… score.

Unfortunately, the viewing wasn’t ideal with some high level clouds rolling in (it’s now completely overcast). I did get a couple more comet shots. Based on my limited data it appears to be fading pretty fast now. I took a shot at approximately the same setting as the last two (sorry, I keep forgetting to double check the aperture setting), and adjusted it to get it in the right ballpark.
17P/Holmes, 31 October, 2007

I also took one with the ISO cranked up to 1600. This is approximately the full resolution image (it’s a little too large to fit in the post width):
17P/Holmes, 31 October, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Happy Halloween!
Happy Halloween everybody! Last Saturday the family attended a Halloween party. We all went in costume. I had to find a theme to go around Nate’s already purchased puppy costume, so Chris also went as a dog, and I went as the animal control officer. We won the prize for “Best Family Costume”!

There are some new pictures up in the gallery of Nate in his Halloween puppy costume. Enjoy!
Tired Puppy

Nathan’s Sunday Best

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

After church on Sunday we took some portraits of Nate in his Sunday clothes. To be fair, it was also an excuse to test out the portrait capabilities of the new glass. And wow. I think this is my new favorite photo of Nathan.

Relaxing in his Sunday best

Another portrait from Sunday. This one’s a bit out of focus, but the composition is good, so we’ll call it “soft focus”.
Sunday Best

Image geeks, read on: (more…)

What camera should I get? Q4: Control

Monday, October 29th, 2007

I can certainly testify that the difference between my good photos and my great photos are the adjustments I’ve made in not quite doing things the way the automatic settings would have. Maybe it’s a subtle change in depth of field, maybe it’s a full manual setup. Don’t get me wrong: automatic exposure and focus are remarkably good in the vast majority of cases. You may be the kind of person who just doesn’t want to be bothered by all of the controls… you just want to point, shoot and be done with it. Hopefully this section will help you decide whether any of the buttons and dials are worth having.
Remember that most all cameras will do these things for you automatically if you choose the correct setting, so this section is more about what your capabilities will be if you choose to deviate from “full auto”.

Feature Ridiculously Miniature Normal Got-Glass Single-Lens Reflex
Exposure Possibly limited, “Creative Zone” Generally full manual Full manual
Focus Limited to none Some, usually involves the LCD display, generally awkward Depends on the lens, most have auto/manual switches, some allow on-the-fly focusing; viewfinder “screens” often inappropriate
Remote Possible IR Many have IR and/or PC-USB control interfaces IR, RF, wired and PC interfaces vary
Interface Limited space for controls, expect menus Some dials/buttons and menus More buttons and dials Buttons and dials can be overwhelming

Details below (more…)

Larger and dimmer

Monday, October 29th, 2007

In just a day there is a pretty distinct difference in the comet. This shot was also through a light cloud cover, so that will have some impact on the brightness also.

17P/Holmes 29 October 2007

17P/Holmes Take 2

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

So Kristin bought me a sweet new lens for my birthday, so I had to take it out tonight and get another shot of 17P/Holmes. It was mostly cloudy, but I was able to get a shot in a clear spot.

17P/Holmes 28 October, 2007

The base image is approximately twice the magnification (per pixel) as the previous image. I’ll do a comparison of the two images at similar scale in a bit here*, but I wanted to post this before it was too late.

17P/Holmes is expanding rapidly after the outburst, and according to SpaceWeather is now covering a volume larger than Jupiter. That’s pretty impressive for a week’s worth of expansion.

* Hmmm… unfortunately, this really isn’t as straightforward as I hoped. Although the lens provides an additional 1.95x in angular magnification, the exposures are completely different. I shot the original image with a 2 second exposure at f/5.6 at ISO100 on a 105mm lens. The second images is 1 second, f/2.8@ISO400 on a 200mm. That’s a factor of 8 difference in exposure so I obviously collected a lot more light from the the diffuse coma in the second shot than in the first. If I do future shots (and I expect I will), I’ll stick to 1,2.8,400 @ 200mm for easy comparison.


Friday, October 26th, 2007

This was a quick shot from my camera with a 105mm lens. No long exposure is required (this was 2 seconds at f/5.6)

Visually it appears just like the neighboring stars. This is obviously a pretty small crop of the original image, but it does show the spacial extent of the comet.


It’s the 25th

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

5 Months Old
and that means that Nate’s photographic growth chart has been updated! There are also some new photos in the 6th Month album.

Fun with Pumpkins (and bottles)

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Kristin took Nate out to pick out some pumpkins for the front porch. Of course you know what that means: photo-op.

Obviously things didn’t go so well with the photo shoot in the beginning.
Not so good.

Later on the model got distracted by his toes, and Kristin was able to setup these great shots.
Nate & his first pumpkin
Nate & his first pumpkin 2

After the busy shooting schedule, Dad helps Nate to a bottle. Of course, he’s pretty much capable of managing on his own (at least for a little while).
All on his own

What camera should I get? Q3b: Images

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

A camera doesn’t really make any sense unless you plan to do something with the images. Depending on whether you plan to show them on a website or print out poster size color glossys will have some impact on what the camera needs to have and what short-falls you can get away with. Of course your choice of printer (or online print house) also comes into play… but that’s another post.

Here’s a summary table for those of you in a hurry:

Feature Ridiculously Miniature Normal Got-Glass Single-Lens Reflex
Email OK, but please be kind: resize any image above 500kb in size unless you know the download capabilities of your audience
Web OK,
noise is less of an issue because images will be shrunk. Lack of zoom can be overcome in post processing (crop and enlarge).
OK, may need to reduce for file size
5×7 Print OK, anything over 4 Mp is great Looks great Looks great
8×10 Print Marginal, may be quality limited (optics/focus) rather than res. limited. 4 Mp is OK, 8 Mp is great OK OK
Movies Resolution and maximum length will vary Usually none.
Audio Ability to add audio comments to images is a more common feature. Movie mode can substitute.

Want some details? Read on MacDuff! (more…)