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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Meet me at the water cooler

Another shot I took to experiment with the macro seting on the 70 - 300mm zoom. Other than the rain we had here (but not in Tucson) several weeks ago, it has been months since the last rain. This hose bib leaks several gallons per day, and I had intended on fixing it, but since everything is so dry, it has become an important water source for birds, mammals and insects. Canon 20D - 1/160th, macro, f/20, ISO 800

Monday, February 27, 2006

Flowers and Thorns

I've always had a fascination with how small things look when magnified, so the cacti around the house made for a perfect subject to try out the macro setting of the 70-300mm zoom. What really captured my attention in this shot was how the spines gown out of the cactus straight, with a
blunt tip. As they reach their final length, they bend into a hook and the tip shapens to become needle sharp. Canon 20D - 1/30th, 190mm @ f/29, ISO 100

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Sea Serpent over the Kuiper Dome

The head of Hydra rises in the east over the open dome of the Kuiper Telescope on Mount Bigelow. The 61" was constructed during the race to the moon in the 1960's. It's high quaility optics were used to take high resolution photographs of the Moon's surface in support of the lunar landings. On the night of this photograph, it wasbeing used to study asteroids and comets. Canon 20D - 30 seconds, 20mm @ f/1.8, ISO 800

Mt. Hopkins Sunset

Mount Hopkins, the home of the MMT, catches the last rays of sunlight. The cube shaped observatory building can be seen at the peak of the mountain. Canon 20D - 1/160th, 108mm @ f/10, ISO 800

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hey! What's making all that noise?

I was about ot drive out to the mailbox today when I heard a different call from bird outside. I grabbed the camera when I saw it was a woodpecker. "The Gila!" I said to myself when I saw him heading towards the Saguaro. I mindlessly snapped a number of frames of him watching me intently from his hole, ready to take wing as soon as my attention waivered.
As I was preparing this image to post, I noticed that the markings on this bird were definitely not that of a Gila, which sent me scrammbling for my Peterson's _Western Birds_.
Sure enough, there it is. My first Gilded Flicker,
I haven't felt like this since I moved from New York to Florida, new birds to be discovered daily! Canon 20D - 1/3200th, 300mm @ f/5.6, ISO 800

Eating Rock

While walking the road from the observatory up to the peak of Mt. Bigelow, where most of Tuscon's TV stations have their antennas, this rock outcrop caught my attention. The sun played across the layers of cracked and broken Sedimentry rock that hundreds of millions of years ago was at the bottom of an ocean. Today, it forms a small cap along the northern ridge line of the Catalinas, 9000 feet above Sea Level. The core of the Catalinas are Granite. Across the surface of the outcrop, you can see frilly, flowery shaped lichens, which are actully a fungus and an alge living together. They get their nutrients by litterally eating the rocks on which they live. Canon 20D - 1/320th, 86mm @ f/20, ISO 800.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Taking advantage of the low Sun, I got a number of images freezing birds in flight. House Finches are the most common birds in my yard and at my feeder, so its only natural that I'd get some nice shots of them too. Here a pair of males take flight, the one to the right is taking a sunflower seed with him. Canon 20D - 1/1600th, 70mm @ f/5.6, ISO 800, cropped ~ 1/3 full frame.

Cardinalis sinuatus

Pyrrhuloxia is a Grosbeak that looks a lot like the Northern Cardinal, but as you can see, this male is mostly gray with red as opposed to the all red Cardinal males. Pyrrhuloxia are year round residents of souteast Arizona, southern New Mexico and Texas and their range extends down through Mexico.
After a short, late afternoon nosh, this male is captured immediately after leaving my feeder, with its flapping wings at the bottom of its power stroke. Canon 20D - 1/1600th, 70mm @ f/5.6, ISO 800, cropped ~ 1/10 full frame

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Lion Rises

Finally a somewhat clear night. Here's the Schmidt telescope dome on Mt. Bigelow. Above the dome you can see the constellation Leo, the Lion, rising in the east. The dome is illuminated by the lights of Tucson, 6500 feet below. Canon 20D, 30 seconds, 20mm @ f/1.8, ISO 800

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Black-Throated Sparrow

The birds are slowly becoming more used to my presence and the sounds of the camera. Here's another Black-Throated Sparrow that wasn't much bothered by me taking it's picture. This image is cropped about 25% from the orginal frame and I used Photoshop's "Sharpen More" filter to make the definition of the feathers "pop". Canon 20D - 1/800th, 300mm @ f/10, ISO 400

Saguaro Skeleton

I'm always looking for textures and contrasts and I found both in this Saguaro skeleton in my yard. I love the way the grays of the skelton brought out the orangy-yellows of the dust embedded in the pores. To accentuate the color in what could otherwise be a black & white image, I increased the red and yellow saturation in Photoshop. Canon 20D - 1/60th, 300mm (Macro) @ f/29, ISO 200

Thirsty Thrasher

A Curved-Bill Thrasher in a more natural setting than the last image of one I posted. This one was very wary of me standing near the open water in my front yard, but after a while it grew comfortable enough, (or thirsty enough) to finally start drinking. Canon 20D - 1/400th, 300mm @ f/9, ISO 200

A Collared Peccary

A.k.a. Javelina, Tayaussa or Musk Hog, this one was headed in my direction, not more than 25 feet away. I was taking more bird pics in my front yard, where there is water when I heard some grunts to my right. I spotted this Javelina, along with two others, heading right for me. Apparently they were coming over for a drink. I started snapping shots, and while they have good hearing, the sound of the mirror slapping and shutter opening and closing did not deter them. I continued to watch them and take more shots, but knowing they have poor eyesight, but sharp teeth and tusks, I decided once they got too close for my comfort it was time to make my presence known. I moved back a few feet and the hair on their backs went straight up and they ran... Thankfully it was away from me, not at me! Canon 20D - 1/800th, 300mm @ f/10, ISO 400

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Natural Abstract Art

This art took hundreds of millions of years to produce. Every year Tucson hosts it's Gem and Mineral Show. Also featured are things that interest me more, fossils and meteorites. This image is a section of one of the fossil slabs that I purchased to make tables tops.
What you see here are shelled sea creatures known as Orthoceras. They are related to the current day Nautilus. They lived and died about 400 million years ago in an age called the Devonian, when plants and animals first started to colonize the lands and fishes filled the oceans. Canon 20D - 1/3 second, 34mm @ f/5, ISO 100, using the on camera flash.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Meanwhile, back to the office... Here's the 1.5 meter telescope on Mt. Lemmon, 9157 feet above sea level. This night was the second to last night before we shut down for the Full Moon in February. Clouds, the bright moonlight and poor seeing conspired to make this an unproductive night, work wise. Polaris, or the Northern Star, is the brightest one over the dome. Polaris is the end of the handle of the "Little Dipper" or Ursa Minor, which can be seen curving down to the right. This shot was one of a series taken for an animation. The image was stretched and the levels slightly adjusted to bring out the dark blue of the sky and the stars beyond. Canon 20D - 30 seconds, 20mm @ f/1.8, ISO 400

Arizona is known for it's beautiful sunsets. Here's one from the second week of December, 2005 It was taken from Mt. Bigelow in the Catalina Mountains, north of Tucson. Canon 20D - 8/10ths second, 43mm @ f/32, ISO 100

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A bit of bright color for today. Some Caladium leaves from my backyard in Florida. Olympus C-3020

Saturday, February 11, 2006

My last Kitt Peak image for a while. The Space Watch dome has already opened a bit to let in the fading light so the astronomers can perform their final tasks in preparation for the night's observations. The 4-meter and 90" domes will also be opened shortly. Canon 20D - 1/25th, 42mm @ f/22, ISO 400

Friday, February 10, 2006

One of the neat things you can do with digital cameras is create animations from a series of exposures taken in succession. This image of (from left to right) the 36" Spacwatch dome, the 90" & the 4-meter dome on Kitt Peak, is from one such series. The mountain top and domes are illuminated by a 1st quarter moon, while the clouds in lower center, depressingly, are illuminated from the ground, near Phoenix. Note that the Space Watch dome was rotating during this exposure. Canon 20D - 30 seconds, 20mm @ f/1.8, ISO 400
A number of minutes after the Sun dipped below the horizon at Kitt Peak, these cirrus clouds were still in the sunlight. While clouds are a bane for astronomers, they are appreciated by photographers. Canon 20D - 1/250th, 70mm @ f/8. ISO 200
Orion, along with the "Big Dipper", is one of the most widely known constellations in the sky. The night my 20mm f/1.8 lens arrived I had to try it out. The most basic types of astrophotos are simply placing the camera on a tripod, focusing at infinity and opening the shutter. Long exposures produce images with "star trails", because the Earth's rotation makes the stars appear to move in the sky. Shorter exposures, like this one, reduce the trailing of the stars. Canon 20D - 30 seconds, 20mm @ f/1.8, ISO 800

Thursday, February 09, 2006

What's this? Rain! 115 days without rain, this is a most welcome sight. A small fire near where I work on Mt. Bigelow, north of Tucson, had us a bit concerned. Hopefully more rain will be coming soon. Canon20D - B&W setting, 1/20th, 20mm @ f/ 18. ISO 100

A Cactus Wren surveys the area from a prickly perch. Taken within minutes of the Curve-Billed Thrasher image, the lighting is flatter than I'd like. Canon 20D - 1/400th, 300mm @ f/ 7.1, ISO 400

The lighting was a bit flat due to an overcast sky when this Curve-Billed Thrasher visited the feeder outside my bedroom window. Canon 20D - 1'250th, 300mm @ f/5.6, ISO 1600
A male Gamble's Quail stepping out, searching for seeds. Canon 20D - 1/1640, 300mm @ f/8, ISO 200
A White Crowned Sparrow, again in my front yard. It just kept preening while I got a number of pictures. Canon 20D - 1/250th, 300mm @ f/10, ISO 200
Three male and two female House Finches patiently wait for me to move far enough away from the feeder, so they could return to the feast. Canon 20D - 1/250th, 214mm @ f/10, ISO 200
Last week I went up to Kitt Peak National Observatory to visit my friend Jim, seen here in the lower part of the image, in shadow. We were going to compare my 20mm lens to Jim's 24mm, both Sigma asphericals. Here, we are waiting for sunset. Note the pinkish-orange hue to the scene. In the background from right to left are the 4-meter, the 90" and the 36" Spacewatch 1 telescope domes. To bring up Jim's shaded face, I applied a 50% gradient from top to bottom and stretched the levels in Photoshop. Canon 20D - 1/20th, 18mm @ f/22, ISO 400

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

This Black Throated Sparrow came to investigate what I was doing walking around my front yard. He posed and waited for me to take his picture and then was off on his rounds. Canon 20D - 1/250th, 300mm @ f/11, ISO 200

A closeup of a Saguaro in my front yard. The hole is used by a Gila Woodpecker much of the time, but when the shot was taken he was out. Canon 20D - 1/125th, 86mm @ f/14, ISO 200

Years ago, when I was a fireman, I grabbed this shot at a warehouse fire. You see the engine crew advancing the hose. This was immediately before there was any water on the fire. You can almost feel the heat. Nikon FG-20 on film, most likely 70mm @ f/4, 1/60th second .

The Schmidt Dome on Mt. Bigelow with the constellation Orion overhead. The dome of the 61" Kuiper Telescope can be seen in shadow to the right. Canon 20D - 30 seconds, 18mm @ f/3.5, ISO 800

Inspired by my friend Jim, (Pictures of my Universe) I have started up my own blog to share my images. To start off, here's a shot I grabbed through my bedroom window just as the Sun rose above the mountains to my southeast. Canon 20D - 1/40th sec., 263mm @ f/5.6, ISO 200