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Monday, July 31, 2006

Cooperative Butterfly

This butterfly landed on the sand of the wash not too far from me. After taking a few shots, I moved to get a better angle and I spoked it. I watched as it fluttered up above and past my head and back down to alight on the sand, this time in almost the perfect position and much closer to me as if it were an experenced model knowing how to pose just so. Canaon 20D - 1/500th, 300mm f/8, ISO 100

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Trickling Rapids

The terrain funnels all of the water is the wash to this one point, where it drops over the rocks four or five feet. There is also a fualt in the rock here, so during heavy flows, the water scrubs the rock clear. Lighter flows flow through the crack in the rock, carving the channel just visible upper right. Canon 20D - 1/40th, 18mm @ f/16, ISO 100, Green "filter", Purple tint

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Fresh Braids

Another night of rain, often heavy, promised new things to explore outside my front door. One natural catchment nearby was filled with the sound of frogs croaking for their mates. Other areas of "my" wash still had small streams of water flowing over the rocks, gently disappearing into the sand only to reveal their presence just under the surface when I would sink into the quicksand to above my ankles.
This is actually one of the last shots I took as I walked up the wash this time instead of following the flow. The wash was flowing well in the dark of night, but the last good flow of the storm left distinct patterns in the sand. Canon 20D - 1/30th, 18mm @ f/22, ISO 100, Orange "filter", Sepia toning

Friday, July 28, 2006

Dry wash, threatening skies

Coming around a bend while walking down the wash near my home, I came up on this relatively straight stretch of sand. It is one of the clearest areas along the wash. I liked the way the canine footprints lead the eye along the path of the water. The prints might have been left by dogs or coyotes. I've recently started shooting in raw, and I really like the flexibility it provides over jpg. This image first had the exposure recompensated, then I choose the red filter effect, and finally I gave it sepia toning with the raw converter. After that, a TIF was sent to Photoshop where I masked and increased the contrast of the sky to bring up the details there. Canon 20D - 1/640th, 108mm @ f/20, ISO 1600

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Black Rocks, White Lichen

The same image as the previous one, I chose to highlight the contrasts between the rock and the lichen. I chose the green channel here to brighten the greens and darken the rock even further. Same exposure details as before.

Red Rocks, Green Lichen

After today's 9 hours of rain ended, I explored one of the washes near my house. Somewhat disappointed that it had hardly been flowing and was pretty dry by the time I got there, I consoled myself in the deep saturatuion of color that overcast skies can bring. The strong red matrix of this conglomerate rock along the channel wall of the wash provided a beautiful contrast to the vibrant greens and highlights of yellow of the lichen attached to the rock. Canon 20D - 1/250th, 190mm @ f/20, ISO 1600

Black-Throated Hummer

With all the recent rain lately, the bushes on the south side of my house are a riot of color. This Black-Throated Hummingbird spends most of his day feeding or resting near by. I finally decided to take his picture. Even at 1250th of a second exposure, I haven't frozen his wing movement. Canon 20D - 1250th, 300mm @ f/7.1, ISO 1600

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Another image taken with the 1.5-meter telescope. This galaxy, Messier 101, is located about 24 million light-years distant. This image was obtained in late May for Astronomy Camp. It is a composite of 45, sixty second exposures. Each image had a Richardson-Lucy deconvolution performed to sharpen it. Then, after they were all aligned and median combined, five seperate TIF images were produced, each onestretched to show fainter areas. Then each TIFF was added as a layer in Photoshop and the burned out areas masked to reveal the bright details. A final contrast adjustment and unsharp mask produced the image you see here.

Friday, July 21, 2006

High Rainbows over the Schmidt

Due to the monsoons, this last observing run was a bust. The last evening we had yet another torrential rain that covered the Catalinas as well as northern Tucson. Just as it was finally ending, I walk outside the dome to see how good a rainbow would be in the sky. I wasn't disappointed. Canon 20D - 1/50th, 18mm @ f/4.5, ISO 100

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Great globular cluster in Hercules

Aka Messier 13 (M13) is one of the showpiece deep sky objects of the northern night sky. Made up of approximately one million stars, this cluster is 25100 light-years distant. This image was taken with the 1.5-m (60") telescope on Mt. Lemmon. The final image is a combination of 34, five-second exposures for a total intergration of 170 seconds.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Where did the birds go?

Sitting on her window sill, Syndey looks out through the screen. I thought about using a polarizing filter to cut down on the reflections in the glass Instead I choose to keep the reflections as it adds some depth to the image. The screening softens the image too. Canon 20D - 1/125th, 41mm @ f/9, ISO 800, green channel.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nearly Full

The night after I took the M31 image, I grabbed this shot of the nearly full moon through the same telescope. There is not much detail to be seen because of the shadowless lighting. Only the ray systems are best seen near full moon. Canon 20D - 1/2500th, 80mm @ f/5, ISO 800

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Andromeda Galaxy

Here's a final image that I managed to get during the recent clear skies. As often happens, the night skies cleared around the time of full moon. Full moon is the time most optical astronomers would prefer to have cloudy skies since they usually stop observing because the sky is so bright. However, I wanted to experiment a bit to see what I could do with my inexpensive 80mm f/5 refractor, so I ignored the bright sky to get an idea of what could be done with this telescope and the 20D.
My tagret for the evening was the Andromeda Galaxy, or M31. This galaxy is the twin of our own galaxy, The Milky Way, and one of our closest neighbors, residing only 2 million light-years away.
This image is made up of 157 - 15 second exposures, combined with a piece of freeware called Rot 'n' Stack. Once this software finished up, I then applied some additional processing in Photoshop, stretching and a radial gradient mask, to knock down the bright, uneven background. Not too bad considering how poor the conditions were the night it was taken. I'm looking forward to doing this under dark skies. Canon 20D - 39 minutes, 15 seconds total integration, 80mm @ f/5, ISO 800

Monday, July 10, 2006

One more

One last image of the sunset light painting dramatically against the clouds and mountains. canon 20D- 1/50th, 55mm @ f/5.6, ISO 100

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Rincons under Illuminated Cloud Bottoms

Another shot, this one looking northeast to the Rincon Mountains. More virga at just the right location provides a splash of color from a small arc of a rainbow. Canon 20D - 1/200th, 92mm @ f/5.6, ISO 1600

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Illuminated Cloud Bottoms

After another day of heavy rain and 1/2 inch hail, there were breaks in the clouds near sunset. There were clearer skies to the west, so once the Sun's elevation was less than the cloud layer, light streamed across the valley and lit up the bottoms of the clouds around me. Here's one shot with the MMT observatory on the peak of Mt. Hopkins in the middle distance, a bit of virga can be seen dropping from the foreground clouds to the right, while the cumulus clouds lower right are way off in the distance, in Mexico. Canon 20D - 1/60th, 149mm @ f/4.5, ISO 100

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sydney on the cell

Obviously these cell cams are limited, but I was rather surprised at how well this image of Sydney came out. It was taken with the a single compact floresent blub in a shaded lamp. Sony Ericson Z500a - Unknown shutter speed, 3.3mm @ f/2.8, Unknown ISO, 640 x 480 pixels

Cell Phone Pics

Like many cell phones today, my phone has a a camera on it. I've been experimenting a bit to see the quality of the images that it can produce. Not surprisingly, they aren't great. Here's almost the same shot as the one below. SonyEricson Z500a - Unknown shutter speed, 3.3mm @ f/2.8, Unknown ISO, 640 x 480 pixels

A Pulse of Dry Air

The rains let up a small amount yesterday due to some dry air coming up from Baja California. Canon 20D - 1/200th, 18mm @ f/9, ISO 100

Image Ten Thousand

People always like nice round numbers, like when the odometer in your car passes a certain number. Here's an image that is special for no other reason than that. One of an animation series at Mt. Bigelow, this rather nondescript image is the 10,000th image I've taken with my Canon 20D - 30 seconds, 20mm @ f/1.8, ISO 100