Saturday, July 30, 2011

Weather Gods Conspire

Back in New Mexico for vacation.  Started this chronicle from here just about a year ago now.  On that trip I was thwarted by cloudy skies most of the nights so this year I thought I'd ratchet down the gear requirements while also doing something that worked with the weather.  Something that would be interesting come rain or shine.

That something would be time lapse - and as I quickly discovered - full of it's own set of crazy hair shirt intricacies and rituals.  Maybe more on that later.  For now I just want to complain about the weather.

I have two simple requests of the weather gods.  I need:  1.) completely clear (night) skies for some decent astrophotography, astrolanscape photography or time lapse astrophotography -or- 2.) full on raging thunderstorms, lightning, and rain for some cool daytime timelapse.

Request denied.  It's been clear as a bell in the mornings giving way to clouds and dull overcast skies in the afternoon and evening.  No thunderstorms to mention.  A few drops of rain.  pffffffft.  So far I've been pretty much skunked for photography (but just being here is wondrous enough).

Hey at least we came a couple weeks after the states largest forest fire ever which choked the skies with smoke and haze.  A real disaster and hardship which makes my complaining seem pathetic by comparison.

So as I wait for the skies to cooperate I did manage to get one nice picture.  Hopefully many more to come.

Scorpio escaping the clutches of Cerro Pedernal.

Stars over Pedernal

Taken at Ghost Ranch, NM  July 28, 2011
Canon T2i (stock), 
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM @ f/1.4
Manfrotto Tripod
5sec exposure @ ISO800

color adjusted Adobe RAW

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Montebello Summer Time Lapse

I spent the night of July 5 testing CCD gear.  I wanted to come home with more than some test frames so I set up the Canon with an interval timer and took 1hr 45min worth of images.  I started the exposures shortly after dusk at 9:30pm as the evening twilight gave way to darkness.

You can see many planes on their approach to SFO and a couple entering the frame from the right (headed south down the Pacific coast) on their way to destinations unknown.  Odd to think that each brief streak of light is a aluminum tube holding a hundred or more people.  Also visible are a couple meteors and some high clouds which briefly threatened to make it a short evening.  I also think there is a geostationary satellite in the mix.  It's a bit hard impossible to make it out in the postage stamp sized inline version that blogger provides.  You can double click on the video to see it at YouTube (HD even) but I'm also disappointed quality of the playback there.  It is very smooth in native playback on my laptop ... after upload to YouTube the playback is annoyingly jerky.  I'll have figure this one out.

Update:  Click here to watch it on flickr.  Much better.


In order to pan the field I use my Astrotrac tangent drive mounted horizontally and in "Southern Hemisphere" mode.  This causes the camera to pan opposite the earths rotation so I can get a very slow pan. You will notice near the end -  the panning stopped when the batteries died.

Montebello Milky Way

Taken at Montebello Open Space, CA  July 5, 2011
Canon T2i (stock), 
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM @ f/2.8
Manfrotto Tripod with Astrotrac mounted horizontal for pannning
398 10sec exposures @ ISO1600
,  5sec interval
no calibration, color adjusted in Pixinsight

Timelapse generated in QuickTime Player 7