Done my part

Cranberry cheesecake and sourdough bread
Yep, I’ve done my bit! Cranberry cheesecake and two loaves of onion sourdough bread for tomorrow. Now it’s up to The Girlfriend for the rest.

Okay, no, I’ve done the bits that are kinda exclusive to me, but I’ll still be helping out with the rest – I just won’t be needing the kitchen for my stuff. And The Girlfriend does sourdough too, but we each have our own favored recipes; hers is more of a sweeter, dessert bread, while mine is aimed for sandwiches and paninis. Meanwhile, the cranberry cheesecake recipe is simply one that I found online a few years ago, but it’s fantastic, and pretty easy to do. Check it out, only change everything that reads “lemon” in that recipe to “lime” instead. You’ll thank me for it.

And no, no turkey – we have roast duck instead, which beats the hell out of turkey, but we can only get away with that because we’re feeding five people total (2 ducks.) And when those carcasses have been stripped down, they will become soup, which is also fabulous (and also my recipe.)

Yes I’m gloating. I’m not a ‘foodie’ or anything, but I know what I like, and often how to make it even better. And unlike my photos, you have to take my word for it… ;-)

It’s more important as you get older

I feel bad about posting this a little later in the day – normally I’m on top of things like this, I guess it slipped my mind – but today begins a holiday week, which is Respect Your Elders Week. Yes, all week, until Monday December 2nd, we are required to be respectful, kind, and obedient to those who are older, wiser, and more patient than we are. Not that anyone should need to be told this, really, but this is a reminder for those who tend to lose sight of, you know, the big picture, or fail to properly appreciate the help that we’ve received over the years. At the very least, we should be canning the snark for a bit.

Oh, and while we’re here, be sure to wish Mr Bugg a happy birthday! He’s only a hair over half my age, now.

Take that, younger Al!

I was thinking that the crescent moon was going to be bigger than it actually was this morning, so I checked with Stellarium and my sunrise/moonrise app to see when it would appear, knowing that it would be early morning close to sunrise and the sky should be perfectly clear. “Perfectly” is naturally imperfect, by nature – while we may not see distinct and visible clouds, there remains atmospheric humidity and distortion, the more so the lower we see something in the sky because we’re looking at a flatter angle through the sphere of air that surrounds the planet, so a greater thickness of it. And yet, with the help of my compass app (just burning the hell out of the ol’ smutphone,) I located it, and snagged a few pics.

very thin crescent moon, 28 hours from new
Not a lot to see, and might perhaps have been sharper, but there was no way autofocus would have even found this in the frame, so I was focusing manually on a little sliver. Then again, atmospheric haze so low on the horizon (this was only up 10°) might have prevented anything sharper anyway. The smudges to the right, by the way, are the branches of a tree in the foreground.

So I checked after editing the photo, and found that I captured this just 28 hours ahead of new moon, when the sun would be completely behind it and thus not illuminating the side we can see at all. I was curious, remembering that I’d attempted this once before, and went looking: actually, the previous attempt was 70 hours ahead of new, so I handily trashed that personal record. Go older me!

For giggles, I may try again in a couple of hours, when the sun is fully up (it had not quite risen when I got this one,) and see what I can see. I’m not holding my breath, because glare is going to be a serious issue, but it might be interesting. If something turns up, you’ll be seeing it here of course.

No, I wasn’t talking about you, Buggato ;-)

Red and blue

You are surely not thinking in terms of some damn sports thing; how unbelievably lame that would be! No, naturally we’re talking about red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) with the first bit, a pair of which were wheeling overhead earlier this morning. We’d gone through a solid day and night of rain, but the front pushed through leaving the skies crystal clear while dropping the temperature a bit, and the birds were celebrating this in fashion. I was still having a little bit of focus lock issues (appearing worse because of tight crops here,) and I’m still piecing together the reasons, but this is what we have for now.

red-tailed hawk Buteo jamaicensis crusing overhead
For reasons unknown, what used to be the most-populated hawk in the area has been much lower in numbers in the past decade or so, at least by my observations (and we all know not to question those by now,) but seem to be on the increase, so I was happy to fire off a few shots in a brief session. And by “few,” I mean “79,” but they weren’t all hawks, plus I was doing sequences as the birds circled, hoping to catch the best fleeting light angles and behavior. Above, not the sharpest pic that I’ve ever taken, but I caught the hawk in mid call, at least. Below, however, represents one of the reasons that I will fire off a lot or frames, because such positions tend to last only a moment or so and are hard to make out in the viewfinder.

red-tailed hawk Buteo jamaicensis with head twisted around
Now, the question for the ages, since the hawk was disinclined to answer me: is it looking up, or down? When I first saw them, before the camera was in hand – yes I put it down every once in a great while – there were two riding the thermals almost directly above the house, but by the time I returned with the 150-600 lens, one of them (judging from the unchanging location of the calls, because I never spotted it again,) had found a perch in a tree about 50 meters or so off. So I’m betting on ‘down,’ but who can say for sure in this day and age?

By the way, I say “riding the thermals” because that’s mostly how red-tails fly; they’re heavy birds and so conserve energy by picking days with nice updrafts to stay aloft over a prime area without flapping much at all. The crossroads very close by and the bright sunlight were combined to create a nice localized thermal in the immediate vicinity, so I could watch this one for several minutes without it moving off at all.

The next one, however, I’m not complaining about at all.

red-tailed hawk Buteo jamaicensis seen edge-on
This is sized for the blog and for pleasant framing, and so doesn’t get the best treatment here, but the sharpness holds up to near-full resolution; it could be a tad sharper, but for a moving subject at 600mm, it’s pretty solid.

By the way, I just realized as I was typing this that the photos here represent both individuals, so I guess they traded off on perches or something. I’m inclined to say the first, at top, is the male, mostly because of the tail, but also because of the calling, which makes the other shots the female – notice the difference in belly speckling. That trait isn’t a gender thing, but variations found throughout the species; some have the barest hint of the “belly band,” while others barely have any clear patches.

Now, why the pair was behaving this way right now, I can’t say (at least until my attorney clears it.) It seemed like mating behavior, but this is entirely the wrong time of year for that. However, I may have to do a little research, partially because of the species appearing next.

pair or perching eastern bluebirds Sialia sialis, female and male
Now we’ve gotten to the “blue” part, so you can stop fretting. These eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) – female on the left, male on the right – were among the very many birds active this morning, and a pair checked out the bluebird house within a few meters of my stance in the front yard; they may have been disappointed because I’m fairly certain that it’s presently occupied by a southern flying squirrel. While I’ve never had this confirmed by anyone with ornithological expertise, I’ve seen it often enough to believe it, but it seems bluebirds at least will check out potential nesting locales on their way south in the fall, to have a place in mind on their return in the spring. So were the red-tails doing the same? Or were they merely taking advantage of the conditions? Maybe we’re under surveillance by the avian cartel? Is something about to go down? If the blog suddenly goes quiet, check the news for something strange.

“Oh, hello there”

That’s exactly what I said when I spotted my photo subject, but let’s build the drama first. It’s project day, and I was doing various things out in the yard. Once finished, I had to hose out a wheelbarrow and my shovels, and took the frost guard off the spigot and reattached the hose, then cleaned off everything. Or so I thought [Dramatic music here for no reason at all.] Finding one more thing in need of cleaning, I bent down and grabbed the hose again, and saw some movement fairly close to my face.

Now, the temperature isn’t bad, being around 13°c – I’m working in a T-shirt, but expending a bit of effort and sniffling a little, and that’ll be the peak temperature for today while it’s been a lot colder at nights. So I figured we’d seen the last of my friend here for the season.

black rat snake Pantherophis obsoletus alert in coiled garden hose
That’s a black rat snake (Pantherophis obsoletus,) and not only the first I’ve seen on the property, it’s one of the very few snakes ever found here. I’m pleased, because they’re my favorite local species, both able to get to an impressive size and pretty mellow, despite the fact that my subject here wasn’t very happy with having been disturbed and is definitely in defensive mode. Big fat hairy deal, really – the bite of a black rat snake is harmless and pretty innocuous; I’ve had more damage done by thorn bushes.

Don’t think that I missed the similarity to the circumstances of the last one that I found, less than a month ago (but the weather hadn’t yet turned cold then.) And of all the places to spot one, this seemed odd by being exposed enough not to conserve body heat very well, and also not likely to produce any food, but far be it from me to question the lifestyle choices of serpents. My specimen here is likely a little less than a meter in length, by the way, and perhaps slightly thicker than my thumb at midbody.

Let’s do a longer shot so you can see how well it was hidden from sight.

coiled garden hose with black rat snake Pantherophis obsoletus nestled within
And bear in mind, I was firing off the flash to help illuminate the corner, which is semi-shaded.

I left the snake alone, mostly to rush inside to make a new post (still panting with excitement,) but also to encourage it to stay. I must add that The Girlfriend may not be as thrilled about this as I am.

Supplies are low, outlook bleak

berries of unidentified tree
The last couple of months this year have been pretty poor for macro photography, from what appeared to be a bad birthing season to begin with, through a long drought that ended as the weather turned much colder, so subjects have been few and far between, and it’s only going to get worse from here (until it gets better again, but that’ll probably be in the spring.) So we’ll have just a couple of photos for now, and wait to see what the winter brings.

Above, the berries of… we have no idea. It’s a small, very spare decorative tree by the front door that was here when we moved in, never does very well, and produces enough leaves to put Charlie Brown’s christmas tree to shame, but only just. You’re looking at literally half of the total berries it produced this fall. If you know what it is, tell us, not that it matters much – someday we will replace it with something viable. This was shot in bright daylight against the clear sky, but at my typical macro settings which would normally render things a bit dark in those conditions if it weren’t for the flash unit, thus the deep color of the sky.

In years past, the yard has been pretty well populated with barn spiders (Araneus cavaticus,) but this year was a lot leaner in that regard – not exactly a bad thing, because walking around in the yard at night is otherwise fraught with the danger of walking directly through their large webs, which are generally created at night and may be placed anywhere from chest height on up. I personally would have thought we were past this season, but was shown otherwise.

barn spider Araneus cavaticus weathering the fall temperatures
This is a mid-sized specimen, so about 12mm or so in body length, and thoughtfully occupying the branches of a small tree against the fenceline, so out of anyone’s path. What she was intending to capture at this point, I have no idea; spiders themselves can be pretty cold-hardy, but their common prey is usually much less so. This was shot within minutes of the previous, same settings on the camera, but aimed into a shadowed area so it appears more like night.

unidentified mushroom
The recent rains had provoked a small outbreak of mushrooms in the yard, and I selected one that was reasonably photogenic, which just goes to show you how little else there is to photograph, because I generally ignore them. I’m not even going to go through the effort of trying to determine the species; if you really need to know then go look it up. I’ve done my part bellying down on the damp ground to get this perspective, because you can well imagine that a normal view would show you a bland little dome.

Now, out of curiosity last night I took out the ultra-violet flashlight to see what might fluoresce. I tried it on the barn spider above (nothing of interest,) and a large centipede that I spotted on the wall (ditto,) and some small snail shells that I’d collected from the lake of my youth in NY (so unreactive in UV light as to be completely boring.) With all of these failures, I was just shining it idly around the yard on my return trip when I got a bright flash of yellow: some of the mushrooms that I’d found earlier. Most of the ones I saw at this time were in varying later stages of collapse, so not the most photogenic subjects for in situ shots, but I collected a couple of caps to do shots indoors instead. Here’s the view in normal light, for comparison.

unidentified mushrooms in visible light
Nothing surprising or remarkable, of course. But now here they are in UV light.

unidentified mushrooms in ultra-violet light
That’s a pretty distinctive response, especially since the visible beam of the light is deep violet, and it could be spotted from a moderate distance as well; photographs don’t quite do it justice. But it only came from the underside of the cap, those ribs or flutes or whatever mycologists call them. Does this do something for the mushroom, or is it only a by-product of their composition? I have no idea – UV fluorescence is still being studied and pondered over, since some elements possess it naturally, but then various species seem to have it for a reason. The underside of the cap is the portion of the fungus that would get the least UV light, so…?

And I did try to find the same pinkish mushroom from further up to shoot it from the same perspective, but could not locate it. Maybe it had been eaten in the interim, or I’d already trodden on it. But I tried.

Storytime 47

moody red wine abstract, maybe
I can’t remember the exact reason behind this image (which is a great way to start a story, doncha think?) but I know it was for a photo challenge. Was it Low Light? Alcoholism? Weak Construction? I dunno, something.

I do remember staging this carefully, though granted this was not an hours-long process – more like twenty minutes or so all told. I picked a bare spot at the end of the counter and set up my three items, adjusting the tripod carefully to bring it together. Take a moment to drink it all in (A ha ha ha ha ha ha! Did you get that?) before we proceed.

“Wait, three items?” you asked if you were on top of things, or “Oh, yes, of course three items,” if you were even more on top of things, because there’s a candle positioned behind the wine glass, the sole light source but also the item that’s giving the wine glass its particular look, and visibly reflected in the bottle. The candle flame itself didn’t quite work if it shone directly through the glass, so the camera was positioned to lose the flame in the distortion at the top of the wine level, while the candle body gives the glass a geometric highlight. The base of the candle can still be seen, but it’s so subtle that it easily escapes attention. The wine bottle was positioned carefully not only to offset the glass in the frame, but also to distance its shadow a little more – too close and it had this looming presence over the bottle.

If you were really sharp, you might have noticed that it’s a bottle of white wine, so not matched at all to the glass. And this last bit I don’t really expect anyone to have figured out, but it’s not wine in the glass anyway – I think it’s root beer, vigorously stirred to lose all carbonation and watered down to bring the color to the ‘appropriate’ hue. The focus on the glass rather than the bottle subtly communicates that the specific wine is unimportant. Overall of course, the idea was to produce a mellow vibe – more than a bit trite, and you know how I feel about alcohol, but also recognizable among the majority of people.

I don’t even need to point out that the top of the glass and the wine level indicate that the counter isn’t very level – everyone spotted that right off, I’m sure…

Now, a slightly more serious moment, and I do apologize and will be back to frivolous and trivial commentary soon. While the photo has a bare minimum of factors within it, there’s one that most often escapes attention yet still has a role in how the image looks, and that’s the highlight on the back wall. This one came simply from the flame peeking over the lip of the candle, but product photographers often shape and position these with extreme care, because that glow or halo can draw more attention in particular directions, as well as giving a better ‘feel’ to the key subject, whether that’s a more pleasing color tone or more distinctive shaping or what have you. In this case it almost indicates a warm glow above the glass, certainly directing our attention more there than to the wine bottle (which is far too indistinct for an advertisement, certainly.) But might it have been better if the glow centered more on the bowl of the glass? Can the color of the glow itself be more appealing? These kinds of things are carefully studied in advertising, and even though they may produce only a 0.01% increase in sales through subtle manipulation, that’s still an increase. Personally, I feel that most of this is overblown; people might like one photo better than another, but the number of people that are affected enough to be influenced in their buying decisions is, I suspect, a hell of a lot less than imagined. But some people actually make their money by convincing others that their input is valuable.

Only those who risk going too far…

… can know how far they can truly go. That’s the way the saying goes, anyway – I’ve always felt that encouraging people to exceed their limits wasn’t the wisest of proverbs, but at least it gives them something to put on a tombstone.

However, I am vaguely motivated to put up even more photos, to see if I’ll set a new record this year, because the only person I’ll compete with is myself. And while I could always toss up some images for the sake of it, I’m aiming for content that has at least a little interest, that has something to say in some manner. But what to do? Monochrome comes to mind, but I’ve tackled black & white numerous times before and even have a whole gallery devoted to it, so no. Maybe if I went in entirely the other direction? I do already have that image that I did an experiment on, sitting in the blog folder awaiting a time to tackle it, so maybe I’ll do an extended post on it? Yeah.

crescent moon at dusk
This is the deal. While sorting photos some time back, I noticed the barest hint of color coming from the sky in this dusk shot, taken while in SC earlier this year – the skies were too clear much of the time. But I was curious to see what happened if I boosted saturation in GIMP. This is something I rarely ever do; I have some in-camera settings to compensate for low contrast days, but for the most part, I tend to keep my images ‘as-shot,’ or occasionally tweaking the color more towards white light (rather than the blue-ish light found in deep shadows, for instance.) Bot sometimes the color just needs a boost, and this rarely exceeds a setting of “20” within the program. 20 what? you ask, and that’s a good question. Percentage, maybe? What’s being measured here? I don’t know, but the max is 100. So let’s slam the throttle against the stops.

crescent moon at dusk, super-saturated
Because the image was so muted in color in the first place, this doesn’t look too far out of line (especially when we’re bombarded with over-amped colors from much of our media.) It certainly accentuates the bare hint of sunset colors on the horizon there, but overall, it might only be a hair past what people would accept as ‘normal.’ We’ve started something here.

lily pads after rain
What’s funny is, I find nothing lacking in any of the images that I selected for this experiment – they were chosen for the limited palette, but the palette is natural, the product of the subject and in some cases (like here) the lighting and angle. But there’s no better way to make a photo seem bland than to compare it against an oversaturated version.

lily pads over-saturated
In most of these cases, I not only pushed the slider to 100, I did it again, going between 40 and 100 on a second pass depending on how much grain started to appear. This is noticeably harsh now, but still retaining the look of a photo – much farther and it becomes a painting in a head shop.

In some subjects, there are more colors than we would immediately detect.

ghost crab semi-buried
Sure, there’s some yellow on the legs, and a hint of blue in the carapace perhaps, but the sand itself is ‘grey.’ This is only a half-step away from monochrome by itself, and rendering it as such wouldn’t make anyone look twice. In fact, even treated it with the high-contrast method that I posted about earlier eliminates enough detail that it virtually becomes unrecognizable. Nope – we’re going t’other way.

ghost crab over-saturated
Definitely too far, but the colors are complementary at least, and it makes us realize that there are other colors in there. Let’s do it again! (This is getting so exciting!)

marsh rabbit being complacent
This marsh rabbit was in open shadow not long after sunrise, so the light is still a bit blue, but that’s okay right now. The effect wouldn’t have been as interesting if I’d corrected back to neutral white light, because the greens would have become stronger. We need them muted a little.

marsh rabbit over-saturated
Yeah, wow, we could certainly do without the glaring foliage, but the rabbit looks good with a bit of indigo accenting, doesn’t it? Something for breeders to aim for.

I had to recrop this next one.

semi-submerged alligator
The gator itself was fine, but the loose organic debris in the water was colorful enough in the original to become unmanageable when boosted, so I cropped most of it out.

semi-submerged alligator over-saturated
I rolled this one back to 140 or so, because the water was starting to get all pixelated. But I’m reminding myself that I have to live someplace where I can see these guys are a more regular basis. While I know an awful lot of people that consider living close to such reptiles to be horrifying, those people are all dweebs – gators are supremely cool. Look at those textures!

And a last, fun one, even though we just had this as a post subject.

gibbous moon by telescope
This was taken back 10 years ago with the telescope that I had then, since sold. I’ve picked up another now, a little smaller, but as yet haven’t tackled the photography end of it, because so far my collimation efforts haven’t been up to snuff and focus is not ideal. It’s on the project list, so be patient (i need to order a proper collimating eyepiece.) This image, I admit, has undergone a slight color tweak, because there was a hair too much yellow in the mix, though I can’t say if this was courtesy of the atmosphere, the telescope used, or my camera settings. Whatever – it worked better with a trivial shift.

gibbous moon over-saturated
I had read somewhere that astronomers have done this kind of oversaturation just to figure out what elements are present in the surface itself, because they’ll all produce a different spectrum, so the colors are enhanced to magnify the distinctions. Is the green dominance in the terminator region indicative of anything? It’s possible – our sun puts out more light in the green spectrum than in any other color, and as a different wavelength it may have the greatest effect in shadows where there’s no atmosphere, but then again, it might also be an artifact of the image itself – a camera thing that isn’t real. One of these days I’ll do some tests above the atmosphere and compare them.

It remains the slow season of course, so new photos will be more scarce, but I do have a small handful of recent macro images coming, that I may yet add to. But before that, we have our weekly storytime.

It’s all gone dark

The sky did indeed clear enough to do some detailed moon shots, but alas, I was a hair too late.

For those just joining us and not having read enough posts on this blog, get the fuck out no one wants your kind around here I have, for no reason that anyone should examine closely, had the goal of just catching sunrise on the central peak of Tycho, probably the best known crater on the moon. Due to the geological nature of meteor impacts, the crater has a mountain of debris right in the middle, meaning that as the sun rises across the lunar landscape, at some point it touches the tip of this mountain before any portion within, and this is just barely visible from Earth, with enough magnification. If your timing is right.

Sunrise takes place a lot slower on the moon than it does here, because the moon rotates much slower, so the opportunity is much broader than here, but still fairly specific – I honestly don’t know what the exact window is, only that I keep missing it. This morning, I was aiming for sunset instead, because it’s dusk there now. Missed that too. Or I caught it, depending on your view, but to be specific, the sun was no longer illuminating that peak.

First, however, the conditions. In the previous post I said they were shitty but improving, and they improved enough to be of use, but not perfect – there was still a bit of haze in the sky obscuring things a little, and throwing a glow around the moon in a widely variable manner.

not quite half moon in hazy conditions
I bracketed exposure fairly broadly (never trust the camera meter for such things) to try and bring out the haze while retaining a smidgen of moon detail, and this was probably the best I was gonna get – you can see some scribbling along the terminator there. But we can do better.

not-quite-half moon in detail
This is tightly cropped of course, but about half the camera’s resolution, and my guess a few days ago of when to come back was fairly solid – there’s a chance that, had I been able to see the moon when I first checked (about 1 AM,) I might have just caught it. Taken about 5 AM, this was certainly too late. Let’s check the replay, shall we?

full res crop of Tycho past sunset
This is a full-resolution crop now. The yellow line is pointing to Tycho, and as you can see, they ain’t no bright spots within the crater. Nertz.

The larger crater over to the right in the image, with a couple of smaller craters superimposed on the rim, is Clavius, while the small crater (with its own peak) sitting largely by itself in Mare Nubium is Bullialdus. There’s a chance I may go out a little later, after the sun is up here, and see if I can snag sunset on the peak in Bullialdus – it’ll be a little harder to make out since the air between us will be lit up by the sun, and scattering light more. Still, these were shot through a lot of humidity, so…

While we’re doing this, let’s see some detail over to the left.

tight crop of moon showing Copernicus
The more distinctive crater almost centered in the image is Copernicus, and this was noticeably the sharpest image that I got in the session, because some faint details of the rubble within Copernicus can be seen. Above it, more shadowed, is Eratosthenes, sitting at the end of the Lunar Apennines, a curving mountain range that shows up fairly well from Earth in the right conditions, even naked eye, and provides just a couple of specks here looming out of the shadows of the terminator. Most of that smooth open space is Mare Imbrium.

[By the way, these details are way the hell too small to make out in the viewfinder, so even with all attempts to render things as sharp as possible, manual or autofocus, really really precise focus is still a matter of chance, so refocus frequently. You can see that the sharpness is fading even around the curve of the moon, though some of this may be due to slightly thicker haze randomly distributed through the frame.]

One more thing to point out in this image. You can see two shallow craters ‘holding hands’ over to the right edge, little more than circles – those are Parry and Guericke. Continue the line that they create, to the left just slightly more than the distance between, and you’re within Frau Mauro, the landing site of Apollo 14 (and the proposed landing site of Apollo 13, before it blew a tire.) And no, no details of any landing sites can be made out from Earth, no matter what the telescope – they can barely be discerned from satellites orbiting the moon itself. BUT, go here, and use the zoom function. The dark spot towards the lower left marks the lander itself, and the squiggly lines are the tracks of the rover. For an idea of scale within my own image, though, the outer rims of Parry and Guericke are somewhere around 90 km (55 mi) apart.

A couple other notes, should you be attempting this yourself:

  • Turn off image stabilization, or whatever your manufacturer calls it. It was actually responsible for more than a few blurred images when it was activating for no reason, since the camera was on a tripod.
  • Have the tripod as low as you can get it. This reduces vibration. I was aiming pretty high in the sky for this, and would have had to have the center column raised a lot to use the viewfinder comfortably. Instead, I was sitting in the road (the trees in the immediate vicinity were blocking all views from the yard) behind my car.
  • Use a remote release. Don’t touch the camera. You’ll see why in a moment.
  • Mirror lock up is a great idea. This is exactly the kind of thing it’s used for.
  • Bracket exposure and focus widely. You’ll take a lot of shots, but a couple of keepers is all you need.
  • Don’t trust the LCD preview, for focus, exposure, or sharpness confirmation. It’s good for none of these, and in fact, good for almost nothing.
  • Here’s another look at a different exposure, which may bring out more shadow detail (no, still no sun on Tycho’s peak.)

    slightly overexposed not-quite-half moon
    This is a bit overexposed, especially since the moon material itself pretty much counts as 18% grey, perfect midtones. Notice how the lower edge gets really bright, which is because it’s getting more direct sunlight than the twilight areas front and center.

    And as a final aspect, I shot a few moments of video while out there, letting the camera pick its own exposure – it gets a bit darker, but the movement of the clouds/haze becomes much more apparent.

    The vibrations, start and end, come from my own hands pushing the Record button on the back of the camera, and this was despite my attempts to be as motionless as possible – why a remote release is highly recommended. But for giggles, just as the video starts, put your finger on the screen right at the bottom edge of the moon, and watch it move away from your finger – this is the actual movement of the moon in that time (or the rotation of the Earth, pick the frame of reference that suits your worldview.)

    Okay, so. While typing this out, The Girlfriend wanted to get some materials for a home project, so I had a mid-length interruption in there, and decided when we got back to shoot the moon again. Result: that shadow isolating the base of the peak in Bullialdus hasn’t noticeably advanced, even though Eratosthenes has about vanished. But check it for yourself:

    less-than-half moon in midmorning sky
    Again, Bullialdus is that smaller distinct crater, about two-thirds of the way down, all by itself.

    Now, don’t ask me about that grain, because I’m curious about it myself, and don’t think it should be there, but that’s a topic for another post perhaps. As for the orientation, well, that’s the way I shot it, but I was turned almost ninety degrees from the direction I was facing for the earlier shots. and the moon had tracked quite a bit more (for one, I no longer had to sit in the road.) So these are ‘as viewed,’ but at different points during the moon’s arc, so the moon is facing differently, yet still the same. Very zen. I think.

    Dum de dum de dum…

    abelia Caprifoliaceae blossom in mid-November
    It’s very early morning right now, or “night” as most would call it, and I’m waiting to see if the moon is going to appear – if my timing is right, I might be able to catch sunset on Tycho, as frequently mentioned (like, in the previous post.) The weather report says it’s supposed to be clear today after being partly cloudy yesterday, but neither of those matches the overcast conditions we have now. So while we’re waiting to determine if the meteorologists completely suck, we might as well see what kind of fall colors are to be found.

    Except… apparently our abelia bush (Caprifoliaceae) has been confused by the brief shock of cold weather and the adequate rains after a long drought, or has not seen its shadow or something, because it’s blooming. Well, okay, it has one bloom, perhaps a sentry. Since I was doing some lens and body tests yesterday, I fired off a few frames.

    Nearby, one of the oak-leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) that have been slowly getting a toehold in our rotten soil here was showing some of the autumn coloration that they’re known for and the reason we planted them, so I took a few of that, too.

    oak-leaf hydrangea Hydrangea quercifolia in fall
    This was taken in natural light, so you will note that it is much better than the overcast we are currently experiencing, of course. We are well away from the August holiday, and yet still able to celebrate it handily – funny, we seem able to be celebrate it damn near any day of the year, if my experience is some indication.

    Actually, I just checked out there now, and the moon is faintly visible among mixed clouds and haze, so, maybe – we’ve actually had a light rain (also not predicted) since I started editing the photos for this post. I’d say be patient, but since this is a blog and not some kind of feed, and the more recent posts appear above the older ones, you likely already know if I was successful. You could leave a comment, so I know if I’m wasting my time waiting or not.

    Meanwhile, one more shot just for the curiosity of it. The testing I was doing involved seeing if I could improve autofocus tracking, as mentioned previously, and so far it seems successful, but the acid tests have yet to come. While doing this, however, I followed a small flock of double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) as they passed, and the tight cluster they produced made it easy to do all three in a decent image, though largely silhouetted.

    tight trio of double-crested cormorants Phalacrocorax auritus in midair
    I feel obligated to mention that this is a trick of perspective – they’re not that buddy-buddy, but spaced further apart along our axis of sight. C’mon, you couldn’t tell that from the 7% difference in sizes between the three? Sheesh.

    By the way, we really did have the partly-cloudy conditions predicted then, so chalk one up for the weatherpeeps. Unfortunately, this means that at any given time while shooting birds in flight, they may be against blue sky, a mix, or full clouds as seen here. I could easily have timed it to be against blue (and did,) but not while they were so compact within the frame. So it goes. I could always GIMP it in…