Going from sunspots to startrails. The view is from my back deck over the roof. A tree in my front yard just blocks the north star. The image is a composite of 326 30-second exposures combined using the Startrails program. There are at least four jet trails, and a couple of meteor trails. The meteor trails are too faint in the composite, so I included a crop from a single image showing a meteor trail. I’ve also added a version of the startrails in B&W, converted using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.
Backyard Summertime Sky Over New Jersey. Solar Disk and Sunspots.
One of the websites that I follow for sunspot and auroral (northern light) activity is SpaceWeather.com. I noticed yesterday and today that there are three new sets of active sunspots (1260, 1261, and 1263). My telescopes have solar filters to allow safe viewing of the solar disk. The following images were taken with a 3.5″ and 7″ Questar telescope and clearly show the sunspots. The third image has some clouds passing in front of the solar disk. The solar filter for the 3.5″ telescope is darker (lets through less light) than the filter for the 7″ telescope. This required increasing the ISO and decreasing the shutter speed for the smaller telescope. Another issue with the smaller telescope is that it is much more sensitive to mirror slap and shutter motion. In order to get a sharp image, I used the mirror-up feature and waited 30 seconds to let the entire system stabilize. With the larger telescope this is still a problem, but attenuated due to the overall extra weight of the telescope relative to the Nikon D3s camera. The higher magnification of the larger telescope however, increases the effect of vibration. Focusing was done viewing the image through the camera using LiveView — and using a HoodMan to be able to view the LCD screen. After shooting images (and videos) for about 30 minutes, I did get a sensor over heating warning (which then turned LiveView off).
Backyard Summertime Nature in New Jersey. Deck Garden and Jersey Tomatoes.
For the last several years I have not been keeping a kitchen garden for a combination of reasons — mainly too many deer and too much work or photography related travel during the summer. This year I already used much of my vacation for my photography trips to Patagonia and then Central America so I am home this summer. I didn’t get the garden ready during the spring so didn’t expect to be doing any gardening again this summer. However, a few weeks ago one of my neighbors told me that he had excess tomato plants that he didn’t have room for. I decided to try to grow them on my deck (away from the deer) in some small high density self watering containers and self watering container soil (obtained, but not used several years ago from Gardener Supply Company). Yesterday I took images of some of the first tomato flowers, and some green tomatoes. As long as the critters stay away, I should have some fresh tomatoes soon. Although the containers are supposed to be “self watering” with the excess heat we have been going through, I have been watering each container with about 2 gallons of water each day.
Backyard Summertime Nature in New Jersey. Bald Faced Hornet Hive Video.
A year ago I recorded this DSLR video of the entrance to a Bald Faced Hornet Hive. It was recorded with a Nikon D3s camera and a Questar 3.5″ Birder Telescope. I needed the telescope so I could be at least 30 feet away from the basketball sized nest/hive. I understand that the bald faced hornet is easily upset, and unlike a honey bee is able to inflict multiple stings.
Question regarding the video. Should it be shorter and only show when the hornets swarm out? Should I include background music and/or bee swarming sound effects? Is the title sequence too long? Leave a comment to let me know.
Bald Faced Hornets Are Back. I thought I saw a Bald Faced Hornet yesterday, but by the time I got back out with a macro lens it was gone. I went out again today and found one on a cedar tree trunk. It looked to be collecting wood fiber for its nest. I walked the yard looking for the hornet nest/hive, but have not found it yet.
It was a year ago that I discovered a basket ball sized Bald Faced Hornet Nest/Hive. At that time I set up a telescope so I could take a movie of the nest from a safe distance.