Friday (20-July-2018) — New Jersey

Backyard Day and Nighttime Nature in New Jersey.

While moving some of the wood being used build the stairway to my patio, I noticed some holes in the ground with a relatively large cicada larva. It had spent the last 13 or 17 years in the ground, and is waiting for a rain storm before crawling to the nearest tree. There it will crawl up and got through the final metamorphosis to the insect phase. We can expect the loud noise of the cicada in the near future as they look for a mate.

Cicada Larva just out of the ground. Image taken with a Fuji X-H1 camera and 80 mm f/2.8 macro lens (DAVID J MATHRE)
Cicada Larva just out of the ground. Image taken with a Fuji X-H1 camera and 80 mm f/2.8 macro lens (DAVID J MATHRE)

Later in the afternoon, I saw a scruffy Cardinal at the bird feeder. Probably an immature bird just getting its adult red colored feathers. There were a large number of deer in the backyard. At least four fawns with spots,  four or more doe’s, and one buck with its new antlers.


After dark, I could see both the waxing gibbous moon and mars peaking in and out of the clouds. I couldn’t get both in the field of view with a Nikon D4 camera and 600 mm lens. Switching to a Nikon D850 camera and 500 mm lens I was just barely able to get both in the same image. The image of the moon was sharper with the Nikon D850 camera since it was shot with the mirror up, silent mode. With the exposure being used, Mars was just barely visible as a disk.

Waxing Gibbous Moon. Image taken with a Nikon D4 camera and 600 mm f/4 VRII telephoto lens (ISO 100, 600 mm, f/11, 1/100 sec). (DAVID J MATHRE)
Waxing Gibbous Moon. Image taken with a Nikon D4 camera and 600 mm f/4 VRII telephoto lens (ISO 100, 600 mm, f/11, 1/100 sec). (DAVID J MATHRE)
Waxing Gibbous Moon and Mars (tiny disk near the bottom of the image). Image taken with a Nikon D850 camera and 500 mm f/4 VRII telephoto lens (ISO 64, 500 mm, f/11, 1/125 sec). (DAVID J MATHRE)
Waxing Gibbous Moon and Mars (tiny disk near the bottom of the image). Image taken with a Nikon D850 camera and 500 mm f/4 VRII telephoto lens (ISO 64, 500 mm, f/11, 1/125 sec). (DAVID J MATHRE)
Waxing Gibbous Moon. Image taken with a Nikon D850 camera and 500 mm f/4 VRII telephoto lens (ISO 64, 500 mm, f/11, 1/125 sec). (DAVID J MATHRE)
Waxing Gibbous Moon. Image taken with a Nikon D850 camera and 500 mm f/4 VRII telephoto lens (ISO 64, 500 mm, f/11, 1/125 sec). (DAVID J MATHRE)
Mars. Image taken with a Nikon D850 camera and 500 mm f/4 VRII telephoto lens (ISO 64, 500 mm, f/11, 1/125 sec). (DAVID J MATHRE)
Mars. Image taken with a Nikon D850 camera and 500 mm f/4 VRII telephoto lens (ISO 64, 500 mm, f/11, 1/125 sec). (DAVID J MATHRE)

Wednesday (18-July-2018) — New Jersey

Backyard Nighttime Summer Sky Over New Jersey.

Another clear night and I set up three cameras. Two to record firefly trails, and the other to record the nighttime sky for star trails. I still need to do some testing, but it seems that the Nikon sensors do a better job with low light images (less sensor noise). And among the Nikon sensors, the D810a camera does better with exposures over 30 seconds. In addition to the star trails, I also did a time-lapse video of the night sky.

Firefly trails. Composite of 178 images taken with a Nikon D810a camera and 200 mm f/2 lens (ISO 1600, 200 mm, f/11, 120 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and composite generated using Photoshop CC (statistics, maximum). (DAVID J MATHRE)
Firefly trails. Composite of 178 images taken with a Nikon D810a camera and 200 mm f/2 lens (ISO 1600, 200 mm, f/11, 120 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and composite generated using Photoshop CC (statistics, maximum). (DAVID J MATHRE)


Star Trails looking up and a little south. Composite of 697 of images taken with a Nikon D850 camera and 19 mm f/4 PC-E lens (ISO 200, 19 mm, f/4, 30 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and the composite generated using Photoshop CC (statistics, maximum). (DAVID J MATHRE)
Star Trails looking up and a little south. Composite of 697 of images taken with a Nikon D850 camera and 19 mm f/4 PC-E lens (ISO 200, 19 mm, f/4, 30 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and the composite generated using Photoshop CC (statistics, maximum). (DAVID J MATHRE)

Friday (13-July-2018) — New Jersey

Backyard Summertime Nature in New Jersey.

At this time of the year, the dawn clouds don’t seem to be as impressive. Dawn is earlier (before 05:30) so I might miss them, and the sun is further north so some of the colorful clouds may be hidden behind the trees to the north-east. During the day I spent some time with a new camera/lens combo (Nikon D850  camera and 70-300 mm AF-P lens) doing a flower/wildflower walkabout. It is an interesting combo. Individual images from the slides hows can be viewed here.

Early Dawn Panorama. Composite of three image taken with a Leica CL camera and 18 mm f/2.8 lens (DAVID J MATHRE)
Early Dawn Panorama. Composite of three image taken with a Leica CL camera and 18 mm f/2.8 lens (DAVID J MATHRE)




Dragonfly. Image taken with a Nikon D850 Camera and 70-300 mm VR lens (DAVID J MATHRE)
Dragonfly. Image taken with a Nikon D850 Camera and 70-300 mm VR lens (DAVID J MATHRE)

Tuesday (10-July-2018) — New Jersey

Backyard Nighttime Sky Over New Jersey.

For the second night in a row the sky was clear so again I set up two cameras. This time using lessons learned from yesterday. One for firefly trails (Nikon D810a camera and 200 mm f/2 lens), and one for star trails looking north (Nikon D850 camera and 19 mm f/4 PC-E lens). This time the focus point for the firefly trails was moved back, and the orientation changed to portrait. I like this better than last night. For the star trails image I rotated the camera to north to get the circle around the north star. The star trail images really needs to be viewed on a large high-resolution monitor. I also made a time-lapse video (five hours compressed to 20 seconds) of the night sky. This is best viewed on a high-resolution monitor in a dark room. The Big Dipper pointing to the north star was one of the first things I learned about the night sky. One note post processing is with these high-resolution cameras it took me all day to do the processing, even with my fastest computer with a video processor (Microsoft Surface Book II Pro).

Firefly Trails. Composite of images taken with a Nikon D810a camera and 200 mm f/2 lens (ISO 1600, 200 mm, f/11, 120 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and the composite generated using Photoshop CC (statistics, maximum). (DAVID J MATHRE)
Firefly Trails. Composite of images taken with a Nikon D810a camera and 200 mm f/2 lens (ISO 1600, 200 mm, f/11, 120 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and the composite generated using Photoshop CC (statistics, maximum). (DAVID J MATHRE)
Startrail Looking North. Composite of images (22:20-03:19) taken with a Nikon D850 camera and 19 mm f/4 PC-E lens (ISO 200, 19 mm, f/4, 30 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and the composite created using Photoshop CC (scripts, statistics, maximum). (DAVID J MATHRE)
Star Trarils Looking North. Composite of images (22:20-03:19) taken with a Nikon D850 camera and 19 mm f/4 PC-E lens (ISO 200, 19 mm, f/4, 30 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and the composite created using Photoshop CC (scripts, statistics, maximum). (DAVID J MATHRE)


Individual images from the slide show can be viewed here.

Monday (09-July-2018) — New Jersey

Backyard Nighttime Sky Over New Jersey.

The sky was clear so I set up two cameras. One for firefly trails (Nikon D810a and 200 mm f/2 lens), and one for star trails looking south (Nikon D850 and 19 mm f/4 PC-E lens). The focus point for the firefly image should have been further back. This is my first star trails image with the high-resolution Nikon D850 camera (8256 x 5505 pixel — 45 MP sensor). The image really needs to be viewed on a large high-resolution monitor. I focused the camera using live view using a magnified bright star. I need to figure out how to do the same thing with the firefly images. I also made a time-lapse video (five hours compressed to 20 seconds) of the night sky. This is best viewed on a high-resolution monitor in a dark room. The brightest object that shows up in the early morning is Mars.

Firefly Ttrails (21:50-03:59). Composite of images taken with a Nikon D810a camera and 200 mm f/2 lens (ISO 400, 200 mm, f/5.6, 120 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and the composite generated with Photoshop CC (statistics, maximum). (DAVID J MATHRE)
Firefly Ttrails (21:50-03:59). Composite of images taken with a Nikon D810a camera and 200 mm f/2 lens (ISO 400, 200 mm, f/5.6, 120 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and the composite generated with Photoshop CC (statistics, maximum). (DAVID J MATHRE)
Star Trails Looking South (23:00-03:59). Composite of image taken with a Nikon D850 camera and 19 mm f/4 PC-E lens (ISO 200, 19 mm, f/4, 30 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and the composite generated with Photoshop CC (statistics, maximum). (DAVID J MATHRE)
Star Trails Looking South (23:00-03:59). Composite of image taken with a Nikon D850 camera and 19 mm f/4 PC-E lens (ISO 200, 19 mm, f/4, 30 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and the composite generated with Photoshop CC (statistics, maximum). (DAVID J MATHRE)


Individual images from the slide show can be viewed here.