Early Early Morning Star Trails. With the continuing clear skies, I set up two cameras to record star trails early this morning. I started at 3:00 AM after the moon set. I was still worried about condensation on the lens. I pointed a Nikon D3 camera with a 16 mm f/2.8 fish-eye lens north, and a Nikon D3x camera with a 14-24 mm f/2.8 lens at 14 mm pointed south. I used some gaffer tape to prevent the focal length lens creep on the 14-24 mm lens that ruined a previous star trails session. The Nikon D3 camera stopped recording after 2 hours. After the fact, I realized that I used a EN-EL4 rather than the higher capacity EN-EL4A battery. The D3x camera with a EN-EL4A battery ran until I went out to get the cameras at sunrise. Unfortunately, condensation on the lens started distorting images after about 5 AM. Both the North and South facing Star Trails ended up about 60 images (2 hours). The really bright trail in both the Northern and Southern view is Jupiter.
I saw this Praying Mantis climbing a weed off my back deck. I initially tried to get some images with the camera & telephoto lens at hand, but the minimum focus distance for the 600 mm f/4 VR lens is ~ 17 feet. I switched to a 300 mm f/2.8 VR lens, with a minimum focus distance of 7 feet. When viewed close up, the Praying Mantis looks deadly. There was a black fly that kept landing on the back of the Praying Mantis. I guess the fly knew where the safe zone is. Ultimately, I think the Praying Mantis got tired of me, and moved further into the shrubs.
Doe Portrait Session. When I got home from work, I noticed a couple of young deer in the backyard. I quickly went in and picked up the camera with the 600 mm telephoto lens that I used last night for the moon. I didn’t have time to set up a tripod or find the monopod, so these images are hand-held. One does not hand-hold this lens for very long. I forgot that the TC-E III 20 teleconverter was still on the camera, so 1200 mm.
Indoor Crane Fly. A macro image of a Crane Fly. It looks like an over sized mosquito, but does not bite. It has a hard time flying, and its legs seem to be double jointed. This Crane Fly is missing its right front leg. The green compound eyes are interesting. I guess that this one got in while I was trying to do some night sky photography. The sky has actually been clear for two days straight. For this Crane Fly image, I used my Nikon D300 camera since the other camera bodies were outside for the night sky project.
With a clear sky, and bright waxing gibbous moon I experimented ways to acquire sharp images of the moon through a 600 mm f/4 VR telephoto lens. The lens is mounted on a tripod with a Wimberley gimble tripod head. VR is turned off, and the camera set for “mirror up” mode. I used a remote release, and let the system stabilize for 30 seconds (time-out for mirror up) before the shutter would be triggered. The first five images are #1 (f/16, 1/50 sec); #2 (f/11, 1/100 sec); #3 (f/8, 1/200 sec); #4 (f/5.6, 1/400 sec); and #5 (f/4, 1/800 sec). I think the best was #4 (f/5.6, 1/400 sec), although all were pretty good. The next two images used a TC-E III 20 teleconverter for an effective focal length of 1200 mm #6 (f/16, 1/50 sec); #7 (f/11, 1/100 sec). Here I think #7 (f/11, 1/100 sec) is best. With the additional magnification, a faster shutter speed is needed to counteract the motion of the moon.
I also made several DSLR videos of the moon, since I was using my Nikon D3s camera body. When I reviewed the videos, I saw that I had captured at least two satellite transits in front of the moon. These transits are less than 1 second long. Subject for another post.