Best Moon in Awhile (maybe ever)

These photos show what I’ve learned in the past two years.  Seeing was average, with intermittent clouds blocking my view.  The November weather was cool, but very forgiving.  I bounced back and forth between Modern Family and the Moon.

This time, I used every trick in the bag.  1200mm, motor drive, RAW and processed in Nikon CapureNX.

First, black and white (camera mode monochrome):


Next, color enhanced:



Stunning! Then clouds moved in.


Woke up earlier than expected to see it take place.  Estimates were far off, though.  When I went outside to see whether weather had snuffed my opportunity, this is what I saw:

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My youngest came out–escorted by my wife–blinking to comprehend what I was showing him.

I watched, I wondered, and then I shot a few more photos.

And then clouds moved in:ThenCloudsMovedIn

Glorious Moon!

Great seeing conditions tonight produced one of the better shots I’ve taken of our Moon.  We share her.  We admire her.  And we have, over the past couple of Millennia looked up at her and wondered:  How fortunate we are to have her companionship in the night.

I can count on one hand the number of things I love more than her.  She is a constant.  She is a light.  She is a challenge to capture.





Puzzled by Smartphone Cameras Supremacy within Astrophotography

My D300 cannot produce a photo this sharp when hooked up to my Bausch & Lomb 1200mm reflector.  Through the eyepiece, the moon is crystal clear.  Sharp as a razor.  But I struggle to get the same clarity when the Nikon’s hooked up to the telescope.

One night I tried placing my Samsung Galaxy S4’s camera to the eyepiece to see whether I could get a WYSIWYG photo.  BAM!  Success.  But while it works fine on the Moon, I could not get the Samsung Galaxy to focus or capture the bands of Jupiter (that I could make out with my eye).  So as long as the image is big and bright, the Sammy captures it spectacularly!  The best thing about this setup is that once I stabilize the image in the eyepiece, I can capture exactly what I see with the 13MP camera.  The worst thing about it is I need to carefully center the phone’s camera in the eyepiece and pay careful attention to the optimal distance to the eyepiece.

Nevertheless, it’s the best way I’ve found to produce NASA-quality images of the Moon (if this is, indeed).

Edited in GiMP for levels and color.


10% Moon at 300mm (450mm effective)

Last night’s Moon was exquisite. It was at about 1-4% and barely a sliver at sunset.

I knew it’d be higher and fuller tonight, and thankfully I was blessed with a window of time to capture, process, and post.

While not frame-filling, these photos show different aspects of our nearest planetary neighbor. I never tire of looking at her, and I can enjoy the challenges of capturing her beauty for the rest of my life.

Oh.  And first post of 2014!  Happy New Year!

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Edge of light:
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Perhaps the best:
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Kansas Weather at its Best

Friday night lights!

A warm, dense mass of air came up from the Gulf of Mexico. A formidable winter storm (named Atlas) was moving eastward.

The two natural forces collided over Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. The result: several tornadoes, hail, as well as massive amounts of rain and snow.

We received a spectacular lightning storm–and enough rain to cause small streams and small rivers in residential areas. Thankfully, the severe weather missed us.

Here are a few shots that I captured last night. Enjoy, and thank you again for following!



Above:  Most of the lightning was above the cloud ceiling–this strike made it below the clouds.


Above:  Lightning illuminates the angry sky.  Those clouds look very stretchy–like cotton candy!



Above:  More lightning-lit clouds.


Above:  It starts above, weaves through the clouds, and then peaks out below.


Above:  It was pitch black.  The wind-driven rain began pelting me and my camera.  Then lightning struck.

Catching up, Responding to Challenges

A large post.  Possibly my largest post.  Certainly my most complex or diverse posting.  Therefore, I’ll provide a bit of guidance for you–hopefully it will make things easier for you to understand / navigate.

Four sections:  Fireworks, Market, Textures, Walkabout.

“Fireworks” is a “WIP,” or “work in progress.”  Each year, I head out to see if I can improve my firework photography.  Because the 4th of July only rolls around once a year, I only really can apply the general skills / knowledge acquired over the past year to those challenging conditions.

“Market” is my attempt to respond to my first challenge by a professional photographer to “get out” and about with my camera.

“Textures” is my attempt to respond to my second challenge by the same professional photographer to create unique textures to use when layering photographs.

“Walkabout.”  Should be pretty obvious.  Some macro, some wildlife photos.

Fireworks.  Some of the best fireworks photos I’ve taken.

Market.  Target of opportunity.  I wish I’d had more time.

Textures.  Collected over two days.  A decent beginning–I might do more of this.

Walkabout.  Trying to get creative during the weekend hiatus.