Sunday, November 30, 2008


Last night was one of those rare opportunities where the sky was clear and the moon was absent. I very quickly set up the Astrotrac and tried to image Pleides. Sadly the light pollution from the neighbors was bad and my polar alignment was quick and dirty so the results aren't that great.

Technical Specs: Canon XSi (full spectrum /w Hutech LPS), 200 f/2 IS @ f/2.5, ISO 800, stack of 15x2 min.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I suppose I should say "Happy American Thanksgiving" for those not in the USA. I'm really starting to dig Thanksgiving. Its a much bigger holiday here in the US than it is in Canada. However I really like it because it isn't quite as commercialized as other holidays. People still mostly just get together with friends and family to enjoy each other's company and good food. Furthermore its truly a secular holiday with no religious overtones which I also like.

Many of us have much more to be thankful this year. With the current economic situation and with many people losing their jobs and homes, the rest of us have a lot to be thankful for, I know I do. So lets try to enjoy this day and hope for better ones for all.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Back to Baylands

Its been a while (about 3 months) since I last went out for bird photography. I've shuffled around some of my gear ending up with stuff which will be a better fit for me. I arrived at the Baylands at 6:25 this morning and was obviously way too early. There was pretty much no light until about 6:45 and the best light was closer to 7. I didn't see anything I haven't see at the Baylands before but it was still great to get out and do some shooting.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 800mm f/5.6L IS, f/5.6, ISO 400-800 varying shutter speeds.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

White Ginger

This White Ginger was the first of the ginger plants in Kim's Tropical garden to flower. The scent of the flower is truly remarkable, if you ever get the chance to smell a ginger flower, I recommend it.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 24-70 @ 70mm, f/11, 1/200s, ISO 400, 2 strobes fired. Stack of 3 images at 3 focus depths.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

AIC Day 2

Today was Day 2 of the Advanced Imaging Conference. Unlike yesterday which had multiple tracks of tutorials, today had a set agenda with a variety of speakers on a variety of topics.

I also spent more time today wandering around looking at the various vendors. A majority of the stuff is way out of my reach including this impressive looking RC truss priced at a show special of $29,900.

One of the talks in the afternoon was by Dr. Alex Fillippenko on Dark Energy. Dr. Fillippenko is definitely a very talented lecturer and it was a very lively session.

Dr. Fillippenko was so popular, he had quite a following during his Q&A which ended up lasting the entire afternoon break.

The final talk of the afternoon was by Chris Ford who gave a very visually impressive talk on doing 3D Astronomical Rendering. His talk was quite timely since its possible to do most of what he suggests with the 3D capabilities in Photoshop CS4 Extended.

Near the end of his talk, Chris demonstrated stereoscopic rendering and had the audience wear 3D glasses.

I really enjoyed all of the talks and have been quite impressed with the conference. I am definitely planning on returning next year.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Advanced Imaging Conference

Today was day 1 for the 5th annual Advanced Imaging Conference. The conference brings together astrophotographers all over the US (and a few from around the world) to learn about the latest technology, techniques and tips. I was invited to attend for work and the conference being in San Jose helped.

This day was mostly filled with workshops mostly focused on using various software for controlling cameras, alignment, stacking and processing images. I found these sessions very useful as I have been confused on what the various packages (like CCDStack, MaximDL, ImagesPlus) have to offer.
I had an opportunity to walk around and visit a few exhibitors as well including the makers of one of the best German Equatorial Mounts out there, Astro-Physics (top picture). Ah, if only I had $10k to blow on a mount :)

One more interesting thing I saw was a 4'x7' print of the veil nebula. The image was a mosaic of 4 images, each captured with an SBIG 11000 CCD on a Takahashi 4" refractor (FSQ). Ironically, the whole set up was mounted atop a RC scope on a Paramount.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's sessions, should be fun and informative.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lady Bug on Rose

I discovered this photo today while going through my image collection today. This was taken earlier this year (May) at the San Jose Rose Garden. The rose garden has an impressive variety of roses which usually bloom in May and November.

Technical Specs: Canon Rebel XSi, 60mm macro, f/8, 1/800s, ISO 200.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Saw this little fella while working out in the front yard yesterday. Kim wasn't as happy since he and his friends have been munching on a lot of the plants in the yard.