Thursday, April 30, 2009

New House Color

We had the exterior of the house painted this week. The new color scheme is far better than the dull brown of the old. Surprisingly it only took the painters 2 days to complete the job.

This is what the house looked like two years ago.

Monday, April 27, 2009


I had heard that a lot of migratory birds had arrived along the bay so yesterday I stopped by the Alviso Slough shortly after noon.

Sadly, there wasn't quite as much activity as I had hoped. There were a few very loud terns and a few sandpipers.

I did manage to get a couple of decent pictures though and once again the 800 didn't disappoint.

Technical Specs: Canon 1Ds3, 800 f/5.6 IS, f/5.6, ISO 800.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Alkaid and the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51)

Last night was once again fairly clear so I set up the Astrotrac for some quick imaging. Once again, the light pollution was a serious problem for widefield imaging. I think I really need to get my scope together and do some deep field stuff. This time I wanted a widefield of Alkaid and M51.

Whats interesting is that on close examination of the image, the galaxy NGC 5229 is very faintly visible.

That little blurry line in the center bottom is the galaxy.

Technical Specs: Canon 450D (full spectrum /w Hutech LPS filter), 200 f/2 @ f/2.8, ISO 800, 23 x 2min exposures.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Clusters in Auriga

The astronomical forecast last night predicted clear skies so I set up the Astrotrac to do some quick imaging. In the area of the constellation Auriga, there are plenty of interesting deep sky objects. Unfortunately I only took 3 2 minute subs for this image and it was in a part of the sky low on the horizon (and setting quickly) and very light polluted, so the quality is rather poor. However there are several open clusters and nebulosity visible. Here is an annotated version:

There is a beautiful nebula called the Flame Nebula by AE Aurigae which unfortunately doesn't show up well in this short exposure. The open clusters however are very visible. Its supposed to be clear again tonight so I may haul out the Astrotrac again. I'm not sure I'll try this area again because of the light pollution in that area.

Techical Specs: Canon 450D (full spectrum /w Hutech LPS filter), 200 f/2 @ f/2.8, 3x 2min subs, ISO 800.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Colors of Water

I went by the Alviso Slough again today, wanting to photograph the interesting color of the water in the Slough.

The tide was a lot lower today, so many of the areas that had water on Tuesday were dry.

I then also went by the Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Plant, near the Baylands Park which had a distinctively different color, no doubt because of the algae.

Technical Specs: Nikon D700, 24-70

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Great Blue Heron at Alviso Slough

Following a tasty lunch, Edward and I wandered around the Alviso Slough today. We spotted a Great Blue Heron along with a few Snowy Egrets. It was a very windy day and many birds were having trouble flying. I'm hoping to return later this week with the big lens, hopefully the Heron will still be around.

Technical Specs: Canon 450D, 70-300 DO @ 300mm, f/9, 1/200s, ISO 200.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Backyard Hummer

I've seen a few hummers hangout near our yard. We don't have a feeder so they don't usually come close. This little guy kept flying around and then would land for a brief moment on a branch. The hummer kept doing this for a few minutes, so I quickly ran inside and grabbed my camera. It took about 15 minutes of following him in his swooping flights before finally getting a decent shot.

Rest for just a brief moment and then off he goes again. I realize the background isn't very impressive but I was glad to get any shot of him considering how far away he was and the relatively small size. These were both taken handheld with the 800 and once more I continue to be impressed with the handling of this lens.

Technical Specs: Canon 1Ds3, 800 f/5.6 IS, f/5.6, ISO 400, 1/1600s & 1/1250s.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Avocets & Sandpipers at the Baylands

Made a quick stop at the Palo Alto Baylands yesterday. The time of idea was ok but not ideal (about 5:45pm) but these days I take what I can get :)

It seems the Egrets still haven't arrived for their annual nest building, hopefully they show up in the next couple of weeks. I did spot a lone Snowy Egret though. There was a lot of Sandpiper activity and several American Avocets.

The entire group of Sandpipers (and one Avocet) did put on an impressive flight show during the time we were there.

On the way back to the car I saw this Avocet hiding and liked the framing of the shot.

This was the second real chance I've had shooting with the 800 outside of the yard. The more I use the lens, the more impressed I am with it. I didn't have time to set up a full Wimberley so I took most shots on a monopod and for some of the Sandpiper flight shots, I was shooting handheld.

Technical Specs: Canon 1Ds3, 800 f/5.6 IS, f/5.6, ISO 400 & 640, varying shutter speeds.

Monday, April 06, 2009


Its been a while since I have photographed the moon so I figured it was time. Once again the 800L doesn't fail to deliver. Even with a 1.4x TC on, the image was sharp and the CA very well controlled. It was quite a windy night and I could see a lot of scintillation and rippling on the lunar surface. Still this image probably has more true surface detail than many of my previous attempts.

Technical Specs: Canon 1Ds3, 800 f/5.6+ 1.4x TC, f/8, 1/200s, ISO 400.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Thai Lovers

The San Jose area has many Thai restaurants, however there's one I've found which has all the things I look for in a restaurant:

1. Great food
2. Great value
3. Great service

Unlike some of the other well known Thai places (which will remain nameless), Thai Lovers has fantastic service, the staff and friendly and you get taken care of. The food itself is spectacular, I haven't been disappointed with a dish so far and the portions are quite generous.

The only downside (for me anyway, it may be an upside for you depending on where you live) is the location. Thai Lovers is the east hills of San Jose on Piedmont close to Berryessa, which means its not a quick stop. However even with its distance, I'd probably go there than the closer Thai places. They also have a stall in Century Mall where the food is almost as good but cheaper.

The restaurant is quite spacious and the layout is well thought-out. Once a month they have Thai dancers on a Saturday and Sunday night who give a live performance (hence the pictures on this post).

I had the chance to photograph the dancers last Sunday. This was the first time I shot back and forth between the D700 and the 1Ds3, I had no problems switching from one camera to the other.

Back to Thai Lovers, if you are in the San Jose area, definitely check it out.