Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Conjunction of Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon

A couple of days before this event I saw the planets Venus and Jupiter aligned in the sky. I also noticed that the New Moon was rising in the west. (That is the apparent direction it traverses the sky each day, not the daily appearance of it. It moves from West to East with relation to the stars and other heavenly objects.) I found out that this alignment won't happen again until 2052.

Due to energy costs the people caring for the Church of the Nativity were leaving the lights off most days. So it was very questionable whether I would even be able to get a shot worth anything if I tried to get the alignment of the moon and planets over the church.

When I got there the objects were very high in the sky and I knew it would be one of the most difficult shots I've ever done since it would be totally dark when the church steeple would be in the alignment.

As expected, the church lights were turned off and I only had ambient light (which was next to nothing) to work with. I did manage to get my flash to reach that far, but the colors were terrible using it. Even with the camera color balancing it was not that good.

In spite of all of that, it looks like I have something I can work with. I will have to work with the individual shots as layering the images won't work since the Earth is spinning too quickly and nothing stays aligned. A 20-30 second exposure will show star streaks and most of the shots had to be between 1/4 sec to 30 sec. I never used the "bulb" setting since all my shots were 30 sec. or less.

4 AA batteries in my battery pack were dead (10 pack). I was having such a difficult time since my flash and my flashlight needed batteries. The batteries were so dead that even when they were put with good ones nothing worked. This is a reminder to check your batteries BEFORE you get out to the site. I had charged all my camera batteries, but failed to check the AA's. I thought they were all good since I hadn't used them, but apparently they can go dead just sitting in the backpack. (Note for me: get a small battery checker I can keep in my camera bag.)

I bracketed all my exposures using f-stops and exposure times both. I wish I had changed the ISO settings also. (Another reminder: bracket ISO settings on really important shots.)

There are several images that I will have to really adjust quite a bit to make them work, but I think I can pull one of them out of the darkness. I have some shots that have starbursts around the moon and Venus. On a few of them the moon starburst is silhouetting the cross at the top of the steeple. I think one of these will be the best for composition and crowd appeal. The cross looks so dark against the light of the heavens. (<--good photo label message).

The mistakes I made during this shoot are typical mistakes. I should have known better, but I haven't been able to get out and get low light photos for quite a while now. One constant I find with any of the arts is practice is necessary to keep your mind sharp. I apparently have some real bad nicks in my photography edge. If you wish to get good with photography, you have to constantly practice.

Thanks for reading this and I hope it helps.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Music In My Life

If you would like to know what kind of music I like to play, just press the play button in the Last.FM box below. If a song that you don't care for comes up, just click the forward button. I'm fairly certain I have something for just about everyone.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Garden Is winding down

Howdy all,

The garden is winding down for the fall. I am still harvesting pickling cucumbers, chives, and waiting on the garlic to dry out. We did get some tomatoes, but they still aren't ripe. I am going to try to find some greenhouse materials to cover the structure so we can maybe have vegetables all winter long.

If I can get it covered before the first frost we will probably have a good tomato and pepper crop. I still can't get the peppers to produce, but I think it is a lack of heat. The greenhouse will probably make them produce... at least that is my hope.

I may be making some hot boxes to put next to our house so the plants will stay warm all winter. That seems to be the warmest place in our yard.

I'm also probably going to be moving the compost away from the south fence. Not enough sunlight in the winter.

We harvested snow and sugarsnap peas, and bush beans all summer long. They really produced well after I separated them from the garlic by planting beets between them. I also had a row of peas away from the garlic that did very well also.

I was disappointed in my okra, but I did get some, where last year I got nothing. So I guess that is an improvement.

Getting better at this. I installed a sprinkler system in the garden and that helped tremendously in sprouting and keeping the plants watered properly. It is so hard to do that by hand and I either overwater or underwater. The sprinkler system was probably the single major factor in getting the garden to grow so well this year.

The beets didn't do very well this year. I think it is because they didn't get enough light, with the peas growing over them. However, what we did get were some of the tastiest beets I've ever eaten. These will make beet eaters out of people who hate them. My grand kids were disappointed that we only got one meal out of the small things. I am definitely planting a separate garlic/beet garden this next year.

Now it is "On to the winter garden" in this harsh climate.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Howdy my Friends,

I have news about my vegetable garden. Before I checked with the guides on planting I planted a couple of incompatible veggies along side each other. My first row was Sugar Snap Peas and the second row was (ARGG!) Garlic.

Well the Garlic came up very nicely but the peas just didn't do so well. When I did my reading for the rest of the garden, I discovered my mistake. DO NOT PLANT LEGUMES WITH GARLIC. Uh oh, now what to do.

As I was reading I found that Beets do well with just about any other plant. Garlic enhances the taste of the Beets so I thought I'd try planting beets between the garlic and the peas. This makes a very crowded garden along the edges, but to my surprise the peas started growing much better. The beets are acting as a barrier between the garlic and peas. All it took was for the beets to sprout and the barrier was made.

I planted another row of beets away from everything giving them enough room to grow and to leaf out well. Less than half of them even sprouted. Almost every one of the beets by the garlic sprouted. Hmmmm better plant beets right next to the garlic from now on. Use beets to buffer garlic from other plants that don't do so well being that close to garlic.

We have 4 corn plants, 6-8 bush bean plants, 4 okra plants, 12 pickling cucumber plants (that may need to be thinned), over 60 garlic plants, too many to count sugar snap pea plants, and various pepper and tomato sprouts trying to survive. There are also many beets growing. Hopefully we can get a crop out of some of these vegetables. (You know, enough to fill a pot and have a meal.)

There are already 3 or 4 pea pods growing on the tiny pea plants. And as the beets start getting larger leaves we can pick those and have some really tasty beet greens.

Hope this helps someone in their gardening efforts,


Friday, April 18, 2008

How to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

About 12 days ago, we received a letter from the management of our mobile home park that we had 10 days to put up a fence across our back yard. Fortunately we were planning on doing that anyway, but not that soon. I was in the middle of trying to get a garden started and cleaning up the yard so I could do some other work such as make shelves for our windows and start making drums again.

After sending out letters to almost every tenant in the park for things to fix on each home here, rumor is that they are regretting putting that kind of deadline in the letter. My suspicions are that there are some very busy lawyers right now. To put those kinds of financial demands on people is just plain cruel. And, I believe (don't know for sure) it is illegal.

Anyway, I got the fence done with a large double gate. Fortunately I only needed to put up a 16 foot section including the gate.

During that time I also got the huge rocks removed from my garden area and was able to put up an 8' x 8' raised garden. We are not out of frost danger until June so I've planted sugar snap peas, garlic, chives, bunch onions, and cold weather radishes. I have planted in peat pots in the house, pickling cucumbers, Serrano peppers, Anaheim peppers, Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, regular peas, bush beans, okra, awaiting for our spring to start. Hopefully, they will germinate and I will have a garden full of vegetables.

Just a note to let people know what I've been doing lately.

Thanks for reading this,