Writing Retreat, Day 4

Canola field panorama

Tues­day’s action:

  • Processed last night’s astropho­tog­ra­phy (it was past 2 AM when I got back to the cab­in)
  • Biked up 16A again, fur­ther this time (a bit over 10km round trip), and got a cou­ple panora­mas of the fields and skies (the image at the top is a wide panora­ma of a canola field)
  • Wrote 1,000 words in the morn­ing
  • Went to town for some gro­ceries and a (short) cof­fee / WiFi break
  • Read a few more chap­ters in The Knight
  • Wrote anoth­er 1,000 words before sup­per
  • Took some comet and Milky Way pho­tos, since it was clear again despite the fore­cast

I wish I’d noticed that there was some flick­er­ing north­ern lights just as I was pack­ing up for the night; I’d have stayed longer, even though I was tired.

It’s sup­posed to be clear again tonight, and hope­ful­ly the solar wind will strike twice.

As always: if you’re inter­est­ed in prints of any of these pho­tos, let me know. We’ll see what we can work out.

Series: Writing Retreat 2020

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2020; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 1 & 2; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 3; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 4; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, day 5; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 6; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 8; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 9; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.

Writing Retreat 2020, Day 3

Mon­day, I:

  • wrote 1,100 words in the morn­ing (even­tu­al­ly)
  • went for a 11 km bike ride (top speed, com­ing down a hill: 48.5 km/h)

This rein­forces my pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence with the Lens­ba­by lens: it’s great for macro shots, like the one with the sin­gle stalk of flow­ers against the grass, but in most oth­er uses it reduces most if not all of the frame to an impres­sion­is­tic blur. If that’s your aes­thet­ic, great, but more often than not I’m dis­ap­point­ed in the pho­tos I take with it.

It’s still fun to play with, though.

  • wrote 1,000 more words before sup­per (a lot of con­ver­sa­tion; sto­ries being told)
  • evad­ed clouds and fog (oh my so much fog — I had to change loca­tions 3 times because fog rolled in) to cap­ture shots of Comet NEOWISE and the Milky Way

The bluer pho­to of the comet, the close-up, was tak­en with my 50mm f/1.8 lens. Look close­ly, and you’ll find I caught both tails. You might have to view the pho­to at full size.

As always: if you’re inter­est­ed in prints of any of these pho­tos, let me know. We’ll see what we can work out.

Series: Writing Retreat 2020

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2020; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 1 & 2; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 3; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 4; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, day 5; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 6; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 8; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 9; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.

A comet, an aurora, and the king of planets

Last night was nice and clear, so I grabbed my gear and drove about ten min­utes west of town, hop­ing to catch Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE).

It was about 10:30 when I got to my spot, and the sun­set was still too bright to see the comet. I noticed Jupiter on the oth­er side of the sky, so I snapped a cou­ple shots of it first. I’m not 100% sure, but I think I got all four Galilean moons in the shot, too.

Jupiter and its four largest moons
Jupiter, and—very faintly—Io, Cal­lista, Europa, and Ganymede
5 sec, f/1.8, ISO 100, 50mm

Then the sun set enough, and I swung back around to face north­west.

The comet above a bluff of trees
Comet NEOWISE
5 sec, f/1.8, ISO 100, 50mm

As I was get­ting ready to pack up, I noticed a hazi­ness to the north­east­ern sky. I knew thanks to SpaceWeather.com that a coro­nal mass ejec­tion had just arrived, trig­ger­ing some auro­ra. So I put my widest lens on my cam­era and snapped a few more shots.

Comet + aurora
Comet NEOWISE and some auro­ra bore­alis
30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 11mm

All in all, a good night. I even got to wave at the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion as it went by.

Last night

The Milky Way

Tak­en on a side road just off High­way #10, about 15 min­utes south of my house, at about 1:30 AM.

14 pho­tos, each 25 sec­onds, 3200 ISO, 11mm, f/2.8. Stitched with Hug­in.

96 images in the time­lapse above, each one 25 sec­onds @ 11mm, f/2.8, ISO 3200. The video took almost an hour to shoot, and, at 10 frames per sec­ond, lasts about 10 sec­onds.

Earth Day eve star trails

Star Trails

The Space Weath­er fore­cast called for a slight chance of auro­ra and the peak of the Lyrid mete­or show­er, so I packed up my cam­era gear and went out west of town. I let the cam­era snap away for about half an hour before I decid­ed I was tired and came home. I mean, it was a school night, after all.

I got one very faint mete­or and no auro­ra to speak of, but that’s OK, I got some star trails out of it, too. And a truck passed by me on the grav­el road, illu­mi­nat­ing the field for me, so there’s that too.

Nerdy details: 113 images, 15 sec­onds each, 11mm, f/2.8, ISO 1600, stacked in GIMP (no dark frames).

Wind + Aurora

Star trails, with faint aurora

It was clear and rea­son­ably warm last night, and there was a rea­son­able chance of get­ting some auro­ra Bore­alis, so I head­ed to my usu­al spot about fif­teen min­utes out of town. I got my tri­pod set up, and retired to the warmth of the car—the tem­per­a­ture was only ‑10°C or so, but the wind­chill was sig­nif­i­cant, a south wind howl­ing along at what felt like about 4050 km/h—and lis­tened to music for a while.

After about ten or fif­teen min­utes, I noticed that I could­n’t see the lit­tle red light on my cam­era any­more. I briefly won­dered if maybe the bat­tery had died, but then I real­ized that I also could­n’t see the thin dark lines of the tri­pod.

Sure enough, the wind had tipped it over into the snow. See the pho­to below, which is the ten-sec­ond win­dow when it actu­al­ly fell.

light streaks as the camera falls over
The moment my cam­era pitched over into the snow.

I cleaned the lens off as best I could, then packed it all up and head­ed home, where I gave the lens a more thor­ough clean­ing and then set it aside to dry. This morn­ing it looks OK, so I think I got away lucky.

Galactic panorama

Star Trails

I went out last night, since it was clear, and vis­it­ed my friend Tim, who’s camp­ing this week­end at Wasagam­ing. I snapped some star trails at his camp­site (my bat­tery, almost dead, man­aged 80 shots at 10 sec­onds each).

On the way home, I pulled off the high­way about ½ a mile down a grav­el road, and tried out a panoram­ic pho­to of the Milky Way. I set my cam­era up in por­trait mode and shot 5 pho­tos, 45 sec­onds each, tilt­ing the cam­era up after each shot. The cam­era start­ed out aimed at the hori­zon and the last shot was point­ed straight up at the zenith.

I stitched the pho­tos togeth­er using Hug­in, which did a very good job of auto­mat­i­cal­ly ori­ent­ing the pho­tos and find­ing the match­es. I did­n’t have to mas­sage any­thing man­u­al­ly.

Le voilà:

Panorama of the galaxy
Panora­ma of the galaxy. 5 images, stitched with Hug­in.