Category Archives: Photography

Rising Full Moon – March

It was orange, and about 99% full, and bright, and orange, and right there outside the back window and over the hill and the San Fernando Valley.

The iPhone algorithm wants to make the whole scene bright, so it’s a long exposure and horribly overexposes the moon. The good news is that it saves some of the color.

The “good camera” (Canon Rebel XT DSLR with a 75-300 mm Tamron telephoto lens) set at 75mm does the same thing, but I can override that, manually focus, and so on. I just wish that I had had the time to grab and set up a tripod, but it was a complete spur of the moment opportunity.

But the really good part about digital cameras instead of film is that photons are dirt cheap, so if you shoot enough hundreds of photos in the five minutes you have, statistical fluctuations say that you’ll get one that’s decent. And that’s what I got – one.

I’m going to call that a win.

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space

Panorama Playtime – March 27th

If you follow the instructions, move your iPhone in a slow, steady pace, keep it in the vertical plane, better yet use a tripod, then you’ll get a nice, wide, perfect panorama.

If you don’t give a crap about the rules…

(Click to enlarge to full size!)

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Filed under Art, Panorama, Photography

I’ve Never Met This Dog In My Life

Okay, since you’ve got photographic proof…

Wait, is that even me?! It does look like my bushy eyebrows and heavily wrinkled forehead…

And while I thought that it might be our old dog, Jessie, it’s not. But with those eyes…

But where were we? Who do I even know who plays the piano, let alone owns one?

It’s…a mystery.

Did I have my head with me all day long?

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Filed under Dogs, Paul, Photography

Random Old Photos – March 23rd

Mr. Peabody, set the WayBack Machine to April, 2006, a bit less than fifteen years ago. I was in my MBA program at Pepperdine and I remember being out in the Riverside area for something. It just so happened that there was an airshow at March ARB out there that weekend, so I stayed the extra day and went to see the Thunderbirds and all of the other planes.

My photography skills weren’t quite up to snuff at the time (I think I had just gotten the telephoto lens and was deep into the learning curve of how to use it) but if you take 1100+ pictures in a day, a few of them probably won’t suck.

It’s odd to see some of our current CAF SoCal aircraft there, although it’s before the name change, and I don’t recognize the pilots. (It was about seven years before I got involved with the local Wing, but I might have been a member by that time.)

It’s also odd in today’s world to see tens of thousands of people packed together in the shade under a B-52 or up against the flight line fence when the jets are flying, and not a single face mask in sight.

The face masks may linger in the future, and it’s not impossible that they’ll become the norm in crowds just because the world has changed, but I am looking forward to at least getting together with 100,000 of my closest friends to watch aircraft fly for the day. Maybe later this year, more likely next year – most of the local airshows are either canceling or on the brink for 2021.

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Filed under Airshows, Flying, Photography

Fine Feathered Friends – March 20th (Birthday Birds)

We have hummingbirds, which are the neatest little buzzbombs around, even if they are sometimes assholes when it comes time to try to photograph them. There have been numerous attempts to wait them out or sneak up on them, which have resulted in a lot of blurry photos at the feeder.

At least it’s enough to ID what species we have. As expected, there are Roufous hummingbirds (above). They have a fan-shaped tail with orange, black, and white horizontal bands on the tail.

(If anyone actually knows more about hummingbirds and can spot me getting something totally wrong, please let me know.)

There are also several of these guys. I think they’re black-chinned hummingbirds, but the Cornell Lab Merlin app identifies it as an Anna’s Hummingbird. More data is needed, obviously. Their tail is more a compact wedge, iridescent green feathers on their backs, lighter white and green on their stomachs.

I also got a lot of pictures of hummingbirds perched waaaaaaaaaaay on the other side of the yard, or twenty-five feet directly above my head.

So, yesterday I was out with the camera trying to get pictures of a new bird that I hadn’t heard before, which had a very distinctive song. As usual, I was using my big telephoto lens and taking pictures of the very nervous, skittish bird on the other side of the yard. Suddenly I heard the unmistakable buzz of a hummingbird VERY nearby. I realized I was standing about five feet from the feeder, and the green (Anna’s? Black-Chinned?) hummingbird was feeding.

The first amazing thing was that I was juuuuuust far enough away so the big lens would focus. Any closer and it would have been out of luck again. The second amazing thing was that the little hummer sat there for two or three minutes, feeding, not flying away, even with me right there. I was moving very slowly as I focused and shot picture after picture, but the little hummer just stayed there long, long after I expected it to take off for the trees.

And the pictures are…amazing. I wish there had been just a bit more light under the awning, but they prefer it to be in the shade, so…

As it took off finally, there was a tiny bit of that long, thin tongue still hanging out.

I’m going to go with this being my birthday gift from the avian community in the back yard!

Now to see if I can get some better pictures of the roufous!


Filed under Critters, Photography

ISS Pass – March 18th

Tonight’s pass was fairly low to the horizon and not that bright (low = lots of atmosphere to look through = dimmer), but the winds had died down and while it was cool (52°F), the crescent moon was up there, so let’s give it a try! Practice, practice, practice!

Not bad! Low, almost due west, climbing at a shallow angle up and to the right, where it doesn’t even get high enough to get above that huge pine tree across the street.

Image from

As the prophecy foretold!

Shift a little to the right as the ISS clears the big pine tree, only to watch it fade into orbital night just before it gets to the Italian cypress trees. The airplane track starting just above the cypress trees and heading north (bottom center)? That’s Fedex #1839 from San Diego to Oakland, at 36,000 feet.

But wait – there’s more!

The faint line coming from center upper right to center lower left? That caught my eye just as the ISS was fading. It’s going due north to due south, so it’s got to be some sort of polar satellite. Possibly a weather satellite, or a spy satellite. Possibly ours, possibly theirs. No clue.

But I shot a much longer string of photos, continuing after the polar satellite had faded into darkness. Merging all of them you can get a great view of how stars near Polaris, the North Star, the pole star (at the lower left) don’t appear to move at all in a time lapse photograph like this (they’re dots) while stars much further away from the pole (on the right) will trail into little arcs as the Earth turns beneath them.

Still can’t find Polaris? Here’s your handy-dandy tutorial, learned lo these many decades ago on some Boy Scout camping trip. Find the Big Dipper (outlined in magenta), it’s easy, a big, bright constellation. On the far end of the dipper portion are the two “pointer” stars. Follow the direction they point (green line) about five times the distance between the two pointers, and you’ll se the one semi-decently bright star in the area – that’s Polaris!

Now go back and blow up that first picture up above. Polaris here is to the upper right of the top of the telephone pole. Again, a dot, not an arc. Now look at the stars on the far left side. See how much they appear to have moved in the two minutes of time covered by this series of pictures?

Flat Earth my ass!

(Should be another great pass tomorrow night, much higher, much brighter!)


Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space

ISS Pass – March 17th

As of 18:00 there were a few scattered high clouds and I thought it would be a great night to watch a fantastic ISS pass.

Image from app

At 19:45 I went out – and it was about 90% clouded over. Thin clouds, so I could see the moon and the brighter stars in Orion, Sirius, but that was about it. I figured I wouldn’t see much at all, but what the heck, give it a try, right?

DAMN! I love this new lens. It is a razor sharp light bucket. With the naked eye through those thin clouds I could see about four, maybe five of those stars…

The green blobby thing in the lower left is that damn street light – I would pay good money to be able to switch it off for about twenty minutes.

And that white & red & green streak coming from the bottom, straight to the top? Alaska Airlines #1495, out of LAX to Spokane.

Then the ISS was overhead…

The clouds were much thicker overhead, not nearly as many stars poking through as it headed off to the north (lower left).

Stupid trees. A quick shift of the tripod, and off the ISS went, fading into the orbital night just before it went behind the roof.

If you’re in Los Angeles, there are passes every evening through the 21st, with the best one on Friday night, the 19th at 19:56. (Can’t make this shit up… Some of you will understand. The rest of you – take my word for it.)

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space

Pi Day

I can’t believe I’ve never posted anything in honor of this mathematical holiday! It’s so non-geek of me!

We couldn’t decide between the two classic definitions (sort of like that whole argument over who invented the calculus, Newton or Leibniz, am I right?!) so we compromised with BOTH! You remember that – something something summing over the entire range and so on and so forth and taking it to the limit blah, blah, blah…

Speaking of taking it to the limit, that pecan pie didn’t need any sugar added. Given all of the molasses and natural sugar already in it, one piece and I’m vibrating like the high E string on an electric guitar being played on the 12th fret, seeing into other dimensions and colors only previously seen by mutant chameleons!

Don’t tell my dietician…

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul, Photography

No Context For You – March 13th

Have I mentioned, maybe about twice a year for the past eight years or so, just how much I hate the days when we go onto or back from DST?

I might, in fact, be too old for this shit.

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Photography


The skies matched my soul this week…

…turbulent, troubled…

…uplifted at times (convection builds thunderstorms as unstable air heats and rises),…

…overwhelmed by downdrafts (crashing to earth) at others.

Always both threatening and beautiful, but sometimes dangerous.

May your days this weekend, in the upcoming week, and on into spring be an appropriate balance of sunny, cloudy, and rainy.

No rainbows without at least a bit of rain.

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Filed under Photography, Weather