Phil's blog

22
Dec

A Year in Mount Glasgow

Our story for 2014 really goes back to 30th August 2013 with a property ad in the Earth Garden magazine that Kaz was reading. I think she was surprised that I took the bait on this one :-). For the next step we will be forever grateful to Kris and Andy who carefully chose and accepted our offer to take on their beautiful central goldfields home and continue what they had built, grown and developed over seven years. Thanks Kris and Andy.

I've used a few modified Canon DSLR cameras over the years for my astrophotography, including an Astro40D from Central DS which I used for many years of widefield astrophotography including one of my favourite ever images of the Southern Cross region.

With a new home (at least part-time) under dark skies I decided it was time for an upgrade and took the plunge with the CDS-5D (see disclosure below). This is my review of the camera, which will be updated with more tests and images.


CDS-5D with Pentax 300mm lens
Single 5 minute sub-exposure, f5.6, ISO800
30
Aug

Accessories for Night Sky Photography

You can make a great start in night sky photography with just your DSLR and a tripod. However, these accessories will all help once you start getting serious:

What an epic trip.. nine days back country skiing in the Australian 'Alps'. Who'd have thought such a long, remote and rewarding ski trek could be had in our own backyard. View the full album of photos on SmugMug. If you're planning your own K2K or back-country ski in the Jagungal Wilderness, read the planning notes.

Trip Planning for Kiandra to Kosciuszko (K2K)

Kiandra to Kosciuszko is Australia’s classic long-distance ski tour, dating back to around 1927 when the route was first completed by Schlink. More realistically it is Australia’s only long distance winter tour, with walking at least part of the way a likely requirement. When planning our trip in 2014, we were surprised at the lack of consolidated information online. This page brings together some of what we learned along the way, with thanks particularly to Tracey-Ann who did much of our pre-trip planning.


Photo by Tracey-Ann
15
Apr

Lunar Eclipse at Maryborough Station

With this lunar eclipse starting low in the sky, I decided to try and capture an image sequence of the partial phases showing the type of photography that can be done with simple gear and 'night sky photography' techniques. After some on-line and on-ground scouting around my new home territory in central Victoria, I settled on the grand old Maryborough Railway Station as my location, which *just* allowed me the sight lines on the eclipse I needed, or at least so I thought from Google Earth and Streetview.

Partial Phases of Lunar Eclipse over Maryborough Station Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm lens at 82mm Nine exposures of the Moon each 1/90 sec, f/8, ISO200 stacked (using lighten blending mode) with one 2 second exposure of foreground.

Execution went mostly to plan and this result is close to what I had in mind, except that the car park and grounds at the station had been significantly reworked since Google Earth/Streetview was last there so that threw out my planning a little. I was using a tall ladder to gain a little extra clearance over the roof of the station, hoping to pick up an image of the Moon at the end of totality, but my compass alignment wasn't quite accurate enough and so that happened behind the clock tower. Still I wanted the action to be close to the tower and the centre of the frame so I'm happy with how this worked out. I have several other versions of the foreground during twilight to experiment with as well.

I first saw the eMotimo Tilt-Box motion control units two years ago, when a participant on my Night Sky Photography Workshops brought one along to play with. I could see then that they were both well designed and built and also great fun. With the release of the Black TB3 version and my own experiments with motion control needing an upgrade, I couldn't resist getting my hands on one and hope this review will encourage others to have a play with one of their own.

22
Oct

Light Pollution - An Unnecessary Evil


Light Pollution over Melbourne as seen from Kinglake

Light Pollution is an unnecessary evil, a sad result of poor lighting design.

Light Pollution:

    Any trip away from home is an excuse to find dark skies and interesting locations for night sky photography, and a trip to the Australian Astro Imaging Conference (AAIC) was no exception, despite its Gold Coast location.

    While planning the trip, I considered that it was almost the ideal time of year (in the southern hemisphere) to capture the zodiacal light in the west, with brilliant Venus set to be blazing in the middle of it. And a trip up north from Melbourne would further increase the angle of the zodiacal light, putting it almost vertical to the horizon with the Milky Way running overhead across the sky at the end of twilight as well. Later in the night the Gegenschein (counter-glow) would rise, in a dark part of the sky well separated from the Milky Way.


    Magellenic Clouds (left), Milky Way plus Venus and the Zodiacal Light
    Maranoa Wetlands, Queensland, Monday 26th August, 2013
    Canon 6D, 24mm lens, Panorama of 27 images, each 30 secs, f2.8, ISO3200

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