Mar 312012

Last weekend Elaine and took a day trip to the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory.  A perfect way to spend a cold rainy day after a week of incredibly warm record breaking weather.   What can I say?  It’s Southern Ontario and weekends were made for bad weather.  Nonetheless, we had a great time indoors where it was warm and we got to see some beautiful creatures.

All photos taken with an Olympus E-3, 50mm f/2.0 Zuiko Macro lens and a Metz off-camera wireless flash.

Mar 132012

Tonight was a rare clear night and I decided to photograph the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus.  The actual conjunction occurs on March 15, 2012, when these two planets have the same right ascension.  However, in true Southern Ontario form, it will likely be a cloudy night March 15.  Throughout the month of March, they will appear close together in the Western horizon.

As it turns out, getting a shot was not so easy to do on a whim.  My first attempt using an Orion EON f/7.5 120mm APO refractor with a 900mm focal length failed.  There was too much magnification to show both planets.  So, I quickly swapped out the Orion for a Meade 80mm f/6 APO refractor with a shorter focal length of 480mm.  However, that did not work as well as the planets were still too far apart to fit in the frame.  So, I grabbed an  f/6.3 focal reducer which is normally used for a Schmidt-Cassegrain  telescope and jerry rigged it with some spare hardware to make it work with the Meade 80mm.  It was not possible to get exact focus, furthermore, there would be some astigmatism.  Nonetheless, it was good enough to take some shots.

I also tried to take some shots with a DSLR on a tripod using a telephoto zoom, but they did not turn out so well.  Setting the correct exposure is another problem.  If you expose for Venus, then you lose Jupiter and its moons.  If you try to expose for Jupiter’s surface, you lose its moons and Venus will be a huge overexposed white blob.  I’m sure with multiple exposures and layering, one could make a much better shot.

The image below was taken using the Meade 80mm APO refractor, a Celestron f/6.3 focal reducer and a Pentax K-5 DSLR.

You can see Jupiter’s largest moons: Ganymede, Callisto, Io and Europa.

Mar 052012

This damned cold weather is keeping me cooped up inside and I need to find more ways to keep myself busy, lest I rot on a couch.  I tried out some other macro photography this weekend. This time it was images of bubbles floating on a piece of glass.  However, it was not quite the effect that I was looking for as the lighting proved to be difficult.  A soap bubble acts like a 180 degree mirror and regular lights would show up as white dots and nearby objects and the room are reflected in the bubble.  I attempted to circumvent these difficulties by creating a setup that would use a diffused lighting source and the camera had to be a few meters away so it would not to be reflected in the bubble.

My setup consisted of an 8″x10″ glass plate placed on top of a black cloth, a light tent raised about 12cm on top of some books and an off-camera flash bounced inside the light tent.  The camera was aimed under the gap between the light tent and the table.  I had to use a close focusing telephoto so the camera was not too close to be obviously reflected in the bubble.  These shots were taken in a darkened room.

Now I need some sunny and warmer weather so I can get my butt outside and do some street photography!

Taken with a Pentax K-5 and a cheap vintage film era Cosmicar 70-200 f/4 zoom lens.  You can see this lens is not the highest quality for close up shots.