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Started the new gig...as usual, I felt out of place the first week. I'm a little worried about this place because everything seems to be done via phone -- I prefer face to face meetings because that is actually my skill -- forming relationships with customers. In my not very humble opinion, phone-email-text "conversations" suck and don't allow for relationship building.

Been self medicating this week with yard work, wine, and peep pictures, lol --
Peeps Mountain Climbing

The weather seems to want to become spring, but there's still a fair amount of cold! I've been doing a bit of yard work, putting down some dirt, getting up sticks and leaves from last year. I've also been looking at seeds that I might plant --

The tomato seeds I planted inside have sprouted!

Here's the sky the other night from my front porch -- the rest of the sky was dark and stormy looking, but the west had a nice orange glow -- it made for very interesting light outside!
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Today is a good day. I settled on a rate for a new gig last night and gave my notice at my current gig today.

And I made an Amaryllis time-lapse (I think you will have to click on this and have it open in a new window in order to watch) --
Amarylis Time-Lapse
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Gawd, I have been busy at work for 2 solid weeks...I can't get what I need to get done and my typical organized work behavior is becoming disorganized. And for pretty much the first time I can ever remember, I came home with tense shoulders last night. That's not where I hold my tension -- it was bizarre.

Part of the problem could be that I need to make a trip to the eye doctor for a new prescription!

But a big part of the problem is that the current gig thinks that all Projects Managers are interchangeable. Need a rocket ship? Pull a Project Manager from the inventory. Need a new defense system? Go grab a Project Manager, would you? Need a new building? Hey, can you go grab a Project Manager from the back room?

I've been assigned to managing a fucking CONSTRUCTION project -- big, new building -- zoning, entitlements, MEP, general contractors, subs, building plans, the works. But my ENTIRE background is in software development project management. I am in no way qualified for this. I'm not in charge of the overall project, of course -- only managing from the perspective of where I am currently working. But adding the additional work of this to my other projects has just resulted in stress for me.

#NotTheBestSituation but Imma take care of myself. Count on it! You can mark that shit down.

Anecdote -- a PM was recently let go. He wasn't the most experienced, and his "EQ" -- Emotional Intelligence Quotient -- was not as strong as mine. Truth. And I really can't say if I liked him or not, although I did buy him lunch before he left. #basicdecency

Someone recently described him as a 'Goldfish in a Barracuda tank' -- and I LAUGHED SO HARD because it is true. The Barracudas just gobbled him up in one bite...no bones left...nothing! Me? Not a Goldfish. But not a Barracuda either. I like to think of myself as a nice, old fish -- maybe a Dolphin? The Barracudas generally leave me alone. But Imma take care of myself. Mark it down!

De-stressing tonight with some old Madonna --

On a more pleasant topic, I was rather pleased with this photo of a hawk last weekend. I actually missed it, but when another guy saw that I was taking pics of a heron, he pointed out the hawk to me.

The colors are nice. It was in the morning, so the light is nice. I used my longest zoom, and tried to be careful not to disturb the hawk.
Birds at Maymont
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I was pleased with this photo -- it was such a dreary day that I didn't expect to find much to photograph, so it was nice to see this Blue Heron in the one of the canals along the river.
Blue Heron in the Manchester Canal

The heron photo was Saturday, and then Sunday night around midnight was a full lunar eclipse.

OMG...it was so cold! So cold! While I was out for the eclipse, it hovered around 29F (-2C). The low last night was supposed to have been 16F (-14C). The temperature made it uncomfortable to be out long, and the moon was directly overhead which meant I had to kneel or crouch uncomfortably to see the camera screen or peer through the viewfinder. Luckily I was at home, so I could go inside sometimes to warm up a bit!

Near the beginning of the eclipse (time 22:35) --
Lunar Eclipse

Further along (22:58) --
Lunar Eclipse

I was not entirely happy with my full eclipse (23:48) photo. I'm not sure that I was in focus, or maybe I kept the shutter open so long that I got some movement.
Lunar Eclipse
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Bad...but in kind of a good way -- not something I needed, but I splurged and bought a new camera lens! I already had a EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM -- shown to the left below. Today I just received a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM. At this point, my intent is to sell the 70-200.

My primary use cases for a long zoom are moon pictures and macros of insects. Unsurprisingly, butterflies, etc. don't particularly like it when you hover over them with a typical macro lens, so I have been using my 200 for that. And I have reached my limit on how close I can get to the moon with my current equipment.

It was a rainy day, so I just took some shots inside to play around, comparing the new 100-400 with the 70-200. The aperture won't open as wide on the 100-400 as the 200, and since I was also using a 1.4x extender, I wanted to keep the settings the same for all the shots. So I set the settings to ISO 6400 and f/8.

Then I took pics both fully zoomed out and fully zoomed in while sitting on my couch aiming at a particular ornament on the tree.

Here's the 70-200 fully zoomed out (70 mm):

Compared to the 100-400 fully zoomed out (100 mm):

70-200 fully zoomed in (200):

100-400 fully zoomed in (400):

And here's what each looks like with the 1.4x extender.

70-200 fully zoomed out with 1.4x extender (98 mm):

100-400 fully zoomed out with 1.4x extender (140 mm):

70-200 fully zoomed in with 1.4x extender (280 mm):

100-400 fully zoomed in with 1.4x extender (560):

No surprises, lol -- the 100-400 can zoom further. But I was happy to confirm that the 1.4x extender worked fine with the new lens (although as expected I lose an f/stop using it), and autofocus continued to work with it. One note though is that I only tested the autofocus with a center focus point, so I don't know if other focus points would work.

When I labeled the pics above, I used what Lightroom indicated as the zoom length in the photo metadata, but I believe since I'm using a 7D Mark II (which is a crop sensor) that I am getting additional zoom beyond what the numbers indicate above. The 7D Mark II has a 1.6 factor crop sensor. If I understand correctly, here's how the arithmetic works: 400mm zoom * 1.6 crop factor * 1.4x extender = 896mm. Compare that to the old lens: 200mm zoom * 1.6 crop factor * 1.4x extender = 448mm.

I'm looking forward to trying out this lens when the moon is visible next!
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For the first time, I think my iPhone rivals my Canon! I mean, phones take great pics now, but previously I could ALWAYS get a better picture by taking RAW images on my 'big camera', as I call it.

And that hasn't exactly changed...but for the very first time I am comfortable having 'just' the iPhone XS. They say the best camera is the one you have with you, but I always wanted to have the Canon with me. And I still do. But seriously, I was impressed with the XS photos!

Still if I need a long zoom...certainly I would use the Canon. Or if I were going to print an image at a larger size -- definitely would need the image taken from the Canon. Or if I wanted to use my wide angle lens, again Canon. But I really was impressed by the shots I got with the iPhone XS, and I think it would suffice for a lot of situations!

Here's a pic with the iPhone on the left and Canon on the right. I'm pretty satisfied with either! (Don't judge them by the warmth or lack thereof of the colors -- they were both edited - one on the phone, and the other in Lightroom. I wasn't intending to keep them the same. This just an example of the detail of the iPhone XS on the left and the Canon on the right.)
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I haven't been posting too much lately...my life has been less than exciting, sad to say. I've been taking care of stuff at home, working...had one of our "whiskey nights" with my whiskey compatriot...catching up on old TV series on Netflix...that sort of thing.

Still getting plenty of cherry tomatoes from the garden -- I really should be making sauce and freezing it instead of stuffing my face with them! And if I eat too many tomatoes, the acid tends to make my skin break out...so there's that...but I do love them fresh off the vine!

I'm wondering if I have the beginnings of a roof leak upstairs -- I cannot see any water damage, but my bedroom suddenly has a different 'smell' than I'm used to -- not a bad smell, just a change. With all the rain we have had this year, it wouldn't surprise me that the roof, which is past its prime, has developed a leak!

Hanging out with the camera lately --
Very dramatic home decor!

Silvery Checkerspots making more butterflies :)

I think I should schedule a trip to Scotland and Ireland...I have never been to the British Isles. And I would like another overseas trip!

Listening to differing versions of Infinito Particular -- I find this song soothing --

Ever loved an invasive weed, lol? This clematis -- Clematis terniflora is so much more invasive than the native Clematis virginiana, and it grows everywhere, and I'm constantly pulling it up...but it smells very nice! And it is one of the few blooming plants in the Fall...
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Been thinking about the boyfriend thing lately...or maybe I should say I've been thinking about the 'lack of' a boyfriend...One characteristic I have is that I don't mind being alone...I get along fairly well with myself, lol! And I have lots of hobbies that keep me busy, at least during the warm part of the year.

But I've been thinking lately. This past weekend, I took the car in for service, and I took a Lyft home. I got a friend to take me back out to pick up the car, but it would have been nice to have someone at home to do that for me. And when the ice maker on the fridge started leaking a couple of weeks ago, it would have been nice to have someone to commiserate with. And, omg...wouldn't it be nice to have someone to unload the dishwasher -- NOT a favorite task! Wait...is it a boyfriend or a servant I want, lol???

Unfortunately, I really have never been able to 'tolerate' people for very long. If I fit well with someone, I can spend all day with them. But if not, I really don't 'tolerate' them for very long. I have several guys in mind from my past whom I could not tolerate well enough to actually date them for very long.

Aaannd...there's no point to all this rambling -- just thinking aloud.

I got out with the camera fair amount this weekend --
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Very attractive dragonfly!

In this one, the Monarch was flittering around, landing now and again. I think she was laying eggs since she was on a Swamp Milkweek plant! Unfortunately, I have not found any eggs -- maybe the heavy (3 inches in one rain!!) that we had last night washed them off? Or maybe she never found the 'right' spot for laying.
Monarch fluttering around the milkweed today....laying eggs?
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The long holiday weekend has been a bit lonely for me. Friends were out of town. And while I had originally planned some out of town activities, they would not have been very enjoyable with a lot of rain. So I didn't get past the planning stage -- although it turns out the weekend was not very rainy at all -- some rain, but mostly just clouds, so I probably could have done some of what I planned!

In any event, it's been a restful weekend. Got a bike ride in -- first time this year! Sad that this first ride is so late in the year, but it felt good to be on the bike!

I did get some camera time -- I'm the weird neighbor hanging out in the front yard with a camera, lol! Here's a macro of a bumblebee on a wax leaf privet hedge bloom.
It's a messy job, but somebody has to do it!

And for some exercise yesterday, I walked around Hollywood Cemetery. This angel is so seductive, lol! I like her a lot!
What a seductive angel!
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I like old Samba music...And it's good practice for me because it tends to be simple language sung slowly.

Interestingly, this singer has some serious political history, having been shunned by the student left, and arrested by the military junta and exiled...only returning to Brazil in the 70s.

This weekend was very rainy...which means -- horror movies -- Insidious, Insidious 2 and The Conjuring 2! And that inspired this selfie --
Rainy Day Selfie

I also made a quick trip to Hollywood Cemetery in the rain --
Hollywood Cemetery
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I've been working from home the last few days...it's such a drag to walk around downtown in the snow/slush/ice. It's not a great walk from parking to office in good weather, so when it snows I option to work from home whenever I can. Also, I'm 'between' projects right now, so not much going on anyway.

But that means I'm inside the house a lot so to get some fresh air yesterday, I walked briefly outside with the camera.

Icicle hanging from my deck --
The Day After

Mounds of melting snow --
The Day After

I downloaded a horror movie last night to watch, which I liked it very much. The sound track/effects matched nicely with the movie. Not very gory (which is a good thing in my opinion)...and more psychological than scary I guess.

The movie is called It Follows and is about something that follows the characters, and if it touches them they die.

There are themes of 'wrong and right side of the tracks'; themes of sexual disease, and how alone that can make you feel (although there is absolutely nothing about STDs in the movie -- the plot sort of reminds you of that); themes of trying to pass your problems onto someone else.

One thing that is interesting is that it's difficult to date the movie. It was released in 2014, but nothing in the movie exactly gives a date. The houses seem 1970s...and there is not much technology in the show. But you do see a sort of cell phone --

But if you look at this scene, the movie could just be playing at at old movie house. Again, difficult to date the movie.

It's not important to the movie to date it -- it just struck me as odd that I couldn't quite place it in time.
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It's been cold lately....which makes me hibernate! I've still been keeping myself occupied inside.


I have 3 Amaryllis bulbs inside in pots. I posted the time lapse of the white one blooming here. And the pink one has bloomed now --
Amaryllis 'Sweet Star'

The red one is in progress of blooming. It's nice to have growing things inside when it is so cold outside!

Frozen Bubbles

Speaking of cold...it has been so fricken' cold here! I'm not used to -3F (-19C)! While it was cold, I attempted some frozen bubble pics ---
Frozen Bubbles

Frozen Bubbles

Low Carb Diet

To get rid of some unwanted pounds from the holidays, I have been on a low(er) carb diet, which is the first time I have ever done this. It's been interesting! The diets tend to call for 25-50g of carbs a day, which was a non-starter for me. I love my oatmeal in the morning too much! I settled on 50 - 55 or maybe sometimes 60.

Here are my experiences so far --
  1. My jawline is sharpening, so I’m already losing weight. Probably water since you lose water on low carb.
  2. I have had some of the ‘keto flu’ or ‘low carb flu’ — feeling low energy even when I’m eating plenty of calories! Pecans help that a little. It reminds me of when I fasted for 3 days once — by day 3 I had no hunger at all, but day 2 was a drag. The lethargy went away today (Day 4).
  3. The top blood pressure number seems to be better today, although the stubborn bottom one is not improved. But if it helps the blood pressure, that will be great!
  4. My wine taste has shifted a bit, away from red to bubbly white or rosé. Not sure why, but sparkling Prosecco tastes better now.
  5. At first, I was very, very thirsty — constantly drinking water, and then constantly peeing it out! That passed after a couple of days.
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Yesterday was the family's Christmas dinner and gift exchange.

I had noticed that one of my amaryllises might bloom yesterday, so before I left the house, I set up an old camera taking interval photos with the idea of creating a time-lapse.

It worked out fairly well -- the bloom opened. The weight of the bloom caused the bloom to move to the right throughout the time-lapse. You'll have to click on the photo below to open this in Flickr to actually see the time-lapse:
Amaryllis Bloom Time-Lapse

The process I used --
1) Camera settings: I set the white balance on the camera to one particular setting (not auto), so that it did not change on every photo. Since I knew the lighting would be changing significantly throughout the day, I decided to allow the camera to auto focus, and auto expose.

2) Triggering the shots: I used an external intervalometer to control the shots -- setting the device to trigger the camera to shoot every 5 minutes. I chose 5 minutes because I figured the amaryllis would be fairly slow to open, meaning slow movements which would NOT require frequent shots.

3) Editing the photos: I used an old copy of Lightroom to edit 1 photo to brighten up the photo, increase the contrast a bit, etc. Then I copied the settings from that one photo to all the other photos. Then I exported all the photo as JPGs to a separate folder.

4) Constructing the time-lapse: I could have used Photoshop to create the time-lapse, but since I no longer use Photoshop (boy do I hate monthly subscriptions!), I used Time Lase Assembler. The app has a simple user interface that does what you would expect -- takes all the JPGs in 1 folder and assembles them into a movie.
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Daylight Savings Time ended, and we are back to Standard Time. I have noticed that my photos this time of year and into the winter get very....hmmm....mundane? Is that the word?

Or maybe just very 'homebody' -- the cold and dark make me hibernate...and I get sort of stir-crazy inside, so I start taking darker pics...but also more pics of every day stuff in the house and yard...I imagine that will be so when I'm old and feeble -- I'll hobble outside to take a macro pic of a seed or something, lol!

If I print something, I often save the printout and use the back side for scratch paper later. When I went to use this piece of paper for a note, i noticed that the ink was so heavy on the front that it actually created raised indentions on the back of the paper...

It seemed interesting, so I took an iPhone snap --
Back of a printed image.

I've also started planning the Tree Trimming open house party for December...actually already bought a few food items, and I'm getting the list ready for the 'hold the date' invitation to go out.
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Nice weekend...Wine with 1 friend....day at a friend's with a visit to a wine tasting festival....found a thrift store clown to take (hopefully) creepy pics of...what more could I ask?

And I have a previous couch surfer staying again for a few days.


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I had a nice weekend -- hung out with the 21 year old friend Friday night, when we walked around the river and then had Ethiopian food for dinner. And another night, dinner with a couple of friends from undergrad - pizza and ice cream!

One thing that happened lately surprised me...I think some of my friends had "assumed" that the 21 year old and I were aiming towards something romantic...but....um....he's still at university! And the difference in our ages is more than his age, lol!

I try not to judge someone else who might be in that sort of relationship, but for me there's WAY too much age difference in our ages for me to date him! Basically, when he and I get around each other, I go into "uncle mode", and we jabber about our lives for hours, and we text a lot. But romance? Not in the plan...

I was actually thinking about why - and I think it's because he is not on his own yet - he's still a student, and he has to decide what his life will be, so I would be interfering with that. I think he's planning to stay in town...and I do hope he and I keep in touch, but I don't think a physical relationship would qualify as "right action" (read "right action" as "ethical conduct"), in the Buddhist sense, lol

But I like hanging out with him....and I'm gonna keep doing it, as long as he wants to! Young gay men need older role models -- the AIDS epidemic took a whole generation of folks my age and older, so I think some younger gay men have never interacted with a stable older gay man. Not suggesting I'm hanging out with the 21 year old because of altruism -- I really do like him...but I also like being "Uncle Bart"...or "Pops" as he called me the other day, lol!

....Another thought about when something similar happened -- I remember when I tried my hand at nude photography back during my last Sabbatical, where the model was like 27 or something. It was a totally professional, legit thing.

But at least one guy I knew totally assumed that the model and I had had sex -- even when I explained that it was just a modeling session, I could tell he didn't believe me. And I don't know why -- because if the model and I had played around, I would have said so!

Fast forward to the other end of the age spectrum, and my book club (the one I attended a few weeks ago for the 1st time) is coming up again, and I still have to read the book! In this club, I am the young one, where everyone else is about 10+ years older than me!

I haven't been out too much with the camera -- mostly sticking close to home. Here's a photo of a dragonfly in the garden. I took it with a 70-200mm lens with a 1.4x extender. And I cropped the result

Basically, I did a macro shot with a zoom lens -- it's not like dragonflies want you getting up in their face with a macro lens!

Blue Dasher in the garden.

I like how the yellow Coreopsis flowers show up in the bokeh blur in the background. I like how blue his eyes are (he's a "Blue Dasher"). I like that I can see detail in his wings, and also patterns in his eyes! And I like seeing the hairs on his legs, lol!

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I spent a lot of time with the camera this weekend! It was good and I enjoyed myself, but I have given myself a rest period today...I noticed the bikers returning from the races in the park tonight...I'd like to get over there and practice my panning on them before they stop for the Fall!

I had not been completely satisfied with the hummingbird pictures...at least until yesterday when I got a couple pics that I liked!
Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Hummingbird sitting in a tree

This one was when I put the camera on its back under the feeder, taking pictures at intervals --
From underneath the hummingbird feeder

Originally, I was hand-holding the camera, but when I walked too close to the feeder, the birds flew away.

Then, I put the camera on the tripod taking intervals. But I wasn't happy with the shutter motion or depth of field focus.

The final solution was to stand in place near the porch but in the garden...and they returned. Often it was about 10 minutes before they stopped by my feeder. As long as I was slow in motion while photo taking, they seemed to be okay with me being there.
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It was a lot of fun ... and HOT ... standing in the sun waiting for the eclipse. I finally had to put hat and shirt on to protect my lily white, Irish skin! I had my glasses on to watch the sky, and I remember texting friends and family when I first noticed the 'flat edge' to the sun...as the moon was just starting to come between us and the sun.

The clouds came in right after max eclipse, so I only got photos up to and including the maximum. And that was fine. Here's the requisite selfie in the hot sun --

I really enjoyed doing this -- I remember being amazed that I could see the 'weak light' -- like a cloud had gone over the sun, except there was no cloud over the sun. I can only imagine the reports from a friend's relatives of seeing stars in the middle of the afternoon!

Camera taking intervals (you can see I was able to re-use the home-made filter that I described making in a previous post) --

This was a few minutes before max --
About 10 minutes before the max exclipse here

This is a collage of pics at different times --
Solar Eclipse 2017 Collage

I had read that the light/shadows under trees would show the eclipse...I kept walking around looking but not seeing anything. And then at a certain stage, I totally saw it...here are the crescents on the porch --
Crescents on the porch from the eclipse

And crescents on the calçada--

It was a good time...I'm glad I got to see it...Maybe I'll go see a full eclipse sometime!

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About a week ago, I decided I wanted to try my hand at photographing the eclipse in a couple days. I went online to see what materials I would need.

Of course, you need solar glasses to look directly at the sun. And I also needed a way to protect the camera. I did not want to spend a couple hundred bucks on a solar filter that would fit my lens, so I bought a sheet of solar film and constructed my own filter.

Solar Glasses

Here are a couple pair of solar glasses --

They work well -- the sun turns into a dull yellow ball. You cannot see ANYTHING ELSE -- everything is all black (except for the sun) because the glasses block so much light.

Home-made Solar Filter for the Camera

The sheet of solar film arrived sandwiched between 2 pieces of cardboard.

I could have just used the sheet by attaching it to the end of the lens with a rubber band. But there was only 1 sheet, and I needed to do a practice run. So, I decided to cut it and some cardboard and make my own filter.

My first thought was to cut a piece of cardboard to the right size, then tape the film onto it. Here's the cardboard with the hole in it.

It didn't really work well -- it was too flimsy, and could fall off easily.

So I got a piece of paper -- one that was less stiff than cardboard, but still a bit stiff. And I cut a strip, which I wrapped around and taped 1 end of the strip to the other to make a kind of tube.

Then I taped the solar film over the end of the tube. I used a rubber-band to hold the tube to the lens.

That seemed to work well enough. It felt stable on the lens, and it made it through my practice session.

Camera Settings

First off, I decided on my camera settings:
 ISO:  100
 f/stop:  f/8.0
 Shutter:  1/500 (Later edit -- this was NOT long enough -- too fast! Thankfully, I bracketed. The ones that worked the best were around 1/250
-- so if I did it again, I might try something around that, and bracket.)
 Focus:  Manual and set to infinity
 Bracketing: I bracketed up and down 2 stops, but having looked at the results, I think I will only go 1.5 stops during the eclipse.
White Balance:  I set this to what the camera calls "Sunlight", which is 5200K I believe.
 Intervals: I used the intervalometer to open the shutter every 10 seconds.  Because I was bracketing and using continuous mode, the camera took 3 shots every 10 seconds (1 normal, 1 under-exposed and 1 over-exposed).

To get that to happen, I set the LONG to 1, the INTVL to 10, and the N to 0.

Lens and Zoom 200mm lens with a 1.4 extender on a crop sensor camera...so what does that give me....200mm * 1.4 (extender) * 1.6 (crop factor), or about 448 effectively?

I'm not sure if that is correct...it's my guess at how it works.
Other Settings: I turned image stabilization off on the lens -- why have it on and lose f/stops when the camera is going to sit on the tripod?

I may have to change my settings on Monday as the eclipse gets near the 86% mark (which will be our max eclipse here).

Practice Session

One of the goals of the session was to determine how much time the sun would be in view of my lens -- with the lens zoomed in, how long would the sun stay in front of the camera?

Turns out..not long! These 2 images were about 5 minutes apart, which looks like the sun has moved about a 1/4 way across the screen (and down)...meaning, I'll only get 20 minutes of shots before I have to move the lens.

Which begs the question -- what exactly do I want to photograph? I really don't want to spend all my time fooling around with the camera during the eclipse -- I would prefer to watch it with my eyes through my glasses.

But I do want some photos, so I suspect I will aim the camera near the beginning of the eclipse...then move it to take some photos in the middle...and that may be all I take.

Here's the camera set up outside. Note how sharply angled it is! This was a time when I SORELY missed the articulating screen that my Rebel has! With this camera, I had to kneel and look upwards to see the screen!

After the Practice Thoughts

One of the nice things for me about photography is that there is always something else to learn to do.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast looks like we may have clouds on Monday so I may or may not get any eclipse photos. But just doing this practice session, and learning about solar film and camera settings for an eclipse has been fun!

Practicing for the eclipse on Monday....

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Had sorvete / ice cream with my Brazilian friend tonight -- it was fun...it has been several weeks since we had seen each other!

Got fairly close to a Goldfinch in the garden tonight...I think I could've gotten even closer if someone hadn't walked by on the sidewalk and scared him away!

Goldfinch eating Coneflower seeds in front yard


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"O seguro morreu de velho, mas o desconfiado ainda está vivo." -- "The safe one died of old age, but the suspicious one is still living."