A month from today, the earth is going to experience one of those rare moments where a fine drink is in order – a total solar eclipse. If you live in America, YAY. America will get the full Total Eclipse treatment, if you are living anywhere else, why not enjoy the eclipse from space.
Although I’ve (sadly) never owned a Nintendo Game Boy Camera, I love to see how artists, scientists or nineties kids play with it in the modern age. An astronomer Alexander Pietrow used this 1998 gadget for astrophotography, and ended up with 2bit images of the Moon and Jupiter. He shares the process and the photos with DIYP, so take a look how the Moon craters look when taken with a 2bit, 128×112px Game Boy Camera. And if you use a telescope, you could take them yourself, too.
Total eclipses aren’t actually as rare as many people think, happening somewhere on earth about every 18 months or so. But to have them appear over a particular part of the planet, or even a specific country, isn’t quite as often. But, there’s is a total solar eclipse happening over the USA in a couple of months. Monday, August 21st, to be precise. For many Americans, this will be a once in a lifetime event.
Destin Sandlin from YouTube’s SmarterEveryDay has, naturally, had this event at the forefront of his mind recently. So, he went to interview some people about it to find out more from a science perspective. But Destin also had a chat with eclipse fanatic and creator of the Solar Eclipse Timer app, Dr Gordon Telepun, MD, to find out how best to capture the event on video.
I’m not really a big astrophotographer, the skies are just too bright around here most of the time. I’ve dabbled with it here and there, but never anything serious. Recently, though, I’ve found myself in possession of the Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens (review coming soon). With a lens this wide (field of view) and this wide (aperture), it was made for astrophotography. So I’ve been experimenting again.
So, this video from YouTuber Josh Katz has come along at just the right time for me. He too, says he’s no expert in photographing the night sky, but he knows enough to explain the basics and get you started. Also like myself, Josh lives in an area where there’s a constant struggle to find a sky dark enough to actually be worth shooting. But he offers a few tips for that, too.
This is the famous and elusive Horsetail “Firefall” Fall in Yosemite, but unlike every other image you may have seen – always taken near sunset around February – the fire effect in this image is caused by moonlight. That’s the only possible way one could see the firefall and stars at the same time!
How does the firefall effect happen in the first place?
Before we dive into the moonlit firefall, let me quickly explain how the more popular firefall event works. That is, the one driven by direct sunlight during sunset.
It’s basically a rare event that happens in specific dates when the sun is about to set (so you get the typical “golden hour” colors) and its rays only hit in the thin area on the El Capitan walls right behind Horsetail Fall, reflecting it right against the waterfall, causing the effect that the water is indeed red or golden color, almost lava-like. Several things must come together for a firefall to form, though.
Sony makes excellent cameras. In the last few years, they launched a completely new full frame camera system that has pushed the bounds of digital photography. I switched entirely to Sony gear after first seeing the tremendous low-light capability of their a7S and have enjoyed many outings shooting astrophotography on many different Sony camera bodies since. I have previously recommended Sony gear to countless numbers of fellow photographers looking for the best landscape astrophotography cameras. That is no longer the case. If you want to shoot landscape astrophotography, don’t buy a Sony. If you already have a Sony camera, don’t update the firmware.
Here’s why I no longer recommend Sony cameras and how the latest firmware update made Sony’s a7RII and a7SII terrible for astrophotography.
Whether you enjoy timelapse videos or astrophotography (or both), you are likely to enjoy this timelapse shot from an airplane cockpit.
A pilot named Sales Wick created this timelapse on a long haul flight from Zurich, Switzerland to Sao Paulo, Brazil. With a long night ahead of him, on high altitude, he shot the bright night sky uncorrupted by light pollution or clouds. Shot between two continents, from a cockpit, on a clear night – this is definitely a unique view of the night sky.
We just had a beautiful Aurora Australis hit New Zealand a couple of days ago. I was fortunate enough to catch a quiet spot to myself where I could take in the atmosphere and shoot a few images. My favourite from the night was a panorama shot of the Aurora to the south and the galactic core rising to the south east – it was the shot I planned and it seemed to turn out nicely [check out this blogpost if you want to learn how to stitch astro panoramas]. So nicely, it got published in the National newspaper and got me a fair bit of attention on my various social media sites. The frenzy that started with a few keen astronomers and astrophotographers led to a lot of people rushing to similar spots the night after to see if they can watch the aurora. Unfortunately, there were a few disappointed folk who not only couldn’t find a clear view, but also didn’t realise what you see in photos isn’t what you see with the naked eye.
Nature has lots to offer for landscape photographers. We love to shoot nature’s paintings. Storms, rainbows, tornadoes, lightning strikes: they’re all a gift from nature that we can play with as a landscape photographer. Volcanoes are one of them, too, especially when they’re erupting. I have been fascinated by volcanoes; they have been on my list to shoot for quite a while.
My younger brother recently went to Guatemala for some backpacking and learning the Spanish language. When he sent me some photos of an erupting volcano, my photography senses were immediately triggered. The erupting volcano was called ‘Fuego’ (literally “Fire”). I managed to find webcams and activity on scopes and checked how active Fuego was. According to the history, the volcano has remained quite active, but you had to be lucky to see a lot of eruptions. Still, the idea of meeting up with my brother and shooting a volcano seemed like a good enough reason to go.
ISO is one of the three major exposure settings in the exposure triangle of a digital camera. Of the three: shutter time, f/number, and ISO, it is ISO that is probably most misunderstood. Even more so than f/number. In fact, it is a common misconception that higher ISO settings will cause images to be noisier. In fact, the opposite is often true. Wait, what?
That’s right, higher ISO settings alone do not increase image noise and higher ISOs can even be beneficial to low-light photography. In this post, I talk about the craziness surrounding ISO settings, how ISO actually affects exposure and how to find the optimal ISO setting on your camera for astrophotography.