It was a day behind our usual, but yesterday I spent the day getting all of our inside decorations taken down. It is always a little depressing seeing the house so bare again after a month of lights and colors.
It was only the inside that got done. The outside is still buried in snow, so that is going to wait. We talked about it and decided to most likely wait until the contractors are done in a couple of weeks because they will be working in that area and we will have to haul all of those bins back out after they are done to clean up all the drywall dust anyway. It saves some work and headache that way.
When I was at the point of doing some cleaning after all the stuff was packed away and Hubby was putting all the bins back, I glanced out the window and caught a hint of this stunning display. Of course, I had to try and capture it. It was so bold and vivid, it was almost unreal. The entire sky was doing some interesting things, no matter which direction you looked, but this was one of the best views.
Today, I get to go outside and play a little more because it got really foggy last night and froze on everything. We are a gorgeous white coated wonderland. I guess 2021 was willing to gift me with a beautiful winter that 2020 was being stingy with. Either that or there are some unnamed weather fairies up in the northern end of the continent that was willing to send me some of theirs, for which I’m extremely grateful.
BG and I wanted to try and get a glimpse of this event, so we set alarms and set up camp at a front window that was perfectly positioned for viewing.
I’m going to admit to some extreme ignorance on this. I really had thought that when there was talk of Saturn being in line with Jupiter, I expected it to fall behind Jupiter. So when I decided to just see what I could get with my camera, my mind was in that mode and expected certain things because of it, though I really didn’t expect to get anything at all exciting as I simply do not have the right equipment for anything amazingly detailed. I really just expected to get a bright dot.
Imagine my surprise when I see not just one dot with the naked eye, but a couple. BG and I were trying to decide what the second dot was, even using our Google Sky ap to try and identify it. Just a side note about that ap… it confirmed my thoughts on Saturn being behind Jupiter because that is what it showed on the screen instead of it being next to it. Other than giving us a place to look, it really didn’t help one bit in figuring out what we were seeing.
After I’d taken a few shots and BG had run off to take one of her finals, I decided to see what all that looked like if I zoomed in on one of the photos. My mind was absolutely blown. It looked like you could see Saturn’s rings peaking out from behind Jupiter. I was so stunned that I could see that and jumped back in to take a bunch more to see if I could get it to clear up. Some looked more like a solid ring and others dropped down to more single light points on either side of Jupiter.
I got all crazy exited, cropped out the best one I could find and got it posted on my FB page, bragging about getting the rings. Then I went looking at photos other people had gotten. And got really confused. Turns out Saturn is that mysterious dot to the side and what I thought were the rings really weren’t. I was so disappointed and felt like such an idiot.
I finally found a diagram of what was where and realized, okay, so I didn’t get Saturns rings, but I DID get 3 of Juipter’s moons and, quite possibly, Pluto as well. Yes, they are still really just dots, but the placement is clear.
I reposted the photos with a correction and the diagram I’d found, disappointed by the fact that I didn’t actually get those amazing rings. One of my friends jumped in and corrected me saying that because Saturn’s dot is more oblong than Jupiter, that technically I DID get the rings, they just aren’t clearly defined.
Considering I didn’t expect to get ANYTHING, I’m really stoked that I got what I did. Below is the full size photo. Even without blowing it up in size, you can still see some of those elements.
This is the diagram I found on Earth Sky to give you and idea of which dot is which. This is why I said I THINK I also got Pluto because it isn’t pictured here.
The closer look at what I managed to capture. You can clearly see the big dot of Jupiter with a moon close on either side and a third just up and to the left. Saturn is the slightly smaller, egg shaped dot up and to the right of Jupiter. Then, if you look close, almost straight down from Saturn is the faintest dot. That is the one I think may be Pluto (feel free to correct me if you know what it is).
While yesterday was THE day to see the two planets this close, you can still see them together for the next several days, with more distance between the planets each day.
Being up early enough to get a sunrise shot is the pits, but it looks like I’ll get to see quite a few as long as I have contractors working. I’m going to be a zombie by the time this project is finished.
Mornings are made even more difficult when I have to herd the cats into rooms they can’t get out of so they stay out from under the feet of the guys working. Our older kitty, Cleo, is fine. She is the lovable one and has no problem getting picked up and loved on, which makes it easy to get her corralled. Our younger black cat, Midnight? She is a little bit evil and SO doesn’t like being messed with.
We had them in the same room yesterday but all I heard all day long was yowling. We are trying them in separate rooms today to see if that makes things better.
It took us nearly half an hour and all 4 of us to get Midnight into her room this morning, ending when MC picked her up after donning a nice thick sweatshirt to protect his arms. I’m going to have to seriously think about keeping her confined in that room completely until this project is done. Yesterday, we let the cats run free as soon as the guys were done for the day, but I don’t think we can do that and get her back in again tomorrow.
It might make things extremely complicated if we have to keep her confined completely for the duration.
It is difficult not to be exceptionally angry today. I’m angry at the ignorance and the unwillingness of those that are supposed to be in charge to actually DO something productive.
Yes, I could be talking on the larger scale as that absolutely applies as well, but I’m talking a little lower down the power rung. Our idiotic governor, who just got reelected, much to my horror, just put out a decision stating that as long as masks are worn properly at the time of exposure, schools no longer need to issue quarantines for those that might have been exposed.
What the ever loving fuck?!
The same day, one major university announced they were going full virtual after Thanksgiving and a local high school was also having to go all virtual because of the number of cases. But the brain trust in charge of our entire state decided, against ALL CDC and health department recommendations, that quarantines are no longer needed.
This was immediately followed by our mayor stating that our city would not be following those guidelines. Sadly, BG’s school district isn’t inside the city limits and aren’t bound by city rules. They did put out a statement that they will be considering what this means for them and give more information later.
It is hard enough to send her to the school to take her proctored exams as it is. Knowing she will be going if the school follows our governor’s guidelines pisses me off. I have her doing online for a reason.
This also makes it significantly more concerning to send her to dance because there are SO many school districts represented at the studio and I have no way of knowing which schools will be following those guidelines and which ones won’t.
I am sick to death of people that don’t know squat thinking they know more than the experts and putting so many people at risk. I simply do not understand whatever twisted rationale they used to make such a stupid, risky decision. Schools are already having a hard enough time with outbreaks, but this dipshit thinks this is a good idea and that things will be better?
Oh, and this is the same dipshit that cut funding for schools in the spring.
The only mitigating factor in this at all is that, so far, our district has followed city guidelines for the most part. It is still going to impact so many other areas of my state, though. So many people are going to die because there is an idiot at the helm who refuses to listen to the real doctors with real experience and the CDC and the health departments. You know, the ones who’s jobs it is to know this stuff.
I finally got my test results back yesterday afternoon. It took longer than the 24 hours I was originally told, but I got the expected negative so I’m good to go to take the meds I need to kick this bronchitis in the butt.
Even better, I noticed that the amazing, saintly doctor I spoke to not only gave me a generous size bottle of the desperately needed cough medicine, but he gave me 2 refills on it as well! Every past doctor I’ve seen with the exception of the one while I was pregnant with BG that took pity on me and gave me enough to last about 2 years has treated that stuff like it was liquid gold.
I do get why, but it just makes it that much harder to get enough to get this under control normally, which means I have to go in multiple times every year. I really wasn’t looking forward to that this year so I did a little happy dance when I saw the number marked in the refills box on the label.
Fingers and toes crossed that all of this is enough to knock this out early this year.
I nearly missed this brilliant display last night. I managed to run out, nab these few shots and then the colors were already beginning to fade. While the colors were at their peak, they were just stunningly vivid. If I hadn’t looked outside when I did, I would have completely missed it.
I had so much fun with the Night Sky Silhouette piece I did a while back, I wanted to play some more. Sadly, it took me way too long to carve out the time to sit down and work at my computer, but I finally managed it!
I’m SO thrilled by this one! Even more so for the fact that I didn’t have to try and drag it through three different programs to get the finished piece. I learned how to create my own brushes, which was so awesome and also such a pain (then I lost it when Photoshop crashed on me, so I really wasn’t happy that I lost over an hour’s worth of work.)
Of course I also now have this up on Redbubble with all kinds of fun options to choose from.
Twilight Lighthouse Coasters
Twilight Lighthouse Framed Print
I love the concept of the stark silhouette against a vibrant background. I have a feeling I’ll be doing a lot more playing with this concept in the future.
I completely would have missed this if Hubby hadn’t commented on how cool the moon looked last night. I wasn’t even aware you could see Mars that clearly and thought it was a plane at first. I actually had to look it up to figure out what I had seen. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed it quite so distinctly before. In the main image it is just a tiny dot that you can barely see, but it was very bright to the naked eye.
The one below completely blows out the moon and Mars is more of a streak rather than a dot, but you can see the positioning. That and I really liked the odd pattern of light that shows around the moon in this even if the image itself isn’t great.
I’m so glad I decided to grab my camera. I’ve been having fun playing with night/star shots lately. I have plans, weather permitting, to go out next week during the Perseid meteor shower peak to see what I can pull off. Keep your fingers crossed for me that the weather cooperates!
I honestly have no clue how well this image will show. If possible, click on it to make it bigger (or whatever to get it to fit in your screen as you need to see it all at once).
I created this image from a photo I took while I was doing comet watch. The night BG went out with me, she asked if it was possible to get the big dipper and the comet in the same shot because she wanted it for the background on her phone. While it was easy enough to frame them together, getting everything else right to get her what she was looking for really wasn’t easy at all.
Along with most of the typical difficulties I had in trying to get a clean shot of the comet, fuzziness and streaky stars and correct exposure with the urban light pollution, I had to try and get ALL of the elements she wanted working together at the same time.
She really wanted to be able to clearly see both the comet and the big dipper, but she also wanted enough other stars to be seen, but not so many that you lost the big dipper.
It seemed like no matter how I processed it in photoshop, there was always at least one aspect that didn’t work. Too many stars. Not enough stars. A loss of the comet tail. A brightness fade from a corner of the shot because of ambient lighting on the horizon. I would get one aspect the way I really liked it and another one would be way off. I got her a version that worked okay, but she didn’t absolutely love. Still, it was close enough so I called it good.
Then I spent umpteen hours playing with learning how to photo stack, working on edits for MC’s senior pictures and learning how to fix a couple of issues (glare on glasses lenses is an absolute bear if it is bad enough or in the wrong spot). In the process, I figured a few things out that I thought might make a difference on BG’s photo.
So I dug in and played.
Multiple layers, hours and various techniques later, I have pretty much exactly what she asked for. It isn’t perfect by a long shot and is pretty much only really good for what BG wanted to use it as, but I’m exceptionally pleased with it.
The image is very much still a photo. All I really did was play with the kinds of techniques you might see in a darkroom for film/print processing. Mostly.
Now if I could just figure out how to make the stars and comet just a bit bigger and noticeable, It’d be near perfect for what I really wanted out of this one. As it is, I still managed to get damn close.
I really wanted to see if I could manage to get shots of NEOWISE that were a bit better than my first attempt. I decided to use my wide angle lens instead of my zoom. They are much clearer shots, but obviously not nearly as close.
I’m really pleased with them, though. There is something about the clouds that were around that really add something to the photos.
Even though these aren’t as close as the first round, I like that these also help to show how small this comet really is and how difficult it may be to spot in the sky with the naked eye. Even knowing where it was and what to look for, it still took me a while before I found it last night.
These are a long way from being NASA quality, but I managed to get some shots of NEOWISE!
Ever since I started seeing images of this comet, I wanted to see if I could get a shot of it. I’ve been trying to find it in the sky for the last couple of days, but there have been clouds in the area.
I also wasn’t entirely sure, even after looking into it and seeing suggestions on how to view it, what I was doing. All the photos made it look like it would be this bright thing in the sky and obvious, but it REALLY isn’t. You almost can’t even see it with the naked eye, at least if you are near any kind of city light. For me, it looked a bit like a smudgy cloud streak.
About the only thing that gets this to look that bright and noticeable is a longer exposure through a camera. Which I really should have figured out earlier, but… sometimes I’m a bit slow on the uptake.
After spending 20 or so minutes thinking I found it, then realizing that no matter how long of an exposure I did, that bright white dot didn’t have a tail and was actually a star, I finally noticed a smudgy streak a little farther to the right of where I was looking. Once I spotted it, I just played around with a lot of different settings trying to get the best shot I could with what I had.
Obviously some came out better than others, but these are probably the best of the bunch. I am also using my zoom lens, but I wanted to get at least a little of the landscape perspective in the shot, so I didn’t zoom too far. These are all different settings and you can see the difference in the slight lines for stars instead of the more pinpoint dots.
If you are wanting to get your own glimpse of NEOWISE, look to the northwest once the stars are out. Find the big dipper and then look a little below and to the right for that odd little smudge. Obviously, the less light pollution the better, but I’m close to a city and still managed this. Everything I’ve read says that this may still be visible for another week or so, so there is still time.
Happy comet hunting!
*Note to self: I do not need new camera equipment to take shots of stars no matter how cool it would be. Rinse and repeat until it sticks.
The last couple of days we’ve had some amazing sunsets thanks in part to the Saharan dust in the air.
Yesterday in particular. All day you could see the haze in the air, so I knew if the majority of the clouds dispersed, we would have another beautiful one. I was not disappointed in the least. Obviously, because I couldn’t just choose one to share today.
I was out taking photos for about an hour and took over a hundred photos, most of them turning out really wonderful with only slight differences between each image, hence the difficulty in deciding which ones to share.
I tested out a new sunset spot and, for the most part, I really like it because I can get the whole sky. I’m not a huge fan of the power lines, but I’m not going to be too picky.
When the sun got to right at the horizon line, it started to get this awesome ombre look.
Some of my favorite skies are the ones that look almost like they were painted. There were a couple of points through this sunset that the sky definitely came close last night.
Dance picture day yesterday turned into “take all the pictures” day.
I always take photos of BG in her costumes at home, or as much as I can without making her change a billion times. For the first time, she allowed me to also take some outside the studio where they have their dancer silhouette on the wall. It is the standard parent kind of shot, but she’s never let me get one before, so I was really excited to finally be able to.
And, DAMN!! Those are some of the best photos I’ve take of her. I’m talking, a couple of them at least, look like the kind of shots you’d see on a magazine cover. It makes me so damn tempted to break my “no photos of the kids” rule here on my blog just to share it.
It helps that two of the costumes in those photos are some of my favorite ever, the top one being the costume for opening tap this year. It is this phenomenal get up and she absolutely rocks the hell out of it. I cannot get over how stunning she looks in it. He teacher even stole the image (with permission) and posted it on the studio’s page because it is so classic for the look and feel they try to get with that performance.
Since I was already deep into photo mode, I was keeping a close eye on the weather and lighting as I still had another set of photos MC wanted me to take to include in his “senior photo package” we’ve been working on. Shockingly, everything came together and we had a gorgeous evening with a long golden hour that was absolutely perfect.
I dragged both him and BG out because I also wanted to try and get a good one of the two of them together and we spent probably an hour taking photos. I took nearly 400 pictures in all yesterday (and no, they weren’t all good, not by a long shot) and, I think, managed to finish up the pictures that MC wanted. Hopefully. I did also manage to get a couple of really good ones of the two of them together so I have some new photos for my family photo walls.
Of course, because I was already there and the sky was gorgeous, I made them wait just a little longer after we were done before we could go home so I could grab a couple of sunset shots as well.
MC made it abundantly clear that he would prefer that if I had my camera nearby that someone else should be in the driver’s seat of the car because I spend as much time trying to see what’s going on with the sky as I do the road. He was teasing, but… he also isn’t entirely wrong. It is such a joy to drive with two newish driving teenagers in the car pointing out every single thing you do that isn’t strictly by the book.
In all, it was a great day. BG got her dance photos out of the way (I nailed the car dressing room perfectly). I was able to finish up with MC’s photos and got a few fun ones of my own along the way.
Of course, it was also a typical roulette wheel of “What New Random Loop Is Going To Get Thrown At You Today” kind of day as well because our mayor announced a mandatory mask requirement for all indoor public spaces (with a few strict exceptions) that is going to last for at least the next couple of weeks. This covers the time frame for recital, so I have zero clue how the studio is going to work that one out as it includes the dancers on stage.
I’m in “wait and see” mode again, but I still have to make sure she has everything that she needs, including new tights and a few extra small things. It is so odd waiting on things I ordered knowing there is a high chance they won’t be used, at least not this year. We may hear more today when she goes to the studio for her last ballet class before recital.
This was my backdrop when I was out taking photos of the strawberry moon the other night. It was so amazing to be able to face one way and get a view like this. Then turn to face the other way and see the moon just starting to rise.
I made the time last night to attempt to get shots of the strawberry moon. I lucked out in so many ways!
I found a new amazing spot to get moon shots. In the process, I also found a new amazing spot for sunsets, but that’s for another post. The sunset spot is in a different location, but I was stoked to finally find places nearby with a phenomenal horizon view that wasn’t on a busy road. The location for these wasn’t quite ideal, but it was still so much better than most I’ve attempted.
While these aren’t perfect, I was still impressed with what I got as I really kind of wasn’t prepared and I felt rushed. It gives me a place to start doing more of this.
I got to do this with Hubby which was amazing and reminded me of what we used to do very early on when we got together. I was taking a beginner photography class at the community college at the time. He would drive around while I took photos. Multiple times those drives sent us chasing after hot air balloons in an effort to get close enough to get some good photos. It was this amazingly fun time and something we both loved to do, but because we started on kids right away since we wanted to keep them close in age with my oldest, our photo outings didn’t last terribly long.
It was so much fun last night to do this with him. I think it just might be something we try to do more often now that we are actually in a position to do so again. We had so many reasons not to for years and kind of forgot how much we both enjoyed this, even if all he did was drive me around and follow my crazy prompts of “Oh!! Stop here! No! A little more that way!” all while watching for other cars to be able to actually do those things.
It wasn’t quite as wild as some of our adventures in trying to get me in position for just the right shot, but it reminded us of a really simple pleasure, which is exactly what we needed.