Monday, July 01, 2013

attempt at stars and flies (Blue Mountains)

4:46 PM, June 30, 2013. I wanted to be well-prepared for a time lapse run in the evening. So I set up at the picnic table under the pergola and shot some test photos.

4:55 PM. I did a full set-up. Was not expecting any issues in terms of physical configuration. The big unknown for me was the software. The timing. Connected the camera and the netbook from the lead acid battery power tank. Manual mode. Everything seemed to work OK. Removed the lens hood per Phil's recommendation. It wouldn't be needed. That allowed the dew heater, advantageously, to be closure to the lens. Explored mirror lock-up. Discovered that it was not possible via the EOS Utility software. But considered it was not necessary for the planned long exposures. Turned off the noise reduction. Phil suggested I remove the UV filter.

Around 6:00 PM, I moved rig to edge of field. I had the two marine batteries in cooler cart. Of course, each battery had its custom dual CLA socket box. I had the inverter connected to the Canon DC coupler. The camera and 18-55mm lens was mounted on the Mimaya tripod. I had the CLA splitter extension connected to the custom CLA adapter for the netbook. The ASUS machine was running the Canon EOS software. Red film screen installed. Red (bright) LED USB light. The Kendrick controller was plugged into the same SLA battery as the computer. The 2" dew heater was on lens. Closed the cooler bag and set the computer on top. Everything was ready to go. I threw a towel over the computer.

Around 9:30 PM, after some online shopping, I showed Sharmin the set-up. I remembered to remove the UV filter. It gave me an opportunity to show her a sacrificial 1A up close.

At approximately 10:00 PM, I saw some fireflies. Turned on the dew heater.

It was cool in the field. I put on some more layers. Including the black hoodie.

10:45. I retrieved my astronomy observing chair from the Tony Horvatin Observatory. Started final preparations for the time lapse run. Aimed to the east and took a test shot.

30 seconds, f/3.5, 1000 ASA, daylight white balance. Ugh, a lot of light pollution from Collingwood.

[ed: Thought I was zoomed all the way out... 21mm, not 18.]

Realised I needed to focus on stars. Aimed straight up so to use the stars in Lyra. Got good focus using the EOS Utility, nudging the lens focus with the software.

Initially used the < and > buttons but found that too slow; was better with the << and >> buttons. Finally could see main stars of Double-Double. OK! Did a test shot. Crap! I heard the lens move. Realised I goofed... I had forgotten to switch off the AF after reaching focus.

I redid steps... Set to infinity, used << three times, fine tuned, set to MF. During the process I dropped the exposure down from 20 to 10 seconds.

For fun, I shot a 30 second exposure. Lyra is slightly right of centre; Cygnus along the bottom edge; Coathanger is visible at the bottom right; head of the dragon near the top left; Garnet Star glowing red at the bottom left.

Noticed the lens cap strap retainer was on. Removed it to avoid vibration from wind. Felt the dew heater. There was good heat.

The mosquitoes were out. I tried to reduce skin exposure as much as possible. Tried to keep the leather gloves on. But I couldn't use the touch pad. Stoopid touch pad. Grabbed the mouse at some point.

11:27. Noticed a strange glow. Took a test shot to the north, to see if it was aurora; it was just light pollution. A few fireworks went off, nearby. Our neighbours to the north? I also saw flashes in the south...

11:32. Took a test shot to the south. Recomposed to get a bit more sky.

11:36. Programmed the EOS timer. 100 shots, 30 seconds each. Started the imaging run. Here we go!

I noticed that the EOS Utility offered only slightly more than 110 shots. That seemed to be the limit. Was that due to the space on hard disk? Drive D? Was it packed? Huge CR2 files...

[ed: Made a mental note [sic!] to bring a terabyte drive back...]

Headed to the THO to do some observing with the NexStar 11" SCT. 

11:44. Started up the Sony voice recorder.

Noted the dark red USB keyboard light in THO. I was using the bright one at camera. I considered swapping.

I wondered when the imaging run would be done. Tried to do the math in my head. 100 exposures at 30 seconds meant 3000 seconds total. So, 50 minutes, right?

Remembered, suddenly, that would I need to shoot darks too, especially with the NR turned off.

I was warm in THO... Too many layers now, once out of the wind.

12:14 AM, July 1, 2013. Happy Canada Day!

I checked the Oregon Scientific weather station, inside the THO. It showed 53% humidity, a temperature of 16.9 degrees. The pressure was steady. And the predictive icon showed sunny. The OneWorld display was faint, battery weak. But I could read it, at an angle. 926 mb air pressure (not calibrated), 43% humidity, approx. 18 degrees. I put it outside.

12:29 AM. EOS Utility took the last shot... Unbeknownst to me.

12:45. From the THO, I did not see a lot of fireflies. Boo. Sharmin had said a day or two back that she had seen a lot. As she visited me in the hut, I asked her when. "After the movie," she replied. She thought it maybe around 2:00 AM.

We went to check on the time lapse set-up. And found it was done.

Was wondering how I faired... I hoping I caught some fireflies.

Shot a couple of darks.

1:00. I noticed the portable computer switched to battery power just as I turned off the camera. That seemed odd. I wondered if I had blown a fuse. Later, I didn't think so...

Sharmin helped me pack up. I piled everything into the new wagon. Then brought it right in the house, for convenience. I put the power tank in the garage. So to recharge the batteries later.

1:38. Checked the outdoor conditions: 926; 78; 13.0.

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