The 6000 Pound Elephant in the Room

That would be Facebook.

At one time I had this nifty little WordPress plugin “Add Link to FaceBook” that worked like a champ.

If I made a new post on this blog, the plug-in would automagically interface with FaceBook and share a link on my business page. “http://www.facebook.com/fortymilephoto”

Then FaceBook decided that was a bad thing to have. They first made changes to the API so you had to stay on your toes keeping up to date.
Then it just quit working, the plug-in developers decided it was way too much work for their free efforts.

So it died.

Seems Facebook wants you to compose your offsite content to their “standards” before you publish a link. It would be nice if Facebook would vet the links to be sure there are no nasties associated with the link. People will click on anything.

From the Alaska Garden

We are running much cooler this summer with heavy cloud cover and cold rain. The garden is running about 4 weeks behind. First frost is no more than 6 weeks off.

The crops are struggling mightily to reach maturity. Yields will be low.

Squash Blossom
Alaska Squash Blossom – iPhone 5s – handheld

This blossom is over 6 inches across and the plant is throwing leaves that are over a foot square. I don’t recall the zucchini of my Indiana youth being so large.

Cauliflower and cabbage are putting out monster leaves as well.

For more images, please visit my Photo Gallery

The pursuit of a perfect image

Each year I anxiously await the blooming of the Forget-Me-Not flowers in the raspberry patch out front. I shoot several hundred frames each year trying to capture a sharp detailed image that embodies the essence of the Alaska Forget-Me-Not.

I’m not there yet.

Alaska Forget-Me-Not

Alaska Moose enjoying the end of Winter

Cabin Fever may soon rear its ugly head here in SouthCentral Alaska.

The daylight hours are rapidly approaching 12 hours per day, each day we are currently gaining close to 6 minutes a day.

The sun has warmth in it again and the weather has been clear and sunny for the last week. The temps are near freezing during the day and then plummet to the negative over night.

The snow is still three foot deep and the temp reminds you that winter has not relaxed her icy grip.

Please be considerate of others

When you pull up and stop to view the Northern Lights, please do not do as this person.

Once you park, turn off your lights
Once you park, turn off your lights

There is absolutely no reason for this. Once you have put the vehicle in park, shutdown your lights. If you can not run the engine / heater in your car without the lights being on, please go somewhere else and don’t spoil the dark skies for others. The driver in the above vehicle sat for two hours without moving. Motor running, lights on, nobody home.

And for those of you who just don’t “get it”. No one is saying you should turn out your lights while moving. Only a fool would think that.

Comet PanSTARRS

Imaging PanSTARRS has proven to be difficult for me. I was out three nights in a row in the attempt. We finally had a break in the weather here and I wanted to see if I could get a decent image.

PanSTARRS over Alaska
PanSTARRS over Alaska

The first night I shot in aperture priority as I do with Aurora. I used two full frame cameras that have a high ISO range. Set up one was a Nikon D700 coupled to a Noct-Nikkor 58mm ƒ/1.2 manual focus lens. Set up two was a Nikon D3s coupled to a Nikkor 500mm ƒ/4 P ED IF manual focus lens. Both rigs were on tripods with a cable release.

I did get some nice sunset images with the Noct.

Sunset over the Inlet
Sunset over the Inlet

A bit after sunset, we spotted what we believe was the comet. But the images were not conclusive as they lacked sufficient sharpness and resolution.

Is it or is it not?
Is it or is it not?

On the next night, we shot several frames of what we believed to be the comet only to decide after much reflection that we were looking at a stray wisp of cloud or contrail. Based on the previous night, I changed the equipment to a D3s with the AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6D ED and a D300 (crop sensor) paired with the Nikkor 500mm ƒ/4 P ED IF and 1.4x Kenko TelePlus to give me an effective focal length of just over 1000mm. I wanted to catch the comet as large in the frame as I could. I also switched from aperture priority to shutter priority.

A fake comet
A fake comet

But I did get a nice sliver of the Moon.

About as new a Moon as you can get.
About as new a Moon as you can get.

Determined to get a halfway decent image, I was back out last night 3-13-13 while the clear skies held. There was a bit of a wind blowing sending the windchill down to the basement but I remained as long as I needed. I used the same setups as the previous night but in manual mode. I was never able to see the comet by eye or through the lens. It was only after I uploaded the images and opened them on the 27 inch screen that I was able to find it. It never showed in any of the long lens images only the 300mm

That image is definitely PanSTARRS and while not as good as I had hoped, it was not bad for a first try at a comet. Come on ISON !!

PanSTARRS over Alaska
PanSTARRS over Alaska