Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Melinda's first astro-photo...and a sign of the times

Dean's been doing most of the blogging lately, and to be honest, he's far more creative than I am. However, as was mentioned before - Dean bought me a new camera for our anniversary (06/07)! I had been talking about getting a digital SLR (DSLR) for some time, and was leaning towards a Nikon since I have a couple of Nikon lenses that would be nice to use. However Nikon doesn't seem to be competitive in the astrophoto arena, whereas Canon has historically been very well represented there. The new camera is the latest on the market (in the past month) Canon Eos Rebel T1i. Since it is very new, there hasn't been much said about it's astrophoto applications, but the best way to find out is to try it! Dean took it for a 'spin' last Friday night, with some very respectable images as a result. Last evening we attended the AstroPhoto group (offshoot of the astronomy club), where he presented those images. That just fueled me to get out and give this a try! Since we didn't plan on observing, and didn't get home until 9pm or so, my option was to take a picture of the waxing moon - from the back yard! I think it's a great place to start! So! - here's my very first astrophoto attempt! This picture was taken using my Sigma zoom lens (with a Canon mount adapter ring). Using this lens meant that I had to hold the camera still (though used a very fast shutter speed), and focus (the auto focus doesn't work with an adapter ring in place). All in all, an honorable first attempt if I do say so myself.

The "sign of the times" title isn't in reference to my new venture into astrophotography. It is in reference to something that I observed, very acutely, yesterday. Since it was my day off I thought I would do some shopping. We've found that whenever we invite people over for a cookout we never have enough chairs, and it distresses me that some people have to sit in the living room to eat their dinner. I don't mind eating in the living room - I feel like guests are being left out of the conversation though. Just not polite! Last Fall, when I bought the new table for the dining area I hit all of the local thrift shops to find enough chairs - and did very well in finding what we wanted, as well as getting great bargains. That being said, yesterday was a thrift shop day! I'll admit, there was a time when my only places to shop were Marshall Fields, Lord & Taylor, and at the 'low end' Penney's. My sisters have long been advocates for resale and thrift shops, and I did get some good deals there from time to time. Over the past several years, however, I have grown to prefer thrift shops (great for finding hard to replace items, as well as finding clothes at a great price!). The other bonus for thrift shops is that they are usually pretty quiet - not a lot of shoppers, never a wait to checkout, and your money is going to a good cause. Yesterday I started with my local "Casa de los Ninos" thrift superstore. Throughout the day I explored a total of 4 thrift stores, finding 2 chairs, various and sundry items, as well as shorts and t-shirts for the summer! All of that for less than $100.00!!! The thing that hit me, in making my rounds, was that every store was busy! Not just a few customers in each, they were busy. Long lines waiting to check out, people bumping into each other in the aisles, busy! That brought to light the state of our economy. These shoppers weren't homeless, they weren't destitute - but they were feeling the crunch of our broken economy. It was a great reflection of the state of the country; but I think that it also reflects that more people are thinking about how they spend their money. As I was pulling into one of the many Goodwill stores there was a woman pulling out of the parking lot - driving her very expensive Jaguar. If you take a lesson away from this posting, let it be - shop the thrift stores first. You'll be helping your pocketbook as well as a charitable organization when you do!

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