Sunday, January 7, 2018

Yes, Kinda Still Here!

My Friend Liz asked me at the astronomy club meeting Friday - "So is the Blog over"? A valid question as I've not posted for nearly 2 months, including any in December, nor the what has been the usual year-end review. With only 44 posts in all of 2017, it hardly seemed worthwhile to do a "best-of"... But believe me, I'm still having adventures, and while distracted by work, play and considerably longer stays in the Midwest, I'll try to do better - promise! In the meantime, here are some nearly-2-month-old photos to wrap up the last trip to "Ketelsen East"!

In my nearly daily outings around the parks and forest preserves near the cottage in the Fox River Valley, I keep an eye out for bits of color, especially as Fall and Winter descend and the color palette move towards earth tones and grays! But a walk down the bike path at Tekakwitha FP on Thanksgiving revealed these bright flowers or fruits growing along the ditch between path and folks' back yards. They were completely new to me, even after living there for 8+ years now. They appear in long viney tendrils their bright colors their only property that makes them stand out. Of course, I seemed the only one in the dark - the first two friends I showed them to immediately said it was "Bittersweet", and with that start, the Google revealed them as Celastrus_orbiculatus - Chinese Bittersweet. In the photos you can see these are the Asian version as in the native North American version fruit only grow at the vine ends. Will have to keep an eye out next Summer for the green flowers they are said to produce.

Both of these images are focus-stacked. Eighteen frames were combined for the left image, ten for the right. Images were taken at slightly different focus settings and combined in Photoshop to extend the depth of field thru the area of interest.

A day later (24 November) I again shot the quarter-moon through the mostly bare trees adjacent to the house. Unlike a few days before, This time I got out the 300mm, but the longer focal length either threw the moon or the tree branches out of focus. The solution was easy - focus stacking again saved the day! Taking 2 images, one focused on the branches, the other on the moon were easily again combined in Photoshop resulting in the shot at left. I actually took a 3D pair, but didn't come out as well as I had hoped, so will stick with the single frame for now!

Well, that wasn't so bad - finished the first post of the year! Hopefully they will come more often than every 6 or 7 weeks!

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