ellestra: (lightning)
It was 24oC today (75F) and I was overheating in jeans so I dug out some of the summer clothes. I wasn't the only one - people in shorts and sandals where everywhere. If the days weren't so short you can almost believe it was spring. I know I'm far south but this is still 10o warmer than normal for this time a year and the North is asking where's their snow (apparently going to California). And my parents say there hasn't been much winter weather in Poland either but they do seem to have snow on the horizon. Here the very warm weather is supposed to last till the next weekend.

Today is also the peak of Geminids - the biggest meteor shower of the year. With nice warm weather like that I decided to go and take a look. I managed to see few but there is too much light pollution everywhere near, especially in the direction the meteors are coming from, so I could only spot the brightest ones. This meant they were far in between and I never managed to get a photo. But the warm days and cool nights also mean fog. A lot of fog. It made the sky even more fuzzy but it also makes some cool effects. And at least you can see Orion.
ellestra: (lightning)
All this shopping craze past week made me find a sale that I really cared about. I got myself a new set of prime lenses for my camera - 35mm for portrait and 85mm macro lens. I was thinking about getting something like this for a long time but these lenses are expensive. This set costed less than the 85mm alone. And this is what I got on the first try:

ellestra: (sunrise)
I've just spent two days in San Francisco. Actually I spent there a little over 24 hours and the rest was flying there in back. Not fun. Especially since we flew in early in the morning and then had to spent the whole day in training trying to pretend we are thinking. But at least I got this:
ellestra: (telamon)
I've been working on my photos from all the trips. I'm still not done because I keep stopping and just scroll through them remembering how awesome it was. But I also am plagued by that feeling that I could've taken a much better photo now. I keep learning more and more bout what works and what doesn't and one day I may even take photos I don't want to post-process.

There are of course some tools that help to learn - like this handy cheat chart about the effect of ISO, aperture and shutter speed on the photo. You can download large version from the original website - Fotoblog Hamburg - both in original German and in English.

And here's an camera simulator where you can play with different settings and can see how the photo turns out. For all those trying out manual option.

And since this has been invisible for so long - it's been tough week so I wasn't paying attention - here is one of those pics I stitched together. Canyonlands:
ellestra: (sunrise)
There was a solar eclipse today. It was a rare hybrid solar eclipse - from some places on Earth it is an annular eclipse (like the one I saw last year) and from others it is a total eclipse. But the totality was only visible over the Atlantic and in some parts of Africa. Here in the US east coast the sun rose after the main part was done so all I could see was partial eclipse as the Moon was moving away from the Sun.

I was afraid I won't be able to see it. Firstly, because the weather is changing and after few days of very warm days and nights it's starting to get colder. There was a cold wind yesterday and then it suddenly started to rain just at sunset. Luckily, today morning it was cold - just 6oC - but sunny. The second challenge was finding the right spot. There are hills and trees everywhere and this late in the year finding a place with unobstructed view of sunrise is a bit tricky. I had to walk for a while to find one. But I did and it all worked out fine.

As my father noticed this is something like my 5th solar eclipse. I saw two partials in Poland, total in Austria in 1999, annular in California last year and now another partial here. If I stay here for 4 more years there will be a total one going through whole US with totality visible in south west corner of North Carolina - just around the corner. Maybe I should start calling it a hobby.
ellestra: (telamon)
There is something seriously wrong with LJ posting today (at least on my server) and it took forever for update page to load and it may fail when I save so I need to be quick. Good thing I just wanted to leave this here:

There is also reference catching post on io9 for all the Easter Eggs in this trailer but I only cared about spotting all the Doctors (there is no real footage so all the Doctors are taken from old episodes but there is also this tweet from Paul McGann). There are also all on this image (next year there will be 12 and we can have a Doctor/month calendar):


Sep. 10th, 2013 11:47 pm
ellestra: (tiger)
A lot of Game of Thrones is filmed at the sunny, warm parts of the world and that's almost like a vacation. At least if you go by the photos of the cast. Lannisters look happy on photos. Some ships got pictures to validate themselves. Some might've just started. I liked best the one with Loras and Theon with Fucking Flowers hat. It just to taunt all the RPFers, isn't it?

The first photos from the Doctor Who Christmas Special surfaced with Matt in a wig and the 19th century version of 11th clothes for that one last adventure with Clara.

A newly rediscovered Van Gogh painting, entitled Sunset at Montmajour, was unveiled in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. It had been lying for years in the attic of a Norwegian collector who thought the painting was a fraud, after buying it in 1908. Some think it proves TARDIS is real. Now reality and fiction will collapse on themselves creating an even horizon. But before that happens I'll just go to stare at the photos of that painting for a while since I always had weakness for Van Gogh.
ellestra: (lightning)
We finally had clear skies here. Just in time for me to see the PANSTARRS comet. Yesterday when it was nice and warm I just watched with my eyes (barely visible smudge with brighter dot at the end if you know where to look). Today I took my camera and tried to take a picture. It's very grainy because I don't have a real telescopic lens (11x is all I normally need but this would've been better with something more) and the comet is very faint and contrast is poor as it's just where the colour changes between day and night and it disappears below tree line before it gets really dark (my first photo was way overexposed). So this is the best I could do but here it is:

Within one year I saw solar eclipse, transit of Venus and now a comet (the last 2 for the first time in my life). By the end of this year there might be another, much, much brighter comet coming so I'm hoping for something even more awesome.
ellestra: (sunrise)
Today Venus is trying to be the Moon and cover the Sun but it's too far away and their difference in size cannot stay unnoticed. However, this is the last time this happens till 2117 so I felt the need to see it. After all I don't think I'll be able to wait a century for a next one. I almost didn't make it as today was a pretty cloudy day. Certainly, worse then the eclipse. Luckily, Venus transit takes much longer - about 7 hours - so I just waited for the sun to come out. And it did.

If you want to see it too it's visible from most of the globe (sorry, west Africa and most of the South America - congratulations to East Asia you get the whole thing) and if you are further west (where the sun hasn't set yet) or somewhere east (where the sunrise already happened or will happen soon) and there aren't too many clouds you just need something that will protect your eyes. Or you can go online.
ellestra: (sunrise)
I realised that I keep forgetting to post the photo evidence of my travel. I still keep sorting through thousands (literally) of photos and haven't shown it all to my own family so for now you get the part that matters the most. The rare part. The total eclipse of the sun.

I travelled all the way to the other side of the country and all the way up California to see this:

The eclipse sequence under the cut )

The photos of the total eclipse are so smudgy because just as it happened the sky got covered by clouds and the cold wind from the ocean started to blow. It got so windy we had to catch bottles and filters I had for eclipse watching. I expected something like this, as I remember the semi-dark, sunset-like conditions with wind from my last eclipse when we went to Austria in 1999. The wind wasn't as chill but it was in a mountain valley in Alps in the middle of the day in the middle of the summer. This time it was springtime on Pacific coast (that has cold winds even on normal days as I experienced through the week) so I had a long sleeve shirt over my t-shirt on and hoodie and a rain jacket in my backpack. I spent most of the day and first hour of the eclipse overheating. When totality came it got so cold that I put all the extra clothes on.

This is how it looked like - I almost lost hope I'll get to see the best part:

I managed to see (and take photos) of some of the totality as dense clouds didn't last the whole thing. It never cleared completely but enough for me to take those photos above. It was an annular eclipse so the moon seemed a little smaller then the sun and never covered it completely leaving the 'ring of fire' around the moon. There were moments that clouds were filter enough and you could see this with your bare eyes.

After the maximum when the moon started to move away the skies cleared a little again but soon the dense fog started coming from the ocean and eventually covered everything (that's why the receding photos are so few). By the time I got back to town fog started condensing to drizzle. Nothing like sudden weather change.
ellestra: (anomander rake)
Pat's posted an excerpt from The Crippled God as he already has it and is just about to start to read it. I'm jelous but I still haven't finished Stonewielder and there is part of me that want to stretch it all just a little bit longer. It's the last book. Just a little over decade. Very quickly for 10 book door-stopper fantasy series. At least I can laugh at all the followers of other fantasy series. No need to worry if Erikson will die before ending the series. He's already done.

You can become a character in the newest John Scalzi novel.  Well, a character will be named after you instead of Angela Merkel if you win. You just need to write a haiku from the point of view of someone who is dieing/ just died from one of these:
1. A spider monkey or monkeys;
3. Poor GPS directions
4. And, of course, Spontaneous Human Combustion.

And Wil Wheaton in Fez because it just has to be shared:

Wil Wheaton should be evil more often. Making him evil was an inspired choice. I think he was born to be the greatest evil nemesis of our generation.
ellestra: (sunrise)
The first images and movies done by the NASA's SDO - Solar Dynamics Observatory have been released today. And they are awesome. Love all the AIA images but my favourite view is iron combined:
ellestra: (sunrise)
UNESCO has updated World Heritage List. You can see them here (it's in Polish but just click on blue rectangle with an arrow). Useful for travel planning.

The old photographs have to be black and white (or sepia). It's so ingrained in our minds that it's shocking to see world in colour from before the WWI. Here are some of thousands of photographs made in Imperial Russia for last Tsar (it's in Polish but just click on blue rectangle with an arrow). Look how vivid the colours are. The technique used by Siergiey Prokudin-Gorski relied on the use of three different colour filters. Later the colour picture that was put together from these three - on some photos you can see some people moved and on water you can see the colours - but for most parts it's incredibly clear.  Almost can't believe they are hundred years old.

io9 has 100+ Science Fiction Characters Drawn In The Simpsons Style. I think the Battlestar Galactica Gallery is the best. It has extensive use of toasters, and Dee with men on leashes, and Tory doing airlocking, and Tyrol and Cally being adorable together, and... OK, I love them all.

In other news The Pirate Bay has been sold to some company that plans to pay for copyrighted material. So it'll probably go the way of Napster and die. At least the guys who invented it will be able pay the fine if the appeal won't work.

And more awards: The John W. Campbell Memorial Award judges couldn't decide between Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother and Ian R. MacLeod’s Song of Time so they both got it. The short fiction Theodore Strugeon Memorial Award goes to James Alan Gardner’s The Ray Gun: A Love Story .
ellestra: (sunrise)

It’s summer outside. The nights are warm (about 10o) and the days are long and sunny and hot (today it was 27 in the sun and 21 in the shade). And the leaves are starting to turn from bright green of fresh leaves to darker and shinier colour (except for the trees that still have no leaves – like robinias but they get them in June when they bloom). I have to keep reminding myself it’s still April not June or at least end of May. One bad thing is that everything is blooming like crazy and my allergies are acting up again. Rain would be good for me and the burning forest (in Warsaw too).

The Nebulas were awarded this weekend and traditionally the award wank is starting. Seriously – can’t you just congratulate the winner and try for the next award?

On something more pleasurable – winners of the University of Miami Rosenstiel School's
Underwater Photography Contest 2009. Beautiful, isn’t it?

And a some space porn for the Hubble Space Telescope19th birthday

ellestra: (Default)

The promo shots for season 4 of Battlestar Galactica came out in spades lately. They also came in batches. And it seems to made everyone (or at least fandom) crazy. The secret messages that can be gleaned from the way photographers told actors to stand. And the hidden ones that can be deciphered by rotating and superimposing people on each other.
There are so many secret meanings there's enough for everybody. Whatever is your private fantasy - you can find it there. Assuming you are good at photo manipulation.

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