Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Milky Way

I've been wanting to try to photograph the Milky Way for a long time but have never had an opportunity where I had the necessary equipment (or at least some of the basics) and a clear sky on a summer night where the galactic center is visible.  A few nights ago the skies were nearly perfect, I have the basic equipment needed, now for the big question: would the Milky Way be visible through the light pollution?

 For my first try, I'll take it... clearly there are some optical artifacts and noise artifacts from a slow lens and high ISO long exposure.  All that said, I was shocked to find that it actually worked.  I can also see that this kind of thing requires some serious time in photoshop, and see the immediate advantages to finding darker skies for better signal to noise.

While I was out, a couple of kids in the neighborhood were having a little fun with long exposures and I joined in!  The photo turned out pretty cool, fortunately they did have a fire extinguisher with them which it turned out was a good thing, they only started a small fire...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Viva Italia! - Part 1 - Venice

Kate had a business trip to Italy about 30 minutes outside Venice and I just couldn't pass that up!  We left a couple of days early and headed to Venice.

Of course the best way to get to Venice is by boat and the most fun way to go by boat is to go in a private water taxi and that is exactly what we did!  We took the taxi direct from the Venice Airport to our hotel and had a nice trip down the Grand Canal along the way - it was certainly a boat ride to remember!
This really is the typical view around nearly every corner in Venice - it seems like the view down nearly every canal was fit for a post card.
We were blown away by all of the people in Venice - they were everywhere!  This is one busy place.  The cruise ship traffic doesn't help either.  Everyday there were 6 cruise ships in port.
We found that the nights and early mornings were spectacular.  Dinner each night started between 8 and 10 PM and we had the whole place to ourselves from 5-8 AM.  Each morning we woke up early and visited many of the sights before all of the people were out and then return to the hotel for the most amazing breakfasts.

 One of my other favorite things about Venice was all of the beautiful plants and flowers in all of the balconies around the city.

 No trip to Venice is complete without a visit to San Marco - Saint Mark's Square.  When we arrived on our first day there was a church service going on in the square with a most beautiful choir singing.
 We visited a couple of older churches while in town and they were all nothing short of amazing.  This one was constructed in the 1300's.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Viva Italia! - Part 2 - Padua

After a couple of days in Venice it was time for Kate to head over to her conference in Padua.  We stayed right in the heart of the old town area of the city and while Kate was working at the conference I was on foot all over the city!

Here in Padua the great pioneer of Astronomy, Physics, and Mathematics, Galileo Galilei, was a professor at the University of Padua.  This tower above was the observation tower he used what a professor there in the 1600's.

One of our favorite things about Padua was eating dinner out in the plaza out doors each night.  The weather was great and it was clearly very popular amongst the locals.  This shot was taken at 10:30PM on a Tuesday night.  We had some great food here and really enjoyed the local culture. 

While you might be thinking this is Venice, it is actually Padua.  

Viva Italia - Part 3 - Lake Garda

Our final stop on our trip was Lake Garda.  We stayed in Macescine on the north east side of the lake.  It was a fantastic little town built around a castle on the edge of the lake.

When we set out on foot after checking into our hotel our first stop was to visit and climb the castle and tour the old part of the town.

 Typical of everywhere we have been in Italy, around each corner is a scene worthy of a postcard.

 One evening we ventured out after dinner and with tripod in hand I was able to grab the shot above.

 One of the main attractions to Lake Garda is the sailing.  The incredible scenery and reliable winds make this a destination for one design world championships, olympic training, and a favorite of the Europeans on vacation.  We planned to get a couple days of sailing in but due to the cool and rainy weather we cut it short to one day - but we sure had a great time!  We chartered a Benneteau 31.7 and went out for a very memorable sail.  I don't suspect that that there will be too many more times that we will have the opportunity to sail past a real castle.
The winds were perfect when we started out and had a great sail for about an hour or so before the winds fizzled out.  Later the wind came back on like a freight train which really got the boat moving but it was quite a handful in heavy winds for just the two of us.

 One afternoon we set out to visit another town on the lake, Riva del Garda which is just a few miles up the lake from where we were staying.  Riva del Garda hosts to many of the big regattas on the lake and has a wonderful waterfront city center.

On our last full day day in Italy we drove around the lake and visited some of the towns along the way.  Our favorite was Sirmione, a little town at the end of a long skinny peninsula on Lake Garda.  Sirmione has a beautiful castle and old town as well as some spectacular Roman ruins that we explored.