Archive for March, 2012

Preparing to Photograph the Eclipse

filter.jpgI ordered some solar filters for all of our cameras so we can try to get images of the annular solar eclipse in May. The filters aren’t very substantial since they are made with cardboard tubing and have polymer filters, but they are cost-effective (~$10 each) and they work.

The filters come with an adhesive felt liner that you install to allow a snug fit when you slip the filter over the objective lens of the camera. Once installed, the filter doesn’t interfere with the auto-focus mechanisms nor with any other camera function.

Image: Solar filter slipped over my Canon SX-40 with inset of solar photo - click to enlarge

After some experimentation, I found that trying to use the cameras in auto modes (other than auto-focus) does not give good results; camera motion would blur most images. I tried using a tripod, but getting the image centered in the camera was taking too long. The eclipse would be over before getting all the proper adjustments.

I finally settled on using the camera in manual mode where you can independently set the film speed, aperture and shutter speed. I settled on ISO 3200 film speed, F5.6 for the aperture and 1/1250 second shutter speed. Holding the camera in my hands, the image was good enough to resolve sunspot 1445 currently transiting the solar surface. I uploaded a large image of the sun to the image viewer. Click on the link to view.

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Another Unknown Bird

river-birdz.jpgOf all the millions of bird species seen worldwide, we have been able to identify most of those we see in our neck of the woods, except for a small number we can’t find in printed or on-line references. We’re still looking to find the species of this bird.

This week, during our visit to some friends who live on the Colorado River near Parker, AZ, we watched flocks of these black and yellow birds zipping from one treetop to the next. This is yet another mystery bird that does not seem to be listed in our references. Any clues? Click on the image to enlarge.

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Hedgehog Cactus Flowers Now Showing


This beautiful cactus flower is blooming on a hedgehog cactus in a neighbor’s yard just down the road from our house. Ours will be blooming soon. We have two hedgehog clusters in front of our house. I just love our colorful spring here in the high Sonoran Desert. Click on the image to enlarge.

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High Desert Wildlife Drama


A few days ago we saw our first snake of the season. Our buddy, Crotalus, advised that it was a Sonoran gopher snake and that it preys on rodents and is non venomous. Today, the same snake appeared out back. As it climbed up the embankment by our driveway, a curve-billed thrasher and its mate showed up to encourage the snake to go elsewhere. The bird in the photo pecked at the snake’s tail several times before the snake hurried off into some underbrush on the neighbor’s property. Click on the image to enlarge.

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More Thoughts About the New Camera

telephoto.jpgI’ve had the new Canon SX40 HS camera for over a couple of weeks now and I am still getting used to all the features. This camera is just enough different from the old PowerShot that I have to think about how to operate it.

One thing I like a lot is the camera’s ability to zoom in on distant objects and get a clear image even though the camera is not on a tripod. The cottontail in the image above was sitting under a cholla about 25 yards up the wash behind our house. The red-eyed black bird was a bit closer, about 10 yards up in a mesquite tree across the road.

The viewfinder is sort of interesting; it’s not optics but rather there is an LCD display monitor behind the eyepiece. It acts as though it were a viewfinder on an SLR like Damsel’s Canon XTi. It takes a little getting used to it, but it works OK. If you open the flat panel display, it becomes active and the viewfinder is disabled.

Later this week, we’re going to take a trip across the Arizona Outback and head to some friends that live on the Colorado River near Parker, AZ. I plan to take a lot of pictures during the excursion. It will be our first trip in the new mobile home.

Click on the image above to enlarge.

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Cabela at Rest


It has been a little over a year and a half since we adopted Cabela. She is an active and lovable miniature pinscher. Between her and Beethoven (the other min-pin), they make us laugh every day.

Since she is a very active dog, it is unusual to see her so much at rest on the back of the love seat. To our relief, she almost always lets us sleep all night long when it’s bedtime. Click on her picture to enlarge.

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No Plan


George W. Bush was a spendthrift president whose budgets drove up the national debt to unprecedented levels. Over his two terms in office, federal debt increased by $4.899 trillion. But Bush is a piker compared to Barack Obama. In just a little more than three years in office, Obama’s fiscal recklessness raised the national debt by an astonishing $4.939 trillion — already more than Bush’s eight years. Of even graver concern, our national debt is approaching $16 trillion and now exceeds 100 percent of gross domestic product.

While on the campaign trail in 2008, Obama called Bush’s spending “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.” Where does that put him?

Cartoon and quote courtesy The Patriot Post.

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