What Galileo Saw

At the limits of what a longish zoom on an APS-C camera can capture. I probably should have set up the camera on the gimbal mount instead of a ballhead to make locating the object easier. This is Jupiter, with the four Galilean moons. Roughly what Galileo saw when he trained his telescope on the largest planet in our solar system.

The moons from left to right are Callisto, Europa, Io and Ganymede

Callisto is barely visible in this picture. It’s the second largest moon in the Jovian system but it has very low reflectivity (albedo), which makes it rather difficult to see with binoculars.

Channeling Renoir (and Manet)

One can keep going to the garden and take the same kind of pictures. Overviews of flowerbeds with a wide angle lens. Macro photographs of bees. And you can come up with some incredible pictures. Here’s the deal, whatever you do. The most important thing that you can do to make a good picture is understand light. That’s it. Photography, after all, captures light reflected from objects. Or light emanating from light sources. Direct lighting. Diffused lighting. Specular lighting. Harsh. Soft. Color temperature. The angle of light in the scene. Background, side, foreground lighting. Light is always there, in every picture that you take. You might as well learn to work with it.

What does this little blurb have to do with these pictures? Well, you can use a combination of diffused lighting and strong back lighting to create pictures that evoke the feel of an impressionist painting. Are these pictures the next van Gogh, Renoir or Manet painting that takes the world by storm. No. Though when I look at them, I feel the beauty that they saw, and know there is still much to be learned. About flowers. About light. About art. About life.

And what lens did I use for these photographs? Not a macro lens. Not a wide angle lens. I was looking for birds, you see, and I saw flowers instead. Yes, that incredible Sony 200-600mm lens.

That Analog Pop

Vinyl sounds great, but those pops! I guess it’s the price to pay when listening to something that sounds a little less clinical.

The Beattles, Norwegian Wood

It’s interesting to see what segments in the music are used by the youtube AI.

Cinema Paradiso

One of the greatest movies in the history of cinema is the great Italian film “Cinema Paradiso.” It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, but really, this film should have won the award for Best Picture. Truly a masterpiece, with a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack by the peerless Ennio Morricone. As a way to introduce people to this movie, and as a tribute to a truly great composer (who recently died), here is a performance of the theme from “Cinema Paradiso.”

Truly a great film, truly a great soundtrack.

Thank You, Brandon Sanderson!

For giving us such great books to fill our minds (and hearts) with wonder. For the words that provide inspiration every day:

“The most important words a man can say are, “I will do better.” These are not the most important words any man can say. I am a man, and they are what I needed to say.

The ancient code of the Knights Radiant says “journey before destination.” Some may call it a simple platitude, but it is far more. A journey will have pain and failure. It is not only the steps forward that we must accept. It is the stumbles. The trials. The knowledge that we will fail. That we will hurt those around us.

But if we stop, if we accept the person we are when we fall, the journey ends. That failure becomes our destination. To love the journey is to accept no such end. I have found, through painful experience, that the most important step a person can take is always the next one.

Huntley Meadows

I’ve taken a lot of pictures of birds, animals, insects and water drops at this small suburban sanctuary in Alexandria Virginia. Here is a short video featuring swallows and an egret. Pictures from this visit were posted a few days ago.

Ashitaka and San

One of my favorite movies is the GREAT animated film, “Princess Mononoke” by the acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. Hand drawn animation at its finest, with a story for the ages (the environment, personal responsibility) – it is a masterwork that is not to be missed. The film features a fantastic soundtrack by Joe Hisaishi. The tune “Ashitaka and San” is peerless. And here is the music, acting as the accompaniment to a short vacation video I made almost eight years ago.