Dienstag, 24. Februar 2015

Pleiades, the seven sisters

I've recently become interested in astrophotography, and have started testing the waters. It requires a lot of patience, the proper gear, luck with the weather, and a good technical undestanding of the sky, as well as experience with photo processing.

One technique commonly used in astrophotography is called stacking, in which you take dozens or even hundreds of pictures and stack them in a program that analyzes them and creates a sum of their parts. this Helps to capture datails in faint deep sky objects that would otherwise remain invisible. Another benifit of stacking is noise reduction. By analyzing certain frames the program recognizes and subtracts noisy pixels from the stacked picture, creating a much less noisy final image.

This is an image of the constellation Pleiades (M45), commonly known as the seven sisters. I created it using 140 images stacked in the program Deep Sky Stacker. When looking through my telescope, I can barely make out any of the nebula surrounding the stars. In the stacked image it is clear to see.

For comparison, this is how a single frame from this image stack looks.

And this is how the image looks after stacking all the frames.

It takes a bit of time and tweaking to uncover the details in the image, but the result is very rewarding!

Here are the technical details:

Camera: Canon 60D
Lens: Sigma 150-500 5-6.3

Pictures taken at 247mm, f6.3, 1.6 sec, ISO 3200

100 Light Frames
20 Dark Frames
20 Biased Frames

Total exposure time 160 sec.

Samstag, 28. September 2013

Mountain Glow

The evening sunlight illuminates the mountain peaks at sunset in Gullesfjord, Norway.

Donnerstag, 26. September 2013

Soaring Eagle!

This sea eagle soared over us on a boat ride from Svolvær on the Lofoten islands of Norway. He circled around us for a few minutes before finally landing on a nearby cliff. It's quite incredible to see these emormous birds close up!

Montag, 2. September 2013

Back from the Lofoten

We just got back from a trip to the lofoten in norway. The lofoten are an island chain on the norwiegan coast about 150 km above the polar circle. The islands are very mountainous, and rise steeply out of the ocean. The light in the arctic regions is usually very impressive, and makes for interesting photography. Here is a mountain chain near Svolvaer in the evening light.

Samstag, 10. August 2013

Soaring Together

Two storks flying close together as they leave their feeding area. We saw a total of 12 storks at once in this field in northern Germany.

Freitag, 9. August 2013

Perched in a tree

A black redstart checking me out from the safety of a tree.

Donnerstag, 8. August 2013

Will you feed me already?!

This sparrow chick seems to be VERY demanding of mother bird! So demanding that mother bird seems a little bit shocked and scared of her own child. This bird house is hanging on our neighbor's house, about 12 feet away from our kitchen window. It's been a lot of fun watching the feeding lately.

Mittwoch, 7. August 2013

Bumble Bee Landing

The bumble bees have been going crazy over our hollyhocks lately. We have a ton of hollyhocks, and there have been hundreds of bumble bees (and other bees and insects) swarming all over them. It's pretty normal to see two bees sharing one flower.  We even saw two bees mating while hanging off of a flower! This picture is of a bumble bee about to land in one of the hollyhock blossoms.

Montag, 22. Juli 2013

Flying Stork

A stork flying from a field in northern germany. There were around 20 storks walking around in this field, feeding on whatever they could find. 

Samstag, 8. Juni 2013

Preening in the Sun

We have several stork pairs nesting in our area. We were out taking pictures of them recently, and I caught this shot of the mother stork preening herself while her babies wait for dad to come back with food. He did come a couple of times while we were there.

Mittwoch, 5. Juni 2013

Grasping the Grass

A reed bunting grasps a stem of reed grass as it feeds on worms.

Dienstag, 4. Juni 2013

Peeking Through the Reeds

This common coot found a nicely protected place to nest. You can see it peeking satisfied through the reeds while it sits on its eggs.

Montag, 3. Juni 2013

Willow Warbler

A willow warbler catching the last rays of the evening sun.

Sonntag, 2. Juni 2013

Feeding time!

A great tit flying away from the house after feeding the kids.

Samstag, 1. Juni 2013

The Squirrel and the Sparrow Hawk

We were having breakfast one rainy morning, and the squirrel (who is a regular visitor) was making quite a ruckus in our cherry tree. We thought at first he might be after one of the sparrow babies that had been flying around for a couple of days. Shortly thereafter, we noticed a sparrow hawk sitting in the tree not far away. That's why squirrel was making such a fuss! We thought the sparrow hawk was maybe trying to have the squirrel for breakfast as he sat there intently eyeing him. Then he spread his wings in a display of power, and the squirrel fled.

It was then that we realized what was really going on. Now left alone, the sparrow hawk bent down and started  feeding on the carcass of a small bird between his Talons. He wasn't after the squirrel, the squirrel had been after HIS breakfast! Continuing to feed in the rain, he paused now and then to look around and keep watch of the situation. Eventually he flew of, clutching his catch. Here's a few pictures of the feeding.

Donnerstag, 30. Mai 2013

Mittwoch, 29. Mai 2013

Buzzing Buzzard

I shot this picture as this Buzzard flew directly over me, and I had to track with the bird to get my shot. I had just a fraction of a second to get it. I'm happy it came out so well. There was a bit of luck involved, and thankfully my camera settings were just right.

Sonntag, 26. Mai 2013


A pair of swans swims on a pond in the marshlands.

Mittwoch, 22. Mai 2013

Montag, 20. Mai 2013


A raven sitting in our fully blooming cherry tree.

Freitag, 17. Mai 2013


I broke 5000 views yesterday! Thank you to all of my visitors, especially all of you who keep coming back for more. I thought I should hold a reception for all of my guests, so I decided to offer you some cheese from the most wonderful little cheese shop int he world! This shop is on Grassmarket in Edinburgh, Scotland, and It's the most authentic old style cheese shop I know. The many different varieties of aged cheddar are especially tasty. Enjoy.

Mittwoch, 15. Mai 2013

Garden Newt

I was digging around in a flower bed in our garden, and found this newt under the surface. He was very kind and posed fore some pictures!

Sonntag, 21. April 2013

Sunflower Seeds are Yummy!

This greenfinch thinks sunflower seeds are really yummy! There's been a few of them that spend hours sitting on the feeder, stuffing themselves with seeds. 

Arctic Shipwreck

Looking at the mountains through a shipwreck. Mjóifjörður, Iceland. This is an HDR, from 3 exposures, and I've done some work to it in Photoshop to make the textures a little less like a photo.

Freitag, 19. April 2013

Sparrow Hawk.

This sparow hawk was sitting on the fence in our back yard early one snowy morning. These Hawks eat small birds, so I think he was attracted by the activity at our bird feeders. Fortunately, he flew off without getting anything. Unfortunately, the light was very poor, and it ended up being a pretty noisy picture, I denoised it as subtlely as I could, and I think the image came out pretty well. This picture has been cropped as well.

Samstag, 13. April 2013

The Raven

With it's black cape-like wings draping down as it flies, this raven almost has a bit of a batman look to it. We've had lots of ravens visiting our garden in the past week, but they are really shy, and fly off before I can photograph them. This one I got on a lucky shot, though!

Freitag, 12. April 2013

Tree Creeper

A tree creeper searching for food in Sauerland, Germany. At this particular spot, there were several of them, all running up the trees looking for insects. Since these birds can only walk up trees and not down, they fly back down to the base for another run. It's very practical for photographing them!

Dienstag, 9. April 2013


This is another picture I took for an online photo contest. The theme was 'Lines'. I did a 30 sec. exposure on a bridge over the highway.

Freitag, 5. April 2013

King of the Tree!

A blue tit playing king of the tree. 

Sauerland, Germany