astro, landscape, nature, night, photo-of-the-day, photography, star, summer, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: a rare visitor

Currently, we have a rare visitor from outer space next to us: comet Neowise

Here, where I live the conditions are quite bad for astrophotography. In the past, I already told you a couple of times, light pollution is a serious problem all over Europe and especially here in my region because of the big cities Cologne, Leverkusen, Wuppertal, Dortmund, Bochum, Essen and the rest of the Metropolregion Ruhr Area emits so much light even to the sky that you can see hardly any stars at night. When looking up to the stars, you could count them on 3 or four hands.

The second problem is the time of the year. In July sunset is very late and sunrise very early. and in the time between the sky is still a bit enlighted from the sun, even it is already below the horizon: the twilight zone. The above image is taken at 23:45! The sunset was at 21:42  and the sunrise at 5:30.

The third problem is the direction: the comet is located in the north-western direction. The western part of the sky is the part, where the sun sets and where the bright parts remain the longest. (in addition to the huge lights from the cities in that direction, as long as they are less than 70km away)

An we have a fourth problem: during summer the moisture in the air is much higher than in winter. So, thin cloud layers in the upper sky filter some lights. Winter nights are much better for astrophotography.

During the first two weeks when Neowise was already visible from the earth we were left out because of bad weather. But, last Sunday the weather was great at daytime and that was quite proposing for a try and I did, even the could forecast for the night wasn’t good. Nevertheless, I tried. Although I read, the comet should be visible with the bare eye, I was unable to see him. The first photo instead made him visible! Hooray! A second try during the next night, unfortunately, didn’t bring better results despite the cloud forecast was better. Reality proofed the forecast wrong. So, I’m still hoping for a third chance. But the weather forecast proposes lots of rain and clouds for the next weeks. I guess I won’t see him again.

Take care!

 

landscape, long exposure, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, travel, world

Monochrome Monday 7-13

Having seen this iconic composition of the Kirkjufellfoss waterfall in front of Mount Kirkjufell on the Snæfellsness peninsula in the west of Iceland on so many images rose the wish in my mind to come here myself. I wished for the visit for a very long time. Finally, at the end of June, my wish came true.

This waterfall is neither the biggest nor the most beautiful one you can find in Iceland. But, in combination with the iconic mountain, it’s a wonderful ensemble. I knew all this in advance. I also knew in advance that it would be hard to take a photo because there’s literally only one place to get both parts in your image and to leave out the road passing between the waterfall and the mountain as well as the bridge crossing the river directly above the waterfall.

This image is taken with a 12mm focal length lens attached to my full-frame DSLR mounted on a tripod by using a Bigstopper ND filter for softening the rushing water, a pol-filter for removing some reflections from the water in the pond below the waterfall, and a graduated ND filter to take some light out of the sky to align the exposure for sky and waterfall.

exposure details: 12mm FX, ISO 400, 8 sec. apperture, f8, 22:49h

Take care!

astro, landscape, nature, night, photo-of-the-day, photography, summer, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: an alignment among giants

Earlier this week the two biggest planets of our solar system were next to each other: Saturn (the left bright spot in the sky) and Jupiter (the brightest spot in the sky).

They were in opposition to the sun (Jupiter on July 13th and Saturn on July 20th), meaning, they were well illuminated by the sun and positioned in the darkest part of the sky (look in eastern direction).

Both of them are quite close to earth at the moment because of the track they follow around the sun.

Take care!

 

Computer, gear, photography, review, software

Review of Excire Foto 1.0

For this review a got a review copy of Excire Foto 1.0 for free, but no-one tried to influence my review. I’m reviewing the MacOS version, but the Windows version should look and feel the same. The installed version occupies nearly 600 MB of my disk space and an additional 900 MB in my home folder in ~/Library/Application Support/excire-foto. This is the database and thumbnail images of the pile of analyzed images.

After installing the software and starting it for the first time it asks you for the place where to find the images about to get analyzed. Now, the first step is reading all the images and in a second step, they are analyzed and tagged by the internal AI (artificial intelligence). I directed Excire Foto to an image folder on my local SSD containing about 20.000 images in web resolution (~13 GB) distributed among 318 sub-folders. The intake lasted amazingly only about 4 minutes. The analyzing process lasted another 50 minutes.

While playing around with the result I noticed a few things. I sent an email to the support with these things and got some answers very fast. I’m including the answers here as a statement by the support (but translated to English by me).

  • I’m quite disappointed about recognizing the lens information from my exif-data. I already double-checked a couple of images with exiftool and they all contain the correct lens information. I aussume, not all possible exif-tags are analyzed correctly, as it is not standarized which exact tags have to be ues by the camera or software manufactorers. I included some data extracted from my images as an example
    => we’ll check it. If this is correct, we’ll fix it in a future release
  • It’d be nice to correct exif-data maually, as i.e. 2 identical cameras are recognized slightly different because of the usage of different software for developing the raw-images. (= normalizing of data)
    => we’ll check it, if possible from a technical perspective. If so, we could add such a feature
  • Editing / correcting i.e. copyright information in images
    => it’s planned to add an IPTC editor
  • Is there a technical reason, why only 49 images can be selected for tagging? When coming back from a shooting or a trip there’s always the necessity to tag all images with some common / basic tags (i.e. the location)
    => yes, performance it the reason for this limit. We must change this.
  • Do you think about adding a feature to take carre of GPS data?
    => yes
  • It’d be nice to move tags instead of delete and re-create to build hirarchies afterwards or insert an addition layer (i.e. country – germany – _NRW_ – Duesseldorf)
    => it’s already in our backlog
  • showing file and folder names would be helpful for choosing the correct tags. There’s already an option to bring an image to full-screen view (including i.e. the filename), but for using those information for tagging this isn’t really helpful
    => we’ll optimize this
  • for filtering images according to the metadata you’ve chosing boxes instead of circles. When seeing checkboxes, I’m expecting to be allowed to filter for more than one argument instead of radiobuttons.
  • I’d like to reccomed some further filter like 35mm equivalent, sensor size (35mm, APS-C, middle format, MFT, …)

I like the software and how it works. When you start tagging your images now, it’s useful despite the findings mentioned above. Buying the software isn’t a big deal, as it is not that expensive. It’s already useful and helps organizing (and finding) your images. My test was with version 1.0. Before publishing this review I installed the latest update version: 1.0.5. but the behavior is still the same. Surprisingly my installed version didn’t notify me about the update, although it has such a function implemented.

Another surprise was version 1.0.5 finds still 20.066 images but states to show 43.339 images in the default view with no active filter. I guess, here’s an inconsistency,as the numbers seem to be correct when really filtering.

Take care.

 

culture, history, landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, review, travel, world

I’m back …

… from Iceland (again – finally).

This trip wasn’t planned long ahead. Instead, a friend asked for company for his trip with the option to fit my own plans into the schedule. It was a fantastic road-trip around the island in 15 days. While Iceland and its weather were very cooperative, the surrounding circumstances weren’t 😬 Our departure tickets were booked for June 13th in February, but the governments decided to open the borders not before June 15th and my departure airport was not offered until a week later. So we needed to re-schedule the flights and I had to book an additional train ticket to Frankfurt 😕. The next problem was the connection train to Frankfurt was canceled, but an alternative worked (despite the extra effort for further train changes 🙁). Fortunately, the departure terminal in Frankfurt also changed, but to the one reachable more easily and even faster.

The way back home also came with lots of problems. Online check-in didn’t work by using the airline‘s mobile app. When using my computer I noticed, my flight was canceled without notification. So, I hung in the queue for getting an agent to help me solve the problem. Originally I booked a flight with a stopover in Oslo. Suddenly the Webpage said, my flight was rescheduled to July 1st instead of June 30th and would end in Oslo instead of Düsseldorf. My travel agency was unwilling to help me keep my schedule. The only offered a cancellation with a refund.

So, I booked on my own with a different airline by using the airline sales portal instead of ordering via the travel agency again. But instead of departing at noon, my flight started at 7:45 a.m. which meant I had to get up at about 3:15 a.m. In addition, I had no breakfast and lost 6 hours on the phone. So, the last day of the trip was a complete disaster. While writing this, I‘m sitting in Copenhagen waiting for my connection flight. 2 hours are over, two more to wait.

Now to the better part 😊. In the end, I have 515GB images (= 18.700 raw files) and about 1000 images taken with my mobile on my disk 😳. All the images are presorted but still not reviewed. So, a lot of work is waiting for me 😲.

Our trip led us counter-clock-wise around the island. Nearly 4000 km! That’s about 2400 miles. Our days started early: about 8:00 with breakfast and at around 9:30/10:00 we sat in the car, a 4×4 offroad pickup with a hardcase above the platform for our luggage and containers with food. Despite the hardcase a lot of dirt came inside the cargo bay 😳😲😫. Apartments and hotel rooms were booked ahead, each for 1-2 nights. Usually, we were able to get in the rooms without assistance, as we usually arrived very late. Often around midnight: midnight-sun made it possible! 😊😊

During the last days, I was thinking about, which image I’d choose for today’s post. I wanted an image representing not only a certain part of Iceland or a special event. Finally, I decided to take an image taken with my smartphone instead of my camera (only 4 of my camera images are developed until now). Despite it is taken at a very specific place and thus can’t represent the whole island or the whole trip, it does represent Iceland.

When the Vikings arrived in Iceland more than a thousand years ago, they were astonished by the nature of the island. Initially, they assumed to have arrived in Valhalla, the heaven in their belief because many parts seemed to have sprung up from their sagas. In one place they met a pool, where the water quite regularly sprung high in the air, which they named: Geyser. And nowadays the name of that first natural water fountain is the generic term to describe all of these hot springs around the world.

The term ‘geyser’ dates in English to the late 18th century originating from Icelandic Geysir, the name of a particular spring in Iceland. It is related to the Icelandic word geysa ‘to gush – Wikipedia

Sidenote: the original geyser isn’t active anymore but a couple of meters beside a new one erupts approximately every 5 minutes. Once, the fountain of Geyser was 70-80 m high, while the fountain of Strokkur only reaches 25-35m. Gesyer erupted last in 2000 after an earthquake.

Take care!