Merry Christmas Eve. I thought this flower in UV-induced visible fluorescence looks pretty much like something you would see as part of Christmas decoration, with baubles that light up. One more sleep until Christmas.
My youngest daughter returned home from her school’s fireworks evening bearing two different LED coloured lights. That gave me the idea to do some light painting with my daughter. What better way to get her interested in photography than for her to join in to make the photograph.
My youngest daughter has since asked me to get her a ‘proper’ camera when she grows up – goal to get her interested in photography achieved. I’ve also heard that she has told her friend that there is now a photo she has contributed to published on the internet – the things 6 year olds say to each other.
Another area of photography I had always wanted to do was to capture images of fireworks. This year I managed to do this for the very first time. I used the Sony A6000, FE 70-200mm F4 OSS lens mounted on a tripod and triggered with a remote control.
This was a useful exercise, where I learnt what was the best settings for shooting fireworks. Hopefully I will be able to build on this experience and improve both my technique and more importantly the final results.
For this photo, I had set myself up to shoot the sun, with my Skywatcher ED80 telescope (600mm focal length) only for the clouds to roll in. Hence my attention turned to the robin which had perched itself on the wooden beam of my daughter’s play frame at the end of the garden.
Rather than being intimidated, this male robin was chirping away and showing his dominant display – as if to tell me to stay out of his territory. Hence I took his photograph, as it is not very often that you get a robin in the garden while the telescope is out and poised for taking photographs.
This is one photograph I was amazed that I managed to shoot.
I was imaging the sun at 4500mm focal length, and was so focused on the sunspot (at 5x magnified view), that I was oblivious to every else. It was only when I opened the files and looked at it later on the computer, that I realised what I had managed to capture. Definitely one of my best photos of the year, especially as it was completed unexpected.
These were the candles lit on our garden table on the night of the Mid Autumn Festival.
It is amazing that with the current cameras, it is possible to capture images even in conditions which are very dark – the fact it was able to lock focus on the candle was very impressive. But what I truly like about this photograph, is that it symbolises the Light shining in the darkness.
Another object which I have shot on many occasions is the moon. But this was the Supermoon when it was passing close to the earth, during Mid Autumn Festival on 8th September 2014.
I was shooting this image of the moon, while my family were busy lighting candles and the lanterns and hanging them up around the garden. We have managed to bring a little Chinese tradition to our little back garden in Oxford.
While I am talking about astrophotography, I should also talk about the Pleiades.
Previously when I looked into the skies, I had noticed on many occasions a fairly bright cluster of stars but I had been oblivious to what it was. It was only while trying out the Astrotrac TT320X for astrophotography that I managed to shoot this subject and learn more about it.
It is called Pleiades or Seven sisters (M45), and is the most obvious star cluster visible to the naked eye at night. It is even mentioned specifically by name three times in the Bible (Job 9:9, Job 38:31 and Amos 5:8).
In the past I have briefly tried my hand at solar imaging using the Baader Solar film. This year I finally took the plunge and bought the Baader Herschel Prism, which allows me to capture even more detail of the sun.
This is one of the best images of the sun and sunspots I have ever taken. The large sunspot on the right resembles a bear’s paw print.
I do like astrophotography and one of the most attractive things about shooting the sun is that you only do this when the sun is out, where you bask in the warmth provided by the sun (good for improving vitamin D levels) – unlike night astrophotography where the conditions are likely to be colder (as the skies should be free of cloud cover).