Friday, November 03, 2006

Boy, do I need a tripod

I decided that tonight, when the moon is pretty full, I would go out and take some photos through the binocs. I don't really know the temperature right now, but I would estimate that it's somewhere between just plain freezing and I-can't-feel-my-fingers-freezing. Don't worry, Mom--the feeling came back after only five minutes in front of the heater.

It snowed earlier today, though it was just a light dusting. What happened to autumn?

Oh--it's 30 degrees outside right now, according to State College's own AccuWeather.

Now--about the tripod. I don't have one, and I really think that fact is contributing to my badly focused photos (somewhat). I think I'm going to have to go out tomorrow and buy one. I saw this neat one at this Ritz camera shop in the mall; it had a "joystick" control set-up. I will need to take my camera and my binocs with me, I'm guessing, to make sure everything mounts right.

So I was trying to take these moon shots with no tripod. Slow shutter speed, thanks to the darkness, and no tripod. I think you see where this is going.

First attempt: "mount" the binocs on a pear tree branch, then hold the camera up to the eyepiece. That didn't work, sad to say. But pear trees smell really good; did you know that? It had a really sweet woody smell; I never noticed that before. But then again, the cold may have been affecting me.

Second attempt: "mount" the binocs on a fencepost and then hold the camera up there. Again--no luck. Too hard to align everything. By now, my fingers are starting to hurt.

Finally, I'm embarassed to tell you that I got about a 5-1/2 foot length of 2x2 and bungee-corded the binocs to the top. Then I leaned that contraption on some pear branches (wanted to smell that tree again), and got the following photos.

I know what you're thinking--"I thought you said the moon was full." That's a bit of vignetting from the shaky camera/binoc connection/alignment. Sorry. And the focus is less than stellar (as usual).

This one was a little better, but you can still see a little vignetting as I struggled to hold the camera to the binocs and keep the moon in frame at the same time. Not easy. I took a few other super-blurry ones. I deleted those. By now, I can't feel my fingers and my toes are getting numb. Time to go inside, but not before I shoot a plain old camera shot of the moon:

As I type this entry, I realize I've learned a valuable lesson about myself: I must like to make things harder than they need to be. I could've bought an inexpensive "starter" scope and an adapter for the same amount of money I've spent on lenses and pipe and bits of wood and plastic and cardboard. I see that now. And I look at other people's blogs (real digiscopers) and I admit I'm jealous of their Swarovski scopes with fancy tripods, and the way they have adapters actually made for the scopes and that fit the cameras, and how they don't have to hold the scope and the camera and somehow freeze their arms so everything stays aligned and in-frame.

Yes, I'm jealous. But at the same time, I just really feel like, from a financial point of view, I have taken the paths available to me. I've made a lot of mistakes, but never anything that cost me more than a few dollars. (Of course, we won't talk about how much those "few dollars" add up to, once you combine all the "little" mistakes...) And I suppose I could get really frustrated about that, but I think it would be better to look back and laugh. If there's one thing I love doing, it's learning. And I've learned a lot since I began beginning to bird.

I'll get a good tripod tomorrow; that's a step in the right direction. I have a great camera, suitable to my abilities and skill level--another positive. I have decent binoculars, and the scope--well, it's coming along. I'm hitting the plumbing supply tomorrow and getting a bigger pipe for the focusing barrel, and then I just really need to apply myself and get a decent eyepiece mount made. Then I'll have a good spotting scope that will just need to be mounted to the tripod.

Another potential disaster there, but why change my modus operandi now?

Right now, I'm really excited because I'm going birding in the morning. I'm hoping to get some good photos of the landscape around here, which never ceases to take my breath away. On the way to work, I saw what I could swear was a bluebird this morning--shouldn't he be down south right now?

Wish me luck. I'll let you know how it goes.

1 comment:

LauraHinNJ said...

I like the moon shots!

I have to give you credit for your ingenuity with making a scope - I wouldn't even know where to begin!