Monday, August 24, 2015

Astrophotography with Sony a6000

I'm dipping into doing some astrophotography with my Sony a6000, the replacement for the Sony NEX-7 mirrorless.  It works pretty well; my location isn't great (SF Bay Area), but my camera is, arguably, as good as it gets for an APS-C camera (and it's much less expensive than similar DSLR cameras).  It has very good high ISO performance.

I also bought, kind of on a whim, a Samyang 800 mm lens (plus 2X "barlowe" lens, ~$200 for both!).  The lens is very simple, there are no electronics, so focus is a bit of a challenge with it, and it's not exactly a high-quality lens.  But it works.

Here's an example; a shot of the moon, 2X "barlowe" lens (so 1600 mm equivalent), NO cropping, ISO 3200 and slight contrast enhancement.

The Sony has the option to zoom in while framing and focusing the shot, and as long as your camera is very stationary, it works pretty well.  I've got a fairly heavy-duty tripod, but I wish it was even heavier; the camera still shakes quite a bit while I'm focusing.  I've assigned the electronic zoom to one of the buttons on the camera, and it's very easy to fire it while I'm setting up for the shot.

I always use shutter-priority mode.

I am looking forward to trying it on Jupiter and Saturn.  In a couple of weeks I will try this at Yosemite.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I once dreamed an entire song about a woman I had recently moved in with.  The song was very dark in content; the woman had led a terrible life and we had bonded over music, so this seemed like a very proper response to our relationship.

Are dreams a way to store our feelings in memory, using nonverbal symbols?

It might also be the opposite, that is, you are "storing" a feeling and your brain is building a visual (and in this case, auditory) story around the feeling.  That's kind of art in a nutshell, isn't it?