Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer solstice

Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere. Also today marks the beginning of the astronomical summer and the Sun is at its highest position in the sky throughout the year.

In this photo I show the difference between the solar height at noon during winter and summer solstice. In winter it barley gets over the treetops at 3.5° above the horizon and 6 months later, the Sun reaches an height of 50° above the horizon.

Solar height difference between winter and summer solstice

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Nikon Fisheye 8-15mm F3.5-4.5E ED Review

A couple of weeks ago I received my review sample of the new Nikon Fisheye 8-15mm F3.5-4.5E ED. Since I'm a huge fan and user of fisheye lenses, this type lens has been high on my wish list ever since Canon released their Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L lens back in 2010. A friend of mine has been using the Canon lens for years and he is very happy with it.

When taking pictures of the night sky, my two most used lenses is the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and the Sigma 8mm f/3.5 fisheye lens. Since the sky is so big you need a wide lens to cover as much as possible.

In this review, I will compare my Nikon review sample with my Sigma 8mm F3.5 EX DG Circular Fisheye lens and my Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8. I will also test the Nikon 8-15mm on both FX and DX cameras.

Here are the primary features of the new Nikon lens listed by Nikon:
  • Enables shooting at an angle of view of 180° vertical and horizontal (circular fisheye) when zoomed all the way out, and 180° diagonal (full-frame fisheye) when zoomed close to all the way in with shooting in FX format
  • A full-frame fisheye effect with a diagonal angle of view of up to 180° can be achieved in the range that begins at the DX mark* on the lens and ends at the maximum telephoto position with shooting in DX format
  • Realizes very sharp and clear rendering from maximum aperture throughout the zoom range
  • A minimum focus distance of 0.16 m (0.5 ft.) and a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.34x enable sharp and clear rendering, even with shooting at close distances
  • Adoption of three ED glass elements provides effective compensation for lateral chromatic aberration, minimizing color bleed at the edges of the frame
  • Nano Crystal Coat adopted to effectively reduce ghost and flare for sharp, clear images
  • Adopted a dust- and drip-resistant structure with all moving parts of the lens barrel
  • Highly durable fluorine coat that effectively repels dust, water, grease, and dirt applied to the outer surfaces of the two lens elements at either end (front and rear) of the lens
*The mark on the focal length scale that enables diagonal fisheye shooting in DX format is approximate.

Before I begin my review it’s important to note that the lens I’m reviewing is a sample and not a final product, so things can change.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Astronomy Picture Of the Day at NASA

Today I'm featured as Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) at NASA with my 360° panorama showing both sunset and Earth shadow in a remote mountain area of Jämtland, Sweden.

This panorama is made from 120 still photos taken at a height of 200 meters above the ground. The panorama is a 3 x 8 mosaic where each photo consists of 5 exposure bracketed shots to cover the big dynamic range of both the sunset and Earth shadow.

To the right you can see that the Sun has just set and a small sun pillar is visible just above the horizon giving away the Sun's position. To the left above the horizon is the dark blue Earth shadow with its belt of Venus above. In the middle of the sky the the First Quarter Moon is visible above the mountains, separating these two beautiful sky phenomenon.

The big peak to the right is Storsnasen, some 1400 meters above sea level.

Earth shadow and sunset panorama.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

The force of nature

Spring is here and in the lower mountain area that means lots of water due to melting snow. This is Handölsforsen in Jämtlad, Sweden, and right now it so awesome to see and hear the force of all this water rushing down.

Panorama taken with Nikon D800E and Nikon AF-S 14-24 mm

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Full moon photography workshop

Part of my work is lecturing and holding workshops for different groups of people. One such reoccurring workshop is for high schools media students. Usually I do one inspiring lecture telling them about different phenomena and how to take photos of them. The next part is being out in the field with the students so they can ask me questions and practice taking photos of the sky and objects in the sky. Then as a follow up, I meet the students once more where they can show me their photos so I can give feedback on their work.

Last night it was time for some field work for a group of high schools students. My plan was to teach them how to take photos of the full moon and how to use the moon for composing interesting photos. As always, it's a blast hanging around with these young students since they are so full of inspiration and creativity and last night was no exception.

Here are a couple of photos I took during our night out.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mountain solar halo

Yesterday when I woke up I saw that there were good conditions for a solar halo here in the mountain area in the western part of Jämtland. I kept an eye on the sky and around 13:00 local time this halo was clearly visible for about 30 minutes. As you can see there were lots of clouds moving in and a few hour later it was cloudy.

I really like the different type of clouds surrounding the Sun, it gives more drama to the photo compared to a clear blue sky.

Click here to buy this photo as a print.

Nikon D5 with Nikon AF-S 14-24 mm f/2.8
6 shot panorama 1/8000 sec. ISO 100 at f/8.0

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Season finale

The dark season is ending and we're running out of darkness here in the northern hemisphere. This panoramic shot from last night shows a beautiful colored night sky filled with the Milky Way and the Northern Lights. As always I feel a bit sad that the stars is fading away for and I will miss nights like this during the summer. On the other hand, the bright summer nights is truly magic with their colors, they sure make a great substitute for the loss of the starry nights.

So this will most likely be my last Milky Way with Aurora shot for this season, but what a great finale it was! Se you on the other side Milky Way!

Click here to buy this photo as a print.

Nikon D800E with Nikon AF-S 14-24 mm f/2.8
12 shot panorama with 20 sec. ISO 3200 at f/2.8

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Astronomy Picture Of the Day at NASA

Today I'm featured as Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) at NASA with my photo of the Moon and planet Jupiter with its four Galilean moons.

This night the Moon and Jupiter were only 1°45' apart in the sky, to visualize that distance, that's about the width of your thumb on a arm’s length.

At the time of the photo (19:33 UTC on 10th of April 2017) the Moon was 99,8% lit, so very close to full. This is a single exposure and to get a good exposure for the Galilean moons to be visible, I waited for some clouds to darken the bright moon while Jupiter and its moons was unobstructed. I used a focal length of 600 mm on a Nikon full frame DSLR.

This is the 15th time I'm featured as APOD at NASA.

The Moon and Jupiter with its four Galelian moons

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