Monday, May 21, 2012

How to photograph a Solar Eclipse
By Leigh Spigelman.

First, try to persuade the powers that be to schedule the eclipse at a convenient time.

Failing that, if hungry at say 90 minutes before the peak of the event, go out for dinner.

Now you've properly prepared yourself for the grueling task ahead. Namely, getting the heck home in time to photograph this important celestial coincidence.

OK, this is going to be easy. Just get the eclipse glasses on. Aim. Focus and fire!

Oh, the glasses.
Photo credit to Monica Spigelman
 You might as well have called these fashionista glasses the cones of darkness. It was so dark that Monica knocked the camera tripod out of position three times because she simply couldn't see it! And she was standing only 12" away. Really? Really!

As to aim, focus and fire? Fuggettaboutit! 
I had to feel my way to the camera and even then I had to feel my way to the view finder. 
Focusing? Forget auto focus. Had to be manual, which to me, on a good day, is to be avoided at any cost. Well, you do what you gotta do.

And what's with how good looking these cones of darkness make you look? I mean, you could buy a really cheapo pair of sunglasses and look cool. So what's with these?
Except of course Monica.
She looks GREAT.
Really? Really!

Ahhh, but the proof is in the pudding, or something like that. So here it was, finally. Aim, as soon as I found the camera. Focus, kind of. And FIRE!
Whooo boy. 
Maybe this wasn't as easy as I thought.
Probably might have helped to have gotten organized before hand. But hey, don't let a negative thought get in the way of a really fun and exciting journey of discovery. 
Well, I'd already shot the camera's load, so to speak, by shooting at 100 ISO at 1/8000 of a second and F25. That's it folks, The camera isn't going to get better than that.
Now I'm in high gear, searching for my gear. I figure two neutral density filters + a polarizing filter should give me the equivalent of 13 more f stops of darkness. That's alot!
OK, let's find those suckers. But not before I take off the cones of darkness. Geez, I could have killed myself with those things on.
So, here are the elements that I assembled. 
Rather an elegant solution. My chest starts to puff out. I put the cones of darkness back on.
Until I realize that this contraption, I mean elegant solution, isn't EVER going to screw on to my 70-200mm lens. The size is way to small.
OK, no worries. I'll hand hold the sucker in front of the lens! Maybe Ansel Adams wouldn't approve, but he's not here at the moment.

 Yes, that's me looking oh so suave, asking Monica to shout so that I know which way to turn for the photo.
Photo credit to Monica Spigelman

But does it work?
Well YES!
If you like crescent moon shots.
As it turned out, I did get some pretty good solar eclipse shots. 
They occurred well after the height of the eclipse, but I think they turned out pretty darn well.
Is there a moral to this post?
Have a wife who laughs with you.
And be don't be afraid to laugh at yourself, even if it's after the fact.
Be prepared, really!
Try your best and then react.
And a little good luck never hurts.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A new trip. A wonderful trip. Truth is of course, they all are.
But this one was special. 
From Tucson to New York City.
From New York City to London (ever so briefly.)
From London to Paris.
From Paris to Reggio Calabria.
From a beautiful home.
If you followed that, you know Monica and I well. If not, no worries, I'll explain.
But first, we start with New York City.
Our original home.
I'll take any excuse to stop over in NYC because I love to visit family, feel the energy in the streets , visit places I've never been, experience the food and see the seeming incongruity of it all lock together, and then move forward in unpredictable ways.

Oh wait. Did I mention food?

Up to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx for a wonderful lunch at Roberto's Restaurant, where the spoken Italian was as thick and chewy as the squid salads. Monica and I enjoyed Alan, Diane, Duyen and Brett's company and the food kept coming. After my first visit there, the verdict is in. I'd love to go back!

After lunch, more food. 
This time mostly to look at. 
 The Arthur Avenue Retail Market.
 Not exactly a super market, but the diversity of its offerings was staggering.

 Did you say you were looking for fruits and vegetables?

How about olives?
Black, brown, green?
Stored in nifty retro wooden casks?

Hand rolled?
In front of you?
Well, if you insist.

Music. And a full service restaurant.
Why not?

More food.
You like cheese and Italian sausage.
So who doesn't?

And what goes perfectly with all of this crazy good Italian food?
Sun dried tomatoes and peperoni.
OK, I'm not exactly sure if that's pepperoni on the right. Monica says it's hot peppers in oil.
But it looks colorful. What else could you ask for?
So then,

Finally we take a break from food.
Monica and I visited that mecca of Italian food super stores, Eately.
And we ate more.
Hey, this is my vacation. Tough.
I hope Monica forgives me, because Mario and Lidia are her faves. Truthfully, this wasn't the best meal we had. But it sure looked good.

Oh, did I mention we happened to visit over the Easter holiday.
Do you know what that means?
AnnMarie and Jim cooked a wonderful Easter feast, as always!
And to top off our NYC visit, we all got to celebrate Brett's birthday. 
And that cake was good.

Next blog post will take us to the other side.
No, no one died. Jeez!
I mean Europe.
See you soon, virtually.