Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Badger Encounter

Late last night I went out to photograph the moon. I was out on the sidewalk by the road. I heard a scurrying noise, I looked around and didn't see anything right away. It was kinda spooky but I wasn't really scared; after all I had a large camera an even larger lens and a sturdy tripod in my hands!

The scurrying kept coming and was getting closer quite quickly so I took my eyes away from the moon on the back of my camera and looked around again. This time I saw what was making the noise! It was a badger crossing the road at speed heading straight for me! I looked right at him and said 'Hi Badger'. He stopped in his tracks, looked up and locked eyes with me, thought for a moment, then spun around and headed back across the road in the opposite direction and up my neighbour's drive. I stood there laughing. Wish I'd had a camera recording that!

I think I might have to hang about outside late at night now, to see my new friend. :-)

Here's the photo of the moon that I was taking when Mr Badger came to visit.

This image was taken with a Canon 5D mkIII full framed camera with an old Russian MTO-11CA M42 mount 1000mm mirror lens with a 2x converter making it a 2000mm lens. The above image has not been cropped.

Oh pooh, I just remembered that there was a good chance to see a meteor shower late last night. Another chance tonight, hope I remember! :-D

Saturday, 10 January 2015

My Old Russian 1000mm Mirror Lens Doubled

My old Russian mirror lens.

Russian MTO-11CA M42 mount mirror lens on Canon 5D mk II

Last year I purchased a 25 year old Russian mirror lens. It's a 1000mm f10 M42 screw mount lens, which is basically a telescope.

I've had a bit of fun with this lens, like photographing the Stroud Subscription Rooms and Ebley Mill from Rodborough Fort up Rodborough Hill.

Ebley Mill, Stroud, Gloucestershire from Rodborough Fort up Rodborough Hill. 

The Stroud Subscription Rooms from Rodborough Fort. 

I even took it on vacation with us and photographed a newly married couple with their photographer on the beach. Too bad their photographer was more interested in looking at the back of his camera than photographing them.

You're missing it! 
What this lens is really great at is photographing the moon. This is what I'd like to do more of.

Note: This image has been cropped a bit. 

Well on to today! Today I received in the post an old Tamron M42 screw mount 2x converter for my 1000mm mirror lens.

Old Tamron 2x converter, M42 screw mount. 

What a 2x converter does is double the focal length of your lens. So my 1000mm mirror lens will become a 2000mm mirror lens. Sadly it also reduces the maximum aperture as well, so this lens goes from a fixed f10 to something smaller like f20 (but don't quote me on that, I've not done the maths!) What this means is you'll need a lot of light to shoot in.

Luckily the moon has a lot of light! Sadly it's a cloudy evening. So before it got too dark I ran out and did a few quick test shots. These aren't great images but it will show you what this lens with 2x converter can do.

I took two sets of photos, both from our back garden and both using a 50mm lens (which is basically what you see with your own eyes), the 1000mm mirror lens and the 1000mm mirror with the 2x converter. All on my full frame 5D mk III. Here are the results.

First up, St. Lawrence Church steeple in Stroud from our garden in Rodborough.
50mm Lens on a Canon 5D mk III full frame camera. St. Lawrence Church steeple in Stroud from Rodborough. (Centre of photo) 

 1000mm mirror lens on a Canon 5D mk III full frame camera. Church steeple in Stroud from Rodborough. The steeple clearly visible now. And we can see the clock is wrong as it was closer to 4pm and getting dark here.

And finally the 1000mm with the 2x converter making it a 2000mm lens. Same church steeple taken from the same spot in our back garden in Rodborough. 

I did this again with the Randwick TV transmitter across the valley. You really can't see it in this first photo, but it's there in the centre. 

 Then I swapped lenses and put on the 1000mm mirror lens.

You can clearly see the transmitter now.


And then again with the 2x converter. Not only can you see the transmitter well now but you can see that there is quite a strong vignette around the image as well. I suppose this is inevitable on a full frame camera and I doubt would be an issue on a cropped sensor. 

So in conclusion I'm a very happy camper and can't wait for the next clear night to shoot the moon! :-D

(Note: shooting with a long mirror lens often creates odd looking bokeh (out of focus areas) in the shapes of little doughnuts. This can be an issue with some photos, or it can be a creative part of the image.)

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Uke-Can Ukulele Workshop at The Prince Albert

This past weekend (Saturday 3rd September 2015) we attended a ukulele workshop taster at our local pub, The Prince Albert. The ukulele lessons were given by Sarah Kelly of Uke-Can Ukulele Lessons.

Funny thing, everyone seemed to get new ukuleles this Christmas! Except me, and now I want one too!

We were all very excited about the taster lesson up at our local pub and a crowd of us went. Some friends came over to ours and we had a practice session of our own before going up. First to arrive were James & Liz with their daughter Keira. Liz has recently taken up the ukulele.

Little Keira (9) learning a few chords, with her Dad James photobombing in the background.. 
Keira getting a little help from Mum (Liz).
Keira showing Mum what she's learned so far.
Alyssa (my daughter) (AKA Todd) helping Keira with a few chords. 
Alyssa only started playing the ukulele at Christmas when she picked up Peter's new ukulele which he got for his Birthmas. (His birthday is just before Christmas, bless him). She loved it so much that she had to go out and buy herself one!

Peter's son Tim, Tim's fiancée Sarah, and Peter.
The above photo was taken a few days ago while Tim and Sarah were down visiting. Tim and Sarah both are music teachers. Tim is recently interested in the ukulele and went and bought himself a new one while he was visiting. Yep, we are uke mad around here!

Juno, Stephen's puppy. 
Our friend Stephen was next to arrive with his puppy Juno. Stephen also got a ukulele for Christmas and he drove up from Aldbourne, Wiltshire to go with us to this event. I didn't photograph Stephen so I've posted a photo of Juno in his place. :-)

Sarah Kelly's ukulele collection for her lessons.
After a quick lunch of pulled pork that Peter had been cooking all morning, we were off to the Pub for some uke lessons with Sarah Kelly. We were meeting neighbours Martin and Sue there as Sue also plays the ukulele.

Checking out the ukes while waiting for lessons to start.
While we were waiting for lessons to start, Sue from over the road and Peter checked out each other's ukuleles. Sue has a very nice uke, I know because Peter has talked about it several times now. You think that might be a hint?

Sarah Kelly from Uke-Can Ukulele Lessons. 
People who know me know that I'm not very musical, though I do love music. I can't sing or play an instrument, though I have tried both. I had taken my camera along for a bit of photography fun during the lessons but I couldn't resist picking up a Ukulele and joining in. It was a lot of fun and I even learned a few chords! Amazing! Sarah Kelly makes it fun and easy to learn.

Liz and Keira on the left. I'm not sure who was helping who here, but it was nice in either case.
James, Liz, Keira and Martin my neighbour. 
I recorded a video of the crew playing a few lines from 'Three Blind Mice', 'Ring Around the Rosses' & 'Pop Goes the Weasel'. See video below. (It's best to click through and watch on YouTube.)

My husband Peter and my daughter Alyssa (AKA Todd).
Here's a recording of everyone singing and playing 'Rock Around the Clock' on their ukes. A song they'd just learned to play moments ago!

Sarah Kelly
James and Alyssa were asked to lead the group in one more round of 'Rock Around the Clock' in front of the group while everyone played their ukes and I managed to record this too. See video below. (It's best to click through and watch on YouTube)

Martin singing a song with the group playing their ukuleles.
Martin also got up and sang but I forgot what he sang. So sorry. Sadly I did't record it either, he didn't want me too. So I photographed him instead. :-D

Young singer with Alyssa practicing singing and playing 'Frère Jacques'
Next a young boy ( I didn't catch his name) and Alyssa joined forces to play and sing 'Frère Jacques' which they'd just learned to play. Here's a little snippit of that. See video below.  (It's best to click through and watch on YouTube)

Then the group was split into two groups to sing a round of  'Frère Jacques'. See video below.  (It's best to click through and watch on YouTube)

Others got up to preform too. 
And last but not least! Peter and Alyssa had a go at playing and singing 'My Little Ukulele'. This is a song that they'd been practicing by themselves the day before. :-D
See video below.  (It's best to click through and watch on YouTube)

What a fantastic experience! We all had the best time! I can't recommend Sarah Kelly and her Uke-Can Ukulele Lessons enough. She made it all such fun and so easy to learn.

Thank you Sarah Kelly and thank you Lotte & Miles of The Prince Albert in Rodborough, Stroud!

Here are some links for you:
Uke-Can Ukulele Lessons Website
Uke-Can Ukulele on Facebook
The Prince Albert Pub Website (Be sure to check out their 'What's On' section for other future workshops for the whole family, and also for upcoming gigs and events!)
The Prince Albert on Facebook
The Prince Albert on Twitter

Did you know that the largest ukulele festival outside of Hawaii is the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain which is held in Cheltenham and is now in it's 6th year? Well now you do! See you there! :-D