Another test for the new Tamron 150-600 mm on the 6D.
Second chase season in a row that chase partner John Moore and I included a non-chase, but still scientific endeavor on the way out to chase after leaving Phoenix!
Back in 2009, we stopped and checked out the really cool Very Large Array radio telescope in central New Mexico. This year, it was a West Texas/Eastern New Mexico take on the annular solar eclipse!
Original target was Bledsoe, Texas, but as we stair-steped Southeast from Albuquerque, we noticed a pancake cumulus field developing along and even west of Texas/New Mexico border. As we drove into Texas, we became concerned that this could cause a serious impediment to viewing the eclipse, and even potentially block it out.
We then recalculated and planned to head back west into New Mexico. John found the exact point on the road we took south from Portales that was on the center-line of anularity, and programed that into the GPS. As we headed back into New Mexico, there was some dissipation of the cumulus, but we realized we had made the correct move, as we could see the far west edge of the cu field.
We pulled off on the dirt road that was right on the center-line and started the set up the cameras. We had arrived after the partial phase and started shooting. Here is an early-on example that also captures a couple of sunspots (click on images for larger view):
At this point (and right through the annular phase) the sun was quite bright, and had we had to use special filters I purchased for this trip (and will hopefully come in handy for future eclipses).
Our calculations were perfect, and we achieved the main goal of being able to photograph perfect symmetrical annularity!!!
As the sun sank lower in the sky it finally became possible to photograph without the filters – we were now capturing all the colors of a Llano Estacado sunset!!
John particularly liked this one, as he felt it look like a shark’s tooth, I was inclined to think it was more like a shark’s fin, but nonetheless it was a great way to end a great eclipse!
The video didn’t turn out so well (too bright, causing severe flaring), but who cares I got the still shots. Will have more to add over the next few days and weeks to fill in some gaps.
Took some test shots on the Cinco de Mayo sunset (in preparation for the possibilty of being able to document the 20/21 May Annular Solar Eclipse) and it looks like I caught what spaceweather.com is calling sunspot 1471 (sunspots move left-to-right across the face of the sun) just before the sun dropped below some clouds that were just above the horizon. Click on image for larger view:
This was just a quick test, hand held at 1/160th of a second. Lens was the Canon 70-200 mm F4 IS with auto-focus OFF, and a single Kenko Pro 300 1.4X teleconverters and two Kenco MC4 2.0 telconverters on the 5DMll. Effective focal length is 1120 mm. Image stablisation ON. I had stopped down to I think F5.0, but with all those teleconverters it was like F200! 8^)
If we get to shoot the event (and I am hearing chatter that other chasers are looking at this photo op, if there are no chasable storms that day) I will be on the tripod and will hopefully have the imaging technique even further under my belt. And there will be bigger glass (more on that later)! Stay tuned…
Got to test my new 35mm prime on the Canon 5D Mark II on a storm! There were a couple waning cells that approached London, Ontario after dark from the same cluster of storms that included the Supercell that produced a (possibly) Strong tornado about 10 miles west of Detroit.
The cell was spitting out anvil crawlers intermittently (i.e. I noticed ONE) and waited about five minutes and didn’t see another and gave up. The activity then increased to maybe one every three minutes, but the cell has moved E and the origin of the bolts was now too far east to see from the Weather Perch (TM) …
…but I got one shot that captured a crawler’s tail (click on image for larger view):
So a very satisfying start to the actual observing and documenting convection in 2012!
Will follow-up on this lens (and the other one being changed-out when all is settled)…
Well preparations for this years chase expedition continue – the lens change-outs are almost complete (will discuss in further detail when everything is done/resolved), but here are some test shots to share…
In preparation for the possible opportunity to document the near/at sunset Annular Solar Eclipse in W Texas/E NM on 20 May, 2012 (and the even-more-rare 5 June, 2012 Transit of Venus!), I picked up a couple of 2x MC4 Kenko Teleconverters (at half price!) to test with the Canon EF 70-200 IS F4.
I was willing to even try these with the Kenko Pro 300 1.4x teleconverter I picked up three years ago (that produce no appreciable image quality degradation with the 70-200)!
So yes I was expecting loss of image quality, but will that matter when dealing the a sun so close to the horizon that atmospheric effects are already maximized…
This attempt (hand-held!!!) with 200 x 2 x 2 x1.4 – 1120 mm of reach allowed me to capture these geese passing in front of the sun!! Also note that this is pretty much right at the first contact with the local horizon (note the distant tree-tops) and includes a contrail.
It also looks like there may be a couple of sunspots visible (I know sunspot #1429 was big around this time, but I am not experienced enough at sun observing to say for sure) – click on image for larger version:
So I tried – so far I am happy! I will continue with various combinations of the TC’s to find a sweet spot of image quality and magnification – that again may be dependent on the given state of the troposphere!
This combination (also hand-held!) also seems to hold some hope for some interesting compressed ‘skyscapes’, like this example from the same series: a mix of cirrus, old contrails that have evolved into cirrus, big middle-aged contrails, and one new contrail being created:
It seems that, at least with high and distant clouds, the image quality loss from all that extra glass, is at least, not unpleasant.
Will look forward to exploring more (and with the tripod)!!
I had very high expectations for this lens, per this review at photozone.de (the general sentiment is echoed all around the web). I could not believe it when the first sample I got was a Coke Bottle – returned (different store – got a prompt refund and bought locally). Second sample is scary sharp and renders colour wonderfully!
Test pics on a Canadian Sunset – both at 200mm handheld with IS on:
Should be very useful in some storm situations, and on any days that – perchance – don’t have any Deep Moist Convection.
NOW into wx-only mode!!
OK – just a couple more posts I wanted to make before the trip, and a new category: Lens Talk. I ordered a Tokina 11-16 F2.8 in early February based on reviews such as Ken Rockwell’s (I know some question his opinions) and the highly regarded photozone.de.
The lens arrived and it would not focus on infinity so it was returned. The next one would focus on infinity but was markedly soft on one side. It too was returned, but at least there was an opportunity to test how to compose at 11mm:
Even though it is a much-maligned kit lens, it has served me well since 2005 (later on sharing duties with a Sigma 70-300). That said, it is now time for retirement (the 70-300 will soon follow). As bad and soft as it may be, I got a lot of images I was happy with! I guess it’s from the “what you do with what you have” school of thought, which I have certainly also followed with all my concert photography (all done with disposables and point-and-shoots) and will address here in due course .
So fittingly, here is the last image I was really pleased with from this lens:
Taken the Sunday of Labour Day weekend 2008 at Southampton, Ontario.