Star Trails photography

Weather conditions were perfect the other night for some Star Trails photography and as I had never actually tried this technique before I thought it was a good chance to have a go.  I used a Canon 40D camera and a Tokina 11-16mm lens but so long as your camera can take individual long exposure shots over a period of time then you should be good to go (if you wanted to).  DLSRs are not really suited to keeping the shutter open for a long time as you end up with hot spots on the image, so a more practical solution is to take a series of shorter exposed images over time.

Required kit
-Camera which can take continuous long exposure images over time
-Charged camera batteries
-Tripod – essential to keep the camera steady and pointing in the same direction
-A clear night  :-)

Additional kit
-Remote release used to keep the shutter release open – else you have to press the shutter release each time to take a shot
-Torch – basically to see where you are going in the dark  ;-) 
-Some foreground object, a tree perhaps or the top of a building .. etc

Setup
I tested the process in my back garden with the top of a tree as my foreground interest, then with the camera on a tri pod I set it to an exposure time of 30secons, ISO 400, F5.6 and auto white balance.  Focusing on the stars was done manually and I had a cable release for starting the shoot.  After a few test shots to check the settings I pressed the remote and set it to hold the shutter release; so although the camera is capable of taking 6 shots a second it was now taking 1 shot every 30 seconds :-)  I then left it alone for just over an hour and ended up with 100+ photos.  I shot in RAW and used a 2gb card.
Note: When I decided enough was enough I shone the torch into the tree for the last two exposures, this brought some light to the foreground.  Then I released the shutter and stopped taking pictures.  The last thing you have to do is put the lens cap back on and take one more photo, will tell you why in a moment.

Process
Armed with all those photos I converted them from RAW to JPG (also tweeked the colours slightly) and then used startrails.exe (free software) to stitch all the photos together.  This is possible in photoshop, or a similar package but would take ages, where as with startrails you point the software to the folder containing your images and it does the rest.  Now, the image you took with the lens cap on — this is known as the “darkframe” in Startrails and useful for reducing image noise.

Result
You can see the first result on my Flickr page to the left hand side, however I wanted to share the process.

Secunia Personal Software Inspector

Secunia Personal Software Inspector (Secunia PSI) is a free (for personal use) security vulnerability scanner for software installed locally on your machine.  PSI will inspect installed software and report back on such things as known vulnerabilies, known updates, end of life applications, etc.  Part of the beauty of this service is that it will help you to download and patch anything which it considers to be a threat, so no messing around trying to find the patches; plus you only need to run it when you want (though it can be configured to run full time if you want).

From the home page:

The Secunia PSI protects against software vulnerabilities 527,821 users have already installed the Secunia PSI and 45,228,804 user applications are currently monitored.”

I will post comments as I continue to test this, but you can get your copy here

Tech alternatives to waterboarding

Original is here

Flickr Vision

Like Flickr? then this may be of interest . http://flickrvision.com/ . real time mashup of Flickr photos as they are uploaded.  very addictive

Pictures that speak a thousand words

These are apparently photographs of people, things and moments in Russia which are, for the most part, REALLY strange (and funny!).  Here

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Posted in Humor. 2 Comments »

Dramatic Lemur

enough said !!!  

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Global warming Mindmap

I did not do this, simply passing on the good word.  The original can be found here

combating-global-warming-map

Excellent Mindmap if I do say so myself.

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