Monday, April 30, 2012

A Night Under the Stars

Spent yesterday biking out to somewhere between Sofia and Samakov.  I decided to take my camera and make a first attempt at astrophotography.  It isn't fantastic but I'm willing to try it again!  You have to watch this on Youtube to see it well.  It really does humble you when you realize what is going on while you are sleeping.

To create the photo above, I used a tripod and an intervalometer.  I set the pictures for about 2 minutes apart and left the camera on Av mode.  I then used a free program called Star Stax to combine the pictures.  I was going for star streaks rather than dots but I do like the accidental affect.  After reading up on the process, I should have set the pictures to be less than 10 seconds apart.  That would have combined the dots and made dots appear to be a trail.  Next time.

The video above was created using the same equipment mentioned in the photo description.  This time I used LRTimelapse (fee) and Lightroom (not free) to create a time lapse of the stars passing over my head as I slept. I had the ISO set at 800 and that, coupled with the long exposure, caused the picture to be quite grainy.  Again, I'm encouraged that I could actually get  the stars moving so I'm willing to give it another shot.  What a beautiful weekend!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Air Time

With the wife away on a girls weekend, I thought it was time for a Saturday walk in park.  Luckily, I ran into a gaggle of eager teenagers who were jumping bikes and keen for me to take their photo.  It always pays to keep the camera on the shoulder!

These photos were taken using the AI Servo focus function on my Canon 40D.  The 60mm prime seemed to be my best friend while the sun began to set an I had to continually reduce the shutter speed to get the correct exposure.  By the end of it, a few good ones came out.  The jumpers asked me to provide all the  photos, so above you will find a link to all the photos that I took it you are interested in downloading them.

I wonder what tomorrow will have in store?

Fear in the eyes

Errands of the day ...

The list of things to do today included a visit the bank, a pop in to the local weaponry store to acquire some "self defense" spray for bike rides and a long overdue ride to pay the internet bill.  On my way back home I saw the tail end of a Roma horse drawn cart plowing through the woods.  I sped ahead on the well groomed trail in an attempt to cut the cart and driver off at the pass.  When I finally found their trail, I followed it back towards the point where I had first saw them.  I was hoping for a shot of the drivers coming at me with a nicely bokehed background.  Instead, I found the cart abandoned and the horse chomping happily on a small piece of grass.  The only conclusion that I could come to was that they were off scavenging the woods for treasures.

It constantly amazes me, especially after my return from Egypt, that a people with such ingenuity and determination can be oppressed with such vigor.  I can only hope that Bulgaria eventually finds a way to include the Roma into their cultural identity, much the way that the Egyptians have embraced the people living in Garbage City.  One can dream.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April Snow Storms Bring May Ski Touring

Kalina was nice enough to tolerate my incredible lack of physical fitness on yet another alpine experience in Bulgaria.  The transition between the warm waters of the Red Sea and the a mountain peak just outside of Govadartsi near Borovets was a shock at first, but I was ultimately ecstatic that I managed to lug my camera up the slope and take some shots of the experience.

We left school Friday after school and hiked up the first, less snowy, portion of the mountain in our ski boots with our skis strapped to our backpacks.  Eventually, the snow-cover allowed us to ski tour the final portion of our trip.  We spent the night in a hut on the mountain and woke up bright and early the next day to tackle the peak that lay ahead.  The weather of the day alternated between beautiful blue skies, ominous clouds and torrential snowfall.  It looks like we are going to be able to ski tour late into the season this year in Bulgaria.

The photos below were taken with a combination of the 17-40mm lens and the 70-200mm.  It was all available light in Av mode and I used AI servo to help me track the skiers as they came towards me.  The sand from our Egypt visit caused a great deal of pain as I could not get the camera to fire when I wanted it to but I think I manage to snap a few good ones.  I have to admit, there is something to be said for a little uphill exercise after work.  Enjoy the photos!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bow Riders and Camel Charges

I know these two videos don't fall in line with the general theme of the blog but I thought they were worth posting.  One video shows dolphins bow riding off of our live aboard during a beautiful afternoon steam to our next dive site.  The second video shows the unpredictable nature of the camel market in Egypt.  You never know which way those camels are going to charge!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Revolutionary Sand Dusted Sunsets

Camels for sale at the Camel Market outside of Cairo

Deep blue skies contrasted by the stark sandstone Sahara Desert have set the stage for an event that will define our generation.  When history looks back on the second decade of the second millennium, one of the events that will characterize this moment in time will be the cry for democracy in the Arab world.  While news agencies pontificate over the rebellion against the dictatorship in Egypt, citizens shape a country that is  rich with kind, knowledgeable and passionate people.  Egypt is not the country depicted by news agencies intent on selling the consumer the most dramatic and jaw dropping events of the past week.  Instead, Egypt sits in an awkward place in history, confused by the twisted road that lies ahead.

After a passionate, grass roots revolution, Egypt now languishes in stagnancy, stuck in a political stalemate between former Mubarak cronies, the Muslim Brotherhood and average Egyptian.citizens.  The fallout from the cry for democracy has reached far and wide.  Tourism is only starting to return to this Pharonic wonderland and the effects of this can be felt by the traveler when visiting the country.

Our trip comprised of one week in Cairo, where we visited Ghiza, Alexandria and local attraction within the city.  The following week we proceeded to Sharm El Sheikh where we dove with Emperor Divers in the Red Sea.  The biggest lesson learned on this trip ... wait for it ... wait for it ... was ... keep waiting ... don't try to change lenses in the middle of the desert during a sand storm.  Yes, speckles appear all over the photos because I'm stupid.  I have taken most of them out by using the healing tool in Lightroom but unfortunately, the sand has managed to work its was under my shutter button.  This has caused the button to work inconsistently.  Anyone know a good Canon repair shop in Sofia?

It was a fantastic trip and I would recommend that anyone interested in visiting Egypt look past the portrait of Egypt being painted on the nightly news and explore the country for themselves.  You won't be disappointed.  Enjoy the photos and please feel free to comment below!


Pharonic tomb inscription depicting items that would help the Pharaohs reach the afterlife

Pyramids dot the landscape as the flat, rolling desert stretches out in front of this sunset worshiper

Train riders waiting for departure out of Alexandria station
Market vendor selling his wares

A midday date atop the Citadel in Cairo

Camel jockey in training
Enjoying the shade of the Camel Market

Hot tea on a hot day

Strolling camel vendors

Sunset in the middle of the Red Sea

Stark, dry land contrasted by rich, blue ocean