Less is very possibly more

A searing pain in my left eye blasted me awake this morning with uncivilised zeal. The awareness of nausea followed soon after. I groaned and pulled the duvet up over my head, and tried to turn my attention to the day ahead. Good, sufficient bread left to cater for tea today, so no need to get on with dough-making first thing.  Lunch could be kept simple… I dragged myself off to the shower.

When I emerged from the shower I smelled an appetising, pleasantly toasty… toast smell. Mr L, it seems, fancied a change from his Shreddies this morning.

I have started a batch of Tiger Bread.

Mr L had already sourced from the freezer some Sweet Chilli Meatballs that we had discussed last night. I have no idea what to do with them and can think of no ingredients that do not clash.

Speaking of last night, we both seem to be over-Dextered right now. We had watched a film on Monday night but not even a film could tempt us last night. Mr L worked on building his Bluetooth dongle for the Roomba project, and I was inspired by my friend Drew to head out into the night with my camera and try to capture Jupiter and its moons.

There was very little wind last night, which was a good thing. The slightly bad things were the temperature (I failed to dress for the occasion) and the mizzly atmosphere. Most of the stars were obscured to the naked eye, but a bright object almost overhead was very likely to be Jupiter. I fired up the Nexus and consulted the Star Chart app. Identity confirmed.

I knew that I was short of glass – my 300 mm zoom lens is out on loan – but mounted the 200 mm lens to see what it might yield. I checked Drew’s settings and emulated them as best I might with my own kit and then focused on infinity before going out to shoot. When I came in again, all of my images were out of focus. Jupiter had been captured as a bright object, but no moons were visible and no planetary detail. The image was very small and blurred.

By the way, did you know that fitting a lens hood to a lens does nothing to keep the damp off –  if the lens is pointing to the sky’s zenith?

I went out again, checking this time that I was focused on infinity and set at 200 mm.

And again.

This time I took the camera from the tripod and got it to my eye to check the focus and adjust it.

When I was finally ready to give up, all feeling having left my now-wet slippered feet, I took one last pot shot with the exposure dialled right down – I had read that Jupiter requires very little exposure to capture the gas band detail. That final, fifty-eighth, image showed the moons, or at least two, perhaps three of them. Jupiter was still too bright to show the detail however.

So, all night I had been working on an incorrect assumption – that to capture the moons I needed to gather more light, not less. Gah! You live, and you learn.

What did I learn? That I need more glass!! My Jupiter image is minuscule. Well, not so much more glass, as more reach.  I am still minded to get a 2x convertor before anything else. Alas, I have not the funds – I need to sell the 600D and also wait for some funds that I have coming in from a business venture, sometime. The 600D is out on a test drive, as is the 300 mm lens. It may well be next winter before I can have another crack at Jupiter.

Actually, I may try again tonight, but not with the DSLR. Drew was using a compact with 20x zoom. Perhaps I should try with the Nikon – it has 42x zoom. Who knows, it may work. All that I need is a clear sky and low wind. I’ll set the battery to charge and read up on manual exposures on the P510, though the chances of good weather are remote.

This is what the good Dr Drew got:

Copyright Drew Whitworth
Jupiter and Moons: Copyright Drew Whitworth

and here is what 58 exposures, a chill, and my very expensive DSLR got me:


It's there. Look closely...
It’s there. Look closely…

I had to crop into it – heavily.

1/6 sec f4.0  200 mm ISO 800 – I’ll use that as my starting point with the Nikon when I get the opportunity.

The WP plugin for displaying EXIF data appears to have stopped working. Something else for me to do this afternoon.

PS one of the major drawbacks to using good glass is the way that everything suddenly appears to be so filthy. I swear that the Nikon looks clean to the naked eye – look at it, so grubby! I used the Canon 70-200 mm L lens.


  1. March 5, 2014

    Hi Beth, thanks for the plug 🙂 However, one small correction, but it may matter. My camera does have a 20x optical zoom but then goes up to 70x digital zoom and I used the full reach of the latter.

    Good point about ‘less is more’!

    • March 5, 2014

      That’s me and my “Digital Zoom don’t count” philosophy showing, Drew. 🙂 I have unearthed my Nikon P510 and am presently googling for some ideas on camera settings. I’ve had the camera almost a year now and have never used it on Manual. I confess to not having got to grips with the equivalent focal length settings. Nor have I fully utilised its zoom facilities as it has yet to sit on a tripod… I don’t believe that I need to hurry, the weather is not very photogenic.

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