Barrett Manor

Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

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Well. I spent the day learning. And toying around with gear. It's still to wet to any serious yard work other than get the patio clean. Tonight, however, is the full moon. When I spied the nearly full moon up in the sky last night, I realized I had to get out and shoot.

I dragged out the camera, the telephoto, and the doubler. I couldn't get the darn doubler to focus on the moon. What? Paul had a similar complaint when he tried to shoot something a couple of weeks ago. I gave up on that idea and went into the garage to dig up a telescope. The thing was covered in dust. I cleaned the lenses and decided it would be good to try and play with it and use what I learned to do something better tonight.

Nothing I shot last night worked, but that was no surprise.

First thing today I cleaned up the telescope. It's an old starter backyard telescope that we'd bought at a garage sale for cheap years ago. One thing I noticed last night is that it kept drifting down after I found the moon. This morning I discovered that the bracket on one side was missing a screw and the other was barely long enough to reach through the bracket to the mounting hole, much less keep it in place. After I tore the unit apart I noticed that the mounting bracket on the other side was held in place with a couple of short bolts. Finding replacements in our collection of nuts, bolts, and screws was no problem. Like a good hobbyist, Paul holds on to that sort of thing and has them neatly stored in drawers.

My next problem was the tripod mount. The mount was slightly recessed so a standard tripod bolt wouldn't fit very well. Back to digging in the garage. I had a tripod that I'd bought years ago and lost the quick mount bracket. Paul had made one out of a spare chunk of Lucinte and a bolt. All I had to do was find a longer bolt and I was in business.

With the telescope all clean and mounted on a decent tripod, I turned my attention to the camera. I don't have a T-mount handy for the Oly, so I thought about making a temporary adapter out of a lens cap. Of course, that meant digging up parts and fiddling with the length of the tube. Then it hit me that I still had my Nikon CoolPix 990 hanging around. It has a smaller lens and a live preview. That could work!

It comes close to doing what I want. I ended up pointing the telescope out the back door at some trees so I could look at the preview screen in room light rather than harsh sunlight. After some experimentation, I discovered that I could get a halfway decent shot.

With that out of the way, I turned my attention back to the Oly. The CoolPix ain't a bad camera - it has a manual mode, but it's 3.1 megapixels. I'd prefer to have the 8 MP of the Oly just so I'd have more information to work with.

Then I had a cunning plan. I found a Styrofoam coffee cup, cut a hole in the bottom, cut the edge off (it was a LARGE coffee cup) and nestled the camera inside. I was able to easily line up the camera with the telescope eyepiece and the autofocus worked reasonably well. Of course, ideally I'll put the Oly on a tripod as well, but for snapping pics in the daylight I didn't need one. This will get me what building an adapter would have bought me. The price is the same (scrounged stuff), but this is a lot less work and trial-and-error.

While I had everything set up I decided to fool around with different lenses and macro filters just to see what happened. I had a reasonably good idea that they wouldn't produce acceptable results, but all it cost me as a little time. Then I pulled out the doubler, just to get strange. It slipped out of my hand and dropped a couple of feet to the well-padded carpet. No harm, I thought, until I picked it up and heard a rattle.


Oh well, it was a cheap doubler. I bought cheap because I wasn't sure if I really wanted one or not. Then I discovered something. The darned cheap doubler had come partially unscrewed. I gently put it back together and took a couple of shots. They came out great! I hadn't had much of a chance to try it since I bought it, so now I wonder if it had come slightly apart during shipping. Dang.

So now I'll try the doubler tonight on one tripod, and try the Nikon with the telescope. Dueling cameras.

I'll probably still get lousy shots.

At least I've learned some interesting things today, and so that makes it a fairly productive day, even though I don't have any useful shots to show for it yet.


Filed under: Photography            
3/20/2008 3:59:28 PM
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