Ah, August. I’m melting.


I’m back from vacation and have almost managed to survive the first week back at work. It wasn’t even a full week, it was four days — but that didn’t stop it from feeling like forever. A week of vacation isn’t enough!

This was my second year going to the Maine Astronomy Retreat. I still haven’t reviewed all of my photos, but I do have some Moon shots and Milky Way shots that are nice. I was surprised at how relatively easy it is to get a photo of the galaxy or Moon, but how difficult it is to get them in focus. You’d think that taking pictures of stars you’d just set the camera to infinity, right? Yeah, it doesn’t work like that.

It’s become obvious that I need some kind of focusing aid for astrophotography. No matter if I look through the eyepiece or at the live view display on my camera (a Sony alpha 7), the stars are just so dark and tiny that I can’t see anything well enough to set the focus. I basically have to take a picture and review it and keep twiddling the focusing ring until I get something. But even that is difficult; I can’t see the focusing ring without a light, I can’t tell by touch how far I’m moving it, and it’s very hard to move the focusing ring in tiny increments. Plus, the Earth spins pretty darn quickly, and any exposure that’s too long results in streaks known as star trails (which in my case look like Good ‘n Plenty-shaped lozenges).

Since I’ve been approved as a Shutterstock contributor, I’ve uploaded about seven photos. If my star photos are good they might end up there, otherwise, I’ll post a few in the next blog post. And, on to the weekend. Seems like a good time to avoid the heat and humidity and hole up in the A/C and look at photos. Stay cool, readers!

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Almost Vacation

Writing is a long, hard slog this year. Work has been so difficult that when I have time off I just can’t bear to sit at the computer and do any more thinking. I feel like all of my creative energy, and the desire to do anything, has been sucked out of my soul.

But my vacation starts at the end of next week, so I’m hoping a week away from the insanity will restore some mental energy and I’ll be ready to pick back up on some projects. My steampunk story for Corrugated Sky’s second anthology is at the editing stage, and we’re expecting to get the book out in the next month or so. In other news, I’ve been approved for Shutterstock and and I have uploaded five images so far.

London Vacation, Day 1

Detail in the gates to the British Library, in case you couldn't guess where this photo was taken.

Detail in the gates to the British Library, in case you couldn’t guess where this photo was taken.

Okay, so I haven’t exactly been on the ball with writing my travel journal. I’m not sure what’s up with that but I guess I just have too many other projects going to be able to sit down and just relax with the writing. We arrived in London on Thursday morning, August 28 and got to our hotel a bit before check-in, so we dropped off our bags and walked up to the British Library. Our hotel was a serviced apartment at Cartwright Gardens, which turned out to be a really good location because it was close to Euston Road and the train stations.

Neither of us slept very long on the plane and by the time we arrived at the British Library it was probably around 1:00 p.m. local time, which would be 6:00 p.m. in Washington. Essentially we’d be up since seven-ish the previous morning with a few half-hour naps and I would say we were running on adrenaline. A half hour into the library tour it hit us just how tired we were, but we managed to look at some exhibits anyway. The Magna Carta was not on display but we did see the Gutenberg Bible, some Leonardo da Vinci drawings, and a piece of fabric from a Zeppelin, among other items. I would love to go back and get a reader’s card and disappear into the stacks for a few weeks!

We got a few souvenirs from the library museum store (I’ve got a neat London skyline ruler and some books – yes – imagine that!) and headed back to the hotel to check in, then I showered, got dressed in fresh clothes, and we both promptly sprawled on the bed and slept for about three hours. I didn’t want to “waste” the time sleeping since I was in tourist mode, but I have to say the nap was really necessary. Once we’d recharged we felt pretty good and went out to dinner at a pub and did a bit of walking before turning in for the night. I think the nap fended off jet lag because the next day I felt pretty normal.