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Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Toad Blog

My blogs about anything related to photography, and equipment, with a focus on non-technical enjoyment of photography. I like to publish these for the pure pleasure it brings. My equipment, and techniques shared here with a mix of landscape, macro, birds, flowers and all articles written by the person who uses the equipment - TrueToad.

The Toad Blog

Preparing for Solar Eclispe 19 August 2017

Preparing for Solar Eclispe

Prep Day

Today I prepared and did a dry run using my DSLR and White-light filter setup.  Although the results are not spectacular, this set up will be perfect for the Solar Eclipse.
Daystar Calcium H-Line Quark Review 16 July 2017

Daystar Calcium H-Line Quark Review

Calcium H Line

Daystar has been busy working on new improved products to release to the public who have an interest in Solar imaging and visual observing. About a year following the release of Daystar's HA Quark is the Calcium H-Line Quark, which shares a few design attributes of their other quarks. Lets find out how it performs and is it worth the money..

Convert Your Camera Quark 10 July 2017

Convert Your Camera Quark

Regular Quark

If you are in the market for a Daystar Quark and having difficulty in choosing between a Camera Quark or regular Eyepiece Quark, this article is for you.

Solar Back Focus Set Up 6 July 2017

Solar Back Focus Set Up

Get more In Focus

This is my setup and how I achieved back focus on my Solar imaging and visual system.

Solar Continuum 1 July 2017

Solar Continuum

July Herschel Wedge

The morning started rough and it got worse from there, I managed a couple white light continuum images before suffering heat stroke.  Here is what I captured.

Solar Grab and Go 28 June 2017

Solar Grab and Go

Getting some Sun for Summer

Summer makes me happy with the extended daylight, warmth and opportunity to explore the universe with my Telescopes. This year I put together an awesome setup that is near perfect to suit my 3 goals and objectives. 

Stellarvue SV80 Access Review 16 June 2017

Stellarvue SV80 Access Review

Super ED APO

Stellarvue SV80 Access Telescope.  This new Stellarvue SV80 Access mm telescope will be a nice addition to my solar setup as well as my night time Astronomy for low to medium power viewing.  If you read my earlier post you know I do Solar viewing in HA and white light. hydrogen Alpha has very specific requirements that provide spectacular solar views, while the White light is more forgiving but still offers hours of enjoyment.  Earlier this year I sold off my older Meade 80mm to upgrade to a finer, higher quality instrument. 

DayStar Camera Quark Review 8 June 2017

DayStar Camera Quark Review

Solar HA Solution?

I have been into Solar viewing and imaging for a few years. I find it more enjoyable than the night time Astronomy because the sun is ever changing and day to day has new features appearing. In general, Solar viewing and imaging is a better fit for my lifestyle. In this article I will cover down on the DayStar Camera Quark, I have the Prominence version. So let us take a look under the hood.

Lunt Solar Wedge Review 16 April 2017

Lunt Solar Wedge Review

White Light Solar

Today I would like to introduce you to the Lunt White Light Solar Wedge.  I have been a solar observer off and on for a number of years, one of the first accessories I purchased for my refractor was a solar film attachment.  This allowed me to use my telescope to safely view the sun.  I was hooked!

Hutech Hinode Solar Guider Review 12 April 2017

Hutech Hinode Solar Guider Review

Hutech Solar Autoguider

Keeps your Solar Telescope on track without need for your input. Great product for solar guiding with no fuss and no need for a computer + other wonderful options. Thanks Hutech!! Get yours from OPT

 

Lunt LS80THa Solar Telescope Review 2 April 2017

Lunt LS80THa Solar Telescope Review

Solar Views with DSII

Have you ever wanted to take pictures of the sun? or just do some visuals observations when the opportunity allows.  This is my experience with the LS80THa solar telescope.
SkySafari and Losmandy Gemini 2 19 October 2016

SkySafari and Losmandy Gemini 2

Interface and Setup

I would like to share my setup I use for my Gemini 2 for interfacing the awesome SkySafari application with the Gemini 2 for wireless control of my Losmandy G11.
Baader Calcium K-Line Filter vs Continuum 12 September 2016

Baader Calcium K-Line Filter vs Continuum

Review and Comparisions

After 4 months of waiting on the back-order of the Calcium K-Line Filter to ship it finally made it into my hands this past August. This filter is currently only offered in the  1.25 size. For me this for some challenges when using it with my camera and telescope set up. In the coming months, I plan on doing some additional imaging with the Calcium K, hopefully with more sun activity.

Lunt vs Badder Solar Wedge Which Has Better Image Quality 18 May 2016

Lunt vs Badder Solar Wedge Which Has Better Image Quality

War of the Wedges

I now have the opportunity to do a head to head comparison of two fantastic Solar Wedges, the Lunt White Light Solar Wedge and the Badder Herschel Wedge. Both are professional grade instruments but with a different design philosophy - Is one is photographically better?  
Astronomy The Problems 20 March 2016

Astronomy The Problems

What We Face

We enjoy our time with the Telescope, for some it is a private time, for others we like to share our time spent behind the instruments that bring us pleasure. Nothing is more rewarding.

Losmandy G11 Upgrade Project 21 September 2015

Losmandy G11 Upgrade Project

Extending the G11

I acquired my Losmandy G-11 Mount and Gemini Go To system over 7 years ago. During the years, I have been very satisfied with the overall performance of this fine mount.  When I made the purchase technology was just beginning to accommodate computer control and offer interfaces and now later with technology ever changing I wanted to consider a path forward that will facilitate continued use and enjoyment for the next several years; either another mount or upgrade my current G11. This Losmandy G11 with Gemini has been a reliable solution, now comes the time for decisions.
Solar Imaging Sept 19 2015 20 September 2015

Solar Imaging Sept 19 2015

Lunt Badder & Calcium K

This morning started out kind of iffy, meaning the cloud coverage was thin and wispy but the weather called for mostly sunny skys.  So, I ask myself, do I feel lucky? well do I?   

Solar H-Alpha for June 22 Large Solar Flare Images 22 June 2015

Solar H-Alpha for June 22 Large Solar Flare Images

New Equipment

Almost a month to the day since my last Solar Imaging run, and I can tell you today was HOT and humid, 90 degrees with 85% humidity.

Lunt vs Badder which is the better Made Solar Wedge 20 June 2015

Lunt vs Badder which is the better Made Solar Wedge

Physical Comparision

Whether you are buying your first solar wedge or white filter or adding accessories to your setup, everyone wants the same thing - great quality, functionality, versatile, ease of use and a great price.  Here today we look at two different solar wedges with a different approach for basically doing the same job - getting great solar images. 

Solar H-Alpha May 23 23 May 2015

Solar H-Alpha May 23

Solar Activity

Early start this morning, waking to a big blue sky with minimal clouds. Weather was pleasant and not too humid or hot. Nice May weather. 

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Sigma 180 Macro Lens Review

Sigma 180 Macro Lens Review Read more

This week I bring to you a full two years of the Sigma 180mm Macro lens. Is it a solid lens and worth the price? Does it deliver as a medium telephoto? Can you use this lens as your go to portraiture lens. Over the course of two years now, I will give you my opinion and a few Macro shots.

Savage Product Pro Led Light Table Review

Savage Product Pro Led Light Table Review Read more

Do you need a small led light table for your ads for selling of your products or used gear, if so read on about the Savage Product Pro Led Light Table.  A somewhat straightforward approach for obtaining pleasing images of the smaller type products you wish to sell or place in ads.  In operation, it is simple to use and the results are good.  Read the full review here....

Black & Yellow Garden Spider

Black & Yellow Garden Spider Read more

Over the last few years I became interested in the Orb Spiders, in particular the Black and Yellow Garden Spider as the common name or the Argiope aurantia, scientific name. Ultimately my fascination for spiders and insects in general always cause me to stop and take a closer look when I run across them out in the wild. As a photographer I enjoy taking a few photos at any opportunity, here in this write up I share my observations and images of the Black and Yellow Garden Spider.

Macro Photography Best Lens

Macro Photography Best Lens Read more

I spent a few hours outdoors enjoying my macro photography and I hope you enjoy and find inspiration in the images I captured. What do I use for my Macro setup and why?  read on...

Nikon D85O Real World Review

Nikon D85O Real World Review Read more

My Intel back in 2016 was close to what Nikon announced in the next release of the 800 series, the D850.   This camera is CLOSE to a game changer and now that I have mine let me give you my initial input.

Thank You Nikon!

Thank You Nikon! Read more

Thank you Nikon for being a wonderful company. In particular as my camera company of choice, I could not think of photography without Nikon as being part of it.

Wood Duck Photography

Wood Duck Photography Read more

I was not all that lucky in previous years of getting any real useable photos of Wood Ducks in the location I lived, due to the scarcity and short time frame they seem to stay in this area during the late spring season.  I find the Wood Duck a stunningly beautiful waterfowl. The males in particular with iridescent browns, blacks, white green, ornate patterns on nearly every feathe, this is one pretty bird.   Females very attractive but have a less colorful pattern but the same distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. I find Wood Ducks in the wooded marsh ares that have hardwood forest adjacent to the water.  With some research I discovered they nest in holes in trees or use man made nest boxes. Little did I know they are one of the few duck species with claws that can grip bark and perch on branches- see my photos of a group perching.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing Read more

Each year I am blessed by the migration of the Cedar Waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum through my area of the country. Their visits are timed almost perfectly with the arrival of the fruiting trees and bushes.  These delightful birds will stay in the area for several months basically as long as the fruit holds out. See my gallery and read more on these birds.

Flower Photography

Flower Photography Read more

I have a couple photographic weakness, Birds and Flowers.  Whenever I am out doing some photography shooting regardless what my intentions are, if i run across a great looking flower I stop and take a photo or try to incorporate the flower into my scene. The great thing about flower photography is you really dont need any specialized equipment.  I have even taken flower photos with a fish eye lens. I you want to discover more about flower photography read on...

Rainy Day Photography

Rainy Day Photography Read more

I admit I like being out during rainy days  Why?  It is refreshing and stimulating to walk a wooded trail hearing and feeling the rain,  and besides that, It offers many opportunities for photographers - if we come prepared.

Lower Cost Wildlife Kit

Lower Cost Wildlife Kit Read more

You probably noticed most of my blogs cover the upper end of the Photo Spectrum. I owe it to many my recommendation for getting a 90% solution for fantastic wildlife photography.

Stellarvue SVR102T Review

Stellarvue SVR102T Review Read more

I have been around the Astronomy community for some time with many telescope adventures under my belt. One of the scopes that I was looking to acquire is a nice 4" refactor, not just any refactor but a premium performer, capable of doing what I wanted to do visually and imaging wise, my choice was.....

Rest in Peace Easter

Rest in Peace Easter Read more

Our family feline of 13 years passed away early this morning, bringing to closure Easter's wonderful life with our family. At his passing he was believed to be 20 years + of age. Everyone in his family will miss his presence and are saddened by the loss of  our cat Easter. He is survived by Teeny his fellow feline house companion, and three caretakers who provided and received his love over the years. 

Nikon WT-7

Nikon WT-7 Read more

This is a write up from Don C who added an extensive "comment" to my WT-7 post/review. I though it was worthy of an individual post.

The remainder of this post is Don's comments: I decided to breakdown and purchase the WT-7a,..being that 1) I own a D500, and 2) I love to shoot untethered. Note, my forte' in the photography world is "Event Photography. That is, capture and print "onsite". It's 90% of my business model and every since the days of the mighty D2X and WT-2a, I've always admired the ability of "capturing and image and it instantly popping up on a display monitor" for customers to see, and of course, buy prints! Well, time has changed since those 'good old days' to newer 'good old days' of the D500 and WT-7a!

Woodland Photography

Woodland Photography Read more

I truly enjoy the outdoors especially during spring months, plants and animals begin to flourish and the forest comes alive with colors, sound with a calm atmosphere.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron Read more

I am lucky to live in an area that the Great Blue Heron is found in most of the year. Here in North Va, you can expect to see the Great Blue Heron in numbers starting in Mid April through Late September. I really enjoy watching and photographing these birds. They are large and somewhat predictable and with some good planning you can acquire a few good photos on most occasions..

Photo Storage +

Photo Storage + Read more

So, you are an avid photographer with thousands of images in your collection.  Maybe you have been relying on an USB 3 external drive to as your file backup along with your lightroom database;  one copy on your work computer and a backup on the external - does this sound familiar?  While that approach is a viable one, you just might be at risk of serious data loss.  Here is my story on the near loss of many years of work, and why I decided to go pro, and invest in a serious NAS.

DX or FX Camera Bodies

DX or FX Camera Bodies Read more

This is about using a DX camera body or FX body with teleconvertor. Which combination is better?  I am sent this question many times - it depends...  

Wimberly CK-100 Sidemount

Wimberly CK-100 Sidemount Read more

This is my review of the Wimberley CK-100 Sidemount Conversion Kit.  I have owned the Wimberley WH-200 Gimbal Tripod Head II with Quick Release Base for a couple years without any issues.  But, I was looking for a more compact setup to use.  I ran across the sidemount kit from Kimberley and decided to give it a try.

Coming of Spring

Coming of Spring Read more

This wonderful Male Cardinal sits on a perch as sleet comes raining down, and is undaunted by the ice crystals that are falling on his face and feathers. The Cardinal is a native species of North America and suited for the elements, he appears well protected from these elements.  

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Get Wired

Clever Machines Learn How to Be Curious (And Play Super Mario Bros.)

  • 23 September 2017
  • Author: TrueToad
  • Number of views: 0
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Clever Machines Learn How to Be Curious (And Play Super Mario Bros.)
Computer scientists are finding ways to code curiosity into intelligent machines.

Hackers Break Into the SEC, DHS Tells 21 States Russian Hackers Targeted Them, and More Security News This Week

  • 23 September 2017
  • Author: TrueToad
  • Number of views: 0
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Hackers Break Into the SEC, DHS Tells 21 States Russian Hackers Targeted Them, and More Security News This Week
An SEC hack, a Russian dark web takedown, and more security news this week.

What's So Great About Kids Fighting Monsters?

  • 23 September 2017
  • Author: TrueToad
  • Number of views: 0
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What's So Great About Kids Fighting Monsters?
Stories like the one in 'It' are pretty common in horror, but audiences never tire of them.

Space Photos of the Week: Spiral Galaxy's Secretly a Giant Gasbag

  • 23 September 2017
  • Author: TrueToad
  • Number of views: 0
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Space Photos of the Week: Spiral Galaxy's Secretly a Giant Gasbag
Cassini takes one last look at Saturn's moon, Jupiter's swirling clouds, and a star in a great big bubble this week in space.

London Wants to Kick Uber Out of the City

  • 23 September 2017
  • Author: TrueToad
  • Number of views: 0
  • 0 Comments
The ride-hailing company's offensive? Waging a popularity contest.
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