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There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.
Ansel Adams

Combining my two favorite passions of Astronomy and Photography always makes me happy. Seeing the theme of “Trees” I knew right away what I wanted to do, I was going to use my telescope to shoot the Moon setting behind trees on a mountain ridge.

Easier said than done…

Having to wait for the right conditions (my work schedule vs Moonset times) I had scouted out a location on a road that dead ended at the base of the Oquirrh Mountains on the west side of the Salt Lake valley. This would place me about 1 1/2 miles from the mountain ridge, well within range of my Meade ETX-90EC Maksutov Cassegrain telescope.

The Moon was a waning Gibbous and would set about an hour after I got home from work giving me plenty of time to drive and set up. As soon as I walked outside I should have known not to go as it was windy with gusts up to 25mph, but I had to submit my image as I was already late by a few days. I removed the battery grip on the D7000 to lighten the load the telescope mount would have to handle and added the counter weights to the front, I left the tripod at its lowest setting to improve stability and tried to block the wind the best I could with my car, I attached the camera to the telescope using a T-thread adapter and started making test images purposefully underexposing  in order to keep my shutter speed as high as I could to counter camera/scope shake.  As I looked through the viewfinder I could see that the atmosphere was absolutely boiling and would make capturing details in the lunar surface nearly impossible. Again I should have aborted the shoot, I had the wind and “seeing” against me. I was using my wireless remote to trigger the camera again to minimize camera shake however one thing I forgot to remember was that when using the wireless remote you can’t use the “Mirror Lock Up” function, it needs a wired shutter release cable to work. Strike Three!

It’s surprising how fast the Moon sets and I was snapping shots as fast as I could hoping against all hope that I could get a decent shot, the Moon was setting behind a near perfect scene of a large weathered tree with a small line of trees just a little to the left of it. Watching through the viewfinder was mesmerizing and I was stoked thinking of how cool getting just one clear shot would be to post in the flickr forum. Looking back I realize that with the wind, the turbulent atmosphere, and no Mirror Lock Up I really should have just shot video and pulled out and stacked the best frames to make a final image.

Instead I got this…


Behold a fuzzy image of a sharp concept.

With all due respect to the great Ansel Adams I think I’d rather have a boring picture that’s sharp than this mess…

I plan on re-shooting this, using lessons learned from this experience, as soon as I get it I’ll share it with you.

Thanks for stopping by and I apologize for the crap image, but it’s good to be reminded that not every shot we make is a winner, but it’s a step to getting better.

Happy Shooting!