28 Sep 2015

Capturing the Super Blood Moon

It was quite a strange experience, standing on my front path in the early hours of a Monday morning, with my tripod and camera pointed towards the South-West, watching the earth's shadow gradually pass over the bright supermoon, waiting for the super blood moon! Although it's a nice area of London I still felt a little nervous. There was quite a lot of action - a couple of cats trotted by, a couple walking their two dogs, a few police cars, night buses every half hour, and a huge number of Prius Uber cabs, mostly on the main road, but a few creeping silently past me, as they sometimes do. I spent most of the time looking upwards, though, and moving my camera every few minutes to capture the moon as it moved quickly across the sky, getting smaller and smaller as it did. It reminded me of the rather unsuccessful attempt to capture the previous year's blood moon over Arches National Park in Utah. At least here I was within a few steps of my home.

By 3.10am the moon was completely eclipsed, although a bright edge was still seen around the bottom left area. It looked very ethereal, almost silver, until the redness became more pronounced. I had to move onto the pavement and eventually stand between a couple of cars in order to still see the moon as it moved further westwards. By 3.50am it glowed a very dim orangey-red, with most of the light now gone, and it was about to disappear behind the rooftops. I watched it for over two hours, from the very start of the eclipse to a point at which the light was about to return, but I began shivering and started to worry about how I was going to face a day at work with only 4 hours' sleep. I would loved to have watched the light return and watch the sky brighten, but I was just too cold and sleepy and had already managed to take about 300 shots. At 4.10am a jogger ran past and I decided it was definitely time to call it a night, since some people thought it was morning already.

A bit about how I took the shots - I used my Canon 70-200mm f/4L lens at 200mm with an old Jessops 2x converter on my old Canon 60D (wanted the extra length from the cropped-frame). Stuck it on a sturdy tripod with mirror lock-up and used a remote trigger. When the moon was fully bright I was able to expose at ISO 100, f/7.1 at 1/100th second speed (approximately - each shot was slightly different). By the time the moon was eclipsed I had to push up the ISO to 500, the f-stop down to f/4 and the shutter speed of around 0.8 seconds. At full eclipse the moon was very dim so the shutter speed was around a second, and needed quite a bit of increase in exposure in post-production. I didn't want to push the ISO much higher, as it gets pretty grainy on the 60D, but any slower than that and you start seeing movement in the moon (in fact you probably do at that speed).

To process I chopped a square around each moon (very laborious!) and added them to a new file and then placed them in order (which I then played around with). The moon actually moves in pretty much a straight line (or rather, we do).

20 Sep 2015


Meatopia: meat, drink, fire, music.

So hubby dragged me (happily) to another meaty food festival; this time to Meatopia. It was another gorgeous sunny day in the great setting of Tobacco Dock in Wapping. It was very different from Brisketfest, far bigger and far more vendors offering a huge array of different meats and cuts. We bought some tokens and met up with some friends who had arrived earlier and were already tucking in. Having to buy tokens for portions was a much more sensible idea than having 10 portions included, so we managed to keep the intake levels at a more comfortable level than at Brisketfest!

We wandered round and found our first dishes - some poussin cooked in a Thai-style sauce. It wasn't bad, but extremely messy to eat, as was pretty much everything.

After we scoffed it down (we were extremely hungry) we found some pulled pork which we shared. Large parts of cooked pigs sat on shelves and people buzzed around taking photos.

By this stage we were ready for a beer, so I headed off to one of the bars and hubby queued up for some duck wings from the Duck & Waffle stand. We headed back to the table to enjoy the food in the sun. The duck was actually the most disappointing dish we tried, with very little meat and just not that much flavour (especially disappointing since we'd had a truly delicious meal at the restaurant a couple of years earlier).

We then headed inside to try a few more dishes, including the most exquisite Hawksmoor beef and some lamb that had been brined in coffee for 12 hours.

Last but not least was Beau Myers, serving small burger buns crammed full of beef, melted cheese, some creamy sauce, and rather oddly, crushed spicy Monster Munches. It was very, very tasty, and I wished that I'd had two of those rather than the pork and duck!

(the Monster Munches!!) 

Apart from stuffing our faces, the rest of the day was spent wandering around a bit and sitting in the sunshine (I had to go inside after a while as it was too hot). There was lots going on apart from the stalls, with singers, DJs, a big band, a knife raffle, as well as various talks and demos.

We didn't manage to try all that many dishes, in the end, but went home feeling relatively normal and not as if we going to explode. Might try to be a bit more focused and planned on what to eat before going again.