Day 157 – Distant vistas

I filled the car with diesel for the second time since March, chucked in the family and a camera and headed North East. I wanted to see snow on mountains. Not snow on the ground: I’m happy to leave that for the locals – who didn’t have the privilege of having it on their doorstep every winter – to queue for.

A quick trip over the Du Toitskloof Pass gave us some ok spots, but I have to admit that I was a little bit disappointed. I wanted a bit more snow, a bit more drama. And that seems a little greddy given some of the views:

We could have gone much further inland towards Ceres, but that wasn’t really the plan, so we headed back through the tunnel, towards Franschhoek and then over Helshoogte to Stellenbosch.

Yeah. OK. Not bad.

From there, down to Somerset West via the (absolutely terrible) Mooiberg Farm Stall and a hope of some easy pickings on the Helderberg. But no. Horrible grey clouds hanging just around the snow line. Very disappointing. Coffee and home then.

It was a nice trip around our little corner of the Western Cape. But – photographically, at least – the whole thing could have been a bit more lucrative.

Some pics here.

Day 12 – Still ‘togging

In case you had forgotten, I’m still sharing a photo each day of the lockdown.

You can see them here.

Today’s image is from an impromptu sesh yesterday afternoon, once the kids had finished their schoolwork and I had done the washing and cleaned the house.
I’m writing this post yesterday evening, and I’ve set it to publish a couple of hours later than usual today so that I can upload the image to Flickr tomorrow this morning so that you can see it when you’re reading this. (The Flickr one is different to the one below.)

We (the kids and I) played with some oil and water photography: a flat-bottomed dish suspended by some books (and a couple of cartons of UHT milk) above an iPad with some bright images on it. I reckon I got three half decent(ish) shots, post-editing, one of which I’ll pop into the album linked to above, and the other two I’ll at least stick onto Flickr if only to see how much better I get when (if) I try this sort of thing again.

All in all, it was a reasonable success: and another hour of lockdown boredom killed before some Minecraft (the boy wonder), a class Zoom call (the girl wonder) and some exercise in the drizzle for me.

As far as entertainment goes, it was completely immiscible.

Starlink photos?

Let’s cut to the chase. This didn’t happen. But it wasn’t for want of trying.

Here’s what I was up against.

First off, here is the visible sky from Chez 6000 last night. And those teeny tiny red dots right at the very bottom demonstrate the path of the Starlink train. They are very, very close to the horizon.

And it wasn’t even dark. Not even close. Here’s a 4 second exposure of that bit of the sky at that time:

The foreground is out of focus because it’s close to the camera and the satellites are a long way away. The likelihood is that those satellites are actually in this image, but sadly, they were far too dim and the sky far too bright to even dream of seeing them.

I did hang around outside and hope for something… anything. And sunset was pretty, if unremarkable (#noRBOSS).

But there were no satellites.

There are no viable Starlink passes predicted over Cape Town for the foreseeable future. I’ll obviously be revisiting this project at some point when they return.

Rage against the dying of the leaf

…with apologies to Dylan Thomas.

I was out in the garden yesterday, when suddenly, the light – already beautifully muted by the smoke from the fire in Paarl – caught this dying leaf on the Fatsia japonica. This photo needed to be taken, and once taken, needed to be placed into a square crop.

I did the biz:

Bit of a messy background – a smaller f-stop would have helped with that. That said, I was already on f/2.8. And I only had 30 seconds to run in, grab the camera and get the shot before the light was gone. First, get the shot, then make it pretty.

It’s still a constant learning curve, and so next time, some of that 30 seconds will be spent knocking the f-stop down to f/1.8. I’ll know what I need to do before I press the button.

But considering how brief the time was from finding this shot to it not being there anymore, I quite like this one.

Staining slides

It’s been a really long time since I’ve done any microbiology. I do miss it.
I had a weird, brief flashback to the lab today. And then, coincidentally, I chanced upon this photo:

Even now, I can tell you exactly what is going on here. You don’t stain TB for several (or more) years and just forget how to do it.

I’d be able to do so much more with this photo these days, though. This was 10½ years and four cameras (and a whole lot of experience) ago.

If anyone out there needs photos taken of some slides being stained (or any other biomedical technique), please just give me a shout. Nice guy, reasonable rates.