OK, shutters rather than blinds, but shutter as a bat doesn’t make sense, does it?
For the first time this year, the temperature yesterday (and again today and tomorrow, apparently) reached levels where we were not comfortable just leaving the dogs in a closed house when we went out. We generally put Tania’s dogs into the master bedroom and leave ours with the rest of the house, but the master bedroom was very hot. Two measures were decided on; window ajar and pedestal fan on to keep air circulating, and shutters closed to stop the sun shining directly in. It worked extremely well, with light provided by LED bulbs that don’t generate heat. The room was comfortable for us, so we thought it would be for them too. Just as we were about to leave the room, Clare saw something on the inside of the shutter. In the low available light it looked disarmingly like a wasps’ nest – until it moved. It soon became apparent that a bat has been roosting between the inner fold of the shutter and the wall, clinging to the louvre. With my wildlife concern hat on I, of course, immediately ran for a camera. By the time I got back, the bat had released itself from the louvre and flown off into the sun. Because the shutter was closed, we had no chance to see where it went, but I am fairly sure it made its way to the adjacent barn, where we believe there to be a small group of bats roosting.
We were promised a highly visible pass of the International Space Station during the week. At 9:50pm, it was due to pass over us at a maximum elevation of 81° and a magnitude of -3.4. Those are the sort of figures that prompt comments like that’ll do me.
The early evening was changeable with quite a lot of cloud, which would have thwarted our attempts to picture the thing, but gave spectacular pre-sunset images.
When the time came, however, the sky was clear. I had studied the projected path and decided where to set up one camera with a standard lens, looking for a star-trail type image over an exposure of 20-30 seconds. My plan was to use the newer camera with the 150-500mm lens to try to improve on the last shot I did here
I didn’t need cloud to thwart my ambitions. I think I had mistakenly taken a stupid pill that morning. We were watching what I thought to be the right piece of sky at the right time, but saw nothing. As I was starting to set the other camera up for the long shot, I looked around and saw the space station high in the sky behind us. Using nothing more scientific than guesswork, as the viewfinder was pointing at the ground, I quickly realigned the camera on its tripod, and asked Clare to hit the remote shutter release to start a 30 second exposure. My guessed location for the camera? Close, but no cigar!
At the same time, I started trying to frame the Space Station in the viewfinder and immediately recognised my first error. The SLT-A33 does not have an optical viewfinder, it has a digital viewfinder which, in very low light, is not the world’s most responsive. It tends to jump about a bit and my attempts to follow the station produced a very jerky image in the viewfinder. Undeterred, I fired off a shot when I felt that it was in a good position in my viewfinder. That was when error number two presented itself. I hadn’t completed the setting up, and the camera decided that it needed an exposire of 3.2 seconds. That is rather a long time for anyone to hand-hold a lens of 750mm effective focal length pointed up at an angle of better than 80°. Another trail shot of sorts resulted, albeit implying a less consistent and controlled orbit.
We are due another good pass at 9:30pm on 29th August – an altitude of 77° and a magnitude of -3.4. Given clear skies, we shall try, try again.
I mentioned last week that part of the house was trying to submit to gravity in an unplanned way. With grateful thanks to Rob Mills, here is what is to us, a very happy before and after pair of images.