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Yesterday, I was all ready to pick up the lens today, when I noticed something.. now, I'm aware it's a heavy lens, at over 5kg, much of that toward the front. Still, handlable, if not really handholdable. Then, on its page on the rental company's site, I saw "Packed weight: 15kg". Erk. Add in the tripod and mount as well, and that'd be 20kg I'd be trying to heft around back onto the bus. Cue quick arranging of courier for delivery and collection. ^_^; Uncased, it'll be heavy, but it should be okay in the usual camera bag, albeit with about 9" poking out through the top. =:D

And here it is.. O.o; On the left, my usual go-to wildlife lens, the Nikkor 300mm f/4D - very sharp, relatively light at about 1.5kg, so it's easily handheld. Next, the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 - significantly heavier at about 3kg, but a stop brighter, plus stabilisation, making it ideal for weaker light. Then, the rental: the Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6. It's not quite as compact or as light, but with extraordinary reach, even without adding a teleconverter. (It does indeed "fit" in the usual camera bag, but given the others fit in just nicely, it means the top half is protruding through the top zip) Ye gods and little fishes, though, this will not be a nimble setup! With a lens of this size and weight, it's highly advisable to use a gimbal mount for easy movement of the lens, which adds bulk, and even getting the lens plus release plate onto the mount is necessarily a careful operation. But.. wow. Once it's set up, it's ridiculously fluid - just nudge the lens where you want to point, and it follows, effortlessly.



Does it work?


Yep. =:D

It is, undeniably, a cumbersome setup - tripod in its bag, the gimbal head in another, and the lens sticking out of the camera bag a little comedically. There's no subtle way of putting it all together, so it is basically a matter of getting everything together once in position, and then letting the wildlife return. True, with small sorts like buns, you'll still have to crop, even at 800mm, but - I think I can say it works. ^_^

Leading into the final days of the Studio Killers' Kickstarter, by Saturday, they were around £42k, of a £50k target, ending at 5pm on Monday - possible, but it'd take quite a bit of activity. Late on Sunday, the target was met, and by the time it wrapped up, the target had been left comfortably in the rear view mirror, with a final total of £55,176. Yay!

Here are some insights into how subtly, yet overtly, women are often either overlooked or outright ignored in conversations or meetings. "Solnit’s tipping point experience really did take the cake. She was talking to a man at a cocktail party when he asked her what she did. She replied that she wrote books, and she described her most recent one, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West. The man interrupted her soon after she said the word Muybridge and asked, “And have you heard about the very important Muybridge book that came out this year?” He then waxed on, based on his reading of a review of the book, not even the book itself, until finally a friend said, “That’s her book.” He ignored that friend (also a woman) and she had to say it more than three times before “he went ashen” and walked away."

Yay! Yosemite DP2 and iOS 8b2 appeared on Tuesday, fixing various minor bugs, including one which left the keyboard in Scrabble appearing weirdly offset at the top left of the display. Air Display doesn't seem to be wanting to play, though - a pity, as it's occasionally quite handy to turn the iPad into a second monitor for Hazel, spanning or mirroring. All in good time - the app's still being actively worked on, so I expect an update'll be forthcoming. And thankfully, LJ's playing nicely again with Safari - not that I've anything against Firefox, but too many browsers gets confusing to my simple mind.

Drink of the evening: a little caramel syrup (the kind typically used for espresso drinks), tiny bit of lime juice, a similarly tiny quantity of vanilla infusion (some cheap-ass spirit that's had some cut-up vanilla pod steeping for weeks - smells wonderful!), with the body provided by a very healthy shot or two of Chase vodka. (Quantities very approximate as I wasn't using a jigger, just pouring straight into a cute Precocious Rabbit Bar tumbler. ^_^ Which I hadn't reckoned on - but the friend who wound up sending my iPhone 5s along included a pair of them in the parcel. Yay! Such a great guy) So.. how about I call this a Precocious Rabbit? ^_^

On the new £1 design: I was quite surprised to realise the denomination is even a target for forgers, let alone quite so popular, with the Royal Mint claiming some 3% are fakes. As for the security measures incorporated, this StackExchange posting offers some likely options - probably luminescent particles embedded at differing heights of the metal.

Science can be wondrous to behold, in so many ways - and in the form of world-class telescopes, you get to behold some quite outstanding feats of engineering. Currently, the largest telescopes are the Gran Telescopio Canarias in the Canary Islands, and the Keck telescopes in Hawaii, effective apertures of 10.4m and 10m respectively. But, as we seek to peer ever further back into the Universe, we require larger mirrors. And so, construction has just begun on the new European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), atop Cerro Armazones, a 3,060m mountaintop in Chile's Atacama desert. Its effective aperture? 39.3m, composed of 798 segments - that's a tremendous increase in light gathering ability. "The E-ELT will search for extrasolar planets — planets orbiting other stars. This will include not only the discovery of planets down to Earth-like masses through indirect measurements of the wobbling motion of stars perturbed by the planets that orbit them, but also the direct imaging of larger planets and possibly even the characterisation of their atmospheres."
 
 
 
 
 
 
Does it work?

Yep. =:D

Indeed! I'll say! If that's the kind of picture you can take with that thing, then yes, it's worth it all: price, weight, and so on.

she had to say it more than three times before “he went ashen” and walked away."

Pretty embarassing for that guy, but I'd be wary of generalizing from a single anecdotal incident.

Drink of the evening:

Sounds quite lovely. :) Vanilla infusion, eh? I may have to try making some of that myself, maybe.
I'd previously been thinking, before heading out, that even if I had the money, I wouldn't go for one, simply because of the cumbersome nature of it all. Now, though.. well, not like it's going to be an issue any time soon, but definitely, this is far more what I'd been hoping for with the 120-300mm f/2.8 with 2x TC. So it goes - spend three times on a lens, and it's much better. =:) Only thing which caught me a bit by surprise is how the auto ISO seemed to get thrown off - shots taken at f/8 were noticeably brighter than at f/5.6. The gain went down with the wider aperture, as you'd expect, but it's as if no more light were actually passing through. Not that it's a big matter, of course - easy enough to tweak the exposure in Aperture - but I'm curious as to why that would happen. (I wound up keeping exposure compensation at +1.0, for most of the time)

Not really a single incident, though.

It's very easy - literally, just a vanilla pod cut into 1cm segments or so, and whatever alcohol added. ^_^ Works similarly for so many other things, of course - there's a vodka bar in the city that I need to try sometime, with rows of various wonderful sounding vodkas. Rose petal sounds particularly pleasant. I did a similar thing with cinnamon sticks, too, and again, really nice result. As you'd expect, they all grow steadily stronger (presumably toward some asymptote) with time, which is fine with me - can just use less, or dilute it.

I wonder if a little of that might work in the venison stew I'm pondering for next week.. I picked up some diced venison the other week, reduced to half price or so, and mostly, I think the sauce/marinade will be a bottle of cheap red wine - but for some additional flavor directions, I wonder if vanilla would play well too.. hmm. I might have to give it a shot. ^_^
The idea of interferometry fascinates me. I think it's most practical with radio wavelengths, rather than optical, but that could simply be down to the hassle of coordinating things like twinkling between two telescopes. But the idea that you can combine images from two separated telescopes to synthesise a much larger one seems almost too good to be true. I believe people have done experiments with antipodean telescopes (both pointing towards their horizon) and, IIRC, someone even used the motion of the earth around the sun to create a 2AU baseline.
Mmm, good point - I know that kind of synthesis is widely used in radio, as famously with the Very Large Array (as a sidenote, I was most disappointed, magnificent as E-ELT will be, that it came about at the expense of a far larger project, with an effective aperture of 100m - the Overwhelmingly Large Telescope, to be known as OWL. Surely it'd be worth the extra €500m just for that =:), but it doesn't seem as widely used at optical wavelengths. Probably very good reasons for it, but whether that's a matter of precision, or the outcome not being as useful, I've no idea. Maybe I'll try running it past the Bad Astronomer, and see if he can provide enlightenment. ^_^

€1b - not a trifle, but really, across some 400m people (European ESO members, not including Brazil), that's a surprisingly modest sum each for a truly world-leading set of instruments.
I love the names they come up with for these. How long until we have "Ridiculously Huge Massive Gigantic Telescope RHMGT"? :)
*grin* I've got to try digging up a comment I saw on the Grauniad, on just that theme..

Ah, here we go:

stevetyphoon: Wow...adjusting each individual mirror. What a feat of engineering. But what happens if they decide to build a bigger one, the name could be a little cumbersome.

Ozviking: The AFET (Absolutely Fuckin' Enormous Telescope), followed 10 years later by the NYJTTPT (Now You're Just Taking The Piss Telescope) perhaps?

See, this is why I'd never remain a billionaire for long. I couldn't help but make that happen. =:D


Edited at 2014-06-21 01:59 am (UTC)
Relatedly, you might find this paper on a "crowd sourced sky" interesting.
That's fascinating. We don't see counterfeit coins in the US (at least that I'm aware), probably because the $1 coins have never taken off.
It's always baffled me, the quarter-assed way the Fed tries to introduce the dollar coin from time to time, leaving the paper in circulation! That's no way to run a transition. =:D

Paper USD counterfeiting, of course, is big business. Might be rather interesting to see what effect the measures of the past decade or so on that front have had. Trouble is, I suppose, a lot of the fakes in circulation only need to be good enough to get passed on once, and then they're someone else's concern, with most people willing to accept them as genuine anyway, given there's not much to be gained in not doing so.

It surprised me, though, how apparently commonplace fake £1 coins are - but then, they necessarily can't have the same kind of microprinting as notes, and people generally aren't going to be examining their change all that carefully anyway, so much as perhaps checking the amount's correct
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It's a combination of timing and luck. ^_^ I do use bursts occasionally, particularly if there's something like a chase or some confrontation taking place; but other times, it can be a matter of feeling like something might be about to happen, like one bun craning forward to gingerly touch noses. Most of the time, of course, it's all quite amicable, but once in a while, there'll be some great dash or leap, and I might be able to catch it in time. And admittedly, there've also been a few times where I've simply been watching, taking a calculated shot, only to find something completely unpredictable happen right at that moment. ^_^

FWIW, between San Bruno and Tilden, if you're feeling inclined to get out and about with the camera, I'd go with San Bruno - there seemed to be a little more by way of avian wildlife there, and a few times, buns too, including ones which let me linger and photograph them. Never saw any buns in Tilden, though they are supposedly around. The views from the top of either are memorable, perhaps moreso with Tilden - get up to Nimitz Way (can drive there, but it's much more fun to walk down from the bus, then up), and you can look out over all of the peninsula, East Bay, San Francisco, Oakland, Marin.. turn around, and you've got all of the eastern Bay Area too, with a dramatically more pastoral tone to the landscape. Beautiful. ^_^

A dollar's change at this point. True, they're lighter than coins (but more expensive, given coins last far longer. Polymer-based notes seem pretty durable, though - Australia's been using them for a while (with some great furry designs, too, at least on the coins - love the echidna on the.. 5¢, I think?), and as you might expect, they remain in surprisingly new condition for a long while. Looks like the UK's heading in that direction, too. Polymers, that is, not furry currency, more's the pity. Evidently, I must install a fur as Governor of the Bank of England.
Canada had gone the polymer route, too. Their $5 and $10 have transparent portions!
I've been trying to find more information on the Precocious Rabbit Bar but found nothing - however I did grab a pair for myself off eBay.

My husband calls me 'The Bunny' when he introduces me to his friends and associates so it's become a bit of a theme in our relationship.
I had to get a dedicated backpack for my 600mm. The hard case it came in is utterly impractical for carrying it any significant distance, and it doesn't fit in any of the camera bags I already had.

And yes, gimbal heads are the bee's knees. After getting my Wimberley, I wouldn't use anything else for a big lens.
Hee! Definitely the case with this case - apparently the stock case is a soft nylon affair, which I might've been able to use, but the rental company, understandably, uses flight cases. Great for keeping them safe, but a little impractical out in the field. =:D I've wound up just using my normal bag - an awkward fit, certainly, but it's entirely up to the task. If it were mine, yes, I'd want something I could wear on my back.

The gimbal head has been a revelation. I've seen them on YouTube, but never played with one myself. Really, really nice - no loss of agility, even tracking rabbits, and as comfortable peering up at a helicopter as buns on the ground. I'm tempted to get a proper tripod and similar head, primarily for astrophotography. With a cheap tripod and integrated head.. egh. Lock it down, then hope it hasn't shifted position too much. $25 buys just about that much tripod. =:)


Edited at 2014-06-22 09:58 pm (UTC)