Saturday, August 26, 2017

Totality

Several months ago, Chris mentioned we should drive a few hours north to witness the 2017 eclipse in totality.  We were going to experience 99.1% here in our own yard, so I honestly didn't think we needed to travel to see more of an eclipse.  Fortunately, Chris continued to talk up the eclipse and threw in the idea of spending a couple days in Sun Valley before August 21st.  I finally agreed to the idea and he began planning the trip which included two nights of pampering in Sun Valley consisting of great food and fun for everyone and then one night roughing it at a campsite.

Chris found a property in Rigby, Idaho via AirBNB which was renting out camping spots especially for the eclipse.  The price wasn't too bad and the property included portable out houses.  The boys were excited about the prospect of camping, something we've never done with the kids before.  After our luxurious getaway in Sun Valley, we drove about 3 hours to the campsite.  The property owners were wonderfully organized.  They'd sold 53 sites and had them all marked out, numbered, and with our names posted.  The boys quickly made friends with other camping families and spent the evening collecting bugs and exploring the property.  We roasted marshmallows around a campfire and met some really wonderful and smart folks who were lovers of astronomy, much like our own family.  When quiet hours hit at 10:30 that night the camp was dead silent and we got as much rest as was possible sleeping crammed in a tent on air mattresses in fairly cold temps.

In the morning we had breakfast and began setting up my camera on a tripod and using the solar filter for our telescope I took a couple preliminary images of the sun before first contact.  We geared up with our special solar eclipse glasses and sternly warned the boys to only look at the eclipse while wearing their glasses.  The campsite was electrified with excitement as families set up their telescopes, solar scopes, etc. around us.  After first contact I took one photo and then decided my equipment wasn't quite specialized enough to capture great photos and really I just wanted to sit back and enjoy the event.  It was so much fun.  As second contact approached the excitement grew.  There was cheering as folks around us counted down to totality.  To see the eclipse in totality was something I will never forget.  It was awe inspiring and I got choked up just considering the greatness of God's creation.  To have created the sun and moon in such a way that their relative diameters and distances between the earth and themselves is so amazing.  The geometry for a total eclipse is so precise one cannot just believe it's just chance. Ben was particularly impressed expressing his awe and wonder, "4 days for 2 minutes was totally worth it."

At the end a three hour drive home took more than eight painful hours but I will be forever grateful for a husband who appreciates the wonders of the universe and encouraged us all to partake in such a unique event.  It was an experience we were able to share with our three youngest children and I hope a cherished memory for them, as it is now for me.




Our humble 6 man tent






excited boys




Eye protection: check



Eclipse thumbs up





Even the teenager thought it was pretty awesome




At totality we experienced a 360 degree sunset






My sole eclipse photo which ended up not being too shabby.  I'm still glad I resisted the urge to photograph the entire event and just enjoyed it live.
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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Photography Before and After




I've been on the hunt for a new photo editor.  For years we have avoided purchasing Adobe products because of their corporate support of Planned Parenthood.  Until now I'd been using Aperture (which Apple is phasing out) and the photo editing included in Apple's Photo App. After trying out a few trial software programs and doing a little research I settled on Aurora HDR 2017.  It's fairly simple to use and I've loved the results.  

A few of the best aspects of Aurora:
It comes with several dozen preset filters that make editing a breeze.
The fine tune controls are easy to use and intuitive.
Importing and exporting photos is very simple.
Compared to many other editing programs Aurora is fairly inexpensive.


A couple of noteworthy drawbacks regarding Aurora:  
It is an HDR photo editor and may not be the best for editing some photos such as portraits.
It cannot make a bad photo good, but it can make a good photo great.
I haven't quite figured out the blemish brush or crop features.
It does not have an archiving system and so you will need to use other applications or software to archive your photos.


The following are just a few examples of photos I edited today using Aurora.  I spent just a tad over 2 hours editing 20 photos.


Before


After






Before


After







Before


After






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After






Before


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