Monday December 6, 2010

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – You’ve probably noticed that I’m a gear nut. Apart from the camera problem that’s pretty well documented on these pages, I have an issue with telescopes. I actually own telescopes with apertures (a measure of light gathering capacity) from 3.5 to 18 inches. I sorted out telescope gear in Connecticut last weekend – basically getting organized to use a smaller, quick-to-set-up, scope in the cold winter darkness here. I have two choices, a 4 inch Astrophysics Traveler and a 3.5 inch Questar Duplex.

The Questar is a charismatic object – it offers perfect optical performance in a design that is thoroughly rooted in the 1950s. Here’s a modern review of a Questar. In digging through my gear I found a Questar to 2″ adapter (the Questar stuff is sui generis), a 2″ to Nikon F adapter, and a Nikon to micro four-thirds adapter. By golly maybe I could put all of these together and mount my Panasonic GF1 on the Questar. Based on sad past experience any Nikon F mount body is way to heavy to balance properly on the Questar, but the GF1 is compact and light and has good image quality. I brought the Questar and all of the small bits an pieces to New York to see if I could take a picture through it.

The Questar is a 1300mm f14.6 optic. With the Panasonic camera that’s the equivalent of 2600 mm in 35mm terms! I fit the various small parts together and it seemed to work as planned. Shooting citiscapes out our dining room window was impossible – the air was too unsteady for photography through a telescope. I finally set up in one corner of our kitchen and shot a fitting on a water sprayer in the far diagonal of the kitchen. Here’s the result – the Panasonic GF1 through the Questar, six focus-bracketed images stacked with Helicon Focus software, and minor clean up of focus stacking artifacts in Photoshop.

Metal fitting photographed with a Questar telescope

Here’s a picture of the kitchen sink (taken Tuesday) – I’ve circled the fitting that’s the subject of the previous photo:

Woody and Maria's kitchen sink

And finally, the real reason for this post, a still life of the Questar with the Panasonic GF1 mounted on it, shot Tuesday with my Leica M9 and a 50mm Dual Range Summicron (a design contemporary of the Questar):

Questar Duplex Telescope

This has been a very active day, photographically, so this will be a long post. This evening we went to a benefit for the Center for Fiction at the Racquet and Tennis Club. The event honored Binky Urban. For more pictures from this event follow this link to my flickr page.

Anyway, I captured some available light images with my pocket Panasonic. Here’s a picture of Karl Marlantes and me. Karl is the Author of Matterhorn – the best Vietnam book ever and his first novel. He was awarded the Center for Fiction’s prize for best first novel. I preceded him in Vietnam by about a year – we were both Marines. Since I’m in the picture it obviously wasn’t taken by me. Rachel Cobb is our guest photographer for the day.

Karl Marlantes and Woody Campbell

Since Rachel took this where’s my picture for the day? Here’s a portrait of Rachel – in satisfaction of the one picture a day requirement:

Rachel Cobb

One more from this event – Karl with Susan Lyne:
Karl Marlantes and Susan Lyne

On this date one year ago: Sunrise in Connecticut after a storm. This was one of my most highly-praised images of 2009.

Sunrise Litchfield County