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Posts Made By: Fred Lusk

April 23, 2007 11:59 PM Forum: Landscape Photography

Yosemite - Hike to Vernal Fall

Posted By Fred Lusk

Because of the 45% snow pack, Yosemite Valley's waterfalls will probably peak in May this year instead of June. Get there while you can. Last year we were in the 150%+ range for snow pack.

To get a jump on it all, I took my 20-yr-old son to Yosemite on the 7th to hike to the top of Vernal Fall. He's been just past the bridge below the fall, but no further. I have done this hike or beyond maybe ten times. It never gets old. The day we went was the first day the Mist Trail was open (if you've ever hiked it in the Spring or early Summer, you know why it's called that). Since neither one of us has hiked since last fall, we decided to use the John Muir trail instead.

There are three advantages to the John Muir trail:
- because it's longer, it's not as steep, and my knees are as old as I am
- because it doesn't come near the falls, it's not wet
- it leads to Clark Point, which is a fantastic viewpoint above Vernal Fall

Here are a series of photos from our hike, paired up to reduce the number of messages. The first two are Vernal Fall from Clark Point. Vernal is 317 feet tall.


June 10, 2007 10:55 PM Forum: Landscape Photography

Climbers on El Capitan, Yosemite NP

Posted By Fred Lusk

Well, guys and gals, my wife and I made it to Yosemite yesterday and I set up the CPC800 below El Capitan to look at and photograph climbers. With my 10x50 binos, we spotted at least 12 climbers along the nose between half way up and the top. Not being a climber myself, I don't know the climber's name for the route. El Cap is a massive monolith (the largest in the world) on the north face of Yosemite Valley. It rises about 3,600 feet above the Merced River. The steep part of the nose is about 2,800 feet high. Last year we saw eight teams of climbers attacking different routes up the rock. Yesterday we also saw five climbers on a shorter wall on the south wall opposite El Cap.

The attached image shows El Cap rising above my scope. We're about 2000 feet south of the base of El Cap. The map gives you another perspective.


June 10, 2007 11:28 PM Forum: Landscape Photography

There's more to Yosemite than climbers

Posted By Fred Lusk

I had hoped to set up the scope at a couple of other locations (Tunnel View and either Washburn Point or Glacier Point) to do some more terrestrial photography. However, we had so much fun at El Cap, that we skipped Tunnel View and only did regular tourist photography at Glacier Point (and bought ice creams). Next trip.

I can't count the number of frames I have shot at Glacier Point over the years--it's been many hundreds. It never gets old. This was my first trip to Glacier Point since obtaining an 11-22 mm zoom and a 40-150 mm zoom for my Olympus E-1. The angles of view are equivalent to 22-44 mm and 80-300 mm in the 35 mm format.

This shot is looking almost due east from Glacier Point. We only had a 50% snow pack this year and it shows.


August 16, 2007 06:29 PM Forum: Solar System Observing


Posted By Fred Lusk

I know Pluto doesn't exist anymore smile , but I saw it for the first time this weekend. This completes my "local" planet quest. Actually, I have now observed 113% of our solar system's known planets.

In February I bought a Celestron CPC-800 as an upgrade from my C5+. Unfortunately, most of my observing time this year has been limited to my backyard in Fresno or at Hensley Lake in Madera County. Not exactly prime locations.

Our club (Central Valley Astronomers) has a high elevation (8200 feet) observing site at Courtright Reservoir east of Fresno in the Sierra Nevada mountains. This past weekend was my second trip this summer. Last month I devoted to bright objects to compare with the C5+. This time I added Pluto and some fainter stuff to the list.

I plotted finder charts from Cartes du Ceil for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. About 10 pm on Friday, I picked Pluto on the hand controller and ended up with a scene that exactly matched the finder chart: a bunch of 8th to 11th mag stars with a 13th mag dot in the middle. The next night, the 13th mag dot moved just as the finder chart showed. I didn't try Sunday night because I was going to photograph the Perseids using my C5+/SkyView Pro as a tracking platform. Since my CPC-800 is still wedge-less, I had my son take it home (he had to work the next day).

The meteors were so-so at our location, but finding Pluto was a hoot. One of my club-mates also found Pluto, but his alignment was off so we had to search a little from the spot his scoped slewed to.


August 28, 2007 09:45 PM Forum: Solar System Observing

Lunar Eclipse from Fresno

Posted By Fred Lusk

Greetings all…

Against my better judgment, I decided to capture this morning's eclipse. Since totality was from 2:52 a.m. to 4:23 a.m., I set up the scope in the backyard last night. I grabbed a couple hours of sleep, got up for the big event, then went back to back to bed for three hours when it was over. I was dragging today, but it was worth it. Three people from my office, who otherwise have no interest in astronomy, also got up to see some of the eclipse. As a reward, I emailed them a couple of my images.

All shots with taken with this set-up: Celestron CPC-800 + f/6.3 focal reducer + Olympus E-1 DSLR controlled from my computer. These are the best of 80+ frames.


November 4, 2007 01:16 AM Forum: Comets

Comet Holmes - First Impressions

Posted By Fred Lusk

For the first time since Comet Holmes brightened, my schedule and the weather synchronized. From Fresno, CA, with our normal light pollution exaggerated by high humidity (the outlying areas will have fog tomorrow), I was able to spot the comet unaided without my glasses. In my 15x70s, the comet was incredibly large and bright. A quick scan of M31 for comparison proved no comparison. M31 was wimpy smile

Then, about 11:00 p.m., my wife and I set up her Orion 10" dob. We used a 40 mm TMB Paragon and 25 mm and 10 mm Plossls. WOW at all magnifications. A bright nucleus surrounded by a nearly circular disk of grey. One side seemed to have a sharper edge than the other. With the 10 mm we could easily see several stars poking through the grey disk. My wife siad it looked like the top of an old fashioned light bulb.

We also spent a few minutes looking at M45 in the 40 mm eyepiece and Mars with the 10 mm, but the comet was the real show stopper. If I have time tomorrow, I will try my luck with my scope and camera.


February 10, 2008 12:38 AM Forum: Wildlife Photography

Not so wild wildlife (at the zoo)

Posted By Fred Lusk


I just purchased a 50-200 mm f/2.8-3.5 zoom for my Olympus E-1 (equivalent FOV to a 100-400 mm lens in the 35 mm world). For grins I took it to the Chaffee Zoological Gardens in Fresno today to try it out on the critters. Here is a selection of images, starting with one of the elephants.


P.S. Christine--my wife and I are taking a trip to Chicago in April (she has a conference). I am hoping to take a side trip to Mattheissen State Park to look for those waterfalls you posted a few months ago.

March 9, 2008 05:02 PM Forum: Landscape Photography

Sunset last night before star party

Posted By Fred Lusk

Greetings, all…

While we were waiting for darkness at our Hensley Lake observing site last night we were treated to a very nice sunset. Here is one of my best shots. Olympus E-1 + 50-200 mm @ 130 mm, ISO 400, 1/1000 s, and f/8.

By about 7:00 p.m., the breeze and clouds were gone and the skies were steady and clear. The evening started at about 65°F and dropped only to about 55°F by 11:00 pm, when I left. I saw the Rosette for the first time with my Celestron CPC-800. I had tried before, but this time I remembered the OIII filter.


March 23, 2008 08:50 PM Forum: Insects - Flowers and Other Small Stuff - Photos

My daughter's wedding, but not the wedding :-)

Posted By Fred Lusk

Greetings from Central CA…

My younger daughter got married on the 15th in a garden wedding. She married a great guy and it was a fun weekend. Except for a stiff breeze during part of the reception we dodged the bad weather bullet. BTW, it was the 2052nd anniversary of Julius Caesar's assassination (not counting for changes to the calendar), but that wasn't why they selected the date smile

During the setup on Friday and while my two daughters got their hair and makeup done on Saturday morning, I had some time to take some "fun" photos totally unrelated to the wedding. Here is a shot of a tailight on one of the bridesmaid's Toyota.

March 23, 2008 09:10 PM Forum: Landscape Photography

Yosemite (again)

Posted By Fred Lusk

Greetings from Central CA…

I took the long way home after a business meeting this week and lo and behold I ended up in Yosemite for a couple of hours. I'm still not sure how that happened. smile

For this trip, I decided to shoot only with my new 50-200 zoom on my Olympus E-1. In terms of a 35 mm frame, the field of view is equivalent to a 100-400 mm lens. Some of my shots are the common stuff you see, and others are a bit different.

This first series is about granite, starting with a faily standard shot of Half Dome from Curry Village using the short end of the zoom.