Tuesday, February 17, 2015

DSLR Astrophotograph: Orion

After watching a few episodes of "The Universe" on Netflix a few days ago, I decided to lug my telescope downstairs and take a look at the night sky, something I have neglected for some time.  I realized that I missed the quiet, cold nights...my eye "wandering" among the familiar constellations and planets.

I had a quick look at Jupiter and realized that the "seeing" conditions weren't all that great.  I swung the scope around to the constellation Orion and took a look at a few of the stars, as well as the Orion Nebula under the left side of Orion's Belt.  I could make out the four stars of the "Trapezium" within the blurry, gas cloud that makes up the nebula. 

I called it a night and before I went inside, I took another look at Orion.  It is such a large and easily recognizable constellation...it literally dominates the winter sky!  I decided that the next night, I would dust off my Astrophotography skills and grab a decent shot of Orion.

Tonight, I went outside a bit after 8 PM and spent about 15 minutes capturing the necessary "Light Frames", "Dark Frames" etc., (Technical mumbo jumbo...it is not hard to do) that would combine to produce the finished photo of Orion.  After some "stacking" and processing, the photo below was the result.  You can even see the reddish star "Betelgeuse" (pronounced Beetle Juice) at the top left shoulder of Orion!  

 Constellation Orion:  Canon XS, 17-135mm, F5.6, eight 5 sec exposures stacked

 Next time you are outside on a clear night, Take a look up and to the south/southwest and see if you can spot the mighty Orion!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

One Hit Wonder #4: Love Is Blue


Most of the time, when we talk about "One Hit Wonders", we are talking about Singers, or Bands...that performed one big hit song and then faded into obscurity.  In this case, I will be highlighting a "One Hit Wonder" in the form of a single song.

The man that arranged the instrumental cover of this song was a very successful Orchestra Leader by the name of Paul Mauriat.  The original song, "L'amour est bleu", (Love Is Blue) was written and composed by Andre Popp and Lyricist Pierre Cour in 1967.  

Paul Mauriat toured with his Orchestra and specialized in the "Easy Listening" genre of music.  He is perhaps best known in the United States for his Orchestra's performance of this one song.  In 1967-1968 this song spent 5 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.  It is the only time a French artist has ever topped the Billboard 100!

This instrumental simply stirs something in me that I cant put my finger on.  Something sentimental...romantic perhaps?  The simple but pronounced snare drum presence, the harpsichord riff, the almost "Chicago'ish", staccato feel of the brass punctuating the chorus...and of course the SOARING, SOARINGGGG  violins/violas...they all blend together in an unlikely combination that just hits the sweet spot for me!

I decided on a simple, Mono version of the song, played off an old "45", just like I would have heard it for the first time.  Gotta love YouTube!

Have a listen!

Love Is Blue