Sunday 14 April 2024

Capturing the Solar Eclipse

A friend of mine (with family in the Miramichi) and I elected to head there for the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, in the hope of capturing totality (where Halifax was only expected to see about 95% coverage). We did some scouting the day we arrived, and decided that the retired CF-101 Voodoo gate guarding at the former CFB Chatham was a good piece of foreground to include in our images.

An image of the CF-101 Voodoo under the eclipse at totality with the phases of the eclipse composited in.

Each of us had multiple cameras set up to capture the event - to create this image I had one camera with a 16-35mm lens mounts on a tripod as low to the ground as possible (which captured the overall image of the plane at totality), plus a second camera on a tripod with the equivalent of 420mm of telephoto lens to capture the sun itself during the eclipse. 

The original image, before the eclipse phases were added, looks like this:

The original image showing only totality of the eclipse. As you can see, the streetlights came on.

I used the smallest aperture possible on that lens (f/4) to get the starburst effect from the sun and lights, but this meant that I had a considerable amount of dust spots to remove from the image - despite having cleaned my camera sensor prior to making the image.

The second camera was a 16-year old DSLR as don't have the adapter for the older lenses, and I wanted the longest reach possible. I didn't have welder's glass or the appropriate filters available, so I had to improvise - I put what ND filters I had on the lens, and to avoid damaging the camera sensor I only pointed the camera at the sun long enough to take each image. To protect my eyes from the sun - I would surely have done damage looking directly at the sun through the camera's optical viewfinder - I held the back of my hand in front of the viewfinder and knew I had the sun within the frame when the sun shone through the viewfinder onto my hand, and I would capture several frames. I had to focus manually using the scale on the lens, based on some homework I had done in advance.

Telephoto image of the sun at a focal length of 420mm during the eclipse.

I captured images of the eclipse on both cameras throughout the eclipse - both to get the multiple phases of the moon's passage across the sun, as well as to record the sun's path over the top of the jetfighter. I used the latter images to draw lines on the overall image so that I could somewhat accurately paste in the phases of the eclipse to the overall image. 

Overall image showing the lines I used to guide where the eclipse phase images were pasted in.

I then chose representative images of the various eclipse phases, reduced them in size to reflect the size of the sun in the base image, and pasted them in on either side of the sun in totality within the two lines. Unfortunately, I stupidly forgot to change my exposure on the camera with the telephoto lens and didn't capture a closeup of totality, so I have to use the one from the base wide-angle image - which seems to actually work. Overall, I'm fairly pleased with the "final" product - thought I suspect I will continue to play with it in the coming weeks to see if I can improve it.

I also had a third camera that I used hand-held as a backup to the other two - it provides a slightly different vantagepoint on the Voodoo. 

Hand-held image of the Voodoo with a 28-75mm zoom lens.

These may have to do, as I don't know that I will ever again have the opportunity to capture a solar eclipse. 

Tuesday 13 February 2024

MSC Manzanillo off Devils Island

I haven't been able to take as many photos of late as I have in the past, so I forced myself to get out on Sunday and was lucky enough to catch a container ship off Devils Island at the harbour mouth.

MSC Manzanillo off Devils Island from Hartlen Point.

The old lighthouse on Devils Island has been decommissioned and abandoned, and there is a more modern light structure off to the right, but I thought it made for a moody shot when converted to black and white.

Sunday 19 November 2023

USS Marinette delivery trip

The Freedom-variant Light Combat Ship (LCS 25) USS Marinette stopped by in Halifax this past week for a short visit to refuel during her delivery trip from the Great Lakes. Many of these ships have stopped by on their way to the US East Coast.

USS Marinette backing out from Jetty NB.

Heading seaward with King's Wharf in the background.

These ships are propelled by waterjets, rather than conventional propellers, and they seem to kick up more of a wash behind the ship than I think is typical for warships of this size.

Passing the George's Island lighthouse.

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Zhen Hua 23 arrives with new cranes for south end container terminal

 As covered elsewhere, the heavy lift vessel Zhen Hua 23 arrived on November 6th from China carrying four new container cranes, two of them destined for the South End terminal in Halifax, and the remaining two will continue on to be delivered to a customer in Portugal. The cranes could be seen over the horizon while Zhen Hua 23 was still below the horizon out at sea, behind the inbound cruise ship Insignia

Inbound cruise ship Insignia to the left with the container cranes jutting above the horizon to the right.

The remaining photos I captured were through the very dirty windows of my company's office, and shooting through the glass at an angle didn't help the image quality and sharpness of these images any, but they are still worthwhile sharing.

Inbound Zhen Hua 23 appearing behind the headland.

Zhen Hua 23 with her cargo of four container cranes.

Zhen Hua 23 behind the grain elevator, with the existing south end container cranes to the right.

A distorted photo of Zhen Hua 23 and her cargo amidst the glare of the sun on the harbour approaches. 

The ship is currently alongside in the container terminal to begin offloading the two cranes.

Saturday 7 October 2023

Two RCN vessels return from deployments

This past week or so saw the end of two naval deployments. First, I was lucky last Sunday to catch HMCS Harry Dewolf returning to Halifax after completing the 2023 edition of Operation Nanook in Canada's northern waters. 

HMCS Harry Dewolf passing George's Island on her return to Halifax from Operation Nanook 2023. 

HMCS Dewolf with the Halifax skyline as a backdrop.

The second ship to return travelled a bit farther and was gone for a longer time. HMCS Montreal deployed on Operation Projection when she departed Halifax on March 26th in the company of MV Asterix. While Asterix is still deployed in the Pacific Ocean, Montreal returned on October 3rd. I managed to get a photo through a dirty window, and converted it to black and white in an attempt to hide the unfortunate colours that resulted from processing the photo - I'm assuming the angle of the sun on the dirty windows was working against me.

HMCS Montreal returning from deployment in the Indo-Pacific for Operation Projection.

These photos can also be found here:

Saturday 20 May 2023

ITS Virginio Fasan departs Halifax

The Italian Navy frigate arrived in Halifax on Thursday and departed this morning just after 0900.

The ship is a FREMM type multi-purpose frigate.

Officers saluting me from the bridge wing - it's nice to be recognized. Or maybe they were saluting to an RCN admiral ashore, who can tell.

HMCS Glace Bay followed her out of the harbour - the latter is headed for Fleet Week in New York, but I am not sure if Virginio Fasan is also headed there. 

Sunday 16 April 2023

Ship watching from Chebucto Head

The family and I took the opportunity over the Easter long weekend to take a trip out to York Redoubt and Chebucto Head, and my timing at the latter worked to my advantage - there were two ships outbound during my time there. The family got bored and headed back to the car, but I braved the brisk wind to get some photos.

Upon arriving at the lighthouse, Atlantic Sky was visible heading outbound with MOL Courage behind.

The pilot boat kept pace with Atlantic Sky on the way out before retrieving the harbour pilot.

Pilot boat in the process of retrieving a the harbour pilot from Atlantic Sky.

MOL Courage outbound.

MOL Courage with Atlantic Sky in the distance after passing Chebucto Head.

The whole series of photos, and many more, are available in my Ships gallery on Smugmug.