With seasons greetings ……

Well, it’s that time of year again. After the year we have had – and many people have had a far worse one than me – it doesn’t feel as if we have much to celebrate. Staff in hospitals and care homes who are putting in superhuman efforts to treat their patients deserve, once again, our thanks. And the tremendous efforts made by scientists all over the world to create new vaccines also deserve recognition, and perhaps, in good time, they will officially receive it. Let us hope that the fruits of their labours will allow us to return to “normal life” before too long.

The photograph shows Comet Neowise, taken at Aberystwyth at 12.45 am on July 20th. I’ve done very little astrophotography and my current camera – an Olympus EM1 Mk 2 – is rather ill-suited to this branch of photography. It has a very small sensor and consequently usable ISO’s are limited without introducing high levels of noise. I eventually settled on this composition and took a range of shots at different shutter speeds and apertures. In the end it turned out to be – to adapt a well-known photographic maxim – “8 seconds at f4.5 and be there”.

I had to do more processing on these images than normal: it was basically a case of “try anything and see if it works”. In particular it was one of the first tests I threw at some software I had recently acquired – Topaz Denoise AI. This seemed to be able to distinguish between required detail and unwanted noise, and was able to sharpen the image at the same time. So I’m quite happy with the final result.

So to conclude this short post –

With best wishes to you all and let us hope that next year will be a good deal better than the current one.

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