Sunday, December 30, 2012

Outdoor 3D

It's a 3D World

Instructions for how to view stereo images with the cross-eye method can be found here, here, and here. Click on the images below for better viewing. When you click on these images they are displayed in new larger windows with fewer surrounding distractions.

I went outside in early December to continue 3D imaging. Here's my favorite part of the Lynchburg bike path. The depth of the receding path in the center shows up nicely.

This stereo pair seems to have a very strong 3D effect, particularly in the tree branches on the left side and the row of green trees on the right side. This is one of the best depth portrayals I've achieved so far.

I hoped this fence might make a good 3D image, but it's not as dramatic as I thought. The grass in the foreground seems more three-dimensional than the fence.

These trees and sunbeams show decent 3D effects, but the effect isn't particularly strong. I'd like to try a thicker forest with more trees at near distances.

The 3D effect seems stronger in this late afternoon image of trees.

The next post will feature a 3D portrait of Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest home.   

Saturday, December 22, 2012

3D Rocks!

More 3D Stereo Fun!

I'm having a blast making 3D stereo images! Check out this example of pyrite crystals in talc. Use the cross-eyed viewing technique described here, here, and here. Click on the images below for better viewing. When you click on these images they are displayed in new larger windows with fewer surrounding distractions.

The fluorite crystals in the next image pair combine into a decent 3D image even though the right image is slightly out of focus. Apparently, at least for me, the brain chooses to perceive the focused left image rather than the fuzzy right image when constructing the 3D combination. Click on the image to get a better view.

Click on the next image and try viewing this mixture of arsenopyrite, muscovite, fluorite, and quartz at different distances from the screen. When you view from just the right distance you can see all details of the specimen in 3D. Let your attention wander around the 3D scene as you hold it in focus.

The following specimen also seemed easier to view at some sizes and screen distances than others. It contains spessartine garnet, smokey quartz, feldspar, and pyrite. Click for a larger view and try changing your distance from the screen. Once again, let your attention wander around the varied surface as you hold the 3D scene in focus.

In my next post I venture outside for more 3D photography. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

3D Images!

Cross-eyed Fun!

The solar observing season has ended, but I'm still having fun making pictures. I've been playing with 3D images, learning by trial and error. The technique is easy to carry out. Use a digital camera to capture two images of the same scene from slightly different viewpoints. Take the first image, then move the camera slightly to the right and take the second image. Place the images side by side and view them cross-eyed. The two images combine into a single 3D image that pops into perception with surprising clarity. Detailed instructions for cross-eyed viewing can be found here, here, and here. After the first few successful attempts cross-eyed viewing becomes quite easy. Try it yourself on my images below.

Here's my "garden" of solar powered flip-flop flowers. You can try the cross-eyed viewing technique with the images as they appear here, or click on the image to see a larger version.

I tried a different head-on view that doesn't have as much depth. Once again, click on the image to see a larger version. I've found stereo images that are more wide than high are a bit harder to see in 3D. It might help to try varying the viewing distance from the computer screen if you're having trouble seeing these rectangular images.

Here's another wide example that worked pretty well. Try clicking on the image for a larger view. I found this last stereo pair to be harder to see in 3D unless it is more isolated from nearby text and images. Clicking for the larger image may help to remove this image from surrounding distractions in the blog.

My wife has won many, many trophies during her long competitive running career. Below is one portion of her treasures. Once again, the wide images require some concentration to be perceived in 3D. Try cross-eyes on the smaller version here before clicking to get the larger version.

More running trophies!

Stay tuned for more 3D images in my next post.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Improved Mosaics - Part 2

Better, But Still Not Perfect

This is the second post about mosaic construction using Autostich. Twelve images taken on August 2, 2012 were combined into the following incomplete portrait of the solar disk showing a nice display of sunspots and filaments.
The full-sized version of this image is 3864 pixels wide by 2638 pixels high! The inverted version below highlights cloud-like filaments.
It's obvious I could not capture a full disk mosaic on August 2. By September 23, however, using my new, precise telescope mount, I was able to make a nearly complete disk image. Here is a 22-image mosaic from September 23rd. The full-sized image is 4047 pixels wide by 4186 pixels high!
The blending in this image isn't perfect, but it's a BIG improvement over the following patchwork with no blending.
Finally, here is the inverted version of the September 23rd mosaic:
I'm irked by the three missing notches on the Sun's rim. I was a little careless with telescope movement while capturing the final few images. But I'm now ready to make highly detailed full-disk images as soon as the next observing season starts. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Improved Mosaics - Part 1

New Discovery!

I recently discovered a free program called "Autostich" written by Matthew Brown and David Lowe. This amazing bit of software combines and blends individual images into much better mosaics than the version of Photoshop Elements I had been using. I've been able to go back and construct new, improved mosaics from images I captured earlier this year. For example, consider this 9-image mosaic from images taken on April 7, 2012:
The upper image is a normal positive image. The lower image is inverted to highlight floating filaments. Autostich did an amazing job removing brightness variations across the image. Previous attempts with Photoshop Elements resulted in a patchwork of obvious boundaries between individual constituent images.

More examples of improved image combination are two mosaics from images made on July 7, 2012. The top image is a 5-image combination, and the bottom image is composed of 8 individual images.
These images are huge! The full-sized version of the top image is 2640 pixels wide, and the bottom image is 3658 pixels high! The blog format will not display these images in their full size, but click on them anyway for a larger view.

Here's one more mosaic from July 28, 2012. It's an inverted version of an 18-image mosaic with prominences, filaments, and sunspots. The full-sized mosaic is 2568 pixels wide by 3765 pixels high.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Solar Feature Outburst!

Sun Wakes Up!

After some time without dramatic surface features the Sun's eastern side displayed great variety on November 11th. My brief observing window opened at 11:29 am when the low autumn Sun emerged from behind a cursed tree. The observing window closed a bit over an hour later at 12:35 pm when obscuring clouds thickened in the south. I worked quickly to capture 26 video clips before my luck ran out.

The first image below is a 12-image mosaic showing the nice array of features on the Sun's eastern half. At least six big filaments are visible along with six sunspots and one huge prominence. Far left of center, just emerging around the Sun's eastern limb, are sunspots 1614 and 1615. Slightly left of center is sunspot pair 1611 with solitary spot 1612 below the pair. In the bottom part of the image sunspot 1613 emerges near the limb and sunspot 1610 is off on the right. A beautiful wide prominence floats above the bottom limb.
Sunspots, filaments, and one big prominence (Click for full detail.)
Inversion of the previous image highlights floating filaments.
Beautiful suspended filaments! (Click for full detail.)
A closer view of complicated sunspot group 1610 and the S-shaped filament to its right was obtained with a 3X Barlow lens. This time no interference fringes were present!
Sunspot active region 1610 and filament (Click for full detail.)
Two filaments near sunspot 1610 stand out in this inverted image.
Sunspot 1610 with filaments (Click for full detail.)
An enlarged view of sunspots 1611, 1612, 1614, 1615, and nearby filaments is shown next in a 2-image mosaic.
L to R: Sunspots 1614, 1615, 1612, and 1611(pair) (Click for full detail.)
The inverted version below makes it easy to see arches of gas following magnetic field lines between opposite magnetic poles in the sunspot pair 1611 in the upper right:
My 2012 observing season is almost over because the Sun is getting too low. With luck it might be possible to squeeze one more session in before the end of November.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Late October Solar Tour

Three Image Scales

I was able to observe in wonderful weather on three of the days between October 21st and October 25th. This post shows results from the last day, October 25th.

Begin with an image taken at prime focus. It shows three sunspots as well as a large prominence at the bottom to the left of center.
Bottom to top: Sunspots 1599, 1598, 1596 (Click for full detail.)
Here's a magnified (and vertically flipped) image of the prominence:
Prominence imaged with 2X Barlow lens
Now look at a closer view of the three-sunspot array. This is a 5-image mosaic taken with a 2X Barlow lens:
Bottom to top: Sunspots 1599, 1598, and 1596 (Click for more detail.)
A 3X Barlow lens gives a closer view of the middle sunspot 1598:
Sunspot 1598 (Click for full detail.)
Finally, here is the upper sunspot 1596, also imaged with the 3X Barlow lens:
Sunspot 1596 (Click for full detail.)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Autumn Sun

Solar Variety

Three nice sunspots were spread across the Sun on October 22nd. This 5-image mosaic shows their location.
L to R: Sunspots 1598, 1596, and 1591 (Click for full detail.)
A closer view of sunspots 1598 and 1596 is shown in the following (differently oriented) 3-image mosaic.
Sunspots 1598 (bottom) 1596 (top) (Click for full detail.)
Sunspot 1596 showed fascinating complex structure seen in the following two images, the first with a 2X Barlow lens, and the second with a 3X Barlow lens. The second image shows annoying circular interference fringes probably originating from multiple reflections within the 3X Barlow.
Sunspot 1596 (Click for full detail.)
Finally, sunspots and prominences are not the only interesting solar features. I like this detailed image showing a forest of spicules and some filaments.
Filaments and spicules (Click for full detail.)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

New Barlow Lens

Enormous Prominence!

An enormous prominence hung above the Sun's western limb on October 21st. The prominence was near sunspot 1591 as seen in the image below.
Sunspot 1591 and Prominence (Click for full detail.)
The best of the remaining features was sunspot 1596, shown in the following image taken with a 2X Barlow lens giving a field of view about 10.4 arc minutes wide by 7.8 arc minutes high.
Sunspot 1596 imaged with 2X Barlow (Click for full detail.)
Below is the same sunspot imaged with the new 3X Barlow lens giving a field of view about 8.8 arc minutes wide by 6.6 arc minutes high. The increase in magnification is modest, but it does show some nice detail. The 3X image was taken a few minutes later than the 2X image above. Notice the change that has occurred during the few minutes between the two images.
Sunspot 1596 imaged with 3X Barlow (Click for full detail.)
Unfortunately, the new Barlow lens has introduced circular interference fringes into images it produces. These are caused by multiple reflections within the lens itself. You might notice these fringes in the right half of the image above. I'm investigating ways to remove the fringes through image processing.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mediocre Seeing

Waiting For Solar Drama

Turbulent morning air on an extremely clear, crisp October 11th made images waver. Patience eventually revealed some brief patches of steady air and allowed three good images of sunspots scattered across the Sun. The first image below is a 3-image mosaic showing complicated sunspot 1589 on the left a few days after it came into view on the Sun's eastern limb. Isolated on the right is sunspot 1586.
Sunspots 1589 (left) and 1586 (right) (Click for full detail.)
Sunspot 1585 was about to depart over the western limb:
Sunspot 1585 (Click for full detail.)
I'm waiting for a more dramatic display of solar variety before the year ends. Lately, only relatively uncomplicated, small sunspots have been widely separated on the Sun. My final picture shows small sunspot 1590 just emerging from the sun's eastern limb. This image contains some good clear examples of spicules, the grass-like columns of rising gas seen near the top center of the image.
Sunspot 1590 (bottom center) (Click for full detail.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sun and Shadow

Gossamer Filaments

The Sun had three sunspots, several filaments, and nice prominences on October 5th. Now, after the autumnal equinox, the Sun is getting lower each day, its light blocked by more and more trees as it travels across the sky. My observing window is shrinking. In another six weeks it will be very difficult to continue imaging. It's time to make the most of the remaining days.

Here is a 3-image mosaic showing two sunspots and one nice prominence.
Sunspots 1582(left), 1579(right) and a prominence (click for full detail.)
A more detailed view of the prominence in the image above shows arching streams of gas following magnetic field lines.
More detailed view of prominence (Click for full detail.)
Here's the same prominence alone, displayed with a new color.
The third sunspot showed activity in the white area below the spot.
Sunspot 1585 (Click for full detail.)
This 5-image mosaic shows how the three sunspots were arranged on the solar disk.
(Click for full detail.)
In the midst of my observing session the solar image suddenly disappeared from the computer screen. At first I thought the camera was malfunctioning. The screen showed bright and dark areas, but no curved solar rim and no solar features. Focusing didn't help. Just minutes before everything was perfect! What in the world was causing this problem? I got out from under my light-blocking cloth and looked at the front of the telescope. There I discovered a triangular shadow cast by my chimney covering three quarters of the front lens! In just a few minutes the shadow moved off the lens and a sharp solar image returned. This is what happens in my less than ideal observing location as the Sun gets lower in the autumn sky.

Here is a 3-image mosaic spanning the Sun's southern limb. Notice the filament-to-prominence transition visible on the left, the nice, flame-like prominence in the middle, and the diffuse, veil-like filament on the right.
Filaments and Prominences (Click for full detail.)
Here's a closer view of the gossamer filament seen on the right in the image above.
Gossamer filament (Click for full detail.)

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I'm o.k. well they look at me kind of strange
Surely you're not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

John Lennon