I had three previous posts alerting readers to the December 21, 2020, Saturn and Jupiter Great Conjunction (LINK, LINK, LINK) . . . and I’m a bit behind in documenting the actual event.

This will be a “longish” post taking us From December 10th to December 21st. There will be another post documenting the days after the 21st’s closest (visual) approach of the two gas giants. But for now, let’s proceed.

This post documents days in which I was able to photograph the planets in reasonably clear skies — six days, starting with December 10th and ending with December 21st.

December 10, 2020, 17:10 — Marion, Illinois
Nikon D7500, Nikon AF VR-Nikkor 80-400mm 1:4.5-5.6D
Photo: 80mm 3 sec. f/7.1 ISO 500

Impressive, no? That’s what happens when you forget to change camera settings . . . but, luckily, I shoot RAW, so I can salvage something from that.

For them not interested in reading, you can see the photos in THIS SmugMug Gallery.  

For a SmugMug slideshow click HERE. When you click the link, it will open in a new window and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the upper-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: clicking the PLAY arrow will run a full-screen slideshow. You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos as this will pause the slideshow.

You can also click on the individual photos and a larger (but not full-size) version will open in a new tab or window. The galleries also have the option to show the larger version.

If you want the full experience, keep reading.

So, twice now I mentioned seagull and I start out with ducks. Well, I liked how they swam away from me even though I was inside a car and about sixty yards away. But most of all, I like the wake patterns they formed. It reminded me of a flotilla of warship . . . well, feathery warships. Them beaks are deadly, don’t you know. 

“J” story writing looms in my near future even as the country seems to be coming apart at the seams and our Baby President acts like the dicktator of a banana republic (with the unquestioning support of Republicans and supporters who seemingly have no clue what the word “patriot” means).

Against that backdrop, I understand why our “I”-stories vote count is on the low side. Still, if you want a break from our current bizarro world, read the “I” stories submissions, and after, if motivated, vote for their favorite of the “Alphabet Challenge I-Stories” HERE<<<This is a link.

That post has links to the individual stories and the poll where readers can click a box to indicate their appreciation for their favorite. And, after voting, readers can spread the news about the story to friends and family. Maybe.

So, continuing with the May 23, 2020 photo adventures . . . after capturing a few birds in the backyard, we went for a drive to Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge<<<This is a link and grabbed a few photos of birds on fences and reeds (shared a few posts ago <<<This is a link).

Then, as I stopped to look at the scenery, I noticed a large bird flying toward us (we were inside the car).

I turned off the car and lowered the window and zoomed in . . . 

A Bald Eagle, it was, angling in toward us.

That photo is as it came out of the camera and is shot at 300mm zoom.

I’m starting to feel the pressure of the “J” story submission deadline (due in less than a week).

I’m envious of readers of this blog . . . all they have to do (if they feel like it) is read the submissions, and after, if motivated, vote for their favorite of the “Alphabet Challenge I-Stories” HERE<<<This is a link.

That post has links to the individual stories and the poll where readers can click a box to indicate their appreciation for their favorite. And, after voting, readers can spread the news about the story to friends and family. Maybe.

So, May 23, 2020 . . . after capturing a few birds in the backyard, we went for a drive to Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.<<<This is a link

About week left to indulge in reading the “I” Stories submissions. After, if receptive to the idea, the writers hope you’ll make the effort and vote for your favorite of the “Alphabet Challenge I-Stories” HERE.

That post has links to the individual stories and the poll where readers can click a box to indicate their appreciation for their favorite. And, after voting, readers can spread the news about the story to friends and family. Maybe.

So, May 23, 2020 . . . a day that will go down as . . . a day like many others, but with lots of birds.

You can still vote for your favorite of the “E” stories HERE. BUT . . . the opportunity will close soon because the “F” stories are on their way . . . maybe.

I’ve not heard from the other writers but I can speak for myself . . . I’ve not written one yet. Nothing new with that as I tend to be a last-minute writer anyway.

All I can say is that the “E” stories voting will close when the “F” stories are ready and that might be as soon as tomorrow . . . or the next few days.

. . . and the opportunity for readers of the “D” short stories offerings to vote for their favorite of the ”D” stories (HERE) will end.

Not as many votes for the “D” stories, but I imagine everyone is concerned about the world coming to an end. Because, you know, sometimes it feels like it.

Birds seem oblivious to the danger we humans face . . . then again, we mess their lives up pretty bad, so I imagine they would be happy to see us go.

The guy above was busy calling out to potential mates . . . while gathering material to build a nest . . .

For them not interested in reading, you can go directly to the SmugMug Gallery HERE.

For a SmugMug slideshow click HERE. When you click the link, it will open in a new window and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the bottom-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: clicking the PLAY arrow will run a full-screen slideshow. You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos as this will pause the slideshow.

Note: in this mode, you can also click on the image to zoom in to full resolution (click to zoom out).

If you want the full experience, keep reading.

Easy to find.

For them not interested in reading, you can go directly to the SmugMug Gallery HERE.

For a SmugMug slideshow click HERE. When you click the link, it will open in a new window and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the bottom-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: clicking the PLAY arrow will run a full-screen slideshow. You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos as this will pause the slideshow.

Note: in this mode, you can also click on the image to zoom in to full resolution (click to zoom out).

If you want the full experience, keep reading.

~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 0 ~

For them not interested in reading, you can see the photos in THIS SmugMug Gallery.  

For a SmugMug slideshow click HERE. When you click the link, it will open in a new window and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the bottom-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: clicking the PLAY arrow will run a full-screen slideshow. You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos as this will pause the slideshow.

If you want the full experience, keep reading.

~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 0 ~

For them not interested in reading, you can see the photos in THIS SmugMug Gallery.  

For a SmugMug slideshow click HERE. When you click the link, it will open in a new window and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the bottom-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: clicking the PLAY arrow will run a full-screen slideshow. You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos as this will pause the slideshow.

If you want the full experience, keep reading.

~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 0 ~

I might have mentioned (once or twice) I like sitting out back, under the covered porch, camera in hand, coffee by my side.

A few days ago, I was joined by a seed. A Milkweed seed, as best as I can tell. Side note: Milkweed plants are essential for the Monarch Butterfly (HERE, HERE, HERE). Well, this gave me the perfect opportunity to try out a piece of wood I’ve been preparing for use in macro photography.

That’s a curved decorative piece of wood (about 8″ x 8″) I bought at a garage sale for about $1 (or maybe less)

It was in poor shape before I repaired a few scratches, removed a few stains, sanded it as smooth as I could, and sprayed with six coats of matte black paint. The idea was (is) to provide a curved surface for photography so as to minimize reflections, seams, and other background distractions when shooting macros.

Unfortunately, when it comes to paint, matte is not the same as flat so there’s still more sheen than what I want. Also, despite the visual inspection, photographically the surface is neither as smooth or unblemished as it looks, as we shall see.