Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Playing the Bagpipes

When I was younger, I played the bagpipes a bit. Many years ago, I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in deep East Texas.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical male, I didn't stop to ask for directions. I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There was only the digging crew left and they were eating lunch.

I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave, looked down and saw that the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play.

The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played as if I were playing for the Queen of England.

And as I played "Amazing Grace", the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my automobile. Though my head hung low, my heart was full. As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, "I never seen nothin' like that before and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years!".

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Sunday, April 03, 2011

M51, The Whirlpool Galaxy



I got a little aggressive with the noise reduction, but I kind of like the painterly effect it created.

Shot this in blowing wind while everyone else was breaking down their gear. Glad I stuck it out.

X-Bar Ranch, Eldorado, TX
Exposure: 42 x 300 sec (3.5 hours) @ ISO 1600, 20 flat, 12 dark
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) (modified)
Scope: AT6RC, AT2FF field flattener
Mount: Celestron CI-700/Skywalker
Guider: Zenithstar 66, Meade DSI
Filter: None
Software: PHD Guiding, Nebulosity, Photoshop

Saturday, April 02, 2011

M65, M66: Galaxies in Leo



Messier 65 and make up part of the Leo Triplet, a small group of galaxies.

Photographed at X-Bar Ranch, between Eldorado and Sonora, Texas. There's no substitute for shooting from dark skies!

X-Bar Ranch, Eldorado, TX
Exposure: 36 x 300 sec (3 hours) @ ISO 1600, 10 flat, 10 dark
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) (modified)
Scope: AT6RC, AT2FF field flattener
Mount: Celestron CI-700/Skywalker
Guider: Zenithstar 66, Meade DSI
Filter: None
Software: PHD Guiding, Nebulosity, Photoshop