things i'm pleased with
"The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique" .. Walt Disney
"That's been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end ... " Steve Jobs
Computers were my first obsession from the day I got my Commodore Vic-20. Two years ago I was “converted” to Apple after a long struggle and now I cannot see past every product they create. My MacBook is at the centre of all my hobbies, except possibly Chocolate ;-)
Not quite fitting with my usual technology themed hobbies, I have a love of dark chocolate. It has to be solid with no extra flavourings, and preferably 70%+. I’m always looking out for chocolate I haven’t tried yet and admit my strong opinions definitely exceed my knowledge.. The reviews I write are tongue-in-cheek pretentious.
Combining my love of photography and astronomy this is a relatively new hobby. I have basic versions of the equipment needed to capture interesting pictures including a 150mm reflector telescope and Canon 1100d for imaging, 80mm refractor and astro webcam for guiding to compensate for the earth’s rotation, and UHC filter to remove light pollution.
I’ve written ambient electronic music under the name Ambient Generation since 2003. Originally composing using hardware synthesizers I have now moved to purely software production based around Logic Pro with various instrumental and effects plug-ins. I have released four albums which are available in places such as iTunes and Spotify.
When I started in Astrophotography less than a year ago and realised how complicated it was, I promised myself that once I started producing images I was happy with I would write a simple tutorial. By writing this I am not saying i’m an expert, or that this way is the best way to do […]
Managed to take my first picture of a comet last night. Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) is visible as a grey blur in binoculars, or a green dot through a small telescope. Once i’d found it through my telescope I took 7 x two minute exposure pictures and then put them together in this video in […]
I’ve been looking forward all year to a chance to image the Orion Nebula. It has a reputation of being easy for the beginner, and i’m delighted with the results I obtained. I took 13 x 150 second guided exposures yesterday on what was a recently rare clear night. I used my OpticStar UHC filter […]
The packaging for this chocolate looked different, and on opening the envelope I noticed it had a plastic interior which could be resealed, which was a nice touch. So when I broke off a piece (with a reassuring snap) I was anticipating something special. The first taste I noticed was bread – freshly […]
Named after the popular video game character, this nebula sits in Cassiopeia (the big W shaped constellation that is visible all year round from the UK). The “mouth” is a dark nebula made up of mainly hydrogen and dust in which new solar systems are forming. Once the whole of NGC281 would have been dark, […]
I was able to make a brief visit to Fortnum and Mason’s chocolate department earlier this week. Always a wallet lightening experience I was relieved to find a discrete table at the back right of the ground floor with some reduced quality chocolate, including a superb Marou product at half price.
What equipment do I use to write music on?
Over the years the equipment has changed often, but basically for electronic music you always need some sound sources, effects, monitoring, and a digital audio workstation. I always try to use only the basic equipment necessary to get reasonable results – it’s too easy to get involved in an endless cycle of buying and selling equipment instead of actually sitting down and doing some composition. Years ago everyone used hardware and some of my favourite synthesisers I owned included the Roland JV1080, Novation Supernova II, and Access Virus B; effects included the Lexicon MPX500, Boss VF1, and the Smallstone Phaser. I always used a PC running Cubase since version 3.5 for sequencing, recording and mixing.
Now however hardware is not required (although some still prefer it for its tactility) and everything I have is contained within my Mac running Logic Pro X. My favourite sound sources include the Spectrasonics and Native Instruments software plugins and my effects are SSL and Lexicon software plugins. I master using IK Multimedia T-Racks.
What equipment do I use for astrophotography?
As with my music equipment I try to buy the most basic equipment possible to allow me to get reasonable results. My imaging telescope is a Skywatcher Explorer 150PDS reflector attached to a Skywatcher EQ5 Pro mount. I then use an Opticstar AR80S Guidescope with Opticstar PL131M camera to guide the mount using PHD guiding software so as to compensate for the earth’s rotation. My camera is a Canon 1100D with the factory fitted infra-red filter removed, and I usually use an Opticstar two inch Ultra High Contrast filter to reduce light pollution. I use StarTools to help process the images along with Apple Aperture.