Latest posts by steephill

Monday's Supermoon

Posted: 13/11/2016 at 12:50

Warning, here comes the science bit!

The trick to taking moon photos is called Lunny 11. It is a variation of the old Sunny 16 rule for daytime photography. Those of you old enough to have used film may remember the guide to exposure printed on the inside of the box which is based on Sunny 16. Basically it tells you how to use manual camera settings to get a good exposure.

On a bright sunny day if you were using film with a speed of ISO 100 then you set a shutter speed of 1/ISO i.e. 1/100th sec and an aperture of f16. Now the Moon is a rock in bright sunlight but the light it reflects has to travel a long way to get to us and some gets lost so we need a little more exposure for Moon shots. So instead of f16 we use the next brighter aperture of f11.

You can substitute other shutter speed/aperture combination to get the same exposure e.g. every time you double the exposure speed you need to open up the aperture to the next smallest number 1/200 and f8, 1/400 and f5.6 etc.

Those settings are a good starting point to get a good exposure of the Moon. If you just use the auto mode on your camera it is likely to get it wrong as the scene it sees is mainly black with a small bright bit. It tries to make the black bit lighter but then makes the bright bit too bright.

Camera Talk

Posted: 07/11/2016 at 19:54

Verdun, the Sony A500 would now be considered an antique in the digital world as it was introduced about 7 years ago. I would be surprised to see it still offered for sale new today unless it was very cheap old stock being cleared out. It will certainly take decent photos and will be more than good enough for most people's needs though. There is also another Sony, the A5000 which is a current model. It is a different design of camera from the A500 so isn't just an updated version of the older model.


Posted: 02/11/2016 at 20:26

Hazelnut butter! Shell them, roast in the oven for about 15 minutes then blitz them in a food processor until they turn into nut butter. Can take anything between 5 and 15 minutes to get to the right consistency.

Any one Any Painfull Gardening Memories

Posted: 29/10/2016 at 01:28

Simple scratches from removing brambles resulted in blood poisoning. 3 doctors, 3 courses of antibiotics (2 of each quite useless) over 9 weeks to get under control. Lower legs and feet badly swollen unable to wear shoes, face like a Dali melted clock with a matching impact on general health. It is a jungle out there, be careful! 


Posted: 24/10/2016 at 22:56

The RHS use both names for all cultivars so it is not surprising that there is confusion. The troublesome montbretia is a hybrid, crocosmia x crocosmiiflora. It is an offense under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to plant or otherwise allow it to grow in the wild so it must be disposed of appropriately. 

I have it in my garden and find it easy enough to keep under control.

Help needed to identify white 'balls' in field

Posted: 19/10/2016 at 09:46

Slugs or snails eggs I think. Put some in a container, check daily and you will soon know which it is when they hatch.

HELLO FORKERS! October Edition

Posted: 18/10/2016 at 12:20

Planting bulbs in my garden usually involves a pickaxe and a lot of spadework so I had been looking for a better method. Clearing steep banks with a Flymo left me with a knackered shoulder so a lower effort solution was required.

Had been looking for bulb planting augers but couldn't find any in the UK until recently. Crocus have then, just fit to a cordless drill and off you go. Best to drill lots of holes first then drop in the bulbs and back fill the holes with used compost. Probably easier to work as a team with an obedient undergardener. If I hit rock or tree roots I just move a little and try again. 

It has certainly been a labour (and pain) saving method for me, especially on steep slopes. Highly recommended with the usual disclaimer of no commercial connection to Crocus, it is just where I found them.

Pruning first year grapevines

Posted: 16/10/2016 at 11:50

From the RHS website - 

Grape vines are tough plants so shouldn't need much if any protection here in the UK. 

HELLO FORKERS! October Edition

Posted: 14/10/2016 at 10:24

Fancy a unique pink chainsaw? Here's a charity giveaway for a good cause.

Having lost family and friends to cancer anything which helps is good in my book.


Posted: 28/09/2016 at 11:40

It is one of the downsides of rural living unfortunately. The further you are from the exchange and cabinet the worse the signal gets, think of it as the further you stand from the fire the less heat you feel. Add in opportunities for line damage from trees etc. and you can end up on a poor line pretty easily.

All of the infrastructure (exchanges, cabinets and lines) is owned and operated by Openreach which although is part of the BT group does not deal with customers directly. You need to contact your service provider to sort out any problems and that can be a real hassle. Although TalkTalk have a poor reputation for customer service they are not alone, just try getting decent support from BT's very offshore call centres!

There are a few checks you can run yourself to see how your line is performing. First one to do is a quiet line test on your phone line. Dial 17070 then select option 2 - if you hear crackling then you have a poor line and should report that as a telephone fault to TalkTalk (don't mention internet at this point). Fixing telephone line faults will automatically improve your internet. If you start by saying your internet service is poor there are far too many ways for them to wriggle out of doing anything by blaming your equipment and wiring.

You can also try this BT site which will check what broadband you should be able to get - That should show you all of the services and the likely speeds which you are able to get from any supplier, it all comes down the same wires. The results table will probably only show ADSL products as available for you.

I am assuming that services like Virgin cable come nowhere near you so are not an option.

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