Jupiter and Venus, with the exposure just right

I was looking at my phone, and decided I’d share this photo I took a couple of nights ago, when I was doing the last part of my 10,000 steps a day.

No, it’s not as good as a high-end SLR with the right lens on it — Jupiter and Venus aren’t as sharp as they could be, and the house a tad blurry — but it’s really good for an iPhone.

In bright daylight, on a shot that doesn’t require any specialized focusing, these phones seem every bit as good as a camera, if you don’t look too closely. But this kind of situation can be problematic.

Try to shoot something like this, and the phone thinks about it a little too hard, throwing off the exposure in one direction or the other.

But this one exposed just right, on the first try, without any attempts to compensate. This is exactly the way it looked with the naked eye. The planets — Venus is the lower, brighter one — the lit-up house, the remaining glow of the setting sun lingering on the horizon… all just right.

That was satisfying, so I thought I’d share it. I’ve enjoyed seeing Jupiter and Venus so close together and so sharp and bright at this time on recent nights. This was at 7:03 p.m. Sunday…

12 thoughts on “Jupiter and Venus, with the exposure just right

  1. Barry

    I purchased a telescope for Christmas and have tried it out a few times. Still learning about it but it’s pretty fun. It was only about $180 so nothing fancy. I’ve really only looked at the moon so far and tried to spot a few distant birds and animals in trees at a distance.

    I’m close to buying a drone to do some aerial photography after I get my license. I had one of the $100 drones for awhile and it was a lot of fun. It would only fly for about 3 minutes at a time due to the battery but it would take some good photos.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Sounds like fun.

      I often think I’d like to have a nice telescope — my binoculars are way too shaky. But then I realize that if I had one, I’d start getting frustrated at all the light pollution and feel the need to go way out into the country somewhere, or out to sea (and once I was out at sea, I’d wish for a more stable surface for my telescope).

      But I’m glad you’re enjoying it. It means you’re not as neurotic as I am.

      The drone sounds like even MORE fun. I didn’t know you had to have a license, though…

      1. Barry

        It depends. If you fly a drone, you have to take a test. It’s short.

        If the drone is over 250 grams, you have to register the drone with the FAA. The one I am looking at is less than 250g.

        If you are flying for any reason other than recreationally (such as taking pictures for a business) you have to have a license. To get one you have to pass a 60 question test and submit documentation to the TSA.

        But getting the license and taking the test provides the drone operator a lot of knowledge and can help quell any questions from anyone that might see you operating a drone and question you – such as local law enforcement that might not know the rules themselves – or other drone operators that you might encounter or be around if you take your drone to an event where people fly them.

  2. bud

    I gave this a try just now. My iPhone8 isn’t quite up to the task. I’ll give my wife’s iPhone 14 a try tomorrow. It’s jus a bit hazy now. Still the image is pretty remarkable for a device with such a small lens.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, it is.

      Digital photography was kind of a joke when it came along at the start of the century. But the progress has been impressive. I buy some film for my big, expensive (at least, it was expensive when I bought it in the early 90s) old Nikon and shoot a roll for old time’s sake, but for most purposes, it’s just too much trouble.

      By the way, I used my iPhone SE 2. The “bargain” model that came out last year. It uses the same chip as the 13, although some functionality is missing…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        The “advantage” of using my old SLR is the greater control over focusing. If you do it manually. But I nearly always used its autofocus, just as I do on the iPhone.

        The huge disadvantage is the film. Not just that you have to buy it and load it, and you can’t see what you shot right away (which was very puzzling to my grandson when I used it to shoot some family pictures), and if it’s black-and-white I have to buy the chemicals and set up my darkroom, and if it’s color I have to send it off somewhere (I’ve done color developing, when I was in college — definitely not worth the trouble), and pay about $30 a roll for the processing.

        The greatest limitation of film is the light sensitivity. I’ve never tried using anything faster than 400 ASA, and that’s just pathetic compared to the range of an iPhone. And if you want to get rid of the grain, you have to go with something even slower.

        What I need is a digital Nikon with the same capabilities as my old 8008s. Which would cost a fortune, and how often would I really use it?…

  3. bud

    Ted Cruz recently gave Joe Biden one of the greatest compliments ever bestowed on an incumbent president. He said Biden was Jimmy Carter 2.0. Yes! Finally a Republican saying something nice about a Democrat. Maybe there’s hope for Cancun Ted yet.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, I’ve always loved Jimmy. I enjoyed this story about Jimmy in the Post the other day. It’s from his time in the Navy: “A nuclear reactor was melting down. Jimmy Carter came to the rescue.” The blurb after the headline said, “As a 28-year-old Navy lieutenant, Carter was one of the few people on the planet authorized to go inside a damaged nuclear reactor.”

      An excerpt:

      That reactor, located at Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario, had suffered an explosion on Dec. 12. Radioactive material had escaped into the atmosphere, and millions of gallons of radioactive water flooded into the reactor’s basement. Thankfully, no one was injured, but the Canadians needed help to disassemble the reactor’s damaged core.

      The United States sent 28-year-old Jimmy Carter….

      And of course, he later inspired me to get heavily involved with Habitat. I was the board chairman of the local affiliate, back before my blogging days…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I did, too, from downtown — and I should have gotten the shot as soon as I saw it! I waited until I got home, hoping for less light pollution, and Venus had already set.


      I’m hoping for the same conditions tonight, but I’m worried about cloudiness…

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