Astrophotography 101

“Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” – Sean O’Connell, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”

I figured it’s about time to share some astrophotography tips. After taking 30,000+ images, I’ve learned a thing or two that I hope you will find helpful. However, I’ll be the first to confess that my gallery is more about quantity rather than quality for the simple reason of time. If I truly took the time required for each and every image capture, I’d still be exploring my first region. There are moments when I simply have to stop and take in the beauty of New Eden and try my best to capture a quality shot and that’s what this blog entry will focus on today. TLDR – Astrophotography is serious business!

Camera Control

Centered subject

Centered subject

We’re fortunate to live in an age of technology that allows us as capsuleers to focus on the subject, rather than the technical aspects of taking a picture. No longer do we have to worry or fuss over aperture, shutter speed, focus, etc, as all of that is taken care for us. We can now concentrate on the artistic aspects such as composition and framing. It’s quite honestly point and shoot today.

How to work your camera controls. Here’s the image capture command sequence:

• CTRL-F9 (Turns off the HUD)
• PrtScn (Captures the image) | MAC OS use Command (⌘)-Shift-3
• CTRL-F9 (Turns on the HUD)

Same subject, off center

Same subject, off center

You may want to setup a single command that executes the sequence for ease of execution and reliability. More than once I’ve found myself in a hostile system and was thankful I could quickly line up a shot, take it, and move on, with the execution of a single command.

Depending upon your pods operating system, your images will be processed and placed in your data repository at the following or similar location:

C:\Users\UserName\Documents\EVE\capture\Screenshots

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds

The first rule is, there are no rules. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to take an image. It is, after all, what intrigues or interest you, that moment in time you wish to capture, cherish, and share with others. So, as long as it’s pleasing to your eye, then you have achieved your goal. But as in all things, you’ll learn in time and experience to master your craft and instead of taking fair or good images, you’ll be taking great ones.

Rule of Thirds

RuleofThirdsEx1

Planet upper left cross hair, sun on top line

RuleofThirdsEx2

Moon lower left cross hair, sun flare parallel

Well, it’s more of a guideline than a rule but it’s a good one to follow and should be broken in the right circumstances. Beginning astrophotographers, or someone who’s in a hurry like myself, usually line up the main subject in the center of the image. It’s only natural, as humans we look directly at our subject of interest. There’s nothing wrong with that per say and it can work, but often times it fails to provide a balance and it can eliminate an interesting environment surrounding the subject. Remember, looking at an image is more than just looking at the main subject, because your eyes will want to wander. A good astrophotographer will capture the main subject in its natural environment as well as provide a balance to the scene.

Here’s how the Rule of Thirds works. Break your capture resolution up into thirds along the horizontal and vertical axis and visualize nine equal areas on your screen. Now, where the lines intersect, imagine cross hairs, there should be four of them.

RuleofThirdsEx3

Planet right third, sun flare parallel

With the lines and intersections visualized, you now line up your main subject, as well as other things of interest, at the intersections and along the lines. Why? The thought process is it will provide a natural balance to the scene that your viewer will be able to interact with. Take advantage of lines and curves to lead your viewer on a journey around your image.

Framing

Frame 1-1Mastering the Rule of Thirds is a great start to taking good images, but as you line up your shots, you’ll want to watch the outer edges and see if you can “frame” your subject. If possible, you can use other objects and/or the environment to provide a natural frame. Try to include natural lines and curves in a manner that will highlight, but not distract from the main focus. If you need to cut into your main subject, do so in a manner that looks appropriate. For example, making sure the object still looks whole and that the bulk of it remains.

Frame 1-2You may end up bending or even breaking the Rule of Thirds to properly frame an image, but that’s fine if the end result takes a good picture and makes it a great one. Watch, however, because in general you don’t want to cut objects in half. Either position yourself or your camera to include them fully or eliminate them entirely.

 

Frame 2-1There are however, times when cutting an object in half will enhance the frame, but only if it’s large enough to cover more than half of that particular edge. Again, not necessarily a rule, just a guideline, you have to experiment to see if the final image is going to look and feel right.

Frame 2-2Taking a look at these two examples, we can see in the first one I’ve cut into the planet leaving some space to be seen behind it as well as cliping it along the bottom. A minor adjustment to the camera position takes care of that issue. In the second example, I’ve cut the customs office in half which really distracts from the overall image. Simply zooming the camera out moves the office completely into the scene and it helps to break up the bleak blackness of that part of the image.

Contrast

I’ve often heard that black and white photography is the most difficult to master. You may ask why, because it’s simply black versus white, but therein lies the catch. It’s not about black and white at all, it’s about shades of gray. (Not fifty shades of gray, mind yourself!) A great black and white photographer succeeds by taking a picture with as many shades of gray as possible. ContrastFrom the blackest of blacks, to the whitest of whites and all the grays in between. The same is true in color photography in trying to show stark contrast with shades of color. See how many shades of color you can achieve. For planets, I try to capture the shades from the night side to the light side. A fully sun lit side of a planet can be dull, but there are the extremes, like silhouettes, that can provide for some truly amazing shots.

Interesting Textures

TexturesOther than colors and contrast, textures can provide an interesting subject matter as well. After taking so many pictures of planets, they all begin to start looking alike, and you have to turn to something else to make it interesting. You may not think of planets in terms of textures, but they do indeed have them. Especially from high in orbit, where the details of a civilization begin to vanish, and the oneness of the planet begins to prevail. A famous astronomer once referred to his home plant as the “Pale Blue Dot”. Look for textures in your images and see if you can pull them out by highlighting them via the rule of thirds and framing.

Leading the Viewer

LeadingViewer

Be on the lookout for minor subjects that can help lead your viewer to your main subject. There are many interesting things in space, use them to your advantage. For me, the planets are my main subject matter in all of my shots, but I don’t always have them front and center. Sometimes they’re way off in the distance, but I always have the planet in there somewhere. In those cases I try to use nearby subjects and/or the environment to help the viewer find my main subject. Human eyes naturally follow lines and curves, so it’s fairly easy to find them and then utilize them to pull your viewer in.

Ordinary to Extraordinary

This is a difficult one, as it just comes from experience and many times, there’s just nothing in the scene nearby that can help to take what is an ordinary picture and make it into an extraordinary one. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying, nor preventing you from taking the picture anyway, if nothing else for the experience of it. Just be aware of your surroundings and see if perhaps a better position between you and the main subject will help you to pull in other things that can provide some additional interest or contrast. In the case of astrophotography, you may be able to position yourself to utilize the sun, for example, to help make some rings really pop out. ExtraordinaryOr maybe you can create an artificial sunrise or sunset. Don’t forget about other subjects like your own ship to help spice up a scene. Once you start looking, you’ll begin to see some things you can use. Move around from moon to moon, or objects like customs offices and stations, you just never know what you may find that will turn that first image you liked into something that you’ll love.

Final Words

Go out and have fun, learn by doing, there’s no better way. Sure, you’ll take some bad images, just look in my gallery, but you’ll start getting those great shots that will have others asking for more. Enjoy yourself and share, don’t be afraid of what others think. Not everyone is going to “get” your image, but you really didn’t take it for them anyway, right? Besides, there are many more who will see what you saw and that’s the greatest feeling of all, when others share in your experience.

W4C8-Q XI, E5T-CS Gate

W4C8-Q XI, E5T-CS Gate

New Eden Explorers: Sugar Kyle

SugarKyle_Portrait

Sugar Kyle

More than once I’ve been surprised while doing this series to learn of someone that enjoys exploration, whether on a main or alt character, seeking out new horizons or for treasure in the void like my next guest. Now, I’m not one that usually discusses money, politics, or religion among friends and rarer still on an open public forum, but I’m proud to say I voted for my next guest last year for CSM 9 and she definitely has my vote for reelection to CSM X this year. She’s proved to be one of the hardest working CSM representatives we have, Sugar Kyle.

So, how did an explorer like myself come to vote for a Low Sec representative? Simple, I’ve got a Stay Frosty Pirate alt, Yarr! 😉 Granted, I don’t take her out much, I’m really not a PvPer, lol, but I agreed with Rixx Javix and voted for her based on his recommendation that we needed a representative for Low Sec. Not only has she represented Low Sec as promised, she’s also taking time to listen, research, ask questions, and come to understand other areas of Eve Online with an open mind. That’s the kind of candidate I want.

Since this is one of those rare occasions I’m talking politics I’ll go on to say that I for one fully believe and support that you don’t have to be an “expert” in your area as long as you are willing to learn and offer a fresh perspective. Sometimes you can be too close to an issue, biased, stubborn, etc., and not see the bigger picture. How many times have you looked at an issue and couldn’t see the problem? Then someone comes up, looks over your shoulder, and points right at it. It was in front of you the whole time. I believe that’s the kind of perspective Sugar Kyle brings to the table.

The approved candidate list will be up tomorrow and voting begins on Wednesday, February 25th. Here’s a post about the details as well as a surprise this year from CCP. Also, Cap Stable Podcast has done, yet again, a fantastic job of doing candidate interviews and analysis shows. You can find them via this link. I just ask you to do your research and vote for those you’d like to represent you. (I promise and swear to you I didn’t time this interview with the elections. It just worked out that way and it’s a great way to bring attention to the upcoming CSM X!) Well, enough politics. You now know who’s at the top of my list. 🙂 (and if you do wish to know who else is on my list, just watch for Evoganda’s post tomorrow, it’s close to mine, just a slightly different order.)

Truth be told, I didn’t start following Sugar’s blog, Low Sec Lifestyle, until after the elections. So, it did come as a surprise while reading that I come to learn of her explorer’s ways. Well I’ll be…

What attracted you to EVE Online and how long have you played?

I started in November of 2011 and I’ve just passed my third birthday in the game. I found out about Eve from a cracked.com article about one of the Eve Bank scams and I thought it sounded amazing. A bit of looking into the game told me that it was an open world where other pilots could kill me to take my stuff. My first online game was a MUD that had open world like this and it sounded like it would be a great time.

What is your background as a pilot? Did you jump right into exploration, start in the military, hired by a corporation, or something else?

SugarKyle_Standing2Exploration was one of the main ways that my corpmates made their ISK. This was pre-odyssey exploration where you had to scan the system to find out if there were signatures. I enjoyed the discovery aspect and then the hopeful hunt for treasure that followed after it.

What attracted you to explore New Eden? What is your goal and have you achieved it? If not, are you still working towards your goal, do plan to continue, or what are you currently doing?

I’m more a treasure hunter than one that seeks new horizons. I pillage and slink away to sell my goods on the market for whomever wants them. I’ve not had the time to go out in space and ply my wealth from the results of my scanner probes of late and I truly miss that activity.

Later, when I was elected to the CSM I started working to get some of the inconsistencies and broken bits fixed. It was a continuation of my campaign to bring low level DED complexes to low sec. This led to the rebalancing of escalations and anomalies which is something I am very proud to have been a part of.

But none of that beats spending my time slipping through space seeking what is hidden.

What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring? Why is it your favorite? Would you mind sharing your fit?

Legion

Legion

I settled on an exploration Legion in the end. I picked a T3 because I could nullify it. I often send my exploration character out to seek and seek until her cargo hold is full. She logs off in unknown systems and creeps, as unnoticed as possible, through the sovereign empires.

During your research and travels, what has been the most interesting fact, amazing sight, or other aspect of New Eden that surprised you?

Wormhole space relic and data sites have the most amazing structures. I’ve taken so many pictures of the shattered remains, oddly illuminated, cast in shadow and dust. They are beautiful monoliths and I understand why wormholes inspire their advocates. Wormhole space in general I have often found utterly enchanting due to the beauty and mystery. Just looking around Eve and taking pictures of nebula and planet can occupy hours and hours of my time.

What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

Take time to look at things and enjoy the scenery. One of the most gorgeous things I have ever seen was a lava planet in null. Read the descriptions and visit the monuments that you will find out in random systems.

For those who seek wealth, remember that it is not owed to you. You may seek but not find. Don’t be discouraged at a run of bad luck. You didn’t pick exploration for consistency but for that incredible payoff.

Do you have a favorite image that you wouldn’t mind me posting and sharing from your explorations?
Sugar_Favorite

9PX2-F VIII, N3-JBX Gate

Reenergized

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – André Gide, Author

15.02.yc117 NSBE-L < QI1M-Q Constellation < Scalding Pass

03-OR2 II

03-OR2 II

Joining Signal Cartel was, indeed, the right decision for me. Hearing the corp chatter in channel has been refreshing, from the challenges of the rookies to the experiences of the veterans, it’s been great to be among fellow explorers. The corp is growing having hit 100 members in a short time and the culture is a positive one, just what I needed and wanted. I’m trying to do my part from afar, which is challenging in and of itself while exploring Null Sec, as the corp grows and settles in. Mynxee sums up nicely our ways in her blog post “Musings on the Explorer’s Way” and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find you can still be yourself, yet be a part of something greater. If you’re interested in joining Signal Cartel, follow this link.

V-KDY2 VI

V-KDY2 VI

Since joining the new corp, I’ve had some interesting conversations in Null Sec. I’ve been asked a couple of times if there was a wormhole entrance to Thera in system. At first, I was thinking to myself how would I know and why are you asking, when it hit me, oh yeah. The rule of the day in Null is know who’s in local. I use tools like EVE Pirate’s Little Helper as well as bringing up pilot information and reading Bio’s, checking Corp, and Alliance information, when I’m in system with others. It’s a good first step to get an idea if you’re in hostile territory or not.

Sophia Hawkwood

Sophia Hawkwood

So of course it makes sense that I’m being checked out as well and with EVE-Scout quickly making a name for themselves with the hard work and dedication to Thera wormhole scouting, it’s only a natural when seeing my alliance of EVE-Scout Enclave to assume I’ve just come from there. It’s been rather funny trying to explain that I’ve no idea if there’s a entrance nearby, so I refer them to the EVE-Scout site, and go on to explain my personal mission. It’s actually been a great ice breaker and provides the opportunity to promote both Signal Cartel and EVE-Scout.

Setele Ymont

Setele Ymont

It’s refreshing to have that long eerie silence finally broken between the in corp and alliance channels as well as the questions in local, but also by the casual and encouraging conversations about my journey. On two separate occasions this last week, I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of fellow capsuleers. Both were pleasant and curious about my exploration. Sophia Hawkwood of Hawkwood Executive Interstellar Secure Transport, I met in system 5-MQQ7, and Setele Ymont of Phoebe Freeport Republic, I met in system 4-CM8I. I do wish to express my thanks to Phoebe Freeport Republic for their kind offer of docking as well as allowing me to pass through unhindered.

All in all, this past week has reenergized my spirit, like getting my second wind, while I look to the remainder of Null Sec exploration.

Fly clever!
Katia

#cantstopthesignal

JLO-Z3 VII

JLO-Z3 VII

* Images from Scalding Pass Region

10 3-0FYP X, Jester's Trek

Can’t stop the Signal

“Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.” – Frank Borman, Apollo 8 Astronaut

31.01.yc117 04-EHC < V2S-RH Constellation < Insmother

Perhaps this has happened to you, that moment when you first meet someone and feel like you’ve known them a lifetime or more. Or maybe you’ve read something that resonates with your very being, to your core, and you know it to be true. Or that moment upon hearing or seeing something and you know it’s meant to be.

03 KS-1TS III, Cat in Station

KS-1TS III, Cat in Station

When I began my exploration journey over five years ago now, there wasn’t any exploration corporations to be found. They didn’t exist, nor did I think they ever would. Likewise, I knew due to my own personal mission, I could never devote the necessary time and effort to grow a corporation and see to the memberships needs to make it successful. Yet, there have been a few exploration corps since then. Some successful and some not, but none that resonated with me. So, I had started Sagan Explorations as a personal corporation to accommodate my needs with the intention that I would never grow it.

11 Q-3HS5 XI

Q-3HS5 XI

But, the loneliness of deep Null Sec exploration has been eroding my determination to see this to the end. At first, it seemed that in every Null Sec region, I would always find someone that would strike up a conversation, ask about my journey, and wish me well. Lately, however, the journey has gone eerily quiet. These last few regions have been completely silent, with hunters now and then trying to seek me out without a word in local. It’s one thing to be hunted quietly, yet still continuing to receive words of encouragement from others. It’s another to be hunted, when you’re feeling completely alone in the silent depths of space. I’ve come to realize I needed that social interaction, that camaraderie of likeminded souls, to feel a part of something bigger than myself, to encourage me, to keep me going.

As fortune would have it or perhaps fate, Mynxee whom I had interviewed previously as part of the New Eden Explorer series, tweeted about forming a new corporation for explorers, Signal Cartel. Upon reading, I felt that tickling of the soul one gets when something is meant to be. I immediately replied with words of my support and encouragement for her new endeavor. Then I read the Corporate Credo and the envisioned Corporate Life and my soul began to sing. Home… has found me.

Portions of the Credo and Life that resonated. Click here to see them in their entirety and how to join if interested.

Signal Cartel

Signal Cartel

“Signal Cartel is a service corporation to all of New Eden… our goal is to look for a graceful resolution and set an example of dignity and friendship through our actions.”

“We embrace the attitude of a true explorer: we are friendly to others in our travels, neutral and never initiating aggression… In suffering losses, we respond with good cheer and shed no tears. In this way, we aim to be recognized and respected by all across the cluster and left in peace to do our work.”

“Among our own ranks and with others, we are patient and generous with knowledge, ideas, and experiences…”

“Signal Cartel members tend to be solo wanderers, opportunistically exploring New Eden far and wide to discover its secrets, wonders, and buried (or abandoned) treasure. Yet we are all connected by the ideals behind our corp credo which encourage open communication, cooperation, helpfulness, and a generous spirit.”

“To aid newer players who aspire to that lifestyle (Exploration)…”

07 4M-QXK VII

4M-QXK VII

As excited as I was, I didn’t want to immediately jump on the opportunity. I have a great deal of respect for Mynxee, her past experience of growing a unique corporation certainly gives credence that this one too will likely be successful, but would it be the right move for me? Sagan Explorations was more than just a haven, it was a tribute to Carl Sagan and Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, the one who first had awakened the explorer within me. I’ve always known I was an explorer, but watching Cosmos as a young teen, my eyes were opened to the wonders around me. It would be hard to give up that corporation name and tribute.

I slept on it overnight and by morning when I awoke, I couldn’t deny my explorers heart. How could I not join this new and growing exploration corp? So, that was that, my mind made up, I spent a great deal of time scanning down a connection to Empire space and after twenty systems finally found one. Landing in Orgron, Metropolis, I docked up for the first time in seven months, then respectfully dissolved Sagan Explorations and accepted the offered invite to join this new exploration corp. It’s not just about wanting what Signal Cartel has to offer, I had decided, it was about need. I only hope that I can offer as much as I’m sure it will give.

You can’t stop the Signal.

04 G-EURJ IV

G-EURJ IV

* Images from Insmother Region

New Eden Explorers: Ashterothi

What is the Eve Online Metagame? There are as many meanings for the word as there are capsuleers. For myself, I see it as the expanded Eve Universe created by players beyond the game itself. My definition includes the artist, fiction and non-fiction writers, roleplayers, bloggers, DJ’s, Podcasters, and many more as long as the central aspect of their creation is for the enjoyment and/or education of others centered on the Eve Universe.

Ashterothi

Ashterothi

Obviously, I participate in the metagame as a writer of this blog, but I’m also a beneficiary. I read many blogs, gaze on some great art work, study the finer technical details of game play, and I listen to podcast, just to name a few. On that note, I’m very pleased to present Ashterothi as the next interview in my New Eden Explorer Series. There’s around ten or so podcast I listen to, but it’s the newest of the lot that has quickly attained the status of being my favorite and that’s Hydrostatic Podcast of which Ashterothi is one of the host. Interestingly enough, I’d have to say my second favorite podcast is High Drag, which Ashterothi is also a host. Coincidence? Hmm… perhaps. Must be something to it, huh?

Truth be told, both podcast are high quality, always have something interesting to listen to, and if you’re into the Lore of New Eden, then I can’t recommend Hydrostatic Podcast enough. They have an excellent segment on the lore. Give them a listen, it’s all good stuff and you won’t be disappointed.

What attracted you to EVE Online and how long have you played?

I joined thanks to a couple of friends of mine in real life. I was a scout in the military, so scouting and exploring came naturally to me. Cov ops was the first tech 2 I shot for, before that I actually scouted for my null group in a t1 frig for hours at a time. o.O

How would you describe your characters career path?

Ashterothi_Standing2Exploration has always been a side venture for me. After my very brief stint in null I drifted around high sec corps for a while until I hit on Aideron Robotics. Once we joined FW, and I was promoted to COO, most of my focus has been on that.

What attracted you to explore New Eden? What is your goal and have you achieved it? If not, are you still working towards your goal, do plan to continue, or what are you currently doing?

Have you been out there? Its pretty, and there be gold in them there space lanes. My goal is to become “good” at EVE. I fear I may never achieve that goal, as I keep redefining what “good” is.

What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring? Why is it your favorite? Would you mind sharing your fit?

Stratios, it brings a tear to my eye. Beautiful, and does exactly what it was designed for. I never feel like I should have brought a different ship.

I experiment with fits, but at this exact moment my fit is:

[Stratios, Ashterothi’s]
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Corelum C-Type Medium Armor Repairer
Damage Control II

Stratios

Stratios

Federation Navy Omnidirectional Tracking Link, Optimal Range Script
Medium Capacitor Battery II
Experimental 10MN Afterburner I
Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II

Sisters Core Probe Launcher, Sisters Core Scanner Probe
Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Heavy Beam Laser II, Gleam M
Heavy Beam Laser II, Gleam M
Heavy Beam Laser II, Gleam M

Medium Nanobot Accelerator I
Medium Capacitor Control Circuit I
Medium Capacitor Control Circuit I

Hobgoblin II x6
Hammerhead II x5
Salvage Drone I x5
Ogre II x4
Garde II x6

During your research and travels, what has been the most interesting fact, amazing sight, or other aspect of New Eden that surprised you?

The lore and how everything in game links to the stories out of game. Realize that all the pieces may mean something, and that we may not understand it yet as players. *the truth is out there*

What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

Never make any decision based on killboard stats. EVER. That is actually good advice for anyone.

Do you have a favorite image that you wouldn’t mind me posting and sharing from your explorations?

I used to have this wonderful image, but I think I lost it. I finally decided to head out to the EVE Gate. While I was there I scanned down a WH. That WH had 9 planets, and was in the proper order to be Sol, except the 3rd planet was Barren. To this day in my heart I feel like I have found the reminance of home. Perhaps a causonary tale of our home.

REB-KR, Natural Phenomena

The Mission: Past, Present, Future

“As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas…” – Herman Melville, Moby Dick: or, the Whale

11.01.yc117 B-WQDP < GU-JZ1 Constellation < Wicked Creek Region

The Mission

Systems 20150111

Systems explored map

For those followers who are new, or may not be aware of my mission, it is my desire to explore all of New Eden one system at a time and record my journey with images and writings via this blog. I began my journey in yc111 (2009) and as you can see by the graph, it wasn’t until this last year did I truly tackle the mission. The two years I went missing, yc114 & yc115, I spent grieving for my father whom had passed away from this life. From his passing I truly began to understand what one aspect of being immortal meant… seeing mortal loved ones and friends around you slowly disappear from your life. I spent those years grounded planet side on Saisio, my home system, wondering if my wanderings should continue.

2014 Systems by YearThe support, love, and encouragement of my family and friends during that dark time finally lifted my heart and I was able to let go of my grief allowing me to return to my explorations. It is, after all, what my father would have wanted. So with a vengeance, I outdid all my previous system explorations, completing Phase I: Empire space and starting Phase II: Nullsec space this last year ending with 2,959 total systems explored since the start of my mission.

The Past – What didn’t work

Backups

NI-J0B II

NI-J0B II

One of the first things I had done during my break was to backup my writings and images I had chronicled to that point, thinking if I should return, I would then be able to restore this blog and carry on. As it turned out, the writings portion of my backup was corrupted and I didn’t realize it until I went to restore. This is why you’ll not find any post prior to my return in yc116. Fortunately, the images I had taken up to that point where good and I was able to restore them to my gallery. I’ve corrected this issue should it ever come up again, having more than one verified backup on hand in different locations. I can’t stress enough that if there’s something in digital form that you wish to keep, be sure to not only back it up, but verify it’s good.

Image Processing

QXE-1N I

QXE-1N I

One of the reasons my exploration was going at such a slow pace before was due to the labor intensive work with the images I had taken. To get them ready for the gallery, due to space limitations and other factors, I would adjust their format and size before uploading them. Upon my return, the first thing I did was to streamline and automate the process of capturing the image and reformatting before upload. This one simple change has saved me countless hours and I’m able to explore more systems with the time saved.

Regions of New Eden

I had started a new series called “Regions of New Eden”, but after doing the first one, I realized it was going to be more time intensive than I had anticipated. That, plus the fact I received no feedback, I’ve decided to not continue it as I’d rather spend that time on the other series I had started that is working well, which leads to…

The Present – What works well

New Eden Explorers

Y19P-1 VI, Circadian Seeker

Y19P-1 VI, Circadian Seeker

The series “New Eden Explorers” that I had begun last year has been well received and I will continue with it this year. I currently have at least two more interviews lined up and will more than likely conclude the series something during the first half of yc117. I’ve really enjoyed learning about my fellow explorers and as you’ve learned as well, there are many different ways to go about exploring New Eden. I hope as a reader and follower of my blog, you’ve enjoyed the series, learned something from it, and that it’s encouraged you to explore even more than you have before. I’d love to hear from you if it has and if you know of an explorer I’ve missed that either blogs, videos, or chronicles their journey in some manner publicly, then please let me know. I’d be happy to include them in the series if they’d like.

The Future – Exploration

At my current pace, if I’m able to keep it going, I should complete Phase II: Nullsec by the end of this year, yc117 (2015). At that time, we’ll see if I continue on with W-Space. That would be another 2,498 systems not including the newly discovered Thera system plus an additional 100 shattered wormholes. If I do continue, I’ll be looking for a different way to document and record my visit to each system. I believe my time to scan down wormholes will take away time I would usually visit each planet in system, so at this time, I’m not sure just how I’ll go about my journey, but I still have some time to think about it. If you’re a wormhole explorer and have some ideas, please let me know.

F76-8Q III, RHE7-W Gate

F76-8Q III, RHE7-W Gate

 

New Eden Explorers: Mynxee

Mynxee is one classy Lady and just how do I know that? Through personal experience. During the summer my Alt’s Alliance, A Band Apart, held a Summer Frigate Smackdown. In my very first match, Stray was paired to fight Mynxee. In my 11 years of playing EVE off and on, that fight had to be the most fun I’ve ever had. It started off with my first solo kill… ever. Then I danced with the Hellcat in the pale starlight.

What a great fight! Before we engaged in combat, I was nervous, scared, and knew for sure my impending explosion was soon to be. I hadn’t realize that Mynxee had gimped her fit in a way that had our characters very closely matched. We warped to our local safe spot in Ish, rushed at each other to close range. I scored first hits, watched her shields start to fall while not taking any damage myself. I began to wonder what was up. Then realized she was getting hit with some severe lag. It wasn’t long, however, before I started feeling the return hits.

Then I started seeing some of the craziest lights, and was like what kind of weapon is that? When I realized it was fireworks! LOL! So, it was quite a show! Both of us were deep in armor and hull when I thought I had her, she vanished, but no wreck. Then I saw she wasn’t in fleet anymore either, she had lost connection! Ack! So, I turned off my armor rep, stopped, and waited for her return.

After a little bit, she popped back in and we went at it again. At this point, my guns were already burnt out, but I still had my drones, but it didn’t take long before I was running out of cap. It came down to who was going to get the last armor rep in. She was down to 13% armor, 6% hull and I was down to 52% armor, 8% hull…. After I got my rep in and won the fight!

Simply awesome! Thanks Mynxee for a great memory and a fun fight that I’ll always remember.

As you’ll learn, she also has an explorer’s heart, runs a blog at “Outlaw Insouciant”, was a former CSM Chair, and is currently a scout for EvE-Scout, based in Thera.

Tell us why you became a capsuleer. What was it that appealed to you to become a pilot in a dangerous and unforgiving environment?

Mynxee_Portrait

Mynxee

I have always had the soul of an explorer. Life as a capsuleer seemed to offer the right mix of excitement, opportunity, mystery, and freedom to follow my heart, see amazing things, control my own destiny, and answer to no one. I earned my pilot’s license in YC109 (2007). I will never forget the first time I undocked. I felt so small and New Eden so huge…I remember in my naiveté feeling nervous even about jumping from system to system in high sec, hoping I was “allowed” to go there. That sense that *anything* could happen created a persistent little frisson that hooked me right from the start and remains to this day.

How would you describe your characters career path?

My original character was drawn to exploration and casual industry. Within a couple of days in New Eden, I was enthralled by the game already and subscribed immediately. Soon after while mining in my starter system, I was approached by an experienced (2003!) pilot who was starting a corp and inviting rookies to join. Within a couple of days, I joined and then it became clear that the social element of the game made it even more fun–especially when you have the benefit of being able to ask a very experienced player about all the 10,000 confusing details involved in fitting ships, etc. He was a very friendly, patient, and funny guy…we are still friends to this day.

A few months down the line, I took a clueless shortcut through low sec (Basgerin) and was attacked by pirates. A local group of anti-pirates who used to be pirates rose to my defense and befriended me. Thus I learned all about a side of New Eden that I only had the most peripheral awareness of before: life as an outlaw. It was intriguing! So Mynxee was born and while training up basic fitting and pvp skills, I supported my other character’s work. Meanwhile, through my new friends I was introduced to others and so it goes!

Mynxee_Standing2When Mynxee finally was ready to begin her career as a pilot, my friends put me in touch with a former pirate corp they had belonged to, Death of Virtue, and I went to live in Decon and learn about life as an outlaw. I will never EVER forget my first solo kill in that system, some noob in a frigate. Not only was it my first experience of the PvP shakes, but my victim became a friend in game and went on to become an outlaw himself!

At that time, I was writing my blog Life in Low Sec which was fairly popular. I had been getting evemails from women readers regularly, especially newer players, who were interested in life as a pirate but weren’t sure where to start and wanted a mentor. Eventually, I decided there was a need for a women-only pirate corp that would nurture and provide a supportive environment for women players. So I founded Hellcats as a women-only pirate corp. Although the corp was never very big (intentionally), Hellcats became fairly well known in New Eden at the time and we had a great time terrorizing low sec and flying with many other notorious troublemakers: The Bastards, Tuskers, Python Cartel, and others.

In 2010, with the encouragement of many of my pirate and other friends, I ran for CSM5 on a “fix low sec” platform. Surprisingly, I received the most votes of any candidate which gave me the position of Chairperson (a role that current CSMs have done away with). The game and plans for its future were in a concerning state at the time, thus CSM5’s relationship with CCP was somewhat contentious and/or frustrating as we tried to fulfill the charter of stakeholder status as conferred by CCP and be a representative voice for the community. When that exhausting year was over, I decided to unplug for awhile and didn’t return to my spaceships until April YC116 (2014).

When I unplugged, I turned Hellcats over to one of its directors and the corp subsequently closed. But recently, an old friend and fan of the corp has opened Hellcats Reloaded. She is still deciding on the details for this new incarnation although “women and PvP” is the focus. I am offering advice as she wants it but will not be involved otherwise in the new venture.

What attracted you to explore New Eden? What is your goal and have you achieved it? If not, are you still working towards your goal, do plan to continue, or what are you currently doing?

Before I took my break from New Eden, I often used to simply wander to see the sights as a way of escaping the demands of being a CEO and serving on the CSM. It was relaxing and there is much to see in the cluster if one goes looking for it. When I returned to New Eden, I decided that I was not interested in agendas, drama, or politics. While I love PvP and remain a pirate at heart, my RL connection is via satellite internet due to living in a rural location with no other options. The latency makes PvP untenable and unfun for me. But I found that I was content just wandering around hopping through wormholes and doing hacking sites in low and null sec, all while playing or banking at Eve Online Hold’em (EOH) for ISK (admittedly, I am a poker junkie!).

Cheetah

Cheetah

Then Thera came along and I find myself enamored of that system and its many connections to the rest of New Eden. I have signed on to be a scout for EvE-Scout and enjoy helping people get into and out of Thera when I’m in system. Surprisingly, I find myself interested in the lore and speculations related to Thera and have spent time learning more about those.

My blog, Outlaw Insouciant, shares my new, more quiet adventures as a capsuleer. One thing I began doing is keeping a podjournal illustrating things I see in my travels. Recently, I have not posted any podjournal pages but I do plan to do more as a regular feature of the blog.

What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring? Why is it your favorite? Would you mind sharing your fit?

Astero

Astero

Cloaky ships are my favorite ships to fly, with frigates being my preference. Currently, I am in love with the beauty and fun of flying my Astero for doing hacking sites. However, the Cheetah offers a bigger scan probe strength bonus so I grudgingly use it for probing in Thera…it is so ugly though. I am very fond of the Hound and Rapier but don’t often fly them anymore due to the connection difficulties that so negatively impact my ability to PvP.

My fits tend to start off as standard fits lifted from Eve Uni’s wiki, then tweaked based on personal preference or intended use. My early skill training was all geared toward maximizing my ship fitting ability so I usually don’t have any trouble fitting T2; I rarely fit Faction gear (except for my Sisters of Eve probe launcher)…it’s not really necessary for what I do and typically beyond my wallet capabilities anyway 😛

During your research and travels, what has been the most interesting fact, amazing sight, or other aspect of New Eden that surprised you?

Thera has to take the prize as being the most amazing, interesting, and mysterious place I’ve been in New Eden. I look forward to seeing what else unfolds in the story about that place, Caroline’s Star, and the shattered wormholes. I love love love that so much about it remains to be discovered, that there is a sense we might never know the answer, and that this all combines to make New Eden feel big again, somehow–much bigger than capsuleers and our activities.

What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

Learn a few important basics: using a cov ops cloak, probing skills so that finding sigs isn’t an exercise in time-consuming frustration, how to avoid and/or navigate out of bubbles in null sec and w-space, how to use the d-scanner efficiently and what to be concerned about, how to set insta-undock bookmarks and why they are important in low/null/wh space. And share your journeys in a blog. Everyone sees things in New Eden with different eyes and gets to places by different routes. Share the emotions and wonder of your travels…the mechanics are the same for everyone and soon grow boring to read about unless they are intended to be instructional.

Do you have a favorite image that you wouldn’t mind me posting and sharing from your explorations?

Yes, here’s two recent images… of my Astero Pocket Rockets (my ships tend to have poker-related names) cloaked in Thera, and of it uncloaked flying past a planet in glorious light.

Thera01

Pocket Rockets cloaked in Thera

pocketrockets01

Pocket Rockets planet flyby

DT-PXH VII, Jester's Trek

Wanderings and Explorations

21.12.yc116 BW-WJ2 < QP6B-I Constellation < Tenerifis Region

OOC (Out of Character):

Wanderers

Rixx Javix, over on Eveoganda, posted a link to a video called “Wanderers”. It is a short film by Erik Wernquist with a narration by Carl Sagan, depicting futuristic recreations of actual places in our solar system. It truly captures, at least for me, what’s in an explorer’s heart. As a follower of my blog, if you’ve not seen it, watch it, you won’t be disappointed.

The Dawn of Orion

As it turns out, there’s been a great deal going on this last month towards our future exploration endeavors. On December 5th, 2014, NASA launched the Orion crew module on the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. It marks the beginning on a long journey to set the first human steps on Mars. With the current levels of funding, it’s believed that the first human to explore Mars is alive today. Optimistically, the timeframe puts us there in the 2020’s, with the 2030’s being probable, but unless the funding changes, I believe the 2040’s is more realistic.

NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover

Then there’s the little rover that could. Curiosity has made the news twice this month. First, is the discovery that Mars’ Mount Sharp shows evidence of having been built up over millions of years from sediment indicative of a large lake bed which you can read about here.

Then, just last week, the first definitive detection of organic molecules was made, which are the building blocks of life as we know it here on earth. Unfortunately, more evidence is required to determine if the presence of the molecules is truly from a form of life or from a chemical reaction. You can read more about this discovery here.

Many question the wisdom of spending billions of dollars on such explorations, but I see it as no different as our ancestors taking their first bold steps to the new world. The price was high, the risk was great, but so to were the rewards. Even today, a great deal of the technology that we take for granted can be traced back to the space program. Check out this site, NASA @ Home and City, to see how it’s impacted you.

QRBN-M V

QRBN-M V

Systems 20141128

Where I’ve Been. Where I’m Going.

“We have crossed the oceans. We have followed the stars” – “The Hands of Man”, Chris de Burgh

07.12.yc116 C-WPWH < O5QG-M Constellation < Omist

Y-MSJN II, Caroline's Star

Y-MSJN II, Caroline’s Star from Omist Region

Even though I’ve not docked in 152 days as I explore Null Sec, instead living alone in and out of my pod on ship, I continue to receive news via Aura. The news of late has been far more interesting than usual. It seems there’s a new star in the sky that was discovered on 26.11.yc116 by a fellow capsuleer explorer, Caroline Grace. Intrigued by the news and not having noticed it myself, I eagerly cut my break short, stripped down, and jumped back into my pod to have a look. Sure enough, once I knew there was something new in the sky, it didn’t take me long to find it. Not too much is known other than, it’s getting brighter, seems to be in Jove space, and there appears to be some form of an accretion disc expanding outward from it.

S-XZHU II, Jester's Trek

S-XZHU II, Jester’s Trek

My exploration travels lately have me nearly to the edge of the New Eden cluster in the South West region of Null Sec, but even from here, I can see the new light in the heavens. It’s not as prominent as seen from closer to Jove space from the images that Caroline and others have taken, but it’s distinct and clearly unusual once you know to look for it. As to what it is, only speculation can guess at answers until more is learned. So for now, I’ll leave that to others, but I can’t help feeling that this is only a prelude to something bigger…

In other news, it seems the growing ranks of new capsuleers is on the rise. Almost seems to me as if in answer to the new star. Are we unknowingly preparing from something? Maybe it’s just my ancient ancestors whispering dark omens from times past when such events were the herald of evil times, but even knowing how foolish I am to think such thoughts, I can’t help the goose bumps along my arms nor the raised hair on the back of my neck. I’m sure it’s nothing, at least that’s what I keep telling myself, and in some ways I’m glad I’m flying alone far from Jove space, but its times like this I wish my Grand-Father were here.

7L9-ZC XI

7L9-ZC XI

For those new capsuleers who may have stumbled upon this journal of my exploration travels, welcome. My mission is to explore all of New Eden, one system at a time, stopping and taking an image of each planet which can be seen in my Gallery. Phase I was Empire space, which has been completed. Phase II is Null Sec, which I’m currently working on. I’ve been at this for five years now and I’m now at 50% of K-Space (known space) completed. It’s been a long journey so far and I’ve still a ways to go. If there’s a Phase III, it will be WH-Space (wormhole space), but that’s still a ways off for now.

Be sure to check out my gallery and feel free to leave comments and ask questions either here or via Eve-mail.

Fly smart, fly safe,
Katia

Oh… by the way, Caroline Grace has agreed to be interviewed as part of my New Eden Explorer Series, so be sure to check back!

MJ-X5V VIII, M9-FIB Gate

MJ-X5V VIII, M9-FIB Gate

New Eden Explorers: JonnyPew

One of the greatest privileges of doing this series has been getting to know my fellow capsuleer explorers. Some I have known of and a few that I haven’t which is the case with Sir Livingston, better known as JonnyPew. I know, I know! I must be flying under a rock to not have seen his amazing collection of nearly 150 videos that he’s put together. Many of which cover exploration around New Eden. I’ve only done two videos and I’m well aware of the hard work and effort that goes into each one and simply admire his dedication to our universe. All I can say is, I’m glad this series has lead me to find his work!

What attracted you to EVE Online and how long have you played?

JonnyPew

JonnyPew

I started playing EVE Online in 2010 during the Dominion expansion. I’ve been subscribed ever since so…that’s about 4.5 years in total. A friend at work got me into the game. He started telling me of he and his corporation’s adventures in New Eden. This continued daily for a couple weeks. I liked hearing of this sci-fi universe so much that one evening I started a trial account. After undocking for the first time I knew this game was special, something I wanted to learn. I believe that is the key to my staying with the game for so many years. The desire to learn the game.

How would you describe your characters career path?

I’ve had a varied career in New Eden. I first joined a mining corporation and grinded my way through the belts of the Lonetrek region. It was during that time that I also first discovered exploration. I remember running a number of high-sec radar/magnetometric sites (pre-Odyssey data/relic sites with npc defenders) and realizing much more profitable exploration was in comparison to high-sec mining. It wasn’t soon after this that I left the corporation and began running missions and exploration sites throughout high-sec as a solo pilot.

SirLivingstonFull8 months later I joined a null-sec corporation in Pure Blind. During my 4 month stay out there I ran combat sites, combat anomalies, participated in war efforts, home defense fleets, small null-sec roams, and did the best I could to learn how to survive.

After tiring of the null-sec life I joined a high-sec war corporation. I spent just a month with them, but I learned much about surviving high-sec wars and griefing.

Growing sick of high-sec, I decided to live in low-sec as a solo pilot. I spent about 6 months in the low-sec region called Aridia and again I learned how to survive.

Not soon after I left low-sec did I decide to go on a Tour of Null-Sec, a circumnavigation of empire space. 500+ consecutive null-sec jumps later with my ship still intact I docked up in the nearest station to conclude my adventure. It truly felt like a real adventure. And of course again I learned.

6 months later I decided to learn about Faction Warfare. I joined a FW corporation that based out of Black Rise low-sec. I spent the next 7 months learning about FW PvP and the various mentalities of FW pilots.

I started my own corporation later that year.

What attracted you to explore New Eden? What is your goal and have you achieved it? If not, are you still working towards your goal, do plan to continue, or what are you currently doing?

I used to do exploration in New Eden for the profits, but now that I have plenty of isk I simply explore because I like the nomadic existence it often allows. I’m currently running hacking sites in null-sec with an interceptor.

What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring? Why is it your favorite? Would you mind sharing your fit?

Currently my favorite ship is the interceptor explorer fit I designed for the Raptor. It’s extremely cost-effective and fun to zip around null-sec with.

Raptor

Raptor

Inertia Stabilizers II
Inertia Stabilizers II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II
Relic Analyzer II

Prototype Cloaking Device I
Core Probe Launcher II, Sisters Core Scanner Probe
150mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Uranium Charge S
150mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Uranium Charge S

Small Emission Scope Sharpener I
Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I

 

During your research and travels, what has been the most interesting fact, amazing sight, or other aspect of New Eden that surprised you?

I’ll never be able to learn all there is to EVE Online. For this reason I log on.

What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

Whether you’re in it for the profit or just the sake of doing something different, find the joy in it. Exploration is just 1 game within THE game.

You can follow JonnyPew on YouTube and Twitter via the links below!

JonnyPew’s YouTube Channel
Follow JonnyPew on Twitter

Here’s two of my favorite JonnyPew videos.