Another terrible try at Astrophotography

Discussion in 'Landscape & Cityscape' started by PersistentNomad, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. PersistentNomad

    PersistentNomad No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I waited all week for the clouds to clear so I could go outside and shoot for the new moon. No luck. Tonight, it seemed, was going to be my night. And it was! ...for three minutes before new clouds rolled in really fast. I wasn't really pleased with any of my shots, so these are all pushed in editing a lot further than I typically go with things in an effort to spice it up a bit.
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  2. WesternGuy

    WesternGuy Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I am curious as to what it is you are trying to do here. Are you trying to capture just the stars as points of light in the sky, or are you trying to capture star trails? Either way, it almost looks like the stars are not in focus to begin with.

    WesternGuy
     
  3. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    When the Moon is 'new' the side of the Moon facing Earth is not lit.
    That can only happen when the Moon is very close to being on the line between us and the Sun, making it very difficult to photograph, and of course no stars would be visible because it would be daytime.

    Each night past 'new' a little more of the side of the Moon facing Earth is lit, and the Moon is a little bit further from the Sun by about 52 minutes per day.
    By lunation day 0.5, only 0.3% of the side of the moon facing Earth is lit and the Moon is still very close to the Sun.

    The last New Moon (lunation 29.29 days, 0% illuminated) was on September 30, @ 10:59:38 here where I live.
    New Britain is pretty close to the same latitude I am at, but adjust the times (time zone) for your longitude.

    First quarter Moon (lunation 8.2 days, 50% illuminated) this month will be Saturday night Oct. 8, @ 23:55:38 my local time.
    In New Britain, CT, on the 8th the Moon will cross the meridian - due south and the highest point in the sky that night the Moon will reach - at 17:35 PM.
    Sunset in New Britain will be at about 6:21 PM.
    Nautical twilight doesn't end until 7:21 PM, and astronomical twilight doesn't end until 7:53 PM. Until the Moon sets, the end of astronomical twilight is as dark as it can be where you are. Once the Moon sets it will be a little darker.
    The Moon will be at azimuth 214° and an altitude of 21° above the SSW horizon at 7:53 PM in New Britain.

    I used 2 free download software applications to determine the dates, times, and sky coordinates noted above for New Britain and my location:
    Virtual Moon Atlas & Stellarium

    Attached Stellarium screen shot licensing:
    The full sky milky way panorama is created by Axel Mellinger, University of Potsdam, Germany. Further information and more pictures available from
    Axel Mellinger's Milky Way Panorama 2.0
    License: permission given to "Modify and redistribute this image if proper credit to the original image is given."
    And credit to Stellarium.org for the rest - per Stellarium creator/coordinator Fabien Chéreau.
     

    Attached Files:

  4. astroNikon

    astroNikon 'ya all Bananas I tell 'ya Supporting Member

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    As you've found out, astrophotography isn't an easy thing. It's not like a model shows up in your studio and away you go. You can plan something for weeks (or an entire year) just for that day to come and it's raining out or something.

    last year I planned and went to a "Dark Sky" park. I set up my 170 lb telescope. Night was clear, no wind, absolutely beautiful as the Milky Way was so brilliant in the sky, other constellations right where I planned them to be. Then I saw it .... distant clouds moving in quickly. Checked the weather radar again and apparently due to the jet stream changing the place was going to get several days of storms unlike the weather forecast the day before. So I grabbed my camera, 18-35 lens and took quick pictures of the sky. Packed up the scope just in time for the rain to come.

    It rained continuously for a couple days. So that 5 hour one-way drive was for about 30 minutes of rushed shooting. I might plan that trip again next year.
     
  5. PersistentNomad

    PersistentNomad No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    @WesternGuy I have been having trouble getting my camera to focus correctly. I tried to bring a flashlight to help me focus on the trees with the AF, but the light I brought wasn't strong enough to make it work. Really I think I need to spend some time marking my lens with where infinity is for the different focal lengths. I wasted a lot of time on trying to focus and still didn't get there. Also, I did start trying to do some star trails, but that's when the clouds started moving in so I cut my exposure times shorter than I was intending.

    @KmH I know the new moon was a few days ago, and I had blocked on my calendar all last week and into this week for photos, but literally every night I looked outside there was severe cloud cover. Last night was really clear... until of course I set up my camera.

    I know it's not easy, but I didn't think it would be this difficult either. I'm particularly disappointed in how un-rich the color range in my photos are compared to other images I see. Do you think that is because most of the images I'm drawn to are way out in the middle of nowhere and have no light interference? Or is there something I'm missing?
     
  6. Advanced Photo

    Advanced Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The Moon doesn't get closer to the Sun by much, it does get closer to alignment with the Sun and Earth though.
     
  7. WesternGuy

    WesternGuy Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    PN, I shoot Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis when I get the opportunity and I just returned from a 7 day trip to Northern Canada and had 2 nights of Aurora Borealis - one so-so and the other well WOW doesn't even come close to describing it. The rest were cloudy and rainy.

    I have to make sure that my images are in focus, otherwise the images are throw aways. Here is what I do and I suspect you might be able to duplicate it with your D5000 if it works for you.

    I set everything to manual focus, both camera and lens and I open the lens as wide as it will go, e.g., f2.8 at 16mm for my 16-35 - yup, I shoot with a Canon :biggrin-93:. I then set my focus to infinity and I then turn on Liveview, find a very bright star and try and centre it in the Liveview screen on the back of my camera. I then use the "magnifier" and enlarge the image. The star may look like a blob or a round doughnut of sorts. I then adjust my focus, as necessary, until the star is a very small pinpoint or as small and as sharp as I can get it. In this situation, your lens should now be focused properly to capture sharp star trails. Some photographers I know, advocate the use of gaffer tape to hold the focus ring in place. Gaffer tape is recommended because it will not leave a gummy residue on your equipment.

    My camera lens is now in focus and set to manual - I do not reset to AF, but leave it set on manual focus. The camera is also set to manual and I can now set whatever exposure time that I want. I would turn off Liveview when this is all set up and I would leave the lens wide open. I would also cover the eyepiece/viewfinder as it can, on some cameras, provide "leakage" during long exposures. A small black cloth will serve this purpose - just make sure it doesn't cover part of the lens.

    As far as ISO is concerned, I shoot my Aurora pics at anywhere from ISO 800 to ISO 1600, although I will go as high as ISO 3200. A lot depends on how bright the Aurora is. I use exposures from 1 second to 5 seconds, maybe a bit more, at the risk of over exposure.

    As far as "process" is concerned for star trails, I am sure there is a lot of stuff on the web, but I am also sure that you are more familiar with it than I am. One that I found useful when I was starting out - The Complete Guide to Photographing the Night Sky | Educating Photographers, One Pixel at a Time™ .

    Hope this helps.

    WesternGuy
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2016
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  8. PersistentNomad

    PersistentNomad No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Feeling like I did a lot better last night! :) These are from my back deck actually overlooking the light pollution from Hartford. I think that's why they all have a vignette look going on. But more than composition or quantity of stars I was concerned with trying to get the focus a little more nailed, and playing with techniques to figure it out. I'm also doing a lot more in editing to add color to the images with the tint and temp. I kind of like how I lucked out with the plane flying through Orion. It's like an arrow going through his heart. :)
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  9. WesternGuy

    WesternGuy Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    A lot better. I like the "trails" one. Now you just need to find the northern star, a real dark sky somewhere and try for the complete circle, or the milky way. :thumbyo:

    WesternGuy
     
  10. zombiesniper

    zombiesniper Furtographer Extraordinaire! Supporting Member

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    Love the B&W capture.
     
  11. petrochemist

    petrochemist TPF junkie!

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    My astro efforts have all met the same problems of focus & sky glow. Having just brought a GPS for my camera that allows it to track the stars (using the shake reduction system) I'll be trying again & have been reading up on ways to solve these.
    There are devices called Bahtinov Masks (which you can make your self or buy) that work very well for focusing longer focal lengths (over 100mm), but live-view seems to be the best option for wider lenses. A neat photoshop trick for sky glow is apparently to create a heavily Gaussian blurred copy (at least 50 pixels) & combine by difference. :eagerness: :saturn::saturn:

    The complete circle would take 24hrs, and is only possible in the arctic circle as daylight looses all the starts otherwise. :biglaugh:
     
  12. WesternGuy

    WesternGuy Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    My question is then how these folks get the "circle" - assume they travel to the far north. Then I guess she will have to settle for a partial circle, but the milky way is still possible. There are some good images posted elsewhere on TPF and other forums. My guess is that it is best to wait for summer when the Milky Way is higher in the sky, but even now a shot of it can be good practice.

    How does that "Gaussian Blur" trick work. Your concise explanation didn't make it too obvious? Do you have a web reference for this process? Thanks.

    WesternGuy
     

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