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Very First Attempt at Astrophotography

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Thread started 19 Feb 2012 (Sunday) 15:01   
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heldGaze
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I enjoy looking at astrophotography, so I have decided to start making some of my own. I made my first attempts this past week. One issue I had was the focus, I took a lot of photos and the realized I had the focus completely wrong. I understand the basic concepts but when it comes to specific setting of aperture, ISO, length of exposure, etc. I'm basically just playing with it till I get something usable. I suppose focus should be infinity.

Here are a few images that came out usable. Nothing spectacular but I'm happy I got a few images I could at least use. My camera is a Canon 40D and I was using my Sigma 18-200mm OS lens. All the photos have been manipulated in photoshop a bit to make them more appealing to my eye.

Thanks Toxic Coolaid, I have fixed this post so the thumbnails link to fullsized images when clicked.

First up is the Moon, Saturn & Spica*. (ISO 1250, 10 seconds at 18mm, f/7.1)

IMAGE NOT FOUND IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
http://chuck-d.net ...0&%20Saturn.jpg​.thumbexternal link
HTTP response: 404 | Byte size: ZERO


Here we have Orion (ISO 100, 105 second exposure at 18mm, f/3.5)

IMG NOTICE: [NOT AN IMAGE URL, NOT RENDERED INLINE]

Finally here is Polaris and the chimney of my parents' home (ISO 800, 28 minutes & 43 seconds at 18mm, f/14)

IMG NOTICE: [NOT AN IMAGE URL, NOT RENDERED INLINE]

Any feedback is of course appreciated. *Spica, not Sirius, thanks Toxic Coolaid.

Post #1, Feb 19, 2012 15:01:39


My Photo Sharing Threads
Cameras: Canon 40D, Canon 300SD, Nokia N95 (retired)
Lenses: Sigma 18-200mm DC OS, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Telescope: Meade LXD55 SN-6" F=762mm f/5, eyepieces: 26mm, 2x Barlow T-Mount
Software: Photoshop CS3, GIMP, DSS, Star Trails

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heldGaze
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fixed OP, sorry

Post #2, Feb 19, 2012 15:29:51


My Photo Sharing Threads
Cameras: Canon 40D, Canon 300SD, Nokia N95 (retired)
Lenses: Sigma 18-200mm DC OS, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Telescope: Meade LXD55 SN-6" F=762mm f/5, eyepieces: 26mm, 2x Barlow T-Mount
Software: Photoshop CS3, GIMP, DSS, Star Trails

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heldGaze
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thanks toxic

Post #3, Feb 19, 2012 15:35:31 as a reply to heldGaze's post 5 minutes earlier.


My Photo Sharing Threads
Cameras: Canon 40D, Canon 300SD, Nokia N95 (retired)
Lenses: Sigma 18-200mm DC OS, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Telescope: Meade LXD55 SN-6" F=762mm f/5, eyepieces: 26mm, 2x Barlow T-Mount
Software: Photoshop CS3, GIMP, DSS, Star Trails

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Toxic ­ Coolaid
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Where are you located? And when did you take the pictures? I don't think that is Saturn and Sirius. They are on opposite sides of the sky right now. Use your Live View for your focus. Don't trust the infinity label. You will have to keep the exposures shorter for Orion to keep the stars from trailing. 15-20 seconds for what you have there. Stack multiple images with Deep Sky Stacker (free). For your Star Trails and Polaris, nice start. You can also do multiple exposures with them and it is very easy. Use StarStax or Star Trails (both free) use 45 sec long exposures and let the programs add then together. It's best to use a remote timer/trigger just put your camera on Manual, shutter to Bulb, set the timer, and let it run. Keep it up.

http://deepskystacker.​free.fr/english/index.​htmlexternal link
http://www.markus-enzweiler.de/software/​software.htmlexternal link
http://www.startrails.​de/html/software.htmlexternal link

just a quick search on Ebay for a timer:
http://www.ebay.com ...motes&hash=item3caf​12293cexternal link

You can also go back and edit your previous post. I usually catch my mistakes when I look at it later too

Post #4, Feb 19, 2012 15:49:07




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heldGaze
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A few nights ago. Sorry, when I wrote Sirius I meant Spica. The file is named Moon & Saturn and I was just talking to my dad about Sirius so it was a mental error in the type up. These shots were taken in Maryland.

Thanks for the tip on going back to edit. I looked for the edit button but due to my mistake embedding the large photos I didn't see the edit button. I know some forums have a short time limit on when you can edit the posts, I'll fix the OP so it isn't oversized now.

The Moon, Saturn & *Spica shot was a 2 second delay and normal shutter release. I bought a cheap shutter remote for the other two, and hence I consider those my first real foray into astrophotography.

Thanks for the tips on software. I know about stacking but haven't attempted it yet or researched it much. Free software is definitely something I appreciate with my current financial situation.

Post #5, Feb 19, 2012 16:06:54


My Photo Sharing Threads
Cameras: Canon 40D, Canon 300SD, Nokia N95 (retired)
Lenses: Sigma 18-200mm DC OS, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Telescope: Meade LXD55 SN-6" F=762mm f/5, eyepieces: 26mm, 2x Barlow T-Mount
Software: Photoshop CS3, GIMP, DSS, Star Trails

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Toxic ­ Coolaid
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Ok, I found you star-field at around 2am on Feb 13th

Stacking is easy. Start out with a few short exposures called "lights", then leave the settings the same, just put the lens cap on and take several images called "darks." Use the RAW format when you shoot. Drag the lights to DSS and check "light frames", then drag the darks to DSS and check "dark frames". Here's a tutorial I first used


http://flintstonestarg​azing.com/?s=deepskyst​ackerexternal link

Post #6, Feb 19, 2012 18:17:50




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heldGaze
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Well done dude. 2/13 @ 2:08am. You using Stellarium? The other two shots (Orion and Polaris) were the night of 2/17->2/18.

Thank you for the direction, I will definitely give this tutorial a read. I spent quite some time taking ~50 exposures of 30s that first night before I realized I had muffed the focus, so I just turned and took a couple shots of the moon and called it a night with that one shot being my take away. I was going to just try to manually stack them in photoshop but this looks like an enormous time saver. Using Live View to focus wasn't something I had thought of yet, I might have gotten there, but again I appreciate the direction. Focusing through the viewfinder was nearly worthless. I was somewhat aware that the infinity marker on the lens isn't necessarily the infinity focus you want. Sadly, a couple nights ago is the last clear sky we're going to have on this visit to my parents. But I look forward to putting these new techniques to work in a month or so.

When I shoot I use RAW+JPEG. The JPEGs are nice for flipping through and finding the images I want to work with, then I just grab the corresponding RAW for Photoshopping.

I've got an old telescope that I store at my parents (Meade 6" LXD-55 reflector). Eventually I want to get that set up again and do both piggyback and prime focus exposures.

Do you think using my Sigma lens at 200mm would be effective for capturing Andromeda? My goal is to get some experience with this before Autumn and then capture our nearest galaxy... that's my longterm target.

Post #7, Feb 19, 2012 19:08:54 as a reply to Toxic Coolaid's post 51 minutes earlier.


My Photo Sharing Threads
Cameras: Canon 40D, Canon 300SD, Nokia N95 (retired)
Lenses: Sigma 18-200mm DC OS, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Telescope: Meade LXD55 SN-6" F=762mm f/5, eyepieces: 26mm, 2x Barlow T-Mount
Software: Photoshop CS3, GIMP, DSS, Star Trails

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Toxic ­ Coolaid
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I shoot in RAW + Jpeg also for that exact reason. You'll will have to watch the weight on a motor driven telescope, it needs to be balanced fairly well so you don't strain the motors. You can use the Scope as a lens by attaching your camera directly where the eyepiece goes. You will need a t-mount and attachment ring for your camera. 200mm would get Andromeda very well. You will need to get the telescope mount polar aligned, something else to read upon.

Post #8, Feb 20, 2012 19:16:16




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heldGaze
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Thanks again for the advice. The telescope has a GE mount, so I should be able to do the prime focus with the T-ring and not have the image rotate like an alt/azm mount. I'm hoping that the T-ring adapter will not only work for my telescope but also for a future microscope purchase. Thanks for the tip on the balance to avoid burning out the motors. The telescope hasn't been used for many years, so I expect there to be some work to get it back in working order, such as collimation. Hopefully the motors are still good.

It seems a lot of the shots I have found of Andromeda were done with 300mm prime lenses, so I was a little concerned I might be chasing a ghost I can't catch with a 200mm zoom. The stories such an image helps me tell friends are compelling to me. Our closest neighbor galaxy, spiral like us so we look similar to it as it does to us, approaching the Milky Way for a collision in the future, full of black holes and other stories.

Hopefully you'll see me here over the Summer improving my astrophoto skills and posting Andromeda in Autumn.

Post #9, Feb 20, 2012 20:25:28


My Photo Sharing Threads
Cameras: Canon 40D, Canon 300SD, Nokia N95 (retired)
Lenses: Sigma 18-200mm DC OS, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Telescope: Meade LXD55 SN-6" F=762mm f/5, eyepieces: 26mm, 2x Barlow T-Mount
Software: Photoshop CS3, GIMP, DSS, Star Trails

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heldGaze
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Woo, inspired by your reply I just went outside and saw clear skies. Gonna practice a couple more 30 minute exposures of Polaris from my parents' backyard. Currently set for 18mm, f/22, ISO 100. Exposure started at ~21:50.

Post #10, Feb 20, 2012 20:52:33


My Photo Sharing Threads
Cameras: Canon 40D, Canon 300SD, Nokia N95 (retired)
Lenses: Sigma 18-200mm DC OS, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Telescope: Meade LXD55 SN-6" F=762mm f/5, eyepieces: 26mm, 2x Barlow T-Mount
Software: Photoshop CS3, GIMP, DSS, Star Trails

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cyberon
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heldGaze wrote in post #13932649external link
Woo, inspired by your reply I just went outside and saw clear skies. Gonna practice a couple more 30 minute exposures of Polaris from my parents' backyard. Currently set for 18mm, f/22, ISO 100. Exposure started at ~21:50.

This doesn't sound quite right! What are you trying to achieve with the small aperture, low ISO and long shutter speed? If you are trying to produce star trails, you are better off stacking with a software such as startrail.de

Post #11, Feb 21, 2012 03:41:44


500D, Speedlite 430EX II, Lens : 15-85mm; 50mm F1.8 II; 100mm F2.8L IS Macro; 70-200mm F4L; Samyang 8mm F3.5
U/W : G11, OEM Housing, Inon S2000, Inon D4 Tray, Inon UCL-165 Close up lens
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heldGaze
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cyberon wrote in post #13934484external link
This doesn't sound quite right! What are you trying to achieve with the small aperture, low ISO and long shutter speed? If you are trying to produce star trails, you are better off stacking with a software such as startrail.de

Thanks. Yeah, long exposure is about getting star trails, but all these funky settings are also me learning what happens with my camera. I don't have a timer remote yet, and it's 24 degrees outside, so I don't want to stand next to my camera for a couple hours repeatedly pushing my shutter remote's button. The extreme ISO and aperture is just a way for me to see what the limits of the device are. It goes back to what my music instructor used to say about tuning an instrument. When you can't tell if you're flat or sharp, throw the instrument way flat or way sharp and then approach the proper tuning from that side. So I'm kind of seeing what happens when I have the camera as "flat" as it will go.

I just installed Deep Sky Stacker since I know that stacking is the way to move forward. I have a 30 minute exposure that shows vibration in the trails. I'm thinking this might be reduced by stacking once I have a timer remote. Another limit I tried to find last night was the maximum exposure length I could get on my battery. I killed two batts last night with absurdly long shots while watching TV with the folks. The batteries are somewhat old, so are probably around 70% or so of their initial capacities, but I think I will want to look into some sort of AC or external large battery hookup when I move out of the city later this year.

As a fun side note, last night while taking some shot, the grass had frozen. I heard what I thought was someone trying to sneak up on me, I turned and saw nothing. Then I heard it again. My eyes hadn't adjusted to the dark yet, but I could make out the movement of deer. I rotated the camera on the tripod and tried to get a couple shots of them in the dark. One came out kind of good, not worthy of display in my galleries, but fun to share the story.

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Post #12, Feb 21, 2012 14:27:12


My Photo Sharing Threads
Cameras: Canon 40D, Canon 300SD, Nokia N95 (retired)
Lenses: Sigma 18-200mm DC OS, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Telescope: Meade LXD55 SN-6" F=762mm f/5, eyepieces: 26mm, 2x Barlow T-Mount
Software: Photoshop CS3, GIMP, DSS, Star Trails

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Toxic ­ Coolaid
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You know you're out in the cold when the deer are sneaking up on you. For star trails go with 45 second images, ISO 400-800 and adjust the ap to get a good looking picture at 45 seconds. This is where a remote timer is nice. You just put your camera in BULB mode, program the timer to take a 45 sec picture with a 5 second delay and have it take 60 images or just run until you stop it. You don't want to mess with it because it will cause gaps in your startrails and any movement will show up. If it near your house you may run and extension cord out there and use a hairdryer to clear any fog build up off the lens. It's also best for your camera to be slowly cooled down to the outside temp, and then warmed back up slowly when you bring it back in. I put mine in a ziplock bag in a cooler. This will minimize condensation inside your equipment.

Post #13, Feb 22, 2012 11:29:55




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heldGaze
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Yeah, I wanted to buy a timer remote, but the local shop only had a shutter remote and I wanted to have a little fun shotting stars during this trip to my parents' home. I plan on picking up a timer remote for my next visit. Thanks for putting some numbers in front of me to ballpark the proper process.

As for the cooling of equipment, there is also the issue (with telescopes at least) of image distortion if the equipment hasn't yet acclimated to ambient temps, correct? So like with my 6" reflector, I should bring it outside a few hours before I plan to begin observing.

Here are some of my images from the night I was "hunted by deer."

Celestial Navigation (teaching my friends how to find the North Star):

IMG NOTICE: [NOT AN IMAGE URL, NOT RENDERED INLINE]


Dipper (I maxed out the saturation to give stars colors):

IMG NOTICE: [NOT AN IMAGE URL, NOT RENDERED INLINE]


Orion over the House:

IMG NOTICE: [NOT AN IMAGE URL, NOT RENDERED INLINE]


Mars over the House:

IMG NOTICE: [NOT AN IMAGE URL, NOT RENDERED INLINE]

I don't think these are particularly impressive, but just getting started playing with exposures and post-processing.

Thanks again guys for your help and advice. Hopefully it's clear here tomorrow and I can capture an image of the crescent moon next to Venus with Jupiter floating above them. It's supposed to be cold again, but not raining.

Cheers.

Post #14, Feb 25, 2012 00:28:50


My Photo Sharing Threads
Cameras: Canon 40D, Canon 300SD, Nokia N95 (retired)
Lenses: Sigma 18-200mm DC OS, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Telescope: Meade LXD55 SN-6" F=762mm f/5, eyepieces: 26mm, 2x Barlow T-Mount
Software: Photoshop CS3, GIMP, DSS, Star Trails

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Toxic ­ Coolaid
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Here's a short video tutorial about stacking with DSS. This guy is shooting Andromeda with a lens and not tracking. Shows what you can expect with a very simple setup

http://www.youtube.com ...er_embedded&v=e0JST​F8SGi4external link!

Post #15, Feb 25, 2012 12:27:52




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