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Posts from the ‘Astrophotography’ Category

Quiet Thursday – In the Air Again

Different kind of air this time.  Last Saturday night was the new moon here, unfortunately it was also a really bad night, we had lots of rain all day, so it was obvious that it would be too overcast.  I don’t like travelling an hour and half to get nothing, so I stayed home.  On Sunday night, I told my daughter I would take her driving.  We went to Sorrento and I thought if I can get some shots I will, if I can’t, no hassle.

sorrento-stpauls-milkyway-stars-ocean

As you can see there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, well almost.  I didn’t stay long, I just took some shots of the milky way over the ocean.  This is the back end of it, really.  the heart isn’t in this part.  I didn’t mind, I was really interested in capturing the ocean as well.

milkyway-sorrento-stars-back-beach

I think this is my favourite.  I love the ocean and how it looks.  This image was actually two images, the ocean is from one image and then the sky from another.  Both taken at about the same time.

I am going to leave it there today.  I hope you are having a quiet day too.

Up for Discussion – Astrophotography

For today’s Up for Discussion I thought I would ask John Holding to write a post for you on Astrophotography.  I know many people are interested in this, me included, and I have been going out with John to do some of this photography and he has been teaching me a lot, so it seemed only natural to ask him to write a post for us.

Astrophotography by John Holding

Ever since my youth I have been fascinated by the stars. Many nights a friend and I looked through his telescope at various stars. A task somewhat easy as I lived in country town in South Australia. There were also many nights spent camping where one could lie out under the stars and just admire their glory.

Since taking up photography and having much more time available it has become one of my goals to take stunning Astro photographs. At first take this is inherently simple, just point the camera at the night sky and bump the ISO to greater than 3200 and exposure time to about 30 seconds and f stop as small a number was your lens will allow. Now assuming that one is in a fairly dark area one can get an OK shot. Much like this one.

milky-way-astrophotography-simple

 

This is a 30 second exposure at ISO >6400 on a F/4 fisheye lens.

However to get really stunning shots one has to go for longer exposures or start stacking the images, a somewhat more complex task. However there are some very good choices available in software specifically designed for such a job, Nebulosity being one but there are others. Stacking can also be done in Photoshop using an averaging technique. More on that later.

Like many areas of photography getting an image is a compromise. In this case much more so. For images that have minimal star trails the exposure time must be less than 30 seconds and if you are using a lens greater than 16mm (35mm equivalent) then the duration may have to be less. Additionally one will get less of the sky in the image. Which sometime makes the image less dramatic. Typical settings that will work are: set ISO to 3200 or greater, exposure time to 30 seconds and the aperture as wide as the lens will go. Oh of course you must have a tripod.

Out of this assuming that the sky was dark enough (no glare from city lights) one can get a reasonable image. From here one has to get much more determined and firstly start paying attention to the night sky rotation which changes what part of the Milky way is visible from your respective hemisphere. These days there are iPhone and android apps that do the job nicely. Once you know where the heart of the milky way is and what time it will appear over ones position one can set about planning the shoot. Additionally the moon should not be present or if it is then less than quarter moon.

Often the best astro photographs have an earthly reference, that is a close foreground object that anchors the viewers sense of scale and grandeur as well as adding interest to the shot.

Once you have your image/s then it is time to take an exposure of the landscape feature that you want to include. This is especially important if you are going to stack the images as the stars will move in every image and any landscape foreground when you align the stars will become blurred.

Next step is adjust each exposure in Adobe Camera Raw (assumes Photoshop Bridge is available ). Make the following adjustments: Increase contrast, decrease blacks, increase clarity, increase shadows, if needed adjust white balance and exposure until your image is where you like it. Below are examples of a before and after adjustment. You can still do this even if you have captured the image as a jpeg instead of RAW. Both images are 180 seconds at ISO 3200. (How I achieved 180 seconds is described below). Much less noise than the image above. If you look closely you can see the rotation effect in the lights in the lower left. PS that is Leanne’s camera in the image.

milky-way-astrophotography-unprocessed-fisheye

 

 

milky-way-astrophotography-processed

 

For stacking in photoshop each layer will need to be carefully aligned, pick a star or two near the middle of your image and with opacity set so you can see both layers move the top one until the stars align. Repeat for all layers. Then blend each layer to roughly the following formula: 1st layer 60%, second 33%, third layers 25% decreasing each layer opacity roughly in these proportions. Finally bring the first layer ground feature out by your favourite means (don’t ask me as I actually haven’t done much of that sort of work in photoshop). Finally you will get noise in the image but less than unstacked images.

For exposures greater than 30 seconds one has to get hold of an equatorial mount used for telescopes and mount you camera on that. Once properly aligned (alignment means the pivot point of the camera is parallel with the earths axis and points due south, two levels of alignment) you can drop your ISO and hence reduce noise and increase the exposure time into the minutes. I use a device called Astrotrac, which once aligned, and that is no different to an equatorial mount, allows image duration over several minutes. This means much less noise and no need to stack images. The downside is that the landscape will be blurred as the camera rotates at the same rate as the earth.

Good luck with your attempt at Astrophotography.

A few more images taken at various times and locations.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank John for writing this post, so thank you John, and I hope you will all do the same. I will put the above images, plus a couple more of his images into a gallery for you.

 

Some Stuff to Catch Up With

Friday again and another post on bits and pieces, though I have to say trying to come up with new titles all the time is hard.  Still it is a great way of giving you information about what I am doing or up to.

Competitions

I heard back from one of the competitions and I’m afraid I didn’t do very well.  Bombed out really, though I am trying not to take it too personally. I did write a small post on my experiences and what I thought about it all over on the News Blog on my website, Photography Competitions Vs Art Competitions, so good place for you to find out more.

Workshops

You know I am up in the Mallee right now, but I don’t know if I told you was going to be running  a workshop on Night Photography up here.  The workshop was organised by Wimmera and Mallee milky-way-stars-night-photographyTourism and the Yarriambiack Shire. Well the workshop was on Wednesday night and we played around with taking photos at night, and photographing the stars.  It was a great night, a busy night, but I think everyone enjoyed it.  The photos in this post are from that night.  I am going to be doing a post over on the News Blog today sometime on processing the star photos that I have been doing, so if you are interested in that, keep an eye out on the News Blog.

Crash Course On Google My Business

Mary McAvoy, who wrote those great posts on SEO for Photographers Part 1 and Part 2, had some news to pass on, it is an article from a free online magazine about Google and your business, so if you are interested here is the link, Crash Course On Google My Business, hopefully that works.  Though I think you have to sign up for the newsletter to get the whole article.  I did and it hasn’t been a problem.

Up for Discussion Posts

I have organised some more guest writers to give us some insights into some things.  It is great to find people who are experts in a particular area and I hope you enjoy what they say as much as I sunset-lake-lascelles-night-photographydo. It is great having that sort of resource here on the blog for us.  If you know someone that you think might be able to write a great guest post for us, then please let me know.  Always happy to find new people.  Remember it has to be photography related, not about selling their own products, and should be informative.

I have been wondering if I should do an archive page of the Up for Discussion Posts, like I have for the Weekend Wanderings, do you think that would be good for you to be able to find past posts?tree-lake-lascelles-milky-way

I think that is about it this week.  My mind is full of the Pink Lakes and Lake Albacutya, the Milky Way and Sunsets.  Unfortunately the weather hasn’t been great up here this time.  We aren’t seeing much of the sun, which doesn’t help a lot when you want to photograph the stars.  We were going to go out last night, we saw the stars were out, and by the time we were ready to go out, you couldn’t see any.  So disappointing.  Hopefully we will get a chance tonight.  Fingers crossed.

I am going to put the above images and a couple of others from the night in Hopetoun into a gallery.  Don’t forget to check out the News Blog for some tips on processing some star photos.

The Milky Way and Other Business

This was at the start, still lots of cloud around.

This was at the start, still lots of cloud around.

Having a catch up day for news and things has been great and for the time being I think I am going to keep doing it, if you don’t mind.  So today I thought I have some more things to tell you and I also wanted to show you the photos I took last night of the Milky Way.

Milky Way

Last night I went down to Flinders with John to take photos of the stars, as I said.  John has a lot more experience at doing this and so I learned a lot going there with him.  We have been trying to go for a few weeks, but every time we have organised a night it has been overcast, or raining.  We have had so many grey days this winter.  Yesterday was very overcast here all day, but we’ve noticed that the sky often clears as the sun goes down, so we decided we would go anyway and see what we got.

Looking straight up.

Looking straight up.

At first there was still quite a bit of cloud cover but after a while they went away and we managed to get some great shots of the milky way.  I don’t know when John is going to post his, but keep an eye out on his blog for some soon, I’m sure.

New Themes

As most of you now realise, I have changed my theme.  I went with the theme Linen, though I almost asked for my money back as I really didn’t like the sidebar on the right, which is how the theme is meant to be.  I was given some CSS code and that got my sidebar on the left and I couldn’t be happier.  It has been great hearing how much you all like it, and how you find it easier to read now.  So thank you for all your support.  It is important to me that you like it as well, this blog is meant for you too.

The clouds had almost disappeared.

The clouds had almost disappeared.

Websites

You all know about my website, I’m sure, Leanne Cole – Fine Art Photograher, and how I have been working on it as well.  I did tell you about the blog that is now on it, the one I call the News Blog, but it is taking on a life of its own, and those of you that have been to see it will have noticed that.  I decided that this blog has certain things for certain days and my ability to teach some things, or tell you were a little out of my hands.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love how this blog is and where it is going, but sometimes I don’t want to wait until Friday to tell you something.

Almost perfect.

Almost perfect.

With the News Blog I can make announcements straight away, but one thing I realised I could also do, is give advice on different things, or tips.  So over the last week when I been doing small posts on how to do some things, like mini tutorials.  I wrote one on how I photograph a sunset or sunrise, I did one on communicating to people while taking their photo, and yesterday I did one on conceptual photography and my understanding of it.  I call them Tips and I hope that people will find them useful.  I will do more as I go.

I have been having trouble getting the comments working and have sent an email to support, but so far haven’t heard anything back.  I don’t want comments on everything, but it would be nice to have them just for the blog.  I don’t think I can do likes though, well not at the moment.  Hopefully it will all come together.  If you want some tips on how to do something, let me know, if I can help I will do a post over there on it.

 Photo Walks

Still working on these, and the response has been really positive about them as well.  I want these walks to be social and practical.  While I am the facilitator, I am also a teacher and can help people and give tips on taking photos.  I have been thinking about calling the class the Social Snappers, it is fun and does say what it is about.  I should be ready to start advertising them next week.

Conclusion

I think that is all the news I have for you this week.  Though, please do keep on eye on the News Blog if you want to be kept up to date with what I am doing.  I will put my Milky Way images in a gallery now so you can enjoy them individually and on a dark background, as stars should be seen I think.  For those interested, I’ve added a post on the News Blog with some tips on photographing the milky way.