Pentaxian Profile: Peter Maasewerd

What the eye can't see and the brain must guess....

By Pete_XL in Pentaxian Profiles on Jan 23, 2017
Pentaxian Profile: Peter Maasewerd

As I am an applied natural scientist also addicted to photography, the work with an advanced camera like my Pentax K-3 II offers an extension of the human senses to me. The camera can combine space and time in a way the human combo of two eyes and a brain cannot— just by variation of exposure time and sensitivity. Together with some fantasy, factual knowledge and processing skills, this ability gives the photographer room for the aesthetic visualization of real world issues that the human senses miss. And this is what I’m after!

Far apart – a one kilometer wide view of the Guidecca Island / Venice “wrapped” from a giant el panorama[Img01 Far apart – a one kilometer wide view of the Guidecca Island / Venice “wrapped” from a giant parallel panorama]

My favorite images show scenes that are too far apart, too small, fast, slow, dark or too far away to be caught by the eye and/or processed by the brain. I also use the daylight but my preferred playground is the night and the absence of bright light.

Small - landscape caught in a spider's net[Img02 Small – landscape caught in a spider’s net]

Fast – the International Space Station ISS passes the sun in a wink of an eye[Image 3 ISS/sun. Subtitle: Fast – the International Space Station ISS passes the sun in a wink of an eye]

The gear I normally use is a Pentax K-3 II and its predecessor the K-5, which both show excellent performance when it comes to squeezing the faintest dim data out of the sensor. I own a camera bag full of standard Pentax lenses besides some beloved analog Pentax glass from the last century, for example an SMC Pentax-A 400mm F5.6 for distant shooting to catch galaxies and faint nebulae. For some months now my DSLR lenses are accompanied by a small 480mm refractor telescope for astrophotography purposes.  I also use it in daylight sometimes.

Slow (I)– beach in Sardegna with star trails and some light painting. This was my first step into shooting the stars![Img 04 slow (I)– beach in Sardegna with star trails and some light painting. This was my first step into shooting the stars!]

Dark (I)– Milky Way above the Vulcano Teide on Tenerife island[Img 05 Dark (I)– Milky Way above the Vulcano Teide on Tenerife island]

Slow + fast – star trails and three bodies in a Perseid night at Nordkirchen Castle, Germany[Img 06 Slow + fast – star trails and three bodies in a Perseid night at Nordkirchen Castle, Germany]

Long exposures resulting in starscapes with star trails are a magic way to present the elapsing time in a night scene. But I also search for other possibilities to visualize changes in time. Modern post processing software makes possible what I call “Time Shift”:

Slow (II) – Time Shift of a whole winter night from 10pm (right) to sunrise at 9am (left) at the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, The Netherlands[Img 07 Slow (II) – Time Shift of a whole winter night from 10pm (right) to sunrise at 9am (left) at the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, The Netherlands]

With a modern high performance camera like the K-3 II and open eyes I find my subjects everywhere. Lifting the huge reserves of its low noise 14-bit raw data set at the left side of the histogram brings invisible details to light.

Fast (II) – in a long exposure the flight trails of little bats that chase moths dancing in a floodlight under the cloudy night sky become visible, Spain[Img 08 Fast (II) – in a long exposure the flight trails of little bats that chase moths dancing in a floodlight under the cloudy night sky become visible, Spain]

Since the astro bug bit me in 2014 I find myself under the stars whenever it is possible. Most of my astro images are shot from my balcony post in a suburban environment. It was astonishing for me to find out that astrophotography even makes fun and sense under the light polluted skies of my hometown. In the beginning I used old analog Pentax lenses as in the following image of Comet Lovejoy and a passing airplane in January 2015.

Far away + dark vs. near + bright – Comet Lovejoy & Airplane (SMC-Pentax-M 200/4 together with the Pentax O-GPS1 and the Astrotracer on the K5)[Img 09 Far away + dark vs. near + bright – Comet Lovejoy & Airplane (SMC-Pentax-M 200/4 together with the Pentax O-GPS1 and the Astrotracer on the K5)]

The skies are full of fascinating events worth to stay awake at night and freeze for. One of these was the September 2015 “Blood Moon":

Slow (III) - total lunar eclipse (Blood Moon) over Europe (SMC Pentax-A 400/5.6 and K3 II)[Img 10 Slow (III) - total lunar eclipse (Blood Moon) over Europe (SMC Pentax-A 400/5.6 and K3 II)]

The Pentax flagships have the ingenious Astrotracer technology on board which is a great tool for imaging starscapes and starting into astrophotography. But beyond that there is great astro potential lying idle in the Ricoh/Pentax technology. This treasure could be unearthed by granting the Pentax cameras an interface to the established astro software solutions that frame, focus and trigger astro images from a remote device.

Adapting a K-3 II to a high quality telephoto lens or a telescope opens a window to new sensations:

Far away (I) - the Great Andromeda Galaxy (M33 , 2.600 light years away) imaged with the K3 II and a 480 mm refractor lens[Img 11 Far away (I) - the Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31 , 2.600 light years away) imaged with the K3 II and a 480 mm refractor lens]

Hunting, catching and processing every photon I can get is necessary to image the faintest deep space objects of the night sky. Starting in astrophotography two years ago I found that the data acquisition and processing techniques used are based upon the same principles I knew from geo-scientific data acquisition and processing. That made my start easy – the rest I could learn in an international friendly community of like-minded people.

Far away (II) – the Orion Nebula M42 (1.350 light years from us)[Img 12 Far away (II) – the Orion Nebula M42 (1.350 light years from us)]

Far away (III) – the Flame Nebula and the Horse Nebula gloom 1500 light years away in colorful fireworks scenario[Img 13 Far away (III) – the Flame Nebula and the Horse Nebula gloom 1500 light years away in colorful fireworks scenario]

These days I built me a little shelter box named “The Cube” for my astro equipment that is mounted on a balcony post. It gives me more time for imaging instead of rigging. I am sure it is worth it because I have found a passion where even the sky is no limit.

You can find me on the forum under Pete_XL. Some more of my pictures can be found here:

Peter Maasewerd on Zenfolio | Flickr

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