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10-24-2016, 01:08 PM   #1
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Astro Photography ~ Need Advice and Criticism

Hello Fellow Pentax Owners

This past weekend, I tried to experiment with shooting the milky way.

I read a lot and tried to prepare myself for it and, I know in order to make it pretty, I need to have a fixed object such as a tree or mountain etc but I am not ready for it as I am trying to get my basic right.

I have attached a picture for critic, I used a sigma 18 to 250 lens - 18mm with F3.5 shutter left open for 30 sec and ISO at 12800 at manual setting using the K5 2s.

What I would love to get some advice and or tip on is how do I capture a sharp image...I noticed that even after having the camera fixed on a tripod, I got movement which is obvious on the picture attached.

I took several other picture changing the ISO down to 6400 and 3200 and keeping the other setting the same. I did not post those pictures as I am using the 12800 ISO as an example to learn more about sharpness.

Thanks in Advance

Regards

Ro

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Last edited by Roism; 10-24-2016 at 06:54 PM.
10-24-2016, 01:13 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Since that lens is pretty soft wide-open, I'd recommend using a different lens. In particular, any prime will probably give you better results. You can also try stopping down as the results at F5.6 should be much better.

At 30s you should also be able to get away with using a lower ISO, say 1600 or 3200. Be sure to shoot in RAW, and if the photo looks too dark, just brighten it in post. There's a lot of recovery room I think the main reason this photo doesn't look detailed is the high ISO combined with JPEG noise reduction, which blurs the image.

Adam
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10-24-2016, 01:22 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Mirror up and 12 second delay on a good solid tripod, and get away from it so you don't do through the ground vibrations.
10-24-2016, 01:29 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Your camera/tripod has physically moved during the exposure evidenced by the multiple images of the foreground at the bottom of the frame. You need to ensure the tripod is solidly grounded and everything on the tripod is locked up tight. If the tripod is still a little shaky, hang a water filled plastic bottle in a plastic bag from the tripod legs. Use a cable switch, tripping the shutter by hand can introduce movement. I'm afraid you will have to redo the shot but that is half the fun. Good luck.


Last edited by pixelsaurus; 10-24-2016 at 01:30 PM. Reason: spelling
10-24-2016, 01:38 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Get yourself an equatorial mount if you want to take really good astro photos. I recommend the Losmandy GM8. If you want something more portable look at the Kenko SkyMemo.

obin
10-24-2016, 01:48 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Roism Quote
...I noticed that even after having the camera fixed on a tripod, I got movement which is obvious on the picture attached...
How did you release the shutter? For long exposures it's best to use one of the delay modes so you don't shake the camera.

Built-in intervalometer within the menu system: This can fire the shutter without you having to touch the camera. The first shot might be shaky as you release the camera, but subsequent shots happen hand free.

2 second self timer: The 2 second delay gives some time for the camera to stop shaking after you release the shutter button. It also lifts the mirror up at the start of the timer so mirror vibrations don't interfere. I think this can be used with the built-in intervalometer.

12 second self timer: Gives more time for the camera to stop shaking. Sounds better than the 2 second timer ... but on some Pentax models (and I think all K5 variants) the 12 second timer doesn't move the mirror until the end of the 12 seconds.

IR wireless remote with 3 second delay: This is great because your hands don't have to touch the camera. $30 new. Pentax Waterproof Infrared Remote Control 39892 B&H Photo Video

Intervalometer: Lets you use the 2 second self timer without touching the camera. It's programmable so you can set it to take a specific number of photos. It also works in bulb mode so you can use shutter speeds beyond 30 seconds. Vello ShutterBoss II Timer Remote Switch for Canon RC-C1II B&H

I linked 2 products above from B&H. You can find similar from other dealers and manufacturers. Make sure than a wired intervalometer has the correct jack for your camera; the K-5 shares a jack with some Canon models.
10-24-2016, 03:07 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Several ideas...
  • Use an IR or wired remote shutter release. These are quite inexpensive - about $10.
  • Use the rule of 200 (200/focal length). This will reduce the amount of star trails you will get. For 18mm it's about 13 seconds. The rule of 200 pretty nicely approximates this more sophisticated calculator.
The problem is your f3.5 lens is working against you, but it will still work, just not collect as much light.

10-24-2016, 03:28 PM   #8
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Great Information.

You all have provided me with some "Key" take away that I definitely plan on incorporating.

Thank you all.

10-24-2016, 03:39 PM - 1 Like   #9
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Hi,

It won't fix your actual question but you could also try an Hoya intensifier filter.
I am sure that people have pros and cons about such things but it is a cheap way to reduce some of that yellow/pinky background haze from city lights and to see the stars more clearly.

cheers
10-24-2016, 05:41 PM - 1 Like   #10
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Consider this, perhaps...

There is an old trick for astrophotography, especially for longer exposures. Assuming the setup is on a nice stable tripod or telescope mount and focused properly, set the camera to bulb and trigger the shutter with the lens cap on. Then, carefully remove the lens cap, keeping it over the front of the lens for a few seconds to allow vibrations to dampen. Then whisk the cap away and time the exposure. Whisk the cap back in front of the lens, and then attach firmly. Then allow the shutter to close. This way, and vibrations from the mirror or shutter are eliminated. Crude, but effective.


Keep experimenting.


Sandy
10-25-2016, 02:21 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Stilettodude Quote
There is an old trick for astrophotography, especially for longer exposures. Assuming the setup is on a nice stable tripod or telescope mount and focused properly, set the camera to bulb and trigger the shutter with the lens cap on. Then, carefully remove the lens cap, keeping it over the front of the lens for a few seconds to allow vibrations to dampen. Then whisk the cap away and time the exposure. Whisk the cap back in front of the lens, and then attach firmly. Then allow the shutter to close. This way, and vibrations from the mirror or shutter are eliminated. Crude, but effective.

Keep experimenting.

Sandy
... same idea, but a different implementation. Use a hat, not touching the camera/lens combination to block the light. Trip the shutter, wait a bit for the vibrations to dampen out, then slide the hat away. To conclude the image, slide the hat in front of the lens again, blocking the light and then trip the shutter again to close it. In this way, you are not touching the camera, lens, or tripod.

10-25-2016, 08:56 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by pixelsaurus Quote
Your camera/tripod has physically moved during the exposure evidenced by the multiple images of the foreground at the bottom of the frame.
It's hard to tell, but could these multiple images be due to zoom creep during the exposure? Kinda sorta looks like that. If so, rubber bands could fix that.
10-25-2016, 10:17 AM - 1 Like   #13
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I say the camera/tripod moved during the exposure. If the ground is soft you cant stomp around near the tripod during the exposure.
10-30-2016, 07:16 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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Welcome the the frustrating world of night sky (or night landscape) photography. First get a prescription for some Thorazine because night sky photography can drive you nuts! (That was a joke.....mostly) The advice you've gotten so far is good, Weight the tripod, remote release or self-timer. First, shoot RAW. This will allow you greater adjustments to your images. There are a number of tutorials for post processing on Youtube. Your image shows a good start. Your image shows some lens creep. In the lower right corner there is a hillside and on the lower left are some buildings. Slightly above those objects are some fainter and larger, let's call them "shadows" of the hillside and buildings. At some point your lens changed focal lengths. That change in focal lengths is what caused the shadow effect. I'd suggest a faster prime lens. An M or A 50 1.7 can be pretty inexpensive. Vivitar made some 28mm and 24mm f2.5 lenses that are pretty good. (I'm assuming that you want to keep cost low.) Unless you're using the Astrtracer, I think your exposure was a little long. Even at 18mm you'll only get perhaps 20 seconds of exposure time before the stars begin to trail. If you're just shooting the Milky Way you should leave the high ISO and long exposure noise reduction on. (If you're shooting meteors you'll need a different technique, but that's for another time.) You also might close the aperture down a stop or two. Most lenses are noticeably soft wide open. Which is why the night sky shooters favor fast lenses. You also have some clouds in the sky. Even thin clouds will block the faint Milky Way and also reflect light pollution. You need to be aware of the Moon. Anything more than about a quarter Moon above the horizon will wash out the sky. I think (from the image you posted) that you're in the northern hemisphere. Unfortunately, the brightest part of the Milky Way, the galactic core, has set below the horizon and won't reappear until mid February. Don't let that stop you. Good luck!
10-31-2016, 12:17 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Hello Fellow Pentax Owner

Thank you once again for sharing your wisdom.

I did take these pictures in raw format and then converted them to jpeg for emailing etc.

Here is another sample which I did little work on in light room to clean it up a bit

As mentioned in the comments section, there is no single recipe for taking Astro photography and its all about experimenting, which I plan on continue to do as I did make lot of mistakes in my first attempt

Picture was taken at Anza Borrego State Park in CA. On the right side of the picture, you can see the mountain top called the Indian Head. I see it more like a sleeping head ;-)

Thanks again

Regards

Ro
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