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02-04-2011, 08:35 PM   #1
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Astro-Photo

So I tried "shooting for the stars" today.

I know I'm lame, I'll try to keep it to a minimum.

I would like any comments or suggestions to help improve my shots.

I used a k-x with a f remote from pentax & the stock 18-55 lens from pentax.

Feel free to laugh and poke fun, even if its negative I can learn from comments.

I havent the money for a telephoto or telescope Im just looking to get the very best out of what Im using now.

Thanks Every body!

Jesse

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02-04-2011, 08:42 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jesse Dumonceau Quote
So I tried "shooting for the stars" today.

I know I'm lame, I'll try to keep it to a minimum.

I would like any comments or suggestions to help improve my shots.

I used a k-x with a f remote from pentax & the stock 18-55 lens from pentax.

Feel free to laugh and poke fun, even if its negative I can learn from comments.

I havent the money for a telephoto or telescope Im just looking to get the very best out of what Im using now.

Thanks Every body!

Jesse

Attachment 82736
You don't need a long telephoto lens or a telescope to have some fun with astrophotography. There are plenty of things you can do just with what you've got.

The tricky part will be figuring out proper exposure lengths and apertures to use to really get the most out of what you're doing. Depending on the focal length you're using, because of the rotation of the earth, the stars in your frame will appear to carve out trails in just a few seconds (usually quite noticeable by 30 seconds).

If you would like the trails to be less noticeable you can use your lens at a wider angle (the more zoomed in it is, the more exaggerated the trails will be in a given exposure length). Also, shooting nearer to the north star will also minimize the star trails.

But maybe star trails are something you're interested in? Do a good search on the term and you'll find a lot of wonderful examples. Basically you take a long exposure (or series of shorter ones, depending on what technique you want to use) to create a scene where the stars form pretty arcs in the sky. I would recommend reading up on them, as it's a cheap and relatively simple way to shoot the stars.

But maybe the most important thing, and what I struggle with most, is if you're not doing astrophotography through a telescope, and are instead doing wide fields of the night sky, is it creates a more compelling image if you compose your star field/star trails with interesting foreground elements. A tree, a mountain, some buildings, etc. Your imagination's the limit on this one really. The trick, again, will be making sure everything is exposed properly. Some people combine multiple exposures - taking exposures for the foreground elements and sky separately - and then combine them digitally. Some people paint foreground objects with an LED light during exposures of the sky. Lots of options and no way to know what will work for you until you give it a go.

Another thought -- I notice a fair amount of clouds in your photo. Clouds can be appealing, but they also tend to reflect a lot of light that is emanating from street and city lights. Hence if there are a lot of them they can easily dominate the sky. Not only that, but if you are taking longer exposures, they can over time completely take over the photo. So it's often best to try these things out on cloudless nights unless you are taking shorter exposures and want to use the clouds in your composition.

Hope some of this helps!
02-04-2011, 09:03 PM   #3
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Wow, thank you so much for your reply!

I took a crash course on digital photography in my communications course in 2008-9 ish.
Recently a firm has hired me to do real-estate photography so I "had" to buy equipment.
Really an excuse to get this awesome hobby started.

I love photography; its part of why I went into the program I did.

I guess trial s and trials are in my future.

You have hit on some good points I have read about. I thought the clouds would interfere but figured id aim for a sharp image as the key in this batch of photos...I failed lol.

I tried to shorten my exposures to get it sharper I heard no more than 15 seconds or the earths turn will blur the dots. But I would show no results unless boosting the iso to the !max! or just below?

Ive also heard putting the f stop up will focus things in better but I didnt want to cut out any light I may pick up...its really a toss up. ISO fuzz, f-stop dark, or shutter speed lines?

Lol, interesting thing to start out with hey?

Thanks again !

Jesse
02-04-2011, 09:14 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jesse Dumonceau Quote
Wow, thank you so much for your reply!

I took a crash course on digital photography in my communications course in 2008-9 ish.
Recently a firm has hired me to do real-estate photography so I "had" to buy equipment.
Really an excuse to get this awesome hobby started.

I love photography; its part of why I went into the program I did.

I guess trial s and trials are in my future.

You have hit on some good points I have read about. I thought the clouds would interfere but figured id aim for a sharp image as the key in this batch of photos...I failed lol.

I tried to shorten my exposures to get it sharper I heard no more than 15 seconds or the earths turn will blur the dots. But I would show no results unless boosting the iso to the !max! or just below?

Ive also heard putting the f stop up will focus things in better but I didnt want to cut out any light I may pick up...its really a toss up. ISO fuzz, f-stop dark, or shutter speed lines?

Lol, interesting thing to start out with hey?

Thanks again !

Jesse
Yes, the shorter your exposure the less the star trailing will be obvious. However, as you pointed out, this means you will either need to widen the aperture or bump up the ISO sensitivity in order to get enough light to properly expose your photograph.

Here are a couple thoughts regarding that: it's true that stopping down your lens to a narrower aperture will result in a wider depth of field, meaning more things will appear within focus. However, in the case of the photo you posted, everything is essentially at the same distance, "infinity" (there is NOT an appreciable difference as far as the lens is concerned between the moon, some stars, that mountain 10 miles away, or the stars 40 light years away). Therefore, if you are only shooting the sky itself, feel free to keep that lens open as wide as you can, which will let you take in a lot of light.

Also, as I mentioned in my first post, another thing you can do is use a wide-angle lens, or use your zoom lens zoomed out so that you are covering a wider field of view. The stars will still appear to carve out the same number of degrees in the sky over a given period of time, but because your image covers a wider field (i.e. more degrees of the sky), this star trailing will be relegated to fewer pixels than it would if you were zoomed in. This is one reason a lot of people tend to take night sky photos with wider angle lenses (typically anything between 8-50mm) rather than a telephoto lens.

One thing a wider angle lens allows you to do though is also include some foreground elements easily because your field of view is so much wider. The trick with this is knowing what aperture settings you have to use to make sure both the sky and the foreground objects are in focus. I recommend reading up on "hyperfocal photography". Because depth of field widens with narrow apertures (i.e. the more you stop down the more things can be in focus), this often means you have to use longer exposures to get enough light. However, again, wide angle lenses are convenient in this regard as the wider the lens is, the wider its depth of field is at a given f-speed.

02-04-2011, 09:18 PM   #5
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I should stress in a way that I didn't in my last post, that you do NOT need to go out buying any more lenses to take advantage of this. For instance, all the advantages I mentioned about using a wide angle lens will be appreciated just by using your kit zoom lens at the 18mm end.
02-05-2011, 12:47 PM   #6
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Thank you again.

I will try out your advice on another night.
today is like a blanket of cloud cover on Moose Jaw.

I will keep the aperture? wide open I think its only able to do f 4.0. I would love a lens that goes lower but again the budget has no room for it.

Ill try to boost the ISO and see what happens.. I have seen a lot of unwanted noise in the trials I've done... but maybe I should turn up the noise reduction... I just do not want it to take out hints of star light ?

I will try to zoom all the way out as well .. come to think of it I was. I find it hard to focus at the little dots? I know i probably sound stupid but it putting them both all the way out the way to go or is there a better way? live view doesn't show anything in the finder and looking through the lens is difficult for me as it fogs or doesn't show much either as it needs the time laps to occur to see major results?shooting stars may become a summer thing 20 below isnt ideal for me or the camera I dont think.

Sorry to ask so many questions but you are awesome for helping out!

Thanks again

My Best!

Jesse
02-05-2011, 11:39 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jesse Dumonceau Quote
Thank you again.

I will try out your advice on another night.
today is like a blanket of cloud cover on Moose Jaw.

I will keep the aperture? wide open I think its only able to do f 4.0. I would love a lens that goes lower but again the budget has no room for it.

Ill try to boost the ISO and see what happens.. I have seen a lot of unwanted noise in the trials I've done... but maybe I should turn up the noise reduction... I just do not want it to take out hints of star light ?

I will try to zoom all the way out as well .. come to think of it I was. I find it hard to focus at the little dots? I know i probably sound stupid but it putting them both all the way out the way to go or is there a better way? live view doesn't show anything in the finder and looking through the lens is difficult for me as it fogs or doesn't show much either as it needs the time laps to occur to see major results?shooting stars may become a summer thing 20 below isnt ideal for me or the camera I dont think.

Sorry to ask so many questions but you are awesome for helping out!

Thanks again

My Best!

Jesse
Your camera equipment won't suffer any damage from the cold, though the batteries may drain faster. The one thing I would caution, if you live in a humid climate especially, is to watch for dew/frost build up on the lens, that will happen if you're out for a long time. When you come inside make sure you give everything plenty of time to come back up to room temperature -- the cold surfaces of the equipment will cause moisture in the relatively warm indoor space to condense onto it. So, don't go swapping lenses right away when you come inside, for instance, as you don't want moisture hanging out on the interior workings of your camera.

As to noise reduction - stars are particularly sensitive to this as they appear as more or less point sources of light to your camera, and are easily mistaken for noise. If you have the option, I would recommend waiting for noise reduction until you are doing post processing, as this will give you more flexibility and control.

For nailing the focus: in Live View you should be able to zoom in. I recommend zooming in as much as you can and using a bright star to get your focus crisp. Sometimes stars are difficult targets to use, however, so another option is a bright object that is far away (distant radio/weather tower, for instance) or the moon, if it is available.
02-24-2011, 08:32 AM   #8
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how can I upload some more recent images to this post?

02-24-2011, 08:35 AM   #9
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Oh i miss understood your advice I zoomed in as much as possible I will have to try the zoomed out next time now..I was wondering why the new ones are blurred. More stars though lol. wish I could figure out how to add them to the post.

JD
02-24-2011, 08:47 AM   #10
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When it uploads this should link to the newest astro photos I have... more stars but with blur and too much light.

MobileMe Gallery

I did crank the iso to 12800
fstop all the way down
various shutter speeds

but I thought it was supposed to be zoomed out not in I will try again..

jd
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