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#1 JakeSPhoto

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 12:35 PM

Hey guys.  First attempt at taking pictures at night. 

 

 

The first was ISO 800, f/2.8 25 seconds

 

The second was ISO 100, f/3.5 30 seconds

 

The third was ISO 100, f/2.8, 30 seconds.

 

 

I was trying out different settings to see what worked best. It was a little confusing with the metering but I think I got it now.  I thought the ones with lower ISO would turn out better but I think number 1 ended up being the best.  This was the most Ive done in post processing, although still only in lightroom.  Let me know what you guys think I should change or any tips for the future! Thanks. As of right now this is definitely the coolest photography to me.  So fascinating and fun 

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#2 Roderick

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 01:12 PM

Great shots Jake.

All good but as you say, the first one is the nicest.



#3 elcab18

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 02:21 PM

Jake I think higher iso is recommended for these type shots, 6400ish.  I had pretty good first time luck at iso 4000 and 6400, 16 mm, 15-20 seconds, I'm sure results will vary depending on the gear used, nice shots!



#4 JakeSPhoto

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 03:31 PM

Thanks guys  :D

 

@Elcab thats the part with metering that got me confused. When I had it on auto iso, 30 seconds f2.8, it would set around iso 100 so i didnt think i needed to go higher.  I did anyway, and it got me the best of the three pictures.  Should I go higher ISO and ignore the meter?

 

 

 

Also, how come the first ended up looking bluer than the other two? All are on 'as shot'



#5 elcab18

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 04:09 PM

Yes, I would ignore the meter, take it out of auto iso mode too.  Manually set everything including focusing, a good place to start is to set at infinity and give it a very, very slight turn back away from infinity.  Chances are you won't be able to see anything to focus otherwise.  A wide angle 2.8 lens is great for these type of shots.  Not sure why #1 is bluer but a white balance adjustment should take care of it.



#6 elcab18

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 07:41 PM

Try starting at iso 3200 but don't be afraid to go to iso 6400, try multiple settings.



#7 Kerry Gordon

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Posted 13 July 2016 - 03:09 PM

Those came out well.  But there's a ton you can do in post.  There is a lot of colour that you can pull up that can really make those shots pop.  If you are interested in night sky landscape photography and you aren't already familiar with them google Ian Norman, David Kingham and Dave Morrow.  They all specialize in this kind of work and Ian offers free presets if you want to try some stuff out in Lightroom.



#8 rospondek

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 02:09 PM

I can see that focus is a lot off on the third photo. It doesn't look like star trailing, tho 30s is a lot without guiding :)

 

Anyway a few words from me as an amateur but enthusiast :D

 

First of all RAW. Always. You can mess up photo a lot or a little and RAW will give you a lot of chance to repair almost anything. And when we talk bout astrophotography, RAW is a must. Period.

 

Focus is set manually. Always put lens into manual mode. Turn on live view and find the brightest star or planet (mars is great on the northern hemisphere right now). Zoom (digitally not the lens itself) maximum on the LV and set the focus. Basically the focus is set when the star on the screen is the smallest one :D Sometimes it is tempting to leave the focus when star is a pretty little circle but that's not when the focus is razor sharp ;)

 

If you don't have guiding than use 600 rule* to remove trailing. So 600/focal length gives you maximum exposure in seconds stars 'won't move'.

Now depends on the camera you have (FX or DX) you have to count focal length properly. FX is 1:1 so 20mm IS 20mm. DX is 1:1.5 so 20mm will be 30mm. So from 30s you drop to barely 20s on 20mm DX.

 

Aperture - get the sweet spot of the lens. Usually is one stop lower than maximum. So 1.4 is 1.6, 1.8 is 2.0, 2.8 is 3.0 etc.

stops.jpg

You want the most light you can get in the maximum given time without too much of the noise (ISO) in the sharpest image lens can give you.

 

Next one - after setting the exposure to the limit minus 1s - the ISO.

Start with 6400 and check the histogram. What you want to achieve is an ETTR - expose to the right. Histogram should be maximum to the right side. It should be ALMOST overexposed but NOT overexposed. You don't want to cut anything. So if there is no space left on the right and anything is blinking informing bout overexposure that means ISO or exposure is too much and you have to go down. I'd rather drop ISO because of the noise. But when location is ok, I mean dark, try to boost ISO (in great locations you can go up to 12000 without any problems) and shoot 10-15 photos. You can later stack them in DeepSkyStacker or Photoshop to remove extra noise.

 

After that get RAW to the lightroom and just fix the exposure, contrast, WB, clarity and anything you can and you will be amazed of what you will see.

So to visualize what you will (or rather won't :D ) see on the camera screen and after lightroom tweaking, two screens from the very bad localization. Center of the big city.

 

ettr.jpg

 

ettr_lr.jpg

 

Believe me it is the same photo :)

As you can see I was shooting 18mm on DX so it was 27mm but! 600/27=22s though I had to cut the exposure to the 15 seconds because it was too bright. I used f/3.5 cause I just needed the maximum light I could get. Never mind the razor blade quality.

 

When shooting JPG, so photo straight from the camera, rules are actually the same only this time you can't use ETTR. Your histogram should be in the middle so basically you have to see good photo on the camera screen.

 

OK that's all from me. I'm really jealous of your location. The above photo is my attempt of getting Milky Way in the city. All you can see is a little dim part on the right side and the center. But we all agree yours Milky Way quality is a galaxy higher than mine :)

 

If you want to see other photos I did with the settings and a little info check one part of my portfolio - https://rospondek.my...the-universe-16

I'm trying to put there photos with settings and extra astronomical info.

 

*Some say 500 rule but 600 and dropping 1 extra second is safer :)

 

--------------------

edited to add. Even with the jpg you can get a little more of it. First photo.

 

post_32780_0_03144100_1468344484_2.jpg

 

Of course it is just my adjustments that I like. I like a little bluish sky. You don't need to like it at all :)

And quality after tweaking is bad but jpg is just awful to mess with in Lightroom ;) Editing this in RAW could bring a lot of hidden details and actually would make an awesome Milky Way photo. Despite a little star trailing.

 

---------------------

Edited to add aperture stops table as Peter rightly pointed out that I messed up.


Edited by rospondek, 15 July 2016 - 03:21 PM.

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#9 JakeSPhoto

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 08:18 PM

Wow.  Thanks for all the info.

 

I do shoot RAW.

 

I did not focus manually, well I put it at infinity and then started shooting.  I got to remember to tinker next time.

 

Did not know that about the 600 rule, what do you mean by guiding though?  Im shooting DX, and use an 11-16 tokina.  So I think I should be OK with 30 seconds in the future.  

 

I did not know about the sweet spot either.  I was using the smallest at 2.8, I'll try and go one or two higher and see what happens. I found a page on flikr that people say at 11mm around 3.5 but some people get good results at 2.8 as well

 

ETTR = new term and great idea it seems like.  Should I always look to stack? I thought if you stacked it would create star trail type images. (No clue really, im a complete noob)

 

 

 

According to cleardarksky,com, my area is a 5 on the bortle scale. From wiki:

  • only hints of zodiacal light are seen on the best nights in autumn and spring
  • light pollution is visible in most, if not all, directions
  • clouds are noticeably brighter than the sky
  • the Milky Way is very weak or invisible near the horizon, and looks washed out overhead
  • when it is half moon (first/last quarter) in a dark location the sky appears like this, but with the difference that the sky appears dark blue
  • limiting magnitude with 12.5" reflector is 15

 

 

There is a place around 4 hours north called cherry springs state park. I really want to visit there soon. Its supposed to be a great place for darkness

 

 

When I edited in LR I used the adjustment brush a lot to try and bring out only the milky way.  Im a huge photography beginner and even dumber when it comes to LR and PS.  I really need to pick up a book and try to figure it out.  This site has been huge for me so far and I have only posted a few times

 

 

 

Thanks a ton for your help. You have no idea how much I appreciate all your guys help.  

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  • MilkyWay3NoEdit.jpg


#10 elcab18

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 08:32 PM

Jake, here is a test shot I took from Mono Lake, CA.  First time at night stuff but felt pretty comfortable.  The next night was planned for the high country in Yosemite NP but the weather didn't cooperate and it never happened.  You can do all kind of blending and merging and the images I've seen were very cool, this was about 5 minutes in Lightroom.

Best!

 

I didn't even know the power lines were there, very dark :D.

iso 6400, 16 mm, f 4, 15 sec

 

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#11 rospondek

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 10:03 AM

elcab18 great shot!

 

Jake no problem and a little answers and more info.

 

Infinity mark on the lens is really infinity but stars, they're not in the infinity mark. They're just far away so tweaking is needed ;)

 

By guiding I mean the mechanism to rotate the camera on tripod to match the earth movement. It is used with the telescopes. It gives you the chance to set only one exposure which lasts even couple of minutes (ultra great conditions needed) without this bothering of stars movement. Because they are always still. The camera is moving with them. But it is pricey and really needed with telescope rather than digital camera.

 

With 11-16 30s should be ok but it really depends on the conditions. Sometimes 10-15s is enough to get a nice shot.

 

ETTR is great when used properly and in the right situation. So best when you want to get Milky Way (or maybe Andromeda galaxy) on the one shot without stacking. This method will give you the most light you can get without need of making other shots.

 

You're asking if you should always stack. I'll answer this way. Should you always shoot portraits?

Answer is 'depends'. There are situations where portrait is a must, but there are other when wide shot is better.

The same with stacking. You can make a Milky Way photo from a single picture when conditions are good enough. You can take a beautiful starry wide sky with one 10s shot. It is ok and nobody will tell you you did wrong.

 

This is a single shot of Saturn.

cb2f8336944775.574f01257b67c.jpg

Single shot and yet you can still see the rings.

 

I'm either not saying that photos you posted are bad. They're not. But! Consider this.

One photo, even taken for 30seconds, is only one photo. With details caught on this one photo. Some things are perfectly visible and you can't make them better. White dot of the star will always be white dot of the star even when you will stack 100 of shots. But some of the things are dim, barely visible or not visible at the first glance. Like Milky Way.

 

But what will happen on Photoshop when you will set visibility of layer to 1% and duplicate it 99 times? It will became 100% visible. That's what stacking is needed for.

 

There are two different methods of stacking.

 

First one is frame to frame. You put frame on the frame without any movement. This is used with the star trails.

 

So 82 frames like the bottom one gives you the top one.

 

trails.jpg

Program to make it automatic - StarStax. Free one, great, fast, cuddly ;)

 

Second one is pixel to pixel. This is used to deep sky photography or to enhance details on photos. Deep Sky - galaxies, nebulas, Milky Way - on single shot will always looks dim or even there will be nothing at all. Well unless you have some enormous government telescope on your backyard in the middle of the dark ocean.

This type of stacking will align each star on the photos in the right place one on the other. A little rotation of each picture is made by the program (DeepSkyStacker) and after stacking 50, 100, 200 photos (the more the better but it is not so easy as you will need other types of frames - google bias, dark, flat frames) the things are getting to looks really good.

 

So from this:

andromeda_single.jpg

 

after stacking 75 more pictures You will get this:

andromeda_stack.jpg

You could easily notice the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) on the first photo. You can guess where is the M32, as it looks like a blurred star a little down to the right. But tell me where on the first photo is M110? You can't unless you're an astronomer. Even after those 75 extra frames it is still only visible as the really dim blurred spot above the Andromeda.

 

Also the moon after stacking just 10 shots is beginning to catch extra details:

6a052036944775.573e1af42aec4.jpg

 

So as you can see stacking is a choice and decision if the shot you want to get would be better with stacking or without. And if with stacking, then which one exactly. You will know after a while. And do not afraid to try different things. The worst thing that will happen is that shots will be bad. But that will be a lesson.

 

Also try to write up your settings for different types of shots. Reviewing them will give you an extra experience.

 

Now sad things. I've just check and my bortle index is............8:

  • the sky is light gray or orange - one can easily read
  • stars forming familiar constellation patterns may be weak or invisible
  • M31 and M44 are barely glimpsed by an experienced observer on good nights
  • even with a telescope, only bright Messier objects can be detected
  • limiting magnitude with 12.5" reflector is 13

I shouldn't even see sky. I should only see a bright splat over my head. So as you can see it is only a small chance to be in the worse place than I am. Although I made the photos you saw earlier.

 

I guess that's again all I want to say. If I'll think of some other things I'll add them.

 

If anyone who is experienced on the astrophotography field will see some bug sith in my posts please give us an info. I'm learning either :)


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#12 PeterPP

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 03:09 PM

Great post,

you got the aperture a bit off, 1.4 to 1.6 is 1/3 of a stop increment, as is 1.8 to 2.0 :)

One full stop lower from 1.4 is 2.0 and from 2.8 is 4.0 

This page has a convenient 1/3 stop increment chart part way down it, most lenses do work better closed down at least one stop!

http://www.lightingi...stops-explained

 

I had a look at your site and you have a nice wish list  :D

If you ever go for no.3 upgrade the mount to either a heq5 or eq6, I have an older version of that scope and the eq5 mount is overloaded with the 200/1000 OTA very wobbly and shaky. OK for visual observing, Not so good for any astrophotography, The OTA itself is quite good.

And it is heavy! Not easy to move around once assembled.

 

 

Aperture - get the sweet spot of the lens. Usually is one stop lower than maximum. So 1.4 is 1.6, 1.8 is 2.0, 2.8 is 3.0 etc. You want the most light you can get in the maximum given time without too much of the noise (ISO) in the sharpest image lens can give you.

 


Peter
 


#13 rospondek

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 03:18 PM

Thanks Peter. I'm still a little back with the photo nomenclature :D

I edited first post to put the table from wiki. I guess it is the right one :)

 

Yes my wish list is truly a wish list :D And, oh irony, with number 3 the problem is not with money but the size and location. But who knows what will happen in the future :)



#14 PeterPP

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 03:20 PM

Just mention here that many modern lenses can actually focus past infinity :wacko: which makes relying on the infinity mark a bit difficult.

Infinity mark on the lens is really infinity but stars, they're not in the infinity mark. They're just far away so tweaking is needed ;)

 

Location for me has also become a problem, I used to be out in the country.

I have not moved but the city has grown and surrounded me.

Now Street lights and building lights everywhere, very hard to see sky anymore.


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#15 rospondek

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 04:48 PM

Oh right. Lens is past infinity at the infinity mark. And we would think that there is nothing beyond infinity ;)

Nonetheless you need to set it manually and that's the most important thing never mind why :)

 

So even in pure wild (no offense) Canada skies are getting brighter and brighter :(

I'm just looking at Ontario. Forests, lakes and more forests and lakes. Hard to believe the lights or any civilization are there somewhere...



#16 PeterPP

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 12:02 AM

Most of the cities and people are concentrated towards the southern border of Ontario. 

Where I am by Lake Simcoe (used to be farms and forests, now being replaced with strip malls and housing developments)  you can see the lights of Toronto about an hour drive away very well now.

 

What I found most annoying/upsetting I was just camping on Lake Huron's shore hoping to try some night shots and I found I could walk the roads at night without a flash light. :(  The sky when it was not raining was bright and washed out very few stars visible.

 

I'll be trying again in Algonquin park later this summer, a bit more north and is a dark sky site, if the rain does not follow me.

 

If you are in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Bahamas look up a Clear Sky Clock near you,

it maps out seeing conditions for the night and the best times to try observing the night sky.

http://www.cleardark...html#chart_list


Peter
 


#17 rospondek

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 03:06 AM

Nope I'm from EU, Poland :)

I remember like 20 years ago at night I could clearly see all of the constellations. Now I can only see brightest stars - Sirius, Altair, Sadr - or the brightest constellations - Andromeda and Casiopeia.

It is so sad that when we could see everything, we didn't have good enough equipment. Now, when we've got equipment and technology, we became blind...

I'd love to go to some dark place to see a lot more. Unfortunately now have no time for that.



#18 marcod

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Posted 20 July 2016 - 10:04 AM

This thread is pure gold and I need to read it carefully, thanks for putting it together!  :D

Out of initial curiosity -- what is the focal length for the saturn, moon and M31 photos posted by rospondek? 

 

Thanks!  :)



#19 rospondek

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Posted 20 July 2016 - 10:23 AM

All three done with 200mm (Nikkor AF-S 70-200 f/2.8) :)

 

Here is Mars to the whole big happy pixel-size family ;)

 

5d337336944775.5751f30bb5603.jpg

 

This time it was stack of 8 photos.

 

M31 is all messed up cause it was my first try. The ISO was waaay to high (12800 instead of just 800) there was no supported frames to clean the image and that's why there is so much noise.

And now we've got here at least two weeks of cloudy weather so I have no chance for a retry ;)

 

I'm still wondering what could I catch with D500 and telescope, despite this enormous light pollution.



#20 marcod

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Posted 20 July 2016 - 11:17 AM

Thanks! I've got so far only as high as a 35mm on DX so my Mars and Saturn -- which have been clean and bright for a whole month now -- are just too small to enjoy!  :(

 

Just for fun, a lucky shot M31 with my 35!

 

M31-2.png

 





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