Tips, Tricks, Books

Tips and tricks, and maybe even a few samples.
jcwylie
Posts: 31
Joined: May 15th, 2012, 12:22 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Tips, Tricks, Books

Post by jcwylie » June 29th, 2012, 2:27 pm

I recently got a t adapter for my Nikon DSLR so I could take pictures with that instead of my iPhone (even though my transit pics came out really well). Does anyone have any tips, tricks or know of any books that I pickup to learn the particulars of astrophotography? I know I am going to have to work with ISO settings and exposure time but what I am really need to learn about it tracking the object during long exposures, stacking images, processing, etc.
Jennifer C. Wylie

Christopher K.
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Re: Tips, Tricks, Books

Post by Christopher K. » July 1st, 2012, 8:21 pm

I'm mostly at a loss when it comes to this subject. My cumulative experience has been holding a Kodak Easyshare steady at the eyepiece to get a few so-so shots of the Moon.

The BRAS library at HRPO contained up to now a couple of books that at least mention astrophotography. Nightwatch by Terence Dickinson is a classic, and pages 148 to 153 cover photography, though with an emphasis on film (this is the 1996 revised edition). The Handbook of Astronomical Processing by Berry and Burnell definitely seems suited for an intermediate to advanced photographer who wants to make a digital picture look the best it can.

Other books in the library are recent donations which have yet to be processed...
*The Moon Book by Kim Long, pp. 61-69. Long states that the focal length divided by 109 will give the resulting size of the Moon on film. She also writes briefly about such CCD features as "antiblooming" and "merging", which I may understand if I keep reading.
*Practical Astronomy by Storm Dunlop, pp. 91-98. Dunlop suggests different methods for different targets: "fixed camera" for star trails and artificial satellites, "unguided driven camera" for clusters, "guided driven camera" for star fields and nebulae, and "eyepiece projection" for planets.
*Astrophotography for the Amateur by Michael Covington. Some of the techniques outlined in this book including photographing stars without a telescope, photographing a bright comet, photographing a meteor shower, photographing the Moon through a telephoto lens, photographing an eclipse of the Moon, polar alignment and deep-sky photography with an off-axis guider.
*Handbook of CCD Astronomy by Steve Howell. Of course, this one only helps those with access to a CCD.
*Introduction to Digital Astrophotography by Robert Reeves. Well, you learn something when you read a little. Apparently black-and-white images taken with a digital camera (at least as of the publication of this book seven years ago) are actually color images in which the red, blue and green components combine to make all whites, blacks and grays.
*Introduction to Webcam Astrophotography by Robert Reeves. There's a very interesting quote at the beginning of the book that can serve as inspiration to us all: "In my opinion, the work of Damian Peach from the United Kingdom and Zac Pujic from Brisbane, Australia stands out from the rest. Pujic and Peach both use the same webcam equipment available to everyone and their telescopes are modest in size, ranging from 9.5-inch to 14-inch aperture. By careful application of webcam astrophotography techniques and seeking the most stable seeing conditions, they routinely produce images of solar system objects that are not only beautiful but are of such detail that they have genuine scientific value."

I hope all this helps.

Christopher K.
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Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
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Re: Tips, Tricks, Books

Post by Christopher K. » August 21st, 2012, 4:37 pm

Sky & Telescope has an online collection of astrophotography essays. The topics range from guiding a telescope to wide-range imaging to photographing the Sun, lunar eclipses and even Iridium flares.

S&T's Astrophotography articles:
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/howto/astrophotography

Poppa-Chris
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Joined: December 13th, 2012, 5:32 pm
Location: Denham Springs, LA

Re: Tips, Tricks, Books

Post by Poppa-Chris » December 13th, 2012, 8:04 pm

There are a number of great video tutorials on astrophtography and astrophoto processing to be found on YoyTube. They will get you up to speed in a very short time.

describe you scope, mount, and processing software to me and I can probably help with some pointers.

"Poppa-Chris"
Poppa-Chris


"First star to the right, then straight on until morning!" - Peter Pan

frisb
Posts: 34
Joined: March 14th, 2011, 9:45 am

Re: Tips, Tricks, Books

Post by frisb » January 4th, 2013, 2:44 am

Hey Jen,
I've been researching this particular subject for a year and a half as this is what got me hooked in the first place. I've come up w/ many wonderful links I'd like to share w/ you and your welcome to e-mail me anytime. I should first say that I have no experience as I still have no mount but I've researched enough to know what kinds of info are well written and which ones were hard for me to understand. I will share the ones I found to be understandable.

First of all, get the e-book "A Beginner's Guide to DSLR Astrophotography" by Jerry Lodriguss. This is the bible, if you will, for beginner AP's. http://www.astropix.com

You will learn most everything you need to know, step by step, along w/ many helpful links in this one e-book. If you'd like, I could loan you a copy of mine to thumb through and see if it's for you. (frisbsteve@cox.net) In addition to this, you will find some other articles and software options very helpful for more detailed understanding of each of the particular facets of your system "train". Here are a few to start w/:

Check these General Info. articles on most all equip. headings. Click "see all" to the right of each heading bar(i.e. telescope,mounts,astrophotography). Then look for the "Video Gallery" section on the left Options List.

http://www.telescope.com/Articles/com/9.uts

Camera Control: There are software products that make focusing and camera control so much easier than manual that it is worth researching. Poppa Chris turned me onto this one and is, in my opinion, by far, the most complete, user friendly product on the market. It's also the most reasonably priced one too. Geaux figure. http://www.backyardeos.com

Articles: http://www.astronomysource.com/2011/12/ ... -telescope
http://www.astronomysource.com/2011/12/ ... s-software
http://www.budgetastro.net This man, Doug German, is a very simple and generous AP that loves to help. http://web.canon.jp/imaging/enjoydslr/index.html

Tracking: http://www.astro-baby.com/HEQ5/HEQ5-1.htm (EQ mount depicted here is identical to Orion Atlas EQ-G)
http://www.budgetastro.net/p/drift-alignment.html

Processing: http://www.youtube.com/user/namregd (here is Doug Germans U-tube page...Go to bottom of page first and click "5
more videos, go up 3 and the next 5 up is a six part Basic Photoshop Tutorial
Then check his videos on DSS(deep sky stacker)
http://www.youtube.com/user/DugDog/videos (a # of good, short videos here)
http://starizona.com/acb/downloads/videos.aspx (2 Photoshop Videos....others you may like)


Well Jen, this should be a very good start. I've found these are the easiest to understand of the mountain of options I've seen available and great for details in each focused area or subject. I believe all will be of great help to you when you are ready for each of these applications, but, as I said in my first recommendation, A Beginners Guide to Astrophotography is the place for your detailed, step by step, A to Z, How, What, Why, When and Where, Astrophotography book for Dummies. (like me) It is the place that puts it all together for a very nice and easy to understand outline and overview, if you will.

Good Luck and Clear Skies,
Stephen

jcwylie
Posts: 31
Joined: May 15th, 2012, 12:22 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Tips, Tricks, Books

Post by jcwylie » March 21st, 2013, 2:18 pm

Sorry for not saying so earlier but thanks for all the information everyone.
Poppa-Chris wrote:There are a number of great video tutorials on astrophtography and astrophoto processing to be found on YoyTube. They will get you up to speed in a very short time.
describe you scope, mount, and processing software to me and I can probably help with some pointers.
"Poppa-Chris"
I have a Meade ETX90 and LS8 (ACF). I know i cannot really do any long exposure stuff with them but i am mostly interested in photos of planets, Saturn and Jupiter in particular, and the moon.

I am using a Nikon D5100 camera. Or in the case of Venus transit pictures, I used my iPhone with a Orion adapter. That actually worked out great because the kids that were there are too short to see in the eyepiece could see since my phone worked like a monitor.

I don't have any processing software yet because I really haven't had the opportunity to get some good photos that i would need to process. I did get some nice ones of the Venus transit but due to clouds that day I didn't enough at the right times to stack.
Jennifer C. Wylie

Poppa-Chris
Posts: 112
Joined: December 13th, 2012, 5:32 pm
Location: Denham Springs, LA

Re: Tips, Tricks, Books

Post by Poppa-Chris » April 10th, 2013, 3:13 pm

Jennifer:

The best (and easiest) way to do planetary images is with a webcam modified to fit the 1-1/4" eyepiece holder. You can do this yourself buy purchasing an suitable adaptor or you can get one already to go right out of the box. Orion Star Shoot Solar System Color Imager IV or Celestron NexImage are two very affordable and very capable USB powered cameras. The object is to take short movies (.AVI files) of the planet, Moon, or Sun (properly filtered) then with the freeware "Registax" break the moive into individual frames and select the best of them to "stack".
Selecting the best percentage of frames and stacking them greatly averages out any problems with atmospheric turbulence and boosts the signal to noise ratio (SNR). The you will apply "wavelet" sharpening in Registax to bring out phenomenal detail in the photo.

Your refractor is perfectly capable of doing this job very admirably. All you need is a laptop or maybe even a tablet in the field to power the camera and capture the AVI movies.

Further, it isn't so much the aperture of the scope for longe exposure deep space phots as it is the sturdiness and accuracy of the mount. A heavy equitorial mount is best and tracking can be improved with an autoguider setup. For a scope like the ETX90 the is a good autoguider package avialable for approx. $450 consisting of the autoguide camera, a small guide scope, and the mounting plate for the guidescope. If you can accurately guide on your target for 3-5 minutes you would be amazed at what a 90mm scope can produce using multiple exposures and good post-processing.

Post-processing: While there are others out there the default software is Photoshop. When you get really serious Photshop CS6 is the current standard, but it is pricey. Photoshop Elements 10 can provide everything you need for most of your work for a whole lot less money, around $100.

Unfortunatley, astrophotography can get to be the most expensive aspect of our hobby. But, on the bright side, we don't have to make that investment all at one time.
Poppa-Chris


"First star to the right, then straight on until morning!" - Peter Pan

jcwylie
Posts: 31
Joined: May 15th, 2012, 12:22 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Tips, Tricks, Books

Post by jcwylie » April 13th, 2013, 9:34 pm

Thanks for the suggestion about the webcam. I have seen that suggestion several other places as well but since I already had the Nikon I haven't worried about looking into that.

The only concern I have about using a webcam is that it seems like no matter how far down I turn the display on my laptop or tablet, they are still too bright. I attempted to use a start chart app on my iPad the other night instead of my paper one but that killed my night sight even when it was as dim as i could get it and the app was in night mode.

Any suggestions on how I can remedy that? I thought about some red plastic sheeting or plastic wrap but I haven't had any luck finding any (and of course it never occurred to me to look for this during the holidays when all the different colors of plastic wrap and things are out). Then I worry about how well that would work.
Jennifer C. Wylie

Poppa-Chris
Posts: 112
Joined: December 13th, 2012, 5:32 pm
Location: Denham Springs, LA

Re: Tips, Tricks, Books

Post by Poppa-Chris » April 14th, 2013, 11:25 am

Easy answer:

Freeware downloads: "Sharpcap" or "Amcap". Amcap is usualy bundled with the purchase of either Celestron's or Orion's version of webcams. But Sharpcap has a few more features and has a better, easier Windows command structure. Either will control your webcam's exposure, gain, frames per second, etc.

Binaryrivers.com, the authors of BackYard EOS Canon DSLR capture software has an application called Backyard Red that will give you an adjustable brightness redscreen for your laptop.

I would greatly suggest Backyard EOS for all of your DSLR capture work, but it currently is specific to Canon cameras. I've heard there may be a Nikon package in the future, but it doesn't yet exist.
Poppa-Chris


"First star to the right, then straight on until morning!" - Peter Pan

Christopher K.
Posts: 4814
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Tips, Tricks, Books

Post by Christopher K. » October 10th, 2013, 2:00 pm

On Friday 8 November (7:30pm at HRPO), BRAS member Chris Desselles will give an astrophotography presentation for absolute beginners. He will cover several different techniques, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. This lecture has free admission.

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