Orion (Finally, clear skies!)

Started Jan 31, 2013 | Discussions thread
harry cannoli
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Hi Russ..
In reply to RustierOne, Feb 1, 2013

RustierOne wrote:

harry cannoli wrote:

Finally, clear skies!

By the time I arrived at my dark location I only had an hour to shoot before moonrise. Got set up and snapped 16 15 sec images (15s @ f/3.2. ISO 1600). Then (it figures ) a pack of coyotes started coming close. Maybe 10 animals. I shined a bright flashlight at them, honked my horn, and put my headlights on them. They're so skittish when I go out to photograph them, I have never been afraid of a coyote. Until tonight. These critters were fearless, and I figured I would make a nice meal for them, so I got out of there. Went down the road a few miles, but by then the moon was out. Time to go home, but at least I got something. After almost two weeks of cloudy nights, it was absolutely beautiful when I looked up.

(Tripod mounted 7D w/ 24-70 f/2.8. 16 stacked images. 4 minutes total at ISO 1600)

Thanks for the look.

Very nice image, Harry. Thanks for sharing with us. I particularly like the original-sized image. Looks like some nice star images with virtually no trailing. Those 15-second shots are just about right. Noise seems to be absent as well. And there's a fine sprinkling of very faint stars. Using my SkySafari app, it looks like some of your faintest stars are between magnitude 9.5 and 10. Not bad at all for an aperture of less than an inch. If you were at 70mm f/3.2, the lens aperture was only 22mm. At the wide angle end, 24mm f/3.2 is just over 7mm aperture! Do you remember what focal length you were shooting?

I checked the EXIF, I shot these at 24mm. 15 seconds was actually pushing it. It doesn't show on the cropped "original" you viewed, but trailing is noticeable when looking at the original file at 100%.

I'm fortunate that I live in the Nevada high desert. The air is crystal clear, and I only drive 15 miles to find truly dark skies. The 7D is very good on noise. I turned off NR, as I was stacking. It was wickedly cold the night I shot this. I set the camera out and waited 20 minutes before I took the first shot. I'm sure the bitter cold had much to do with the low noise. Even a single exposure looks quite nice with a single, gentle pass of noise reduction. The sky is so very clear that, after my eyes kicked in, I could see thousands of stars. The Milky Way was beautiful. It was a gorgeous night.

I've struggled with DSS. I'm doing something wrong, since all my images come out monochrome. Probably some button or check box not right.

Two things-

  • In DSS, when you click "Save to File", a dialog box opens. Under the file name/location, there are two clickable options- "Save with adjustments" and another option to save the file without applying adjustments, but with adjustment info embedded in the file. That's the one you want. Using DSS image adjustment defaults, you'll lose color
  • Even when everything is done properly in DSS, there isn't much color (especially with my un-modded 7D). To get decent color, here's what I do-
  1. Open the 16 bit TIFF you get from DSS in your editor. 
  2. Duplicate that layer
  3. Switch blend mode of duplicate layer to "Color"
  4. Increase saturation of duplicate layer to about 75% (yep, 75%. No typo)
  5. On duplicate layer, gaussian blur about 5 pixels
That's a nice way to get good, believable color without increasing noise, even slightly. You can adjust the opacity of the duplicate layer to get just the color saturation you desire. 
Those should be the first steps. Once you do the color thing, then you can do levels/curves and whatever processing you normally so.

That's quite the experience with the coyotes! I've never faced any danger like that. When I was a kid out observing by my self, it took a while to be able to ignore all the noises in the woods around my remote observing site. Nowadays I get more of a scare from the racoons hissing and spitting at me in my own backyard. I do think that many people are afraid of the dark and thus the profusion of porch lights and "security" lights. It seems like a losing battle living within the city limits now.

Oy. I really feel like a wus. Truth be known, I'm more worried about two legged animals. I'm so far from civilization with a bunch of pricey gear, I sometimes think I hear banjo music drifting in the breeze..

As always, thanks for your kind words.

Cheers

Rich
ice nine photography
Take only photographs, leave only footprints.

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