I am back again like the herpalurpies.
This time I am hoping to bring you a more steady stream of blogging. Probably not super steady, but it should be fun none the less.
So around this time last year I picked up my first DSLR camera and I bought it with the sole purpose of doing Astrophotography. Now for those of you who have no idea what this is. Simply put it is the photographing of the sky. Be it the Sun, Moon, Stars, or even deeper sky objects like Nebula and Galaxies. Well to my surprise this can be a super expensive hobby. So what I think I am going to do with this blog (among other things) is talk about my adventures into jumping in to the field of astrophotography. What I have learned and things I have done. Next weekend I am heading to a Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City called The Headlands. Before I head up I am looking to fabricate up a Barn Door Tracker. This will allow me to track the sky so I can take longer than 20/30 second exposures with my camera with out having any stars start trailing in my photos.
I will take photos and complete a write-up on the tools/hardware used to construct this and I will also include the prices as well.
I have visited many sites and they all offer what I am going to be posting, but hopefully I will have more of an All-in-One stop shop type setup for you guys.
Hopefully this will be a nice blog for the new guys getting into the field. We will basically be learning together and hopefully I can get a small following of people and we can have discussions and toss around ideas and what-not.
I will try and make this as professional as possible, but my grammar is going to be something that some may find unbearable. That being said, if you are still reading this, hold on tight.
So for starters I will go over my current equipment and setup.
I am a Nikon User. The one thing that I dislike about other astro-websites is everyone uses Cannon and swears by it. I feel I have had just as good luck with my Nikon. So that being said, if you own a Nikon body and Nikon lenses, don’t go out and spend money on Cannon.
Nikon D5100 (If I was to buy a camera again I would buy a full-framed sensor camera)
Nikkor 35MM f/1.8 (My Baby! I love this lens)
Nikkor 85MM f/1.8 (I have not used this yet on the stars)
Nikkor 18-55MM f/?.? (I like using the 18MM)
Rokinon 8MM f/3.5 (I have not used this yet, but I will soon!)
Nikkor 70-300MM f/4.5-5.6 (Hoping to use this for deep sky)
Optron 500MM f/8 (Cheap-ass lens, I hate it)
Tripod: (A good sturdy Tripod is a MUST HAVE!)
Manfrotto MK294A3-D3RC2 294 Aluminum Tripod Kit with 3-Way Head
So to get you started you really only need a few things.
Camera Body, Camera Lens (35MM is a cheap and great starting point), Tripod, Dark Skies, Snacks and Drink, and a few hours to kill.
Setup your camera on your tripod and aim at any stars/constellations your little heart desires.
Now if you are using the 35MM lens you want to set your shutter for 20 seconds. I have had good luck with a 20 second shutter and had no trailing produced on my star shots.
What is trailing you ask? The Earth is rotating 465 meters/second so if you are photographing something in the sky for a long period of time you will see the stars start to streak or make trails since the Earth is rotating. There are many options to counter our star photos from having streaks. The easiest way is to use the Rule of 600.
Take 600 and divide it by your lens focal length (ours is 35MM) 600/35= 17.14. So in reality the longest you really want to expose for is 17 seconds. My Nikon however only offers 10/15/20/30seconds. You could be on the safe side and shoot 15 seconds. I however have done most of mine at 20 seconds and had little to no trailing.
Back to where we were: So we have the camera on the tripod and we are shooting Orion at 20 seconds. We take a look at the photo and we love it!
Woohoo! Our first Astrophoto! Really that is pretty much the easy part.
The next part which I have not dove into yet, but I will be in two weeks is photo stacking.
So lets say you are shooting Orion and the photo is nice, but is a bit faint. So we would take multiple exposures of Orion and then when we import them on our PC/MAC we would use a program called Deep Sky Stacker (Freeware) and we would stack and align our photos. By doing this it would remove a lot of the grainy/noise from our photos and also make a nice brighter photo.
More on this to come in the later weeks.
Now, lets assume you want streaks/trails in your star photos. We could create Startrails! I absolutely love these photos! You can see a couple of mine in the photos below.
For this you pretty much just set your shutter to 30 seconds (if your in a really light polluted area) and take hours worth of photos of just one spot in the sky. You would then take all of the photos and stack them in Photoshop or this program I like to use called Startrails (Freeware). This program pretty much does all the work for you and fairly quickly.
Well that is about it for now. I will add more when I do more and learn more!
I will add in some photos I have currently taken over the past year. This is not all of them, but the ones I find most fascinating (or the ones I like the most).
Most all of these are taken with my 35MM. The only exception is the shot of the lit of staircase and Orion overhead. I took that with the stock 18-55MM lens the D5100 came with.
If you would like to see more of my photography/astrophotography you can check out my Flickr Account <—Click.
Like I said above, I plan to add more about this subject on this blog and hopefully someone will be able to use this as a reference to help them along in this hobby.
If you have any questions feel free to ask. I am learning this too so I may not be able to help right away, but I can probably find the answers.
Check back later!