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Thread: Tips to help me take some great images

  1. #1
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    Question Tips to help me take some great images



    Hi all,

    So im after some advise and tips on how i can take some great astro photos.

    I have recently purchased my first SLR camera, its an Canon EOS 1100D. Along with this purchase i also added a Tripod and a adapter so i can fit the camera directly on to my telescope.

    So the first thing i would like to know is about taking images of the night sky, with just the tripod.
    1. I have heard people talk about changing the ISO and Exposure settings. Im not sure what these do, please can you help explain what it is they do and what the best settings are for them, with my particulate camera.
    2. I have also heard people saying that i need to set the focus to infinity? what is this how do i focus on infinity?
    3. Also how do i avoid leaving star trails in my images? is this something to do with how long i take a picture for?
    4. People say i need to take lots of images and stack them together to get a good result, is this correct? if so how do i stack them?

    The second thing i would like some help with is taking photos with my telescope. My current telescope is a Celestron Nexstar 6SE.
    1. Do i need to change any of the ISO and Exposure settings, or can i keep the settings from before?
    2. Is it possible to take a longer picture while connected to my telescope with out been effected my star trails?
    3. Do i need to do anything different from taking photos from deep space objects to taking photos of planets?

    Any tips and advise you can provide will be of great help to me.
    Thanks Joe.
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    Default Re: Tips to help me take some great images

    Joe:

    This may help you get more familiar with the basics of the "exposure triangle": Camera Exposure: Aperture, ISO & Shutter Speed
    This may help you with your question on tripod photography with standard lenses: How to Avoid Star Trails by Following the '500 Rule'
    Tips on focusing: Focusing Methods

    A good ISO range to start with astrophotography is 800-1600.

    For 6se DSOs: to avoid star trails, you will likely be limited to 10-30 sec exposures, depending on where your target is in the sky. I would suggest starting at 15 secs. You may want to invest in a focal reducer.

    For 6se Planetary: try using movie mode if your camera has it and using a 2x Barlow.

    For software: Deep Sky Stacker (DSS) is free and many people use it to get started in astrophotography. It will stack and allow you begin processing the image.
    For planetary, many people start with Registax (also free if memory serves).

    Hope this helps, and good luck.
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    Default Re: Tips to help me take some great images

    THe first thing is to learn to use your camera. Forget about taking astro-pictures, just take snapshots. But take the camera off automatic and use the manual settings. That way, you will learn what they do.

    Here's a brief rundown of camera settings:

    ISO - In the days of film, this was a rating of the sensitivity of the film. The higher the number, the more sensitive the film. In a digital sensor, you can't change the sensitivity. ISO in a digital camera is an amplification factor. As with film, you use higher numbers in dimmer light. However, amplifying the image this way comes with a price: more noise.

    Exposure - This is the length of time that the camera's shutter is open. The longer it is open, the more light you collect. The price is that longer exposure times will be more sensitive to movement, either of the camera or of the target.

    Focal Ratio - In the world of photography, this is called "aperture" (which means something different in astronomy). If is the number written with an F and a slash, for example: f/10. On a camera lens, it is adjustable; on a telescope, it is fixed. It is the ratio of the focal length to the aperture. SMaller numbers mean that the aperture is larger in relation to the focal length, and therefore that more light is getting to each pixel of the sensor.

    Focus - Yes, folks, in the old days, you had to focus a camera manually! With a telescope, you still do. If you take your camera out of auto-focus, you will be able to focus the lens by rotating a ring on the lens. When connected to a telescope, you use the telescope's focuser. On old lenses from the days of film, there was a stop on the focus ring at infinity. On a good lens, it would be quite accurate. On modern auto-focus lenses, they had to move the stop, so you cannot use it to focus at infinity. You just have to look at the image, either in the viewfinder or live view to see if it looks focused. With a telescope, the best way is to use a Bahtinov mask. They are cheap to buy or easy to make.

    Star trails are a result of the Earth's rotation. On a fixed tripod, the length of time before they are noticeable is 400 divided by the focal length. So a 200mm lens can only take a 2 second image. To take longer images, the camera must track the movement of the sky. Your 6SE will track the sky, but there is a problem: it is an alt-az mount, so its movements are not parallel to the movement of the sky. As a result, the image will rotate, even though the mount is tracking. So, you can only take 30 second images with it. To take longer exposures, you need to use an equatorial mount.

    Stacking is done is software. You just point the software to the images and it will do the stacking for you. Deep Sky Stacker is good for star fields and DSOs. Registax is good for images of planets.

    For photos of DSOs, you generally want exposures as long as you can manage. For planets, short exposures are fine, and you want as many of them as possible. Planetary imaging is usually done with a video camera (or a DSLR in video mode). You might take thousands of frames of video to get one image.
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    Default Re: Tips to help me take some great images

    A few things I would suggest is get used to using your camera in entirely manual mode. Most of the in-camera processing can be done in a far better way in post-processing software.

    A Bahtinov focusing mask can make a huge difference. You can focus it in live mode on most DSLR's on stars of roughly apparent magnitude of 2 or brighter.

    A wired remote control or a setup using your computer is a must. For an ALT-AZ mount, field rotation will be your greatest limitation, even if the target appears to stand still in the camera. Some software like Nebulosity allow you to handle some rotation fairly easily during stacking.

    Learn to take flat frames early, they make a big difference overall. As the months get warmer and your exposures exceed 30s, you will inevitably need to deal with thermal pattern noise and need to take dark frames. Learn to use them over time and you will benefit tremendously.

    One thread on this forum that i've found very helpful is: The no-cost 10-step checklist for a better image

    Finally, I recommend the following two books that helped me a great deal!

    “A Guide to Astrophotography with Digital SLR Cameras" by Jerry Lodriguss
    http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Astropho...h+dslr+cameras

    This is a book on CD-Rom. It contains a lot of example images on how to process images along with data sets that you can use to reproduce the results. It is a great tool.

    "Astrophotography on the Go", by Joseph Ashley (a member of this forum)
    http://www.amazon.com/Astrophotograp...aphy+on+the+go
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    Default Re: Tips to help me take some great images

    Hi,

    Lot of stuff to learn but it comes together faster than you think. With the 6SE you will be doing alt azimuth astrophotography which has some limitations. Here is a link to azimuth mount astrophotography: Astrophotography with Azimuth Mounts In any case, you can make some very nice photographs of the brighter deep space objects. Examples of what you can do: https://www.flickr.com/photos/592378...n/photostream/

    An excellent book for learning how to use your camera to photograph the night sky is "Digital SLR Astrophotography" by M. Covington. Jerry Lodriguss has several books on CDs that are excellent for getting started. Catching the Light: Astrophotography by Jerry Lodriguss
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    Default Re: Tips to help me take some great images

    Thanks for all the tips everyone. I have been playing with my camera all day long. I have also connected my camera to my laptop so i can take photos without having to press down on the capture button on the camera its self.
    it is now 9:11PM and the sun set at around 8:43PM. I have just been out and taken a 15 sec exposure photo with ISO 800 and an aperture of f/5.6. The 1 photo looked like it was still mid day even tho to my eyes it seemed perfectly dark.
    So i have come back in for a little while long. But looking at the photo i took in more detail i can see more stars then i original though at a quick glance.

    I was wondering if anyone could give me an object to photograph for tonight. i live in the UK and have a decent view from West to East. i don't want to stay out too late as im currently just getting over a nasty chest infection. so if you could suggest a nice area of the sky for me to photography with just my camera on a tripod i will see what i can come up with. im planning on going back out in just over half an hour.
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    Default Re: Tips to help me take some great images

    Hi all,

    Here are the photos i managed to get while i was out the other night.

    The first photo is a single photo with an exposure of 15 seconds, no editing done to it.
    The second photo is 24 photos stacked together, each single photo was taken on with a 15 second exposure. i made the photo black and white as i found it hid the orange glow of light pollution.
    The third photo is 10 photos stacked together, each single photo was taken on with a 15 second exposure. i made the photo black and white as i found it hid the orange glow of light pollution.
    the forth photo is 10 photos stacked together, each single photo was taken on with a 15 second exposure. i left the photo in color and tried to tweak with the brightness and contrast to make it clearer.

    the photos are not fantastic but i think they are good for my first attempt.
    I would still welcome any more help or tips you can give me.

    1.jpg2.jpg3.jpg4.jpg
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    Default Re: Tips to help me take some great images

    You are off to a great start! Very nice pics all!

    Some great recommendations on books for further reading above, I would also add "Astrophotography" by Thierry Legault. I personally also use "100 Best Objects for CCD Astrophotography" by Ruben Kier as a rough guide to potential targets and techniques by month. If you have not done so already, download Stellarium (free) - it is a very useful planetarium software and has an Ocular plug-in that will allow you to simulate the view from your eyepiece or scope/lens/camera combination.

    I would also suggest that you add your equipment and software list to you signature line on this forum, as it will make it easier for those on the forum to assist.
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