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Night shot including milky way. Any tricks?

weltweit

Well-Known Member
Second attempt was successful, I got my first milky way shot. DSC_6925w.jpg

That was 1 am and much too dark to be finding proper ground interest which will have to wait until another day. As mentioned my tripod does not point up enough so I shortened one leg to get more lift and then twisted the tripod plate round on the camera so that I could point up more.

After I had been out for about half an hour I could really see the stars and what a view, I feel I should know more about which star is which, but the night sky was very special tonight, I could have happily stayed an hour or two more just looking at it.

Despite the time of year, it got quite cold, this time I had warm clothing - but there also seemed to be a dew which wetted both me and the camera.

I was quite surprised how fast the milky way was moving, in shots taken about a minute apart it moved perhaps 4 mm on my LCD screen. I thought about taking a sort of time lapse but I couldn't remember the instructions for getting the camera to do it and for manual exposures my cable release was in my other bag. I could have just used the shutter release in hindsight anyhow that is something for next time, which just might be tonight!
 

Signal 11

also programmed for conversational english
Second attempt was successful, I got my first milky way shot.
Well done, that's great!

After I had been out for about half an hour I could really see the stars and what a view, I feel I should know more about which star is which, but the night sky was very special tonight, I could have happily stayed an hour or two more just looking at it.
I've marked a few things on it. The "summer triangle" of Deneb, Vega and Altair tend to be the first ones you see as it starts to get dark at this time of year and a good way to get your bearings.
DSC_6925w_annotated.jpg

It's worth using something like Stellarium for planning and identifying what you captured, or one of those phone apps that shows you what it's pointed at.
 

weltweit

Well-Known Member
Well done, that's great!
Thanks, quite pleased with myself :)

I've marked a few things on it. The "summer triangle" of Deneb, Vega and Altair tend to be the first ones you see as it starts to get dark at this time of year and a good way to get your bearings.
View attachment 140313
Thanks for that, very interesting and useful, I did have a bit of hunt to find it before my eyes had adjusted, I took pictures around where I thought south was and found it in shot 3. The camera could see it before I could. In fact I could only partly see it even after an hour outside. But there were some notably bright stars and I thought if I knew what they were I could have found south sooner.

Mars (from your notes) was noticeably bright and low to the horizon.

It's worth using something like Stellarium for planning and identifying what you captured, or one of those phone apps that shows you what it's pointed at.
Unfortunately I don't have a smart phone at the moment, so no aps for me :-(

So Signal 11, you are very knowledgeable about the night sky, how is it that you know so much?
 

Signal 11

also programmed for conversational english
So Signal 11, you are very knowledgeable about the night sky, how is it that you know so much?
Thanks. There are some here who know a lot more than me. I've been interested since I was very young, but haven't studied it properly. I go to a local group where we have lectures once a month and observing evenings. There's a list of groups here.
 

RoyReed

Must fly!
Second attempt was successful, I got my first milky way shot. View attachment 140278

That was 1 am and much too dark to be finding proper ground interest which will have to wait until another day. As mentioned my tripod does not point up enough so I shortened one leg to get more lift and then twisted the tripod plate round on the camera so that I could point up more.

After I had been out for about half an hour I could really see the stars and what a view, I feel I should know more about which star is which, but the night sky was very special tonight, I could have happily stayed an hour or two more just looking at it.

Despite the time of year, it got quite cold, this time I had warm clothing - but there also seemed to be a dew which wetted both me and the camera.

I was quite surprised how fast the milky way was moving, in shots taken about a minute apart it moved perhaps 4 mm on my LCD screen. I thought about taking a sort of time lapse but I couldn't remember the instructions for getting the camera to do it and for manual exposures my cable release was in my other bag. I could have just used the shutter release in hindsight anyhow that is something for next time, which just might be tonight!
Really nice shot!
 

weltweit

Well-Known Member
Thanks. There are some here who know a lot more than me. I've been interested since I was very young, but haven't studied it properly. I go to a local group where we have lectures once a month and observing evenings. There's a list of groups here.
Interesting page, thanks for the link. There are two in my area. There may be some that know more here than you but they have not been as helpful to a beginner like me as you have!!

I recently read the Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin series (Master and Commander) by Patrick O'Brien. They would regularly take navigational readings from the stars on the open oceans. Like now, I realised how little I know about the night sky.

Last night I drove to near Sennybridge which your dark skies website told me should be relatively free from light pollution, it was very striking just how many stars were visible. Quite beautiful the night sky.

Blimey England 2 Sweden 0 :)
 

weltweit

Well-Known Member
Now I want a milky way with some interesting ground object, there are some chapels and castles around here which might make interesting shapes but they aren't in wholly dark sky areas. I will have my son down shortly so perhaps I can persuade him to pose.

Some photographers seem to take two exposures, one low ISO long exposure for the ground object followed by a shorter high ISO exposure for the milky way and then they combine the two in photoshop. I am not that expert at photoshop so would prefer not to have to do this.

I am also thinking of light painting the object if it is small enough or my torch is bright enough, perhaps I could use flash ..

What do you think?
 

RoyReed

Must fly!
Now I want a milky way with some interesting ground object, there are some chapels and castles around here which might make interesting shapes but they aren't in wholly dark sky areas. I will have my son down shortly so perhaps I can persuade him to pose.

Some photographers seem to take two exposures, one low ISO long exposure for the ground object followed by a shorter high ISO exposure for the milky way and then they combine the two in photoshop. I am not that expert at photoshop so would prefer not to have to do this.

I am also thinking of light painting the object if it is small enough or my torch is bright enough, perhaps I could use flash ..

What do you think?
If you've got a flash you can use off-camera, that's what I'd do. Set it on very low power (maybe 1/16 or 1/32) and set it off by hand during the long camera exposure. You'll need to experiment a bit.
 

weltweit

Well-Known Member
If you've got a flash you can use off-camera, that's what I'd do. Set it on very low power (maybe 1/16 or 1/32) and set it off by hand during the long camera exposure. You'll need to experiment a bit.
Aha, yes I have a Sunpak flash that could do that. Do you think that might be enough to light something big like a chapel? As to experimenting yes I agree and at least these will be only 25s exposures, when I did that star trails one I was committed for an hour!
 

RoyReed

Must fly!
If you do try to use this technique wear dark/black clothes and you're less likely to register in the shot as you walk through frame.
 

weltweit

Well-Known Member
If you do try to use this technique wear dark/black clothes and you're less likely to register in the shot as you walk through frame.
Good point. I am definitely going to give it a try, I have done some light painting with my flash before so I have an idea … but tips are always welcome.

At the moment I am wondering if the castles and chapels I am thinking about are in dark enough areas to also give me a good milky way. The night sky where I went for that first image was so vivid and stunning I am not sure about more lit areas. Then there is the moon, I am just looking into its predictions at the moment.
 

weltweit

Well-Known Member
I went back to the same location as the first shots on Saturday. I found the milky way in the same part of the sky but it was not as impressive. Same settings, no moon or clouds. I don't yet understand why sometimes it is more impressive than others.

Here for example is a shot taken by Matt Pinner at Durdle Door on the Dorset coast:
My images are just very underwhelming compared to that.

Sunday I went to an old castle, hoping for some ground interest and the milky way. Sadly there were too many clouds which I could have predicted when I left but I was hopeful for a break. Light painting a tower of the castle worked ok with my flash on its lowest settings - if a little interesting because of the bright white light of the flash.

I don't know when the next opportunity will be, the moon is coming back in the coming week, although I don't know in which part of the sky it will be but anyhow the weather is saying cloudy every day.
 

RoyReed

Must fly!
I don't know when the next opportunity will be, the moon is coming back in the coming week, although I don't know in which part of the sky it will be but anyhow the weather is saying cloudy every day.
You can always tell exactly where the sun or moon will be relative to the landscape.

Photographers Ephemeris

I think I already linked to this up thread. You can either use the website, or d/l the app.

So easy these days. When I used to work full time as an architectural photographer I had to use OS maps and astronomical tables.
 

weltweit

Well-Known Member
Aha, RoyReed good point thanks, I need to have a play with that. Can't download an app because I don't have a smart phone but the web app should be helpful.
 

weltweit

Well-Known Member
Your patience paid off. That is a quality result for second attempt.
Thanks Stan, although in attempt #3 & #4 I was not able to repeat it.

I gather some photographers are taking 3-4 images then combining them - lining them up - in photoshop which seems to give more of an effect.
 

Stanley Edwards

1967 Maserati Mistral.
R.I.P.
Thanks Stan, although in attempt #3 & #4 I was not able to repeat it.
Personally I think PS is crossing the line from photography to digital imaging once you go beyond basic levels. Photography for me is about recording a reality and presenting it as a visual document, or archive.

As wrong as this might sound, I would try using a polarizing filter and stopping down to the smallest aperture as a starting point. Then, compromising the exposure time. Sounds like making a difficult job even harder, but there is logic in my madness.

A smaller aperture will increase contrast and give a sharper image. Less refraction going on in the lens elements and you are using the very best part of your glass only. Polarizing will also dramatically increase contrast. It might be too dark to your eyes, but the camera doesn't know this - the light, water vapour and pollution is still there to be filtered out.
 

weltweit

Well-Known Member
Personally I think PS is crossing the line from photography to digital imaging once you go beyond basic levels. Photography for me is about recording a reality and presenting it as a visual document, or archive.

As wrong as this might sound, I would try using a polarizing filter and stopping down to the smallest aperture as a starting point. Then, compromising the exposure time. Sounds like making a difficult job even harder, but there is logic in my madness.

A smaller aperture will increase contrast and give a sharper image. Less refraction going on in the lens elements and you are using the very best part of your glass only. Polarizing will also dramatically increase contrast. It might be too dark to your eyes, but the camera doesn't know this - the light, water vapour and pollution is still there to be filtered out.
I don't know Stan, I see what you are saying about contrast and such but will it not increase my shutter speed massively to capture the faint light? and it is all moving up there, I have been told that 25s on a 20mm lens is about as slow as I can go to avoid the stars turning into streaks.
 

weltweit

Well-Known Member
Matt Pinner wrote that he recommends ISO3200 - 6400 which might be something for me to vary.. So far I haven't been above ISO3200.
 

Stanley Edwards

1967 Maserati Mistral.
R.I.P.
...and it is all moving up there, I have been told that 25s ....
Of course there is a lot of movement going on up there. Every star is a sun! However, I doubt if any camera our money could buy would be capable of recording that movement. Think about it.

You have 30 Seconds to play with. At 6400 ISO that is a lot of Stops. My time would be spent experimenting before taking the experts word for granted. Everyone assumes a wide aperture is better. I suspect something around f11 would get the best results.

Cameras do not have the cognitive stuff going on we have going on in our visual cortex. Time is the only limiting parameter here.
 

weltweit

Well-Known Member
I am going to have a try at iso6400 next opportunity I get because the milky way is very faint and it could brighten my exposure of it. I don't know how much noise it will produce but it will be more than at iso3200.
 

weltweit

Well-Known Member
The issue of my computer and software raised its head tonight. I tried to transform, align and merge 3 x 36mpx images of the milky way in elements 9 and it almost crashed my machine. Since I got my D800 my kit has so far seemed to do everything I asked of it but it seems there are limits after all.

In the end I did manage to achieve it but the result was underwhelming.
 

Signal 11

also programmed for conversational english
weltweit you'll need a lot more than 3 frames to get much benefit from stacking and you'll want something like DeepSkyStacker to stack them automatically. They have a page here with an explanation and examples of the effects of stacking. Basically it reduces the noise with the square root of the number of frames, so you can get away with a higher iso and stretch it more in post processing.

It's best to shoot in raw mode and turn off any in camera processing if you're going to stack them.
 

weltweit

Well-Known Member
weltweit you'll need a lot more than 3 frames to get much benefit from stacking and you'll want something like DeepSkyStacker to stack them automatically. They have a page here with an explanation and examples of the effects of stacking. Basically it reduces the noise with the square root of the number of frames, so you can get away with a higher iso and stretch it more in post processing.

It's best to shoot in raw mode and turn off any in camera processing if you're going to stack them.
Hi Signal 11,
I didn't realise DeepSkyStacker was free! that makes it much more interesting :)

I will take a look and see how many frames it recommends, but in my limited experience the MW seems to move quite fast across the frame so I am unlikely to get more than perhaps 6 before it is largely gone.
eta: or can I move the camera?

And I am shooting raw with no NR of whatever on ..
 
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