Astrophotography – Take 1 (Lessons Learned)

I’ve always loved thinking about the universe and the grandeur of it all.  Perhaps it releases me from the occasional tunnel that is my vision.

Unfortunately, the next few pictures hardly do justice to the wonders of our milky way galaxy.  I originally wanted to go out a second time to try and fix some of my mistakes and test out a couple of my own theories before posting, but star-viewing sky conditions have not been great the past few weeks where I am.  Then I thought, maybe I can help someone out if I post about it.  After all, mistakes are only opportunities to learn.  So here it is:

Opportunity #1:

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If you are shocked by how horrible this photo looks, I felt the same way.  After doing tons of reading and youtubing, this seemed to be the best way to capture the stars within city limits where light pollution is in excess.  ETTR is “the technique of adjusting the exposure of an image as high as possible at base ISO (without causing unwanted saturation)”(Wiki).  As I type this, an answer unfolds to one of my questions.  Why are the colours so unnaturally  intense (which you’ll see in the next photo below)?  I knew over-exposure was one of my problems, but now I know it affected the saturation as well too.  I am still learning to use my camera histogram and I only assigned myself one job related to this: make sure there were zero pixels at the very right of the graph (pure white).  Failure!!  This photo makes  me want to ♪ wear my sunglasses at night ♪♪.  Anyway, the point was to ETTR then post-process to correct the over-exposure.

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Here, you can clearly see the light pollution radiating from the horizon.  Please excuse the post-processing results.  I have only been using Afterlight and am now only thinking of investing in something better.  My future photography business partner and I have joked about continuing to use cheap apps to edit photos when we inevitably go pro lol.  Which leads me to…

Opportunity #2:

I love photo editing!  Sometimes too much so.  Why settle for ordinary when you can make everything look like a box of nerds on techni-colour ecstasy?!  I kid.  Kind of.  With the photo above, I tried my darndest to dull the bright green and yellow of the street lights but my knowledge in editing is limited to trial and error.  As above, so below: ETTR then post-process.

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The recurring mistakes of over-exposure, hence over-saturation persists.  A small crop helped get rid of some of the bright lights peeking behind the trees and I don’t mind the colours so much in this one.  However, I do not like how grainy/noisy the image is, as well as the ability to count all the stars in one hand (over exaggeration is only one form of drama you’ll come to learn and love about me:)  So, how do I fix this?  My theory is to up the ISO to get more detail in the sky.  Unfortunately, doing so will only add to the noise.  This brings me to my second theory of expanding my knowledge on editing.  I also have a hunch that the app is reducing the quality of the raw image.  Scratch that hunch and snuff it up to certainty.  I’m now 385230830% positive this is the case.  Saving up for a better editing software starting….. now.

Opportunity #3:

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This is by far, my favourite picture of the session.  Surprisingly enough, this is my first photo of the night.  Perhaps the freezing weather took its toll on me as the night progressed, or maybe it was my brother’s clouded judgement to bring the fur-babes along with us as we continued to a nearby park.  When unleashed, the boys have a tendency to run towards anything like a runaway train about to be hurled off its tracks and let me tell you, that night was no exception.  I was constantly  mortified every time they lovingly ran towards me and my tripod imagining my new camera in a million different pieces.  Anyway, I digress.  This last photo was not over-exposed like the first two above but you can see circles radiating from the centre and again, not enough galaxy.  I was hoping to capture something awe-inspiring but this is the closest I got, which is not close at all.  I know it’s possible to do in the city because I’ve seen others online accomplish this.  More likely than not, a novice like myself should probably start with a darker setting as recommended by many pro astrophotographers.  With that, comes my last lesson learned.

If you have any advice, comment below!  All suggestions are welcome 🙂

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4 Comments

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  1. I like the second picture in opportunity #3, it has an eerie feeling to it.

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  2. the second picture from the opportunity 2 looks cool to me 🙂

    Like

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