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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:19 am 
Hi all!
Found this forum while looking for info on how to improve at my new "hobby". Lots of good reading here :)
Anyway.
My wife and I've been active in photography for a few years now... my wife primarily doing nature photography while I'm more of a technical one - aircraft, military equipment, etc.
Just this past weekend, we were out at a local park as it was getting dark. The wife was shooting her stuff, and I got a little bored and picked up our other camera and pulled out the tripod, figuring on trying to get some shots of the Moon. After getting a few, I noticed Venus (I think it was, anyways) was out, so I turned the camera on it. I took a couple of longish exposures of it then decided to see what I got.
When I zoomed in on the replay, a line from "2001" went through my mind - "It's full of stars!" I believe that I'm now hooked. :lol:

We went back tonight and I started trying for shots in earnest. Got a couple nice ones...

(Click on thumbnails for bigger versions)
Image
Obligatory Moon shot

Image
Venus?

Image
Shot of the evening sky

Image
Another shot

Image
A shot of the skyline

(Seems like some detail was lost :( They look good if you can really zoom in on them.)
Minimal post-processing was done to each - my main PC (with my Photoshop) is down, so all I was able to do is the basics... cropping, lightening, etc.

Here's my equippage:
Olympus E510 w/ the kit lenses (a 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ED and a 40-150mm f/4-5.6 ED)
Sony H5 w/ 1.7 tele-extender
Sony F717
Some sort of cheapie (and margainally sturdy) collapsable tripod

Not the fanciest set-up, but it's all we have for the immediate future - at least it's easy to pack around :)

Take care!
Floyd.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:38 pm 
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Hi Floyd,

May I wish you a warm welcome to the CameraLabs forum.

Nice shots. It looks as though photobucket isn't applying any extra sharpening as it generates those thumbnails for you.

Our forum size limit is 1024 pixels (reduced to 500 pixels in our On Assignment competitions) so you can always link to thw larger versions if you wish. For example, using the supplied IMG code:

Image

Bob.

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Olympus OM-D E-M1 + M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8, Lumix 7-14mm f/4, Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH, M.Zuiko Digital 45mm 1:1.8, M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm 1:1.8.
Leica D Vario-Elmar 14mm-150mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 ASPH.
OM-D E-M5, H-PS14042E, Gitzo GT1541T, Arca-Swiss Z1 DP ball-head.
Astrophotography: TEC 140 'scope, FLI ML16803 camera, ASA DDM60 Pro mount.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:46 pm 
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You're off to a good start. And yeah, it's a really addicting hobby once you get hooked. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:57 pm 
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The moon shot looks kind of noisy, I'm wondering why? Since the moon is quite bright, so you should be able to keep your ISO down?

Otherwise, good work :)

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:55 pm 
@ Citruspers:
Yeah, I know. :(

It was taken about an hour+ before sunset, and the seeing was actually pretty lousy (~85F, high humidity, and a fair bit of haze). I wish Fall would hurry up...

IIRC, the ISO was in the 100-200 range (definitely sub-400), but I was using the 40-150mm on the Olympus, so that shot had to be cropped/zoomed to make it big enough to see. I can't wait until I get a 4/3 to K adapter for the Oly so that I can use an old 400mm lens (forget the name at the moment) that I got from the inlaws. :)

If we get a good night this coming weekend, I'll see what can be done with the H5 - using the teleconverter, it really outperforms the Oly at distance work, plus it has a minimum ISO of 80.

Floyd.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 9:50 pm 
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Second shot seems to be Venus. What focal length was it shot at? And is it cropped?

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:21 pm 
@ eVolutioN:
That's what I was thinking, due to the time it became visible (just around sunset).
Here's what the EXIF data says:
Focal length - 150mm
F-Number - F/5.6
Exposure time - 2 Sec.
ISO Speed - ISO-400
And, yes, it's cropped a fair bit. Otherwise, all it'd be is a small spot on the pic. :)

@ Citruspers:
Better data on the Moon pic for you:
Focal length - 132mm
F-Number - F/5.6
Exposure time - 1/50 Sec.
ISO Speed - ISO-100
Taken at 9:08PM (EXIF says 8:08PM - forgot to change the clock :oops: ) local, with sunset being about 8:59 or so.
Sorry about the time mixup in my previous reply to you... I have 5-6 shots, taken over the space of about 2 hrs. Just got confused.

Floyd.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:40 am 
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Cool, looks great Floyd.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:42 am 
Okay-
Got the details on the 400mm lens I mentioned in an earlier post:

ProSpec prime 400mm, F/5.6-32, 72mm dia. Pentax K mount (I believe - it was originally on a Vivitar V2000).

Couldn't find out a lot about it in a short research session, but it looks to be of decent quality - glass seems defect-free, focus & aperture ring both feel solid... basically looks like new.
Be interesting to see how it performs on the Oly once I get the adapter :)

So far, the weather is looking good for Fri, which is my next night off. Might make a short trip to a park with a bit less light pollution, though. Where I took the last shots from is okay, But Columbus lights up a full 1/3 of the horison :(
(It does, however, make for a neat effect - if that's what one wants)

Floyd.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:12 am 
Update:
Ended up having the good weather tonight, so I thought I'd give my H-5 a workout Moon-wise...

Here's the result:
Image
EXIF data:
Taken 7/23/2010 9:31PM local
Focal length - 72mm
-The EXIF's off on this... It was taken at max zoom - 432mm eq. optical, the 2x digital zoom, plus the 1.7x extender (~1400mm, maybe? No wonder it can reach out there. :lol: )
F Number - F/4
Exposure time - 1/250 sec.
ISO Speed - ISO-80

(Taken in B/W since I couldn't find a white-balance that I was happy with)

No post-processing was done apart from about a 40% crop and rescaling to fit the forum guidelines.
Amazing what that camera can do, at least on the big stuff.
For some reason, it has problems on point-sources (planets,etc.) - it just doesn't want to focus, and I haven't quite got the manual focus quite figured out yet.
Perhaps I just need to get it dialed in on something like the moon and lock it down. <shrug>
Until then (and probably after), I'll keep using the Oly for star pics. The Sony doesn't do RAW, and from what I've been reading, RAW's what's needed to best use programs like IRIS.
(Only shot JPGs tonight, so I really can't do much with them in IRIS - tried, and only got another headache.)

Hopefully, I can squeeze out another opportunity tomorrow (today, now), but the weather forcast isn't looking that great.

More to come...
Floyd.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:32 pm 
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Not a bad effort. Got the whole moon in, some good detail in areas, however in others it is soft. Good shutter speed etc, I assume this was taken on a tripod? Not sure about the focal length if this is a 40% crop?

Im desperately waiting for the skies to clear to get my scope out now I have a cable release for my D200.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:30 pm 
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I think this is as good as it comes with a full moon. It's so hard to get sharp details. It's the hardest phase of the moon.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 11:11 am 
@ Digz:
Yeah, A tripod was used - though it's kind of flimsy (cheap), and vibrates if you look at it cross-eyed :lol:
Neither of my primary cams have a cable-release. The Oly can take a wired remote or an IR one, Not sure of the Sony - wireless only, I'd imagine. I get around it by using the self-timer. The 2 sec. setting is usually sufficient, but I use 12 sec. when I have the big lens + the Sony's extender on the Oly - lot of weight vibrating there.
I guesstimated on the crop percentage... I can post the original version here in a day or two, along with my 1st successful Iris result :)
@ Symtex:
Agreed. In my opinion, 1st quarter or less looks the best. Last quarter is OK, but lacks the visual interest of the 1st. Still, a good full is impressive, nonetheless.
Great thing is, one doesn't have to wait all that long for the desired phase - unlike planets, where one could wait months (if not more) for a proper opportunity.

Floyd.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:54 am 
@ Digz:
Here's the original, scaled to fit w/ no cropping:

Image

Still looks okay, but it's not centered very well. Need to get a tripod w/ slow-motion movement.


As to my first foray (successful one, that is) into using the Iris program:

Image

(Smudging likely caused by some high, scattered clouds we had.)
Area to the left (west) of Ursa Major, somewhere in the vicinity of Canes Venatici or Coma Berenices. I should take a sky chart with me next time.

17 10sec. exposures @ 25mm focal length, F/5, ISO-100.
Image cropped somewhat to get rid of some unsightly mismatch areas and rescaled to fit.
I tried a few longer test exposures, but anything above what I used caused star trails. I may give it another go soon, but maybe boost the ISO a notch or two.

I used THIS fantastic article as a walkthrough. It explains things better than the actual Iris tutorials (IMHO).
With the ancient laptop I'm currently using, it only took about 4 hours to process everything. :lol:

Floyd.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:48 pm 
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Instead of using sky charts, you might want to try a program called Stellarium. It's free, has a great user interface, and you can even set date, time and your location to view the night sky exactly how you want it. I've been using it ever since I heard of it. :)

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