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PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:07 pm 
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Location: Bristol, UK
Well, the cloud departed on Saturday night and I finally had the chance to try some 'proper' DSO imaging. When I say proper I mean doing everything by the book and accurately.

Polar Alignment - Check;
MPPC - Check;
DSLR - Check;
Finder Guider - Check;
1 Star Alignment - Check, sort of. The scope was quite a way out and I needed to strip down the DSLR and use a wide EP to find the intended target.

I wanted to make sure that the subject was suitably framed, accurately focussed and all my kit was used to its fullest potential.

It would also be my first time guiding with my Atik Titan on my Finderguider using PHD. My finder guider was set up using an adapter piece supplied by Bern at Modern Astronomy. A nicely turned piece allowing the Atik to be screwed into the finder to the required depth to achieve focus.

Before guiding I wanted to ensure that my setup was accurately focussed on my target. To do this I used Icarus Camera control for Mac. My DSLR was switched to PC mode and a series of 2 sec exposures made tweaking the focus each time once. Icarus allows tethered shooting but does not currently support Bulb so it was a useful tool to check focus on my laptop screen.

After accurately focussing I turned to PHD. Calibration took a couple of minutes and I was soon guiding.

So, what shall I try first? Well I plumped for a 600 second exposure firing my DSLR with my wireless remote and coming back in 10mins time. I reviewed the image on the screen and was pleasantly greeted with round stars

Everything was working so an hour after going outside I was ready to start my imaging run.

I wanted to primarily try M42 as my first attempt at this was in less than ideal conditions!

Scope: 250p DS
Camera: Nikon D200
Finder Guider: Atik Titan
6 x 600s subs, 4 x 600 Darks, Bias, no Flats

Image

For the core I composited on two images. A 30s shot for the wider core and a 2sec shot for the trap.

Stacked in DSS and finished in Photoshop using a great tutorial:

Superb Processing Tutorial

In PS, various curves adjustments were done to tweak the colour balance and bring out the nebulosity. High Pass sharpening LAB sharpening were used to bring out some of the more subtle detail.

Before I got to this stage, I did try a 5min sub with no MPCC and it was quite apparent that there was coma at the edges. The MPCC has nicely sorted this out.

Second I wanted a quick bash at M45:

Scope: 250p DS
Camera: Nikon D200
Finder Guider: Atik Titan
3 x 300s subs, 3 x 300 Darks, Bias, no Flats

Image

By this time the power was going in both my laptop and Powertank.

You can see some nebulosity coming out, but there is still some noise visible. A lot more subs needed for this one. Also it is apparant that the stars are not quite as round as in M42, not quite sure why this is, but for my first attempt I am very pleased.

Hope you enjoy the read and images, any comments / critique is more than welcomed.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:31 pm 
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Nice! Can I ask where you were at the time of these shots? Any light pollution issues?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:38 pm 
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Wow! @popo, youre in a big city, arent you? Im near a city (not too big), but I could take exposures of 2 mins at Orion.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:38 pm 
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Location: Bristol, UK
You sure can matey.

I was at home - Dundry, Bristol.

Thankfully I live to the South of the city and both M42 and Pleiades are due south from where I am so there is no 'sky glow' from the city. Having said that Orion is in the general direction of Bristol Airport.

Having said that there is quite an orange glow to a single sub:

Image

DSS seems to take some of this out, processing in DSS takes out the rest, with PS used to tweak the final background colour.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:45 pm 
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Very nice shots Lee!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:04 am 
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Cheers Gordon, its really got me captivated with astrophotography now, bring on more clear skies.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:11 am 
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Hi Lee,

Great shots - I'm particularly impressed by your ability to bring out the Hα detail. Forgive me if you've already mentioned it elsewhere but is your D200 a standard model or have you had the AA filter replaced to allow more of that valuable deep red light through?

By the way, as a PhotoShop user you might be interested in Noel Carboni's Astronomy Tools. Noel is partner in crime to our very own cybermystic and together they have graced our forum with many stunning images.

Bob.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:43 am 
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Hi Bob, thanks for the comments.

It is just a bog standard D200, not modified for Astrowork.

I must admit I was very surprised at the amount of detail that came out given the inherent lack of insensitivity!

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:03 am 
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Hi Lee,

Even more impressive. We've exchanged thoughts more than once so I sincerely hope you won't be offended by my reposting one of your images but, having mentioned Astronomy Tools, I thought you might like to see what playing back Noel Carboni's "Local Contrast Enhancement" Action produced after one pass.
    Image
    © Lee Diggle
Here's the original for easy comparison:
    Image
    © Lee Diggle
If my copyright infringement is a problem say the word and I'll delete the post and the image from my server. The effect is subtle, which is just as well as some images of the Orion Nebula can be so overprocessed as to look totally bizarre, but I thought you might be interested in a real life example of the software in "action". :lol:

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: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:20 am 
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Hey Bob, no problem what so ever :D

I have had Noel's actions on my list of stuff to get for a while now, however I run Photoshop on a Mac and I am not sure if they are Mac compatible actions. Must get round to emailing Noel to ask.

The result is quite subtle but effective. Thanks for taking the time to demonstrate it :D

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:25 am 
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Hi Lee,

From the Astronomy Tools web page: "Fully compatible with Photoshop Versions 6 to CS5 on both PC and Mac!" 8)

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: Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:44 pm 
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Aha, result. Now why didn't I see that when I looked on that site :roll: :roll:

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 7:41 pm 
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Well Ive just purchased these tools, time to give the a whirl :D

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:19 pm 
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I've just started a new sticky for 'your best M42 shots'!

http://www.cameralabs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=225878


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:37 pm 
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Amazing shots Lee!

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