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Getting closer to mastering space photography

Poki

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Hi all,

I work now for some months at getting the perfect space photos. I simply love looking at the stars and thinking about what happens on every single one of them. Every star has his own story, and I'd love to know them.

So after developing my own formula of how to calculate the perfect shutter speed (the rule of 500 simply is not very exact) and after figuring out how to get the pictures as noise-free as possible while maintaining the colors and getting as much light as possible I finally found a good way to add back in some colors and structures in post. I hope you like the edits I came up with. These are mainly technical shots just yet, but look at the third one - it is older, so far from being technical perfect, but that's part of where I'm wanting to go with astrophotography.

Macro shots, landscapes (utilizing tip-toeing and a custom HDR technique I came up with this summer) and so on. I'm curious what is possible under the star light - partly because I haven't seen many photographers being too creative with this kind of light. (Please click on the first image to see it bigger - I used the forum uploader here for this one)

View attachment 2501

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48126456@N05/8315681364/" title="Up in dreams by Poki5, on Flickr">View attachment 28398"533" height="800" alt="Up in dreams"></a>

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48126456@N05/8106854126/" title="Living in the moonlight by Poki5, on Flickr">View attachment 28399"532" height="800" alt="Living in the moonlight"></a>

I'm very satisfied with just how well these files from my NEX-5 hold up in post processing. They are shot at ISO 1600 with a shutter speed of 10 - 18 seconds with nearly no light after all. What do you think? Any ideas, recommendations, critique?
 

Bimjo

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Cool stuff. That flower(?) looks like it is being lit from a light from space. Very neat effect.
 

Poki

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Cool stuff. That flower(?) looks like it is being lit from a light from space. Very neat effect.
Thanks. Used the LED light on the back of my phone to light the flower.
 
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Really nice. I like that flower shot very much.

The noise in grass at the bottom draws my eyes though. Cropping it out might be ok but the leaf at the base of the flower is nice. May be it could be masked out?

Here's a quick crop

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Poki

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good stuff, well done. What about trying some stacking to reduce noise ?
It's already focus and aperture stacked. ;) Even more stacking would be complicated, but is certainly an option to avoid this noise next time.
 

Poki

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Cool pictures! What focal length did you use for these? I always end up with mini star trails.
I used my 24mm lens @f1.8.

You get star trails because you don't calculate your shutter speed correctly. For a start, the rule of 500 is sufficient (although like I said not very exact). Simply divide 500 with the 35mm equivalent focal length of your lens (for example 24 x 1,5 = 36) and you get the maximum shutter speed you can use without gettong star trails. Although this ignores quite a few variables its accurate enough to start with.
 

oylo

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Poki.

Is it so that if you have a 24mm lens you should spend about max. 14 sec. shutter speed? (500/24 * 1,5)
 

Poki

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Poki.

Is it so that if you have a 24mm lens you should spend about max. 14 sec. shutter speed? (500/24 * 1,5)
Exactly. 14 seconds doesn't ibclude the pixel pitch of the sensor, the speed with whitch the earth rotates and so on, but you should get perfectly usable results with this simple rule.
 

oylo

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It's New Year's Eve tonight!

What shutter speed is the best to capture New Year fireworks to a photo?
What about ISO?
 

oylo

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It's already focus and aperture stacked. ;) Even more stacking would be complicated, but is certainly an option to avoid this noise next time.
What is focus and aperture stacking? What does one do?
 

Poki

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It's New Year's Eve tonight!

What shutter speed is the best to capture New Year fireworks to a photo?
What about ISO?
I honestly never shot fireworks, so better google about it. ;)

That said, it's always a good thing to keep your aperture wide open (well, stop half a stop down to prevent the chroma defect), to make sure your focus sits properly on infinity (not that easy with E-Mount lenses and uncoupled focus rings) and high ISO noise is of less importance than long exposure noise, so don't worry going to ISO 1600 and beyond.

What is focus and aperture stacking? What does one do?
Focus stacking: Let's take my picture with the flower as an example. I shot it close up with an aperture of f/1.8. As we know, the background now should be blurry. It isn't. Why? I shot a second shot from exactly the same position with the focus locked on the stars. Later on the computer I stacked them together, which means I used the foreground parts of the flower that are sharp and combined them with the sharp background.

In this lightning situation you have to do it manually. In macro shots, for example, you usually take 10 or more shots and a special software blends them together, but if you do this with stars, you'll either get star trails or some kind of strange light (I have yet to name this issue ^^).

Aperture stacking means shooting the same photo with different aperture settings and blend them together later on. It's kind of the same as focus stacking is, only that you are limited by the smallest and biggest aperture setting of your lens, respectively, and that I used it in this case for the flower itself, to get it completely sharp from front to back. I could have done it with focus stacking again, but then I'd have some problems with the exposure time again.
 

oylo

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Thanks.

A, S (and focus) stacking is not the same as bracketing witch I use in HDR (Photomatrix) then? For this A and S stacking I may be using the PS6? I found this in PS: Load Files into Stack, and Auto Blend Layers.

Am I correct?
 

markoneswift

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It's New Year's Eve tonight!

What shutter speed is the best to capture New Year fireworks to a photo?
What about ISO?
Best shutter speed to use is BULB or a remote control. Put the NEX on a tripod, low-ish ISO ( to keep noise down / avoid burn out ) depending on your aperture ( try around F/5.6 or F/8.0). Find something bright in the distance ( like a street lamp or a shop ) and accurately set focus to infinity. When the display starts, open the shutter and hold a lens cap or a gloved hand over the lens. Move your hand / cap away to capture a burst, then cover the lens again. Repeat for a few more bursts, then close the shutter.


Hemsworth Water Park 2012 by markoneswift, on Flickr
 

oylo

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Thanks to your advice, I made this.

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