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Old 01-30-2005, 10:56 PM   #15
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One of my favorite night skies is a point in the desert of South Western Arizona, near Hope. This spring, I will set a tripod up, with my new camera, it's 500 mm lens, and the 1.5 x teleconverter.. Will that be a good setup to capture detail of the night? For my older cameras, I have a latching shutter release - these do not fit the modern cameras I have so how do I take extended exposures with the *ist?

I love to lie on my back (off the ground, the 5 inch long scorpians do not make good companions) just gazing upwards - this lets me know just how insignificant I am. There are regular meteors over that part of the desert - I would like to get one of them in a lengthy exposure too.
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Old 01-30-2005, 11:40 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Theo
One of my favorite night skies is a point in the desert of South Western Arizona, near Hope. This spring, I will set a tripod up, with my new camera, it's 500 mm lens, and the 1.5 x teleconverter.. Will that be a good setup to capture detail of the night? For my older cameras, I have a latching shutter release - these do not fit the modern cameras I have so how do I take extended exposures with the *ist?

I love to lie on my back (off the ground, the 5 inch long scorpians do not make good companions) just gazing upwards - this lets me know just how insignificant I am. There are regular meteors over that part of the desert - I would like to get one of them in a lengthy exposure too.
Theo:

Nice to see your interest. That Arizona area would be amazing for shoot the stars.

I wouldn't use that lens setup. Problem is that the stars move. This movement is detected very quickly, even at 28mm to 50mm. I'd use a wide-angle lens and mount the camera on a tripod...try some images of the Milky Way at ISO 1600 and f/4 or faster. A 30 second exposure (the Pentax should do that without a shutter cable) will just begin to show the stars move (the farther away from north the camera is pointing, the faster the star movement will appear). You should get a nice image of the Milky Way similar to this film image I shot a few years ago:



Longer exposures than this require an equatorial tracking mount to keep up with the stars. The exposure below is an example of what a 530mm scope (or lens) will yield if you can keep the stars tracked really well:



Of course, this is around 3.5 hours of total exposure time. It takes expensive mounts and special guiding cameras. Plus, this was taken with a $14k astronomical CCD camera.

But another thing you can try with the Pentax (with shutter release) is to point the camera toward the north pole and use the same lens/tripod setup. Set the camera for ISO 100 and put the lens around f/5.6 or f/8...and take a 5 to 10 minute exposure (depending on how cool it is outside since such long exposures will generate heat noise). You'll get concentric star trails...and the longer you go, the longer the trails. Because the camera can't go too long, you can take several such shots in a row and then layer then in Photoshop (or Paintshop Pro, the Gimp, PS Elements) using "overlay" as the blending method.

Regardless, you should yield something like this with even a 5 minute shot:

http://www.allaboutastro.com/startrails.html

Anyway, sort for going on and on, but I'd love to see you try some of these basic techniques. It's not that difficult, especially in good, dark skies.

Just make sure you park the Airstream in the foreground when you shoot the longer startrail shot!
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Old 01-30-2005, 11:46 PM   #17
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Most of my film pictures have this beautiful silver vision in 'em somewhere, I see no reason to abandon that formula when I go to digital.. I shall enjoy learning the complexities of this new media. One problem I have alread found, is where to get a wide angle lens, that is wide angled with a *ist? Would the 18 - 55 do - it relates to a wide angle of 27mm?
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Old 01-30-2005, 11:55 PM   #18
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That'd do it, Theo. The 1.6x multiplier comes into play there. Use the zoom lens at 15mm and it would yield the film equivalent of a 27mm or 28mm lens, which is perfect for such shots.
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Old 01-31-2005, 05:51 AM   #19
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Jay...

Wow! Incredible photography! Incredible website!

Roger
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Old 01-31-2005, 10:23 AM   #20
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Jay.

Yeah. Real nice stuff!!!!

I went to art school...math and science consisted of (math) how many beers one could consume before passing out (pre-med).

I was told that the only way I could get into medical school was as an examination cadavor...I digress.

In my old film days, with long exposures you had to deal with reciprocity. Now with dig, it is the dreaded speckled noise.

I'm not real technical savy, but I do know that the longer the exposure the more the CCD heats up thus causing the noise we are familiar with. At times I've thought about wrapping my camera in an ice pack, but I'm not sure this would work.

I think as time goes on, we will see less of this on future gear.

There is still the old sort-of stand-by of shooting a "black" frame imediately following your initial image capture, and then blending the two in Photoshop.

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Old 01-31-2005, 06:21 PM   #21
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I am now officially excited. My Camera was Shipped this evening.. According to the shipping I ordered, I should have it in my sweaty paws by this time tomorrow..

Now all I need is a true wide angle lens for it.
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Old 01-31-2005, 06:29 PM   #22
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Roger: Thanks!

Jonathan: Looks like you've learned more than just beer consumption!

When shooting longer exposures with a DSLR, the air temperature determines the length of exposure you can get away with. The colder, the better...and I normally don't use the Digital Rebel for astrophotography in Texas summers.

With my astro CCD cameras, these are cooled with thermal-electric or Peltier coolers that significantly reduce the amount of heat-generated noise by the chip, so I can shoot those at anytime.

The "black" frame, or "dark frame," is a technique that MUST be used in astrophotography. This does subtract out this heat generated noise. It's easy with my astro CCDs because I can very accurately control the temperature of the chip, in ranges of -15c (summer) and -35c (winter). When shooting a DSLR, we use the same method, but we have to take the darks immediately following the shot so that it matches the conditions of the "light" exposures. With the astro CCD, I actually keep a library of these frames at various temps and exposure lengths. So, I just subtract the dark frame that best matches the conditions of the "light" shot. It's actually rather precise.
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Old 01-31-2005, 06:49 PM   #23
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Theo, how wide are you talking about? Also who makes the 70-300m and the 500mm mirror lens that you bought with the camera?
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Old 01-31-2005, 09:03 PM   #24
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I am wanting to get a wide angle of 15 or wider, ideally - I can get an 18 55 zoom, which is on my wish list, but I enjoy using wider lenses than the 18 will relate to in the *ist.

The Zooms are both Tamron, and the Telephoto is Opteka. I have other Opteka lenses and find them surprisingly good, considering the economy price they come with.

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Old 02-01-2005, 06:16 PM   #25
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At 14:00 today, the UPS truck reversed down the driveway. The Camera is truly amazing - I immediately put batteries and card into it, put on my favorite lens (the Tamron with it is not as nice as my own Sigma 28-80) and rushed round like an idiot snapping anything that I saw.. Then, I saw the menu button, and pressed that, giving myself the image quality choice. I chose worst and smallest.. The pictures it takes in that mode are better than ANY other digital picture I have ever taken. I have not printed any out so cannot examine them closely, but I did sit for an hour, just looking at every detail in one. I am impressed, which is good. The picture size is somewhat huge, even in the lowest quality, so I am not sure if I can upload any here. I will try, and see what happens.

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Old 02-01-2005, 07:29 PM   #26
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That's great, Theo. Glad to hear it!
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Old 02-02-2005, 11:46 AM   #27
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my first SLR camera was a brand new Zenit E, some 35 years ago that served me well, until it literally fell apart in my hands, after a few thousand pictures.
Theo.

I have a couple of Kiev 4's I bought off of E-Bay. They take very sharp pictures. These are a USSR copy of a German pre WWII Zeiss Contax range finder camera.
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Old 02-05-2005, 09:40 AM   #28
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I have been taking various pictures with this beast.. It is amazing - the quality of pictures is truly spectacular.. The software glitches of this board don't allow me to post anything.... GRRRR, so you can't see what they look like..

But, they are spectacular enough to have convinced a friend that she will buy one with her tax return...

When the head guys have fixed the most annoying bugs that have decided to pick on my posts, I will post things for you to see..

Of course, I did not have the camera with me yesterday, when travelling through very thick fog - I would have liked to get a shot of the multiple layers of it floating about - at one time, I could see a couple of miles ahead, but could not see the roadway. It would have made a nice picture.

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