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Category Archives: Astro Imaging

Copyright ©2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Nikon Df| Nikkor 20mm f/1.8g@ f/2.5| 20s| ISO 2000| SanDisk Digital Film

PS CC 2017

more to come…

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Copyright ©2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Last week-end a girlfriend (T) and I went to Brookings, OR to scout, and photograph seascapes, and hopefully we’d have a clear night for night sky imaging in the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor.  We looked at the weather forecast for the week-end and it looked like we’d only have one really good night for any night sky imaging. We both hoped to photograph the Milky Way, and if we found a great spot for Star Trails we’d do that too, but it wasn’t a priority like the Milky Way was.

When we were at Arch Rock for sunset we realized straight-away that wouldn’t work out so well for a Milky Way location since it was facing west, but around the path a bit closer to the parking lot was a nice sea stack that faced directly south.  We both pulled out out cell phones and summoned our night sky app called Photo Pills to double check our thoughts, and find the time when the Galactic Center would line up over the sea stack.  After determining that 1:32AM it would line up we headed out to dinner, then back to the Hotel for a nap.

I’d been up since 5AM driving from my house in Silicon Valley up to T’s two hours north east of me. From there I drove all the way to Brookings, OR.  It’s an 8 hour drive without stops.  We stopped for gas, and lunch of course. Needless to say- I needed a nap!

My alarm sounded at 12:30AM. We were ready pretty quick and headed back to Arch Rock Viewpoint to photograph the Milky Way.

We were the only people there.  We set up took our test shots, and began shooting.  Before the trip I purchased a new filter to help me get a tack sharp focus at night. It’s called  SharpStar2 from LonelySpeck  I didn’t get it to work as it should have, but determining when I was in focus was easy. A lot easier than just using Live View alone.  That cut my set up time in half!  I’m going to be practicing here at home with the filter before my next night sky shoot.  After reading the instructions again it was definitely user error. I should have practiced with it at night before the trip, but I’m happy.

Milky Way over Sea Stack

It was really quiet just us, the sea, and the sound of our camera’s shutter opening and closing.   There was very little light pollution. The cliffs blocked most of the light from Brookings. You can see a light band at the horizon entering from the left of the frame. That’s the light from Brookings.  This was a great location with a dark sky.

Saturday night the fog rolled in. I’m so glad we went out Friday night!  T’s brother and S-i-L drove up to meet us and photograph the area Saturday.  After Sunset we headed back to town for dinner but, we got sidetracked with an Industrial night shot opportunity which I posted Wednesday

So, the fog didn’t completely ruin the night.  We had a late dinner with a glass of wine. I fell into my hotel bed after midnight, and slept in Sunday.

We had breakfast and said our farewells to T’s brother, and S-i-L and T and I set off for the long drive home.  Thankfully the drive was uneventful. 🙂

I hope to get back up there one day to explore more of the park. It’s a gorgeous coastline, and sky is dark and full of stars!

I hope you all have a lovely week-end! Can you believe June is just about over already?!!

Nikon D810| Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G| Hoodman Digital Film| Single Frame 20s| ISO 3200| PS CC 2017

more to come…

 

Copyright © 2015 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

In 2012 I shot my very first Milky Way Pano. I’ve not yet posted it…it is still a work in progress.   Since then I’ve been wanting to improve on the techniques I used in 2012 which was…I won’t lie, ” flying by the seat of my pants”.

One of the things I want to improve is getting better stitching. Even using a tripod,  and generous overlapping I wasn’t happy with the stitching.  I hoped that by calibrating my lens to find the Nodal Point, or No Parallax Point I would get better stitching results.  What is the Nodal Point and why does it matter you ask?  Do this. Hold up your thumb or pen in front of your face at arm’s length, and move your head from left to right. Notice how the background moved on one side more than the other? That’s Parallax. If you were to take two images one from the left and one from the right side and merge them the line would not be straight.  You need to either have the point of view of the pen or the background.

For a great explanation to solve this issue I turn to John Houghton, ” Ideally, therefore, when taking the photographs for a stitched panorama you need to take all the shots from a single viewpoint so that near objects don’t change their position against the background in successive shots.  This will greatly ease the task of  joining the images seamlessly to form a perfect panorama image.  Hence, the “eye” of the camera needs to be kept in a constant position when the camera is rotated to point in a different direction for each shot. “~ John Houghton

Yesterday afternoon I figured out the Nodal Point, or No Parallax Point for my 24mm f/2.8 lens.  I mounted my camera  on my macro rail, and a tripod. Making sure that tripod was level, next making sure my camera/macro rail were level,  then I lined my tripod rig up with a light stand placed a few feet away from the tripod, and a pole I have in the backyard which is further away from the light stand.

Loosening my panning knob on the ball-head I moved the camera/micro rail left and right and could see the furthest pole on both sides of the light stand I had parallax. Then I moved my camera back to the center point moved my camera back using the macro rail adjustment knob. I locked it down and moved my camera right and left again…the parallax got worse telling me I needed to make my adjustment on the rail in the other direction. I loosened the rail and moved the other direction a bit then moved the camera from left to right, and saw I was getting there; I only saw a little bit of the further pole behind the light stand now.   One more small adjustment and Voila! I didn’t see the further pole behind the light stand when panning the camera left and right.   I found the Nodal Point, or No Parallax Point of that lens!

My rail has centimeter, and millimeter marks so I made a note of the number that 24mm f/2.8 lines up with to be able to quickly set up a panorama shot with that lens again.

Now that I had found the Nodal/No Parallax Point I was anxious to test it out. The sky was supposed to be clear so I met a friend at a favorite Night Sky spot to shoot the Milky Way. My goal was to make a Vertorama/Panorama using my new measurement of the Nodal Point.

In the Light of Scorpius

I made 7 images from left to right making sure my tripod was level, my camera/macro rail were level, and that I had a lot of overlap when panning from shot to shot. Then I returned to the same place I started and panned up a bit to get more of the sky in the frame making sure I had plenty of overlap then moving left to right using the same amount of movement as before I made 7 more images ending exactly at the same place as before. (Note- When I composed the shot  I noted the degree marking on my ball-head to find my starting place and I noted the degree mark for my ending place, so I knew where to start and end for the second row. )

The clouds moved in and when they hit the city lights below they really lit up! I’ve cropped off a bit from that right side.  It was a fairly early night due to the clouds.

It’s important to note that each lens has its own Nodal/ No Parallax Point! Prime lenses are easier to figure out because you only need to make one measurement, but if you’re using a Zoom lens you’ll need to figure out the Nodal/No Parallax Point for each focal length you’ll use.

For example, I use my 17-35mm AF-S Nikkor wide-angle lens a lot so I’ll be spending some time this afternoon finding the Nodal/No Parallax Point for that lens at 17mm, 20mm, 24mm, and 35mm. I’ll also find the Nodal/No Parallax Point for my 16mm fisheye lens.

I’ll write down each measurement for each lens on my cell phone’s notepad, along with which camera was used, and I’ll upload that information to my computer so I have it there as a back-up as well.

Initial development of the images was done using LR5. Then I stitched this image in Photoshop CS6. Due to the light variation I had some seams showing. I clicked on each layer and using the clone brush fixed those.

All in all I think a very successful endeavor.  I hope next week-end has a clear night so I can get out and do this again.

14 Frames w/ Nikon Df| AF-D Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8| 15 seconds| ISO 6400| Manual Priority| Mirror Up| Tripod| Cable Release

Copyright © 2015 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Venus and Jupiter are pretty close together tonight: just 1.1º.  Also visible with binoculars or a Telephoto lens are Jupiter’s Moons. Europa, Io, Ganymede, and Callisto.

Venus is the brightest low planet, and Jupiter is next brightest object diagonally above Venus. The little dots around

Jupiter are its Moons. Tomorrow they’re be even closer together, just 0.6º apart!  If I’m lucky I’ll find a spot other than my yard without tree branches in the frame. 🙂 The best time to see this is after Dusk looking West.

Venus Jupiter and Moons Conjunction_9054Nikon Df| AF-S Nikkor 300mm| f4| 1.3s| ISO 1600| Tripod| Single Frame| Developed in Photoshop CS6| Cropped in about 50%

More to come…

Copyright © 2015 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I made this image last week-end. Unfortunately, I’ve was pretty busy last week and didn’t get to out much, or have to much time to work on images.

I added +1 EV in post development to open up the road a bit more.   I thought I’d play and try converting this image to Black &  White for this week’s Monochrome Madness 2. I like it, but I do like the color version more. I’ll share it in a future post.

Monochrome Madness 2 16 of 52 Road to the Stars

I hope you drop by Leanne Cole’s site to view the other work that was shared this week. Click here!

Nikon Df| AF-D Nikkor 17-35mm @ 22mm| 18 frames ea. 30s| ISO 400| Tripod| Manual Priority| CS6 & Silver Efex Pro 2

More to come…

Copyright ©2015 Deborah M. Zajac  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

It was so good to get out under the stars last (Saturday) night. Especially after being sick and cooped up for weeks.

My health, weather, and schedule all were in perfect alignment to meet a friend up in the mountains to view, and spend a few hours making images of the night sky.  Even though I went up into the nearby mountains I was unable to escape all Light Pollution. The orange, and bright white on the right of the image edge are city lights to the south.  I’d have to go much further inland to escape it entirely.

To my delight when I uploaded and looked through the images I discovered I captured a shooting star in this frame! Do you see it? It’s small up above the Milky Way in the centerish toward the left.

Pondering the Stars

This outing was just what I needed!

Single Frame| Nikon Df| AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm| f3.5| 20s| ISO 3200| Tripod| Hoodman STEEL Ultra High Speed Digital Film| Developed in Photoshop CS6

More to come…

Update: My friend (Andy) finished an image of the Whirlpool Galaxy which he imaged last night while I was shooting stars, and the Milky Way. He posted it on his photo-sharing site. I hope you’re able to see it here.  He’s set up with a nice telescope, and GOTO system which gets him closer looks deeper into the Universe.

Copyright ©2015 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

MM2-5 Watching the Total Lunar Eclipse over St. Ignatius Cathedr

For this week’s Monochrome Madness 2:5 I thought I’d share one of the stills from the Total Lunar Eclipse on April 4, 2015.  This was taken shortly after the Partial Phase got started. The Moon is a bit blown out here, but my plan of operation was to stick to one lens, and the same camera settings all through the Eclipse then stack the images in post development. The Moon in the beginning would be blown out I knew, but later in the darker phase of the Eclipse the exposure would be correct.

To see what other photographer’s who are participating in Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness 2  weekly challenge have posted this week click here.

Nikon Df| AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm f2.8 @f8| 10 seconds| ISO 400

More to come…

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