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Misc

FILM!

I’ve been having fun with film lately. I really love how it forces me to be a better photographer (not sure if it shows though). Even single click of that shutter costs me money, every click means I have one less exposure, and every click means more time in my bathroom developing. So I take my time, make sure the exposure is where I want it, make sure focus is good (I only have one auto focus lens, everything else is manual. Not to be cool, but because I really like old soviet lenses. They are cheap and good enough), and then reallllly pay attention to composition. Thats always been the toughest thing for me, good composition. And I’ve noticed over the years my old personal way of composing a shot seams to emphasize patterns and lines rather than emphasize depth; foreground, background, etc. Like I either prefer 2 dimensional images or I’m just not talented enough to see potential ways to add depth to my image. And I don’t really get bothered by that either. I also like not developing my film for a month or two. Sometimes I have no idea what the picture is of. Sometimes I’ll forget even going to that location. But I like it because it lets me view my photos in a more objective way. Gone is the immediate emotional attachment from a weekends batch of photos… now its akin to viewing somebody else photos and picking up what you like and what you don’t like. Rambling.

I’ve been using a Canon A2e I picked up at the oceanside Swap Meet for $10. ITS AWESOME. I like it better than my 5D and 6D! For use with my previously mentioned one autofocus lens (Canon 50mm 1.8 boring) I can use the eye control focus to pick out my focus point. That means wherever I point my eye in the viewfinder, the camera focuses on that. So instead of having to figure out my frame, than move my camera to focus on whatever plane I’m focusing on, then move the camera back to reframe, I can do it all from one spot. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal but man, once you use eye controlled focus you can’t go back. NO IDEA why modern DSLRs omit this completely.

I also picked up a Soviet Practika SLR with no light meter, no motor, no nothing. Full manual control. I’ve been trying to get better at guessing exposure since I read about Douglas Slocombe, the DP for Raiders of the Lost Ark (amoungst a bunch of other movies). Apparently he was so good he didn’t use a handheld light meter, he just used his eyes and called off the exposure settings to the camera operator. For 35mm film. For major motion pictures. That’s amazing. So I’ve been practicing that and surprisingly its not all that hard. Especially when you can just use the sunny16 rule during the day.

Okay photos. Most everything is tri-x. (more…)

Timelapse

I’ve put together a timelapse. This was taken over the last few months.

Southern California Deserts at Night from Dan Watt on Vimeo.

400k 1900×1200 Version of Lagoon to Trifid

Trifid to Lagoon, Orion 8″ F3.9 First Light

Finally upgraded to an 8″ F4 after using a 6″ F5 as my primary imaging scope for the last few years. I really wish I did this before. Exposure time has been drastically reduced and the resolution is fantastic. Using my 12nm HA clip in filter I was clipping the highlights with 10 minute exposures @ ISO1600. So now I can get plenty more images per night and since I like mosaics that really sits well with me.

I also calibrated it with Pixinsight, got MUCH cleaner results using PI’s default settings than I ever got with DSS. For me at least, DSS is getting long in the tooth.

This is a three frame mosaic spanning from M20 to M8. I planned on taking this over three nights but the first night got dewed out, a rare occurance for me.

Image Location and Date: OCA dark site @ Anza, CA
Object: M20 to M8 Mosaic
Mount: Orion Atlas EQ-G
Imaging scope: Orion 8″F3.9 Newtonian Astrograph with MPCC
Imaging FL: 800mm
Imaging focal ratio: f3.9
Imaging camera: Canon 1100D (Rebel T3) Modded
Lights:

m20 rgb 58×180 10440
m20 ha 8×600 4800

center rgb 20 x 180 3600
center ha 6 x 600 3600

lagoon rgb 35 x 180 6300
lagoon ha 5 x 600 3000

8 hours 49 minutes total

Calibration: Darks, flats
Guide scope: 50mm finder with Orion StarShoot Auto Guider
Other details: guiding with PHD, captured with APT, processed in PixInsight.

HA was blended with the red channel and luminance.

I think I was a bit aggressive with my processing, probably going to redo it later on.

Art Show

Details to follow, here is a flyer for now.

2011 Lunar Eclipse

Went down to the Oceanside Pier this morning around 5:30, quite a few photographers down there!

Got this with my Canon 350Da + Tokina 70mm @f8. 4 second exposure @ ISO100

Orion Mosaic Test

Ever since I did a mosaic of M31 I want to do more more more. The high resolutions, vast swaths of sky and interstellar dust dancing around is very hard to resist once you get a taste. It’s also a lot more work but I figure if I’m going to get any better at this I need to push myself to do more and more difficult projects.

So here is a little test area I did. It’s a 2×2 of downtown Orion. I only went for an hour for each frame since it was near freezing with 20 mph winds and I wanted to go to bed. The top left frame only got about ten minutes of exposure since I screwed something up but that’s okay, this is only a test to see if it’s worth going after a much larger area of sky.

I used my trusty Tair-3 300mm Russian lens at f5.6. I’m not confident I hit focus spot on since I haven’t made a bahtinov mask for this guy, just set it at infinity and cross my fingers. Not a bad lens at all for $150 on ebay. Hooked up to my modded 350D and it can ride my Atlas all night long through +30mph wind gusts without a care in the world.

EQMOD and Cartes du Ciel are absolutely fantastic for mosaic work. EQMosaic is my new favorite tool. Only problem I had is that gotos were not quite perfect, especially after I did a meridian flip and had to go back to the same area to grab the last frame. Now that I think about it, I think the GPS coords in Cartes du Ciel and EQMod were set differently. Going to play with that tomorrow night to see if I can get it spot on.

Darks and flats are absolutely critical for this stuff. The 350D has a fair amount of amp glow on the edges so that has to be taken care of.

I did a minimal amount of work blending the frames together in Photoshop so some stitching is evident but certainly not impossible to overcome if I sink my teeth into it.

Image Location and Date: SDAA dark sky site at Tierra Del Sol on November 28th, 2011
Object: Downtown Orion
Mount: Orion Atlas EQ-G
Imaging scope: Tair-3 300mm Lens
Imaging FL: 300mm
Imaging focal ratio: f5.6
Imaging camera: Modified Canon 350D
Lights: 6 x 600sec @ ISO 800 (1 hours) PER FRAME
Calibration: Darks
Guide scope: 50mm Finder with Orion StarShoot Auto Guider
Other details: guiding with PHD, captured with APT, stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, merged in Photoshop, processed in PixInsight and back to Photoshop for final color adjustment.

Random picture from Julian Starfest

Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd + M71

Image Location and Date: Julian Starfest on August 27th, 2011
Object: Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd + M71 in Sagitta
Mount: CG5GT
Imaging scope: 300mm Tair-3c lens
Imaging FL: 300mm
Imaging focal ratio: f5.6
Imaging camera: Modified Canon 350D
Lights: 7 x 300sec @ ISO 800 (35 Minutes)
Calibration: Darks
Guide scope: Antares 8×50mm finder with Orion StarShoot Auto Guider
Other details: guiding with PHD, captured with APT, stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and processed in Fits Liberator + Photoshop.

More Milky Way!

Star Trails

Antares area of Milky Way

Image Location and Date: San Diego Astronomy Association Dark Sky Site @ Tierra Del Sol, March 6th 2011.
Object: Antares area of Milky Way
Mount: CG5GT
Imaging scope: 50mm Nikkor 1.8
Imaging FL: 50mm
Imaging focal ratio: f4
Imaging camera: unmodified Nikon D60
Lights: 4 x 240 sec ISO 800 (16 Minutes)
Calibration: None.
Guide scope: Unguided
Other details: stacked in DSS processed in Photoshop

Timelapse from Palomar Mountain State Park

This was fun, a ton of 30 second exposures taken over a four hour period until the clouds rolled it. The flashes of light were caused by us pouring whiskey or lighter fluid on the camp fire.

Me

Sorry about this.

Flaming Star Nebula from Joshua Tree

Image Location and Date: Joshua Tree National Park, Indian Cove Campground September 10th 2010
Object: IC405 Flaming Star Nebula in Auriga
Mount: CG5GT
Imaging scope: Omni XLT 150 Newtonian
Imaging FL: 750mm
Imaging focal ratio: f5
Imaging camera: unmodified Nikon D60
Lights: 20 x 180sec ISO 3200 (1 hours)
Calibration: Darks, flats.
Guide scope: Antares 8×50mm finder with Orion StarShoot Auto Guider
Other details: guided with PHD, stacked in DSS processed in Photoshop

Orion Widefield from Joshua Tree

I want to reprocess this once I get my big monitor set up but here it is for now:

60min exposure, 50mm 1.8 ISO 800 Nikon D60 on CG5 Mount

M109 from Tierra Del Sol

M109, a bright example of a barred spiral galaxy.

I love how many little background galaxies are visible in the hi res version of this image. All those faint smudges of light? Galaxies.

Image Location and Date: SDAA site at Tierra Del Sol on February 13th
Object: M109 Galaxy Ursa Major
Mount: CG5GT
Imaging scope: Omni XLT 150 Newtonian
Imaging FL: 750mm
Imaging focal ratio: f5
Imaging camera: unmodified Nikon D60
Lights: 8 x 300 sec ISO 3200 (40min)
Calibration: Darks and Flats
Guide scope: Antares 8×50mm finder with Orion StarShoot Auto Guider
Other details: guided with PHD, stacked in DSS processed in Photoshop

M44/Praesepe From San Juan Capistrano

This is a short exposure I did with the Praesepe cluster a few days ago. I was staying at my parents house for a few days, checking to see how much darker the skies are there compared to where I live in Vista. Not that much darker unless you are looking to the east towards Ortega Highway. However, I was able to leave my telescope unattended in the backyard while it was imaging which was a rare treat. Can’t do that here for fear of it getting stolen while I go to the bathroom or something. It’s quite nice being able to watch television yet still feel productive while your imaging setup does all the work.

30×1 Minute exposure, ISO1600 (usually I do ISO 3200 but I wanted to see if I was missing out on something. I wasn’t).