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Astrophotography with a Nikon D200

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    teabelly
    teabelly  332 forum posts England
    13 Jan 2013 - 8:43 PM

    I have been waiting weeks to try some Astrophotography and last night I got my chance, and here is the best of my first attempt.first-star-picture.jpg

    I would really like some advice from people who take these types of Photographs with Nikon Camera's as I understand my camera is not the best type of camera for this type of photography.

    My settings were ISO 200 F5.6 30 secs and used a little torch to light up the building, I had tried the ISO at 400 but there was just too much noise.

    Questions I have in general is does noise reduce if I found a darker spot ? But any advice on the subject would be really great.

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    brrttpaul
    brrttpaul  2203 forum posts United Kingdom
    13 Jan 2013 - 9:05 PM

    Well Im no expert, in fact im a beginner like you, but that looks a great first attempt. I would try changing the orange though to a cooler colour but thats just my opinion. Well i like it anyway

    Sooty_1
    Sooty_1 Critique Team 41177 forum posts United Kingdom196 Constructive Critique Points
    13 Jan 2013 - 11:55 PM

    Good first go. I'd try to find somewhere darker, as the orange glow is from street lighting, and is quite intrusive.
    Noise is a function of amplification of the image, so the same settings would still generate the same amount of noise, but sometimes it is more or less obvious depending on the photograph. Usually more obvious with large areas of plain colour, and you don't want to create any "false stars"! Nikon are no better or worse than any other make, but a newer camera with better high ISO performance might help and give you more leeway with exposure in the dark.

    In a dark site, that would still be a pretty good exposure, and you can see Orion quite clearly. You can get good wide-field shots just on a tripod, but look into stacking several shots together to increase the signal to noise ratio. You can download several free programs, but Deep Sky Stacker is pretty good. You take lots of shots and the software combines them and aligns them for you, which helps eliminate hot and cold pixels etc. there are quite a few YouTube vids about it if you look.

    Longer exposures than 30 secs or so (depending on lens focal length) will show star trailing, so you can exaggerate it for other effects, and the effect varies depending on where you point your camera.

    There is a lot out there if you use t'interweb. I don't like saying "google it" as it doesnt sound very helpful, but this is one occasion where looking it up will reveal all sorts of tips and tricks. Try googling "astrophotography" and you will find a wealth of info and inspiration.
    Your question is very broad for any specific answers.

    Nick

    Last Modified By Sooty_1 at 13 Jan 2013 - 11:57 PM Helpful Post! This post was flagged as helpful
    User_Removed
    14 Jan 2013 - 4:16 PM

    Spectacular image.

    You could improve it on that location, by using an ND grad filter upside down to reduce the effect of the light pollution on the horizon (and increase the light-painting of the building if you wished to compensate).

    High-ISO, Long Exposure noise on a D200 will always be much more of a problem than on more recent Nikons - but one way round this is to lower the ISO and then take a sequence of, say, 10 x 3 second exposures (or whatever you need) and then merging them in PS.

    Keep at it. I do like your first attempt.

    Nick_w
    Nick_w e2 Member 73818 forum postsNick_w vcard England99 Constructive Critique Points
    14 Jan 2013 - 4:30 PM


    Quote: You could improve it on that location, by using an ND grad filter upside down to reduce the effect of the light pollution on the horizon (and increase the light-painting of the building if you wished to compensate).

    I'm lost, how would in reduce the light polution on the horizon? If you had it upside down, to reduce the effect (reduce exposure) the grad transition would be above the horizon, and you will be left with a line across your image.

    With this shot (RAW right ?) make two convessions, one for the sky, reduce the WB to saysomewhere between 3000 to 4000 (do by eye, or tungston). Optimise the exposure of the stars, maybe reduce exposure slightly, and push the highlights (Stars).

    on the second exposure optimise for the ground you may want is slightly warmer than the sky, say 5000. You may want to increase the exposure slightly, and lift the shadows (in Raw), then in photoshop, if your experienced do a quite precise cut out and place it on one of the layers as a layer mask. It will look cut out (don't panic) with a feathered black brush at low opacity (8-15%) gently go over the horizon till it looks ok.

    If your not sure on the PS - place a layer mask on one of the layers, then with the gradient set to black/white draw a verticle line just above horizon untin just below it.


    Quote: High-ISO, Long Exposure noise on a D200 will always be much more of a problem than on more recent Nikons - but one way round this is to lower the ISO and then take a sequence of, say, 10 x 3 second exposures (or whatever you need) and then merging them in PS.

    I'm sorry that wont work either - at least for the sky, to merge for the sky you would need to have in either screen or lighten blend mode (so that the top image only adds the lighter pixels to the base image) - you would be adding two almost identical layers so ther would be no increase in brightness. You could use this method for star trails as the bright pixels have moved on (with the earths rotation) so they will be brighter than the layer below.

    Last Modified By Nick_w at 14 Jan 2013 - 4:37 PM Helpful Post! This post was flagged as helpful
    teabelly
    teabelly  332 forum posts England
    23 Jan 2013 - 9:45 AM

    Thanks for all your replies, lovely to get such different and varied advice.

    Nick I will give your suggestions a go, this is all really good advice that I can learn from.

    Sooty I had purchased a book and had a bit of a google but am struggling with the basics, now you have mentioned Deep Sky Stacker this gives me something now that I can pick up on thanks for the advice.

    Bryn_Jones
    Bryn_Jones  10186 forum posts United Kingdom
    12 Apr 2013 - 6:23 PM

    I am looking at doing some astrophotography myself and have been researching quite a bit. There are a couple of websites that I have viewed and they have mentioned noise from digital cameras and ways of not only reducing it but actually removing most of it. It involves stacking photographs and using dark photographs which are used to detect noise and then this acts like a filter to remove noise. Here are a couple of websites to look at.

    http://www.spencerscamera.com/astrophotography.cfm
    http://www.astropix.com/HTML/I_ASTROP/TOC_AP.HTM

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