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To boldly go


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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To boldly go

30 Dec 2021 12:23PM   Views : 526 Unique : 296


My daughter-in-law finds excellent photographic presents for me: Christmas brought me a copy of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2021 book. More than most genres, Astra photography is about finding hidden beauty: the equipment and the techniques are highly specialised, and almost every shot is the result of combining at least two frames, even if they are simply of the same scene with different exposure times to allow star detail and foreground detail.

But it’s not uncommon for hundreds of images to be combined, sometimes with images shot with more than one camera. It’s photography, Jim, but not as we know it. A few images in the book have been shot with a conventional camera on a conventional tripod, but many of them involve very unusual equipment. Small – and not so small – telescopes (mostly reflector style, with a design that will be familiar, in general terms, to mirror lens users) feature, along with equatorial mounts (which compensate for the earth’s rotation and keep a telescope pointed at the same small area of sky: from around £300 if your telescope comes without one, it seems) and filters that make my IR and UV setups seemed very commonplace.


Extensive processing seems to be a requirement just to achieve the basic image. But this isn’t about falsifying reality, so much as making it possible to get an image of scenes that are invisible to the naked eye. I’d have liked to make this blog quite heavily biased towards technique, but I freely admit that most of the techniques are completely beyond my knowledge (and probably my understanding). I suspect I know one or two people who could make a decent stab at explaining them, and perhaps we should all hope this will stimulate them to have a go. The price tags attached to the equipment are not insignificant.

It would be very easy to spend money on trying this out: but I live near Birmingham, and the levels of light pollution are incredibly high, so that seeing any stars at all on a night that’s less than perfectly clear is a challenge. If I had dark night skies, I would be sorely tempted!


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
30 Dec 2021 12:25PM
The book's definitely worth a look, but it lacks the technical section that many photobooks have... But as the equipment is so very different, in many cases, from what we mainstream photographers use, it would need to explain what - for instance Ha and O111 filters are. If anyone wants to respond with a blog of their own about the setup they use, I'll be grateful and interested!
Robert51 Avatar
Robert51 14 12 147 United Kingdom
30 Dec 2021 2:24PM
Strange John that all the images from the Hubble telescope and in black and white and the the colour is added later.
Here is how they do it: -
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
30 Dec 2021 2:32PM
And that's the easy bit, Robert! I understand that part - like Technicolor, in fact, but slower...
Imageryonly Avatar
Imageryonly Plus
3 203 11 United Kingdom
30 Dec 2021 7:06PM
Some areas of Photography are like that, love the images, but the techie bit justgoes over the head.
Not familiar with Astronomy, but saw some Macro shots afew years back, thought, I would like to try that !
Found out they were done on a scanner that only cost $4.000.000 dollars, so decided my Macro lens is good
enough foe me WinkWinkWinkWinkWinkWink
pablophotographer Avatar
pablophotographer 12 2.2k 450
31 Dec 2021 3:40PM
They are not the only ones who can turn black & white into clour.

There is a new “Colorize” option in the
Photoshop's Neural Filter interface. You can convert the black and white pictures into colour : click Filters > Neural Filters > Colorize ... and presto! You can convert any black and white image into a colour one.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
31 Dec 2021 4:10PM
Mind you, the purposes are different. Photoshop is about creating artistic effect, and the primary purpose in astrophotography is to show more data in an image, and make the details visible, I suspect. But it's fair comment in general...
ugly Avatar
ugly Plus
15 9 58 United Kingdom
1 Jan 2022 9:23AM
Link is to line and light photographic course to help new photographers understand astronomy-photography. They teach you some stars look at ways of taking images. Clear night you get outside and take some and get to take an image on a large telescope. A great way and introduction to the stars with a camera.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
1 Jan 2022 11:29AM
Thanks, Dave.

I'm sure there are other courses available, but that looks like a great starter for anyone who's up for visiting the Sherwood area and driving home after my car's turned into a pumpkin... Probably a good reason for a brief break in the area - or, indeed, anywhere with dark skies.

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