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Hi All! - Advice Please!


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Hannah Corking

Hi all,

 

I am a university student studying photography and my final project is focusing on bringing the night sky indoors. I just want some advice on easily accessible locations (in and around the Lincoln area) where I will be able to try and take some decent photographs as well as any tips and tricks anyone has that would help me out. Thanks in advance!

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Hi Hannah, a warm welcome.

Let us know how much you already know and what gear you have, this photo lark is something to test your patience and wallet.

In the meantime, here's a a light pollution map to have a look at so you can identify area's near you that might be suitable.

 

https://www.lightpollutionmap.info/#zoom=10.00&lat=52.7919&lon=-0.9767&layers=B0TFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

 

It might be worth giving the East Lincs group a shout, they have dark sites that might be easier for you to access. They are a good bunch too.

 

East Lincolnshire Astronomy Club  https://www.lincsastro.org/

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Hannah Corking

So I have done research for a uni module into astrophotography etc. so I know some of the basics such as the basic settings.  I am planning on heading to the Lincolnshire Wolds in an attempt to get some experimental photographs sometime this week.

 

I have experimented from my garden and been able to achieve some photos which clearly show stars however it would be nice to get some really good, clear photos hopefully showing some colour, galaxies etc. (I understand this is challenging to achieve without specific equipment)

 

I have a Canon 6D Mk II, Sigma 24-105mm lens and a Canon 50mm lens too (as well as a good tripod). I don't really have the money to buy any sort of astrological specific photography equipment so I am really hoping someone could help me out with just the basics to get some better photographs with what I have already. 

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53 minutes ago, Hannah Corking said:

So I have done research for a uni module into astrophotography etc. so I know some of the basics such as the basic settings.  I am planning on heading to the Lincolnshire Wolds in an attempt to get some experimental photographs sometime this week.

 

I have experimented from my garden and been able to achieve some photos which clearly show stars however it would be nice to get some really good, clear photos hopefully showing some colour, galaxies etc. (I understand this is challenging to achieve without specific equipment)

 

I have a Canon 6D Mk II, Sigma 24-105mm lens and a Canon 50mm lens too (as well as a good tripod). I don't really have the money to buy any sort of astrological specific photography equipment so I am really hoping someone could help me out with just the basics to get some better photographs with what I have already. 

Hi Hannah

you can do Astro stuff with a static (non motorised) tripod but you’ll have to use software to overcome the limitations this gives you in terms of the amount of exposure you can gather without inducing star trails. Look into a free package called sequator which will help you compile multiple images from a static tripod which will increase your overall exposure time to make a single image with a deeper exposure. However, if you want to deliberately make star trails for a star trail image there is a free package called Star Stax to help you compile multiple images.

 

Make use of the best dark skies you can find. So you don’t have to worry about light pollution filters. Always shoot in RAW format.

 

My top tip. Develop a a robust way to achieve and maintain focus that you can easily replicate in a dark sky setting. Get used to using a bit of gaffer tape to stop your focus or zoom ring moving while you handle your camera lens. Nothing worse than a session ruined because of poor focus.

 

Most of all - enjoy it and good luck!

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Hi Hannah and welcome to the forum.  If it's the Canon 'nifty-fifty' you have then it's well capable of producing decent astro images, especially if stopped down from it's full aperture of F1.8 to (say) F2.8 with an APS-C format camera (so you may need to crop the images to avoid serious astigmatism at the edges with your 6D full frame camera).  As long as you take lots of short exposures (to avoid star trailing with a fixed tripod - possibly up to 10 sec with a 50mm lens at ISO 1600) and then stack all the resulting images using one of the many available image stacking programs (I use Deep Sky Stacker, free and I find easy to use but it only runs Under Windows).  You can then reveal a lot more detail that is not visible in the stacked image by post-processing and again there's lots of available software, some free, some expensive, some easy to use, others not so!).  Just bear in mind that with a 50mm lens, you are wide field imaging so don't expect exceptional images of galaxies, they will be there but mainly just small 'fuzzy' patches, but some of the larger nebula will be very evident (e.g. M42 in Orion or the North America Nebula in Cygnus).  Stacking and post-processing will certainly bring out more colour in the resulting image.  It may be worth comparing what you can achieve from your back garden to that which you can achieve from a 'dark site' (assuming, like most of us, you suffer from light pollution).

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As for galaxies, there is only one within easy reach of your kit but it is very low down in the sky this time of year. It is the Andromeda Galaxy. Star clusters, such as the Beehive are well-placed and well within the range of your equipment. There is also Melotte 111 in the constellation of Coma Berenices. If you have about £15-20 to spare, you can buy an intervalometer that takes photographs automatically. I use it to capture meteors on camera but also use the photos to combine into  a single one.

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