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Beginners, start very easy.


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Guest peepshow

I've noticed on various star forums that when a beginner asks how to start DSO AP many replies start referring to stacking, flats and all the rest.  Camera controls and the use of PS etc etc .


 


I'm sure all this must appear very daunting to those starting on the road to the stars and think that they will never see a DSO.  It did to me when I started.


 


So could I suggest that a beginner need only take a single jpeg, tracking for a few minutes.


 


Then increase the contrast of the single image and reduce its brightness to help reduce any  LP.


 You can capture some easy DSO's, such as M45, with some nebulosity too to thrill you to bits. 


This is how I was captured into going further.


 


This will be anathema to some advanced in the art of DSO AP but it does work and acts as a very simple platform to AP. 


After all one doesn't need a Rolls Royce to travel along the road. :)


 


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I've noticed on various star forums that when a beginner asks how to start DSO AP many replies start referring to stacking, flats and all the rest.  Camera controls and the use of PS etc etc .

 

I'm sure all this must appear very daunting to those starting on the road to the stars and think that they will never see a DSO.  It did to me when I started.

 

So could I suggest that a beginner need only take a single jpeg, tracking for a few minutes.

 

Then increase the contrast of the single image and reduce its brightness to help reduce any  LP.

 You can capture some easy DSO's, such as M45, with some nebulosity too to thrill you to bits. 

This is how I was captured into going further.

 

This will be anathema to some advanced in the art of DSO AP but it does work and acts as a very simple platform to AP. 

After all one doesn't need a Rolls Royce to travel along the road. :)

I suppose the word "beginner" is open to interpretation! When it comes to DSO photography, I'm a beginner, despite having 20 years of experience of visual astronomy and 10 of astrophotography. I don't own a driven mount but do short exposures of DSSs.

 

I think stacking is still worth doing. You don't have to use Deep Sky Stacker, I'd been using Microsoft ICE for yonks before I got DSS to work.

 

I would encourage raw beginners to start off with constellations, even though someone once said "nobody does constellations any more". You can do them even with a compact digital camera that is restricted to 8 seconds exposure.

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I  would like to start dipping my toes in the water and have a go at basic imaging without spending thousands. (For Now  :) )


So any help would be appreciated as I agree that it is rather daunting.


I don't have a DSLR - only a Nikon compact. So do I spend several hundred pounds for a USB camera to fit the EP or what?


 


Any good books / guides out there?


 


Cheers


Adrian 


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I would like to start dipping my toes in the water and have a go at basic imaging without spending thousands. (For Now :) )

So any help would be appreciated as I agree that it is rather daunting.

I don't have a DSLR - only a Nikon compact. So do I spend several hundred pounds for a USB camera to fit the EP or what?

Any good books / guides out there?

Cheers

Adrian

Definitely purchase making every photon count-great book. Another one that is overlooked is called "an introduction to webcam Astrophotography" it's probably my favourite book and has helped me with my planetary imaging.

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It's an interesting topic.

I don't think it is just DSO imaging which beginners ask about and then get inundated with replies which make it all sound very difficult and expensive, they probably get this when asking any question on an astronomy forum full of people who have made numerous mistakes and learnt the hard and ling and expensive way, and those people want to just give the new comer the combined "wisdom" of their experience.

Just as there are "beginners" and there are "beginners", there is also a massive scale of what results you want to aim for when imaging DSOs; there is the olly penrice end of the spectrum where he has spent 60 hours imaging something with two scopes and using the fanciest filters and cameras possible, then he has spent an equal amount of time processing the data.... At the other end is the person who holds a smart phone to an eye piece and takes a simple photo of something very bright like M45 (if it fits in the eye piece). Both may feature on the S@N, but for different reasons.

Expectations: we are flooded with glorious images of deep sky objects, but many are taken from very dark places or from space, and usually stacked images of many hours worth of data. We see few single shots of DSOs of 15-60 seconds duration; many DSOs won't show up with such short exposures or show sufficient detail, clusters and some galaxies and a few planetary nebula will, but will still be faint. I suspect if these images were used to promote DSO imaging, few people would be inspired.... Maybe i'm wrong.

Kit: most DSOs will need a tracking mount like the barn door tracker, and will need to be able to track for the desired exposure; there are lots of examples of people imaging DSOs with just a dslr and no telescope, but again most of the ones we see are stacked images as there is insufficient detail in single subs. A lad at trent uni who is studying astrophysics took a load of subs of 1 second through his newtonian on a non-motorised mount of M45 and stacked them and the result was impressive given the lack of motors, but again he stacked.

So, stuff can be achieved without stacking, but stacking does bring out much more detail than a single sub. And i suspect if you've got the kit to take a single sub, then you have the kit and expertise to take 20 subs, and stacking is very easy to do on free software and that will boost the results you get astronomically. You can stack without using darks or flats or bias frames, but again darks are easy to take, as you just put the cap on the scope or the camera; flats are a bit more complex but they do make a lot of difference to the final image, especially if you have vignetting.

So maybe we should have more examples of single subs of various DSOs, to show newbies the range of results which can be expected for any given amount of kit and processing, and let them decide where they want to start out.

The webcam book felix mentions is good, but is mostly pitched towards planetary imaging but does go on about long exposure webcam and ccd imaging for DSO stuff too; i got a copy and read it after seeing felix's, and enjoyed reading it. Everyone on SGL raves about the photon book, but i got a copy and wasn't that impressed unfortunately, but i'd already read a few books on the topic and didn't feel it meet the expectations the hype had built around it for me, but by all means get a copy and have a read.

Jd

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Here are some of my single sub DSO images:


 


M82 supernova, 60 seconds on C11 on AZEQ6 no flats or darks (heavily processed for me kindly by Leigh):


<a href="http://s1311.photobucket.com/user/jamesdawson/media/IMG_5173editLB-marked_zps4a747436.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1311.photobucket.com/albums/s670/jamesdawson/IMG_5173editLB-marked_zps4a747436.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo IMG_5173editLB-marked_zps4a747436.jpg"/></a>


 


The rest are taken with the 180 Mak, less than 60 seconds, on the AZEQ6 with a Canon 6D on very high ISO, again no darks or flats:


 


M42


<a href="http://s1311.photobucket.com/user/jamesdawson/media/M42_zpsede80d67.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1311.photobucket.com/albums/s670/jamesdawson/M42_zpsede80d67.jpg" border="0" alt="M42; single frame photo M42_zpsede80d67.jpg"/></a>


 


M33


<a href="http://s1311.photobucket.com/user/jamesdawson/media/M33_zps58e65871.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1311.photobucket.com/albums/s670/jamesdawson/M33_zps58e65871.jpg" border="0" alt="M33; single frame photo M33_zps58e65871.jpg"/></a>


 


Eskimo nebula:


<a href="http://s1311.photobucket.com/user/jamesdawson/media/Eskimonebula_zps118fc00f.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1311.photobucket.com/albums/s670/jamesdawson/Eskimonebula_zps118fc00f.jpg" border="0" alt="Eskimo nebula; single frame photo Eskimonebula_zps118fc00f.jpg"/></a>


 


Owl nebula:


<a href="http://s1311.photobucket.com/user/jamesdawson/media/Ownnebula_zps9a1b9cc6.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1311.photobucket.com/albums/s670/jamesdawson/Ownnebula_zps9a1b9cc6.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo Ownnebula_zps9a1b9cc6.jpg"/></a>


 


M13


<a href="http://s1311.photobucket.com/user/jamesdawson/media/M13_zps8befadc6.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1311.photobucket.com/albums/s670/jamesdawson/M13_zps8befadc6.jpg" border="0" alt="M13; single frame photo M13_zps8befadc6.jpg"/></a>


 


Dumbbell nebula


<a href="http://s1311.photobucket.com/user/jamesdawson/media/Dumbbell_zpsdd383c06.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1311.photobucket.com/albums/s670/jamesdawson/Dumbbell_zpsdd383c06.jpg" border="0" alt="Dumbbell nebula; single frame photo Dumbbell_zpsdd383c06.jpg"/></a>


 


jd

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Guest peepshow

Good examples there, James.


Let's hope a few beginners (and I mean real beginners) see these and take heart


to have a go for themselves,


Yes, use high ISO for maximum capture. Never mind the noise. :facepalm:


Noise abatement comes later in astro life. :lol:


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I'm not sure what my point is....

I suspect i wanted to show that gross shapes and potentially colour (whether it is "true" colour or not is for another debate) for some DSOs can be demonstrated in single subs, but this was with using kit which isn't cheap; a pretty sound equatorial mount which has been tweaked, a 180mm mak, and a canon 6d using its low noise sensor and very high iso (can't remember exactly what iso but at least 3200 maybe 6400 or higher), and these were all taken in a very dark location... I suspect if using a 6" newtonian, a canon 1000d and a lower spec mount, from a standard sub-urban location, the results would be much poorer. Stacking really does transform single subs, and is pretty easy to do.

Jd

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James,


 


   Very useful for  "a real beginner" like me although at the moment I don't see myself going down the serious AP route (famous last words) it helps to see "real pics" at different levels and as others have said provide goals especially for the more serious AP beginners.


 


Nice thread  :thumbsup:


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So could I suggest that a beginner need only take a single jpeg, tracking for a few minutes.

 

Hi,

Just like a lot of the threads in this forum, this makes very interesting reading.

 

As someone who is just starting out (and definitely a beginner) would you recommend/suggest that a tracking mount is the most important part of DSO AP?

 

Steve

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Hi,

Just like a lot of the threads in this forum, this makes very interesting reading.

 

As someone who is just starting out (and definitely a beginner) would you recommend/suggest that a tracking mount is the most important part of DSO AP?

 

Steve

I'm not an imager but one thing I have learnt, the mount is everything, start at the mount, work from there. The more you can throw at the mount, the better.

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As daz says, the mount is key. People have got results with non tracking mounts, and with tracking alt-az mounts, but the best unguided results are probably with a tracking equatorial mount. The very best amateur images are probably guided equatorial mounts (or massively expensive and accurate unguided mounts with fancy drives and precision machining).

It depends what you want to image and what is your budget.

It would probably (there are a lot of probablies in my reply) be relatively easy to pull all the images of a commonly imaged DSO (M42 for example) off EMS and SGL and rank them according to the complexity of the kit used / cost of the kit used, and see if there was a step wise improvement in results; heavily confounded by the individual operators and their ability to use the kit to its maximum and on their processing skills.

But yes, half decent images on the whole need a half decent mount.

Jd

P.s. Probably

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Guest peepshow

For beginners who do not have any mount yet they might like to consider looking into


making a reletively cheap barn door tracker.  Plenty of info on the net.


Get your toes wet with this them lash out on a eq mount where money is," skies the limit." :)


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TBH, I found the bits about flats and darks rather daunting to start with but they can make a real difference to the results. I don't currently aspire to own a driven mount, as I don't have the time to get the best out of it and don't have a big budget.


 


Nevertheless, I have taken lots of images with very simple kit. You can browse through my stuff here: http://s197.photobucket.com/user/PhillipPugh/library/


 


I also have  very steady hands and have managed to hold a camera to an eyepiece for 8 seconds.


 


Last year I picked up a 2nd hand DSLR for just over a hundred quid. I'm getting some results using it with an ST80 at prime focus.


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This goes back to "expectations" and what you want from your results. Phil this image for example from the link above shows M42, but it's clear this isn't a precisely tracked image as the stars appear to be doubled up, maybe from poor tracking or from shutter release, and I suspect taken with a high ISO and is a single sub:


 


M42Y14MarD22_zps05d5d862.jpg


 


But it clearly shows M42.


 


Whereas this image by Olly Penrice of M42 has been guided for hours and countless images stacked and hours of work spent on processing before the final result released:


 


http://www.atik-cameras.com/photo-galleries/139/III_27_original.jpg


 


 


 


Horses for courses.


 


My own single sub M42 which also shows poor tracking, high ISO, poor framing, wrong telescope....:


 


M42_zpsede80d67.jpg


 


JD


Edited by dawson
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Mine is ISO 3200 and 4 seconds exposure but IS stacked. It was not tracked at all because I don't own a mount capable of tracking.


 


Next year I might try stacking many more frames with a shorter exposure.


 


It was also quite low when I "snapped" it and I won't try again until the autumn.


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Thanks chaps,


I'm looking a buying an neq6 pro after my wedding this year, so I will have to make do until then.


 


I can't track either at the moment, but what I can do is try, try and keep trying. I think that's why I enjoy it so much..


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