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Art Gecko

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About Art Gecko

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  1. Astrophotography can be a "personal best" kind of sport, and people learn at different speeds. So I thought I'd open this thread up to anyone who is entering their second year of imaging and is interested in comparing their pictures publicly? The pinwheel Galaxy was one of my first DSLR imaging targets last year, so I thought I'd have another go and see how much better I could do... The answer, a LOT! Making the most of a long weekend I managed to get out on 3 nights, my first multi-night target in fact, and gathered a couple of hours worth each night. Stacked in DSS, 76 x 5min ISO800 subs with calibration frames: And last year (sorry I can't remember the stats): In the last year I've learned a lot, and spent a fair bit of cash to up my game...Feels good to see the improvement! Anyone else out there that feels like they're getting nowhere with imaging, stick at it, if you really love doing it you'll find a way to make it work... whether through DIY or $$$... when you look back at old pictures, and you have a more recent and better example... it's Great! Feel free to share your own examples here!! Art.
  2. A lot of good advice on here! Just thought I'd add a couple of points: 1: if you go for a ccd, be aware there both colour and mono ccds... if you go for a mono, have room in your budget for filters! 2: I have a 130p and I had to cut 20mm off the back and refit the mirror to gain focus.. so you may need to do a bit of diy. 3: if you're running a Mac, lynkeos is good, it's technically for planetary work, but I got good enough results doing DSO work with it... also DSS will work through wineskin on some versions of OSX but not others, either way make sure you have plenty of RAM! 4: with Nikon, the D5xxx series should be fine, but watch out for the D3xxx series, they have connectivity issues with many AP programs! I say this just because I struggled for a long time with my Nikon and recently gave up and bought a modded canon. hope that helps in some small way, good luck and clear skies! Art
  3. I would recheck your collimation... I had some images go a bit like that, with uncontrollable patches of colour and shade... turned out to be my secondary mirror that had slipped and I hadn't realised while collimating the primary... I may be wrong in this instance, but worth checking... and old carpentry saying "measure twice, cut once" hth, Art
  4. When my friend took the files home and tried them on his computer, the calibration frames were apparently the right size and he got DSS to work the subs properly... Here is the result:
  5. I do have a back catalogue of calibration frames for my own camera... just a shame they won't work for his!
  6. Thanks Andy, now I think of it... we did export the flats from the SD card directly to their own folder, but the bias and flat-darks were exported all together then transferred into their own folders respectively... could this have something to do with it I wander? I guess these things can happen when passing a laptop between two people and not doing everything yourself
  7. I had a visit from a photographer friend of mine on friday night, who has taken an interest in my AP from the start and came to see how it's done, and have a go at it with his own camera... Now I fully admit I'm no expert, and I've only just started using an autoguider, but we had a lot of fun and came up against some interesting problems to solve. Firstly, once he'd arrived and we'd got the scope balanced with all the equipment loaded on it, we started a 2 star alignment and used the bright stars in the process to focus the camera... upon taking the first picute I realised that his Nikon D750 had a full frame sensor and my inch and a quarter focus drawtube was inhibitting the view, producing a black ring all around the image... much like when you point your smartphone camera into an eyepiece and take a shot... But since this session was all about using HIS camera we agreed we could just crop out the dark parts and we carried on.... besides, his camera works with BYNikon, which mine doesn't! Now, he really wanted a shot of the Pleiades but by the time we'd got everything up and running it was far too low in the sky, so I suggested a galaxy cluster rather than a star cluster and he seemed quite happy with that, so we set the synscan to find M84 and then set about framing the shot and when we were happy with it, set BYNikon to take 24 x 300 second subs at ISO 800 + dithering and finally settled back with a beer At 1am it finished it's run and we were both getting tired so we took the equipment down and went to bed... First thing in the morning we managed to get some flats, flat-darks and bias frames... that done, we sat down and started going through the shots in DSS, but when we loaded the flat-darks and bias frames they seemed to be 16x16 pixels smaller than the lights and flats... completely perplexed at how this may have happened, we simply applied the flats and carried on without the other calibration frames... I then gave him a quick tutorial in photoshop development and sent him on his way with all the files he needed to have a go himself at home.... At which point I realised if he had the same trouble with the calibration frames at home, he could at least take another run with just the lens cap on and see if he could get some bias and flat-darks that work. So this morning I thought I'd take another look at his data. I ran 2 stacks, one with flats and one without, this is because without bias frames, the flats seemed to over compensate and the black corners turned white giving the picture a sort of negative gradient... by combining the 2 stacks I was able to smooth the background gradient and then set about processing, and here is the result: Art
  8. A UV/IR blocking filter will help on your mono cameras as the light at either end of the spectrum will come to focus at a slightly different point to the visible range and make images blurry. LRGB will be necessary to create colour images from a mono camera. a moon and sky glow or light pollution filter may help to cut down the glare of moon and planets like Jupiter, but you will have to play around with the ISO, gain and shutter speed to get the best images as well. a UV-pass filter will help bring out the contrast in the clouds of Venus, but you may struggle to find other uses for it unless you get into solar imaging or spectroscopy. Hth, Art.
  9. If you're using photoshop, take your stacked image and stretch it until just the core looks nice, then duplicate the layer and stretch it so the fainter detail further out is visible, this will blow out the core in the same way as your image above. Now add a layer mask to the top layer and "paint over" the blown out core so the layer underneath shows through... this might take some practice to get it looking nice and smooth, but should give you the desired result... then you've just got the vignetting to take care of, flat field frames will be your best friend here, once you've got a collection of good "flats" you can reuse them on a number of pictures and just update them every so often. hth, Art
  10. Hi Phil, I've been doing AP for about a year or so and also class myself as a beginner, so my advice may not carry as much weight as others here on SGL... but I do feel that I can point you in the right direction, so here goes... 1: DSS is used for stacking images. Nothing else. If you use the post processing tools to look at the final image, make sure you check the box marked "embed changes but do not apply them" otherwise you will lose the colour from your images which seems to have happened in the examples above and you will find that post preocessing in proper software will be much harder if even possible at all. 2: post processing can be done in a range of software (not DSS) including Photoshop, gimp, nebulosity (which you have) pixInsight, astroArt... to name few. Learning curves vary but all will do a fine job and there are plenty of turorials around for the most popular ones like Ps and PI on here and YouTube. 3: Many people have a set "workflow" they follow as a standard path to pull the data out of their images, then make tweaks to bring out certain details... if you look around you will find links to workflows that you can follow to create a reasonable image in your preferred post processing software... personally, I like Photoshop. 4: in regards to not blowing out bright regions of your image, layers are your best friend! Stretch your image until the bright region looks ok, then duplicate the layer and stretch that to bring out the fainter stuff then add a layer mask and "paint out" the blown out areas to reveal the nicely stretched layer beneath.... works in Photoshop, other software may have different methods. most of all, have fun while you're learning all this stuff... astrophotography has to be one of the most technically challenging hobbies to take up, so dont worry if it takes a while to get it all coming together... like I said I've been doing it a year now and still consider myself at the very bottom of the learning curve! I think you never really stop learning in this game!
  11. Well it looks like you're getting on well with the CG5 (the celestron model?) though you are a technical wizard when it comes to diy so I'll bet you've got it running sweet! Cheers for the advice with dithering, I wanted to try APT but it's not Nikon D3300 friendly I'm afraid... looking to get a modded canon next I think, might leave me with more options! Art.
  12. In all fairness, Carole is right... I have even made the jump back to windows just for the purpose of astrophotography... I bought a renovated ex-corporate laptop, windows 7, intel i5 2.4 Ghz, 128Gb SSD, 8Gb memory for £250... its the fastest computer I've ever owned and will stack a bunch of images with calibration frames in mere minutes... my Mac used to take several hours but it is 10 years old and only had 2Gb memory! DSS would take literally days to stack even a handful of subs!!
  13. There's a free program called Lynkeos for Mac... it's technically for planetary stacking, but I used it for a year with DSO subs and it worked fine for me... not as comprehensive as Deep Sky Stacker, but it's decent enough and probably easier than trying to stack in Photoshop directly... if you look through the Eq3-2 DSO Challenge thread on here, pretty much all my posted pictures were stacked using Lynkeos. hope that helps , Art.
  14. Hey Bob! Been a while!! Yeah the scripting on digicamcontroller does have a PhD script that allows for various levels of dithering agressiveness... yet to try it out though... how many seconds do you think I should allow before starting a capture after a dither? Art
  15. Welcome and well done, that's a good Orion core! At the stage you're at, as a complete beginner, the first thing to do is ... Do Your Research!! Have a read of other threads here in the beginners section and absorb the advice given to others, make notes and see which direction you want to go in as astrophotography has many subclasses and specialist areas.... Most people can only afford to specialise in one! Now as a starting point (others may disagree with me here but...) since you have a Mak, your best bet as a beginner is moon and planets, but since galaxy season is starting now, if you fancy a challenge you could also have a go at stacking some galaxy shots and see how you do at that!! Best of luck your journey, Art.
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