+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11
  1. #1
    Senior Member

    Input needed

    Input needed
    Hi,

    I scrapped a camping trip to Joshua Tree NP for this year's last chance of shooting the MW photos due to the pandemic and the wildfire disaster. But still can't stop taking the MW shots... So I checked up PhotoPills and Stellarium and saw the image at my place at a time within a narrower window of visibility (~8:00 to 9:30 PM in Oct and 6:00 to 7:00 PM in Nov):

    Screenshot:
    Input needed-screen-shot-2020-10-12-1.08.11-pm-s.jpg

    So I grab my camera and enter my backyard, pointing to SW, and take some shots even can't see the MW with naked eyes at all. This is the original jpg:
    Input needed-2020-10-14-20.18.24-s.jpg

    Best PP I tried: (MW is there, barely visible in the image)
    Input needed-.jpg

    I would like to hear your opinions and comments on the possibility of shooting better MW images at this place, time, and condition, as well as improving pp. Will take either "possible and how" view or "impossible and why" view. Thanks


    › See More: Input needed



  2. #2
    Senior Member

    Re: Input needed

    Ambient light is the enemy. Get away from it as much as possible. And shoot raw as it will capture more light information.
    Jake
    (formerly backdoorhippie)

  3. #3
    Senior Member

    Re: Input needed

    Input needed
    Thanks, Jake.

    I know light pollution in the city can kill much of your sighting and imaging at nature objects. That's one point of impossible mission to overcome in this environment, I guess. Here is the PP image (Darktable) from RAW: (not much better... )

    Input needed-2020-10-14-20.18.24-dt-s.jpg

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    BF Hammer's Avatar

    Re: Input needed

    Input needed
    I have many thoughts here. I will try to keep it organized. First of all, while I have places dark enough to photograph the Milky Way within 90 minutes drive, I have known all along that trying to do that in my suburban back-yard is a fantasy. I can take photos of planets and some deep-space objects, but not the Milky Way. Andromeda is near-impossible too. Light pollution is the price we pay for being safe at night on roads and walking in urban places.

    My first thought is that in the configuration options of Stellarium is a check-box to apply estimated light-pollution to your sky to filter what you are able to see. Turn it off to see what could be visible, but turn it on to see what really will be visible.

    Your technical settings are close to what I would do. For a f/3.5 lens I would bump up that ISO to beyond 3200. And you are going to need to take more photos. If your D3500 has an intervalometer like my D7000 and D750 do, it should be taking a 15 second exposure every 20 seconds. And have it take 80 photos, maybe even more. I have a Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 lens available for DX format, so I shoot with it at f/1.8. On my FX D750 I have a Sigma 20mm f/1.4 that I actually use at f/1.8. I will set to ISO 3200 at those settings and take 15 second exposures.

    Then there is the reason for taking 80 photos at least. You are going to use software to stack the images and the light data will be additive to make the Milky Way pop and blend out that excess noise from the high ISO. If you are using a Windows PC, that software will be Sequator. Mac users have been using Starry Sky Stacker for even longer. The software does the masking of the foreground and handles the movement of the stars across the sky.

    The key to your photo is a darker night site. You cannot overcome ambient light pollution in a wide-field photo. DarkSiteFinder is one tool to help, but it is not perfect. In my case, I found a park just outside of a small town that is considerably darker than the map would indicate. There is not a single street light in any direction for a mile. The woods around screen out the street lights of the small town nearby. To the north is all state wildlife refuge and public hunting ground. Just a few farm homes in the location. And I discovered years ago that I can actually see the Milky Way with the bare eye there. Not the colorful version in my photos, but the faint milky-white that the Milky Way gets it's name from.

    Input needed-screenshot_2020-10-17-light-pollution-map-darksitefinder-com.jpg

    So I am blessed to have some locations. But if you look at that map on a national level, my location in southern Wisconsin is just all light pollution. I see better dark skies in pockets in California.

    Edit: after finally reading what the Bortle Scale actually is, maybe that map is more accurate than I thought. My backyard would easily be class 6-7 while I think I would call my country park location a solid class 4. The map says 1-2 class difference and I observe 2-3. The visibility of the Milky Way is one of the key determining criteria for classifying on the Bortle Scale.
    Last edited by BF Hammer; 10-17-2020 at 11:09 PM. Reason: New info found
    Thanks/Like blackstar Thanks/liked this post
     

  5. #5
    Senior Member

    Re: Input needed

    Thanks, BF, for your insightful thoughts and great tips.

    First, I use ClearDarkSky to seek places and spots of low light pollution -- real dark sky. And like you, found a local nearby old recreation area that is polluted much less than in the city (orange-yellow zone instead of red). Explored it in early summer and ran away by being attacked from a heavy swamp of deadly poisonous mosquitoes near a river. The people in the area mentioned good time to visit and avoid mosq is winter... Nothing's perfect!

    Appreciate your tip about Stellarium. I checked it and found it defaultly set light pollution scale = 2 that shows the MW image visible (see my original image #1). Turn local data on and scale is up to 7! MW image no longer visible! Exactly the real scene like image #2. So I was cheated to run out to shoot some hopeless photos...

    Your idea and insight of stacking night sky images get me into serious consideration on putting some effort on the processing tool. I now only use mac, so the free Sequator isn't a choice. SSS is a paid app for mac user. Don't know which one you use and wonder if you would share with some examples, especially of MW images? I have got a free small app: Lynkeos. Haven't got a chance using yet, so don't know if it works.

    I do see some light and make some clear points out from your post. Really appreciate.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    BF Hammer's Avatar

    Re: Input needed

    Input needed
    I told this story in the "post your Milky Way" thread. This is my very first attempt to photograph the Milky Way in 2017. I was not at the "dark park" purposely to do this, I was trying to capture aurora that night. I had no idea how to do it. My camera body then was a D7000 and I did (still do) have a nice lens in the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art.

    Input needed-nvv13l4.jpg

    Single, non-stacked image with too-low ISO and too-long exposure time. I processed the crap out of that thing to get that photo.

    But one year later I did some research. I used google and the dark skies map to locate a county park in Amish land to my north. I mis-used Google Earth to estimate where the Milky Way core would be at what time. Don't use Google Earth that way, it will steer you wrong. I thought it would be above a picnic shelter, instead it was prominently above the outhouse. I kept hearing coyotes so I was unwilling to explore much in the dark. Important part was I began to learn stacking with an early version of Sequator and what I needed to refine.

    Input needed-lik8ftv.jpg

    This was the shot I wanted.
    Input needed-jcohd7p.jpg

    Fast forward to 2019 and I have many hours of watching pros on youtube. I study that same Amish-country park from Google Earth and decide I may have a south-view possibility at the boat dock for the lake. I thought the year before that it may be too wooded. I was armed with a new D750 but did not have a good full-frame wide-angle lens to use. So I just used the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 and tried. I made technical mistakes, including mistaking the zoom for the focus and not noticing in the dark. This was the one image I salvaged before the rest were taken out-of-focus.

    Input needed-kcdhblq.jpg

    But 1 month later I had purchased my Sigma 20mm f/1.4 and returned determined to not screw-up.

    Input needed-vikjbfm.jpg

    Input needed-7xaif9h.jpg

    So then this past summer I tried some impromptu photos at that same park as the original 2017 photo. I was there photographing Neowise. I used the 20mm f/1.4 and I was also armed with a new 150mm square filter holder and light-pollution filter to fit. It helped a bit with the sky contrast. But I did not get as many good photos as needed because of dew and fogging. Also you see the reflection of the lens hood in the back of the filter. I should crop it, but the photo loses something when I try. So I leave it.

    Input needed-hyp9r92.jpg

    I credit the improvements to Sequator over the past 3 years partly for my better photos. I did invest in some better equipment and put in personal experience time. I'm still learning. I do use a Windows PC so no help with Mac software. Some things I did learn and should try to do better is that you can do your own layer-mask with a photo of the foreground you take before or after and try to make a nice long-exposure at lower ISO. I did that with the outhouse photo and it worked well. I forgot to do it with the lake photos, and instead had to rely on Sequator giving me a foreground with noisy data. It worked OK, but it could have been better with the manual touch.
    Thanks/Like blackstar Thanks/liked this post
     

  7. #7
    Senior Member

    Re: Input needed

    BF, Wonderful photography story and examples.

    Like to ask clarification and confirmation with each photo image you post:

    #1 -- single shot, post processed, no stacking
    #2 -- stacked image (can you share one individual image b4 stacking for comparison and how many single shots?)
    #3 -- "the shot I wanted" -- ???
    #4 -- single shot, post processed, no stacking
    #5 -- single shot, new FF lens
    #6 -- stacked image from #5 and others (wonder how you stacked out the nice color cloud below the MW? how many single shots?)
    #7 -- Stacked image (how many single shots and one example?)

    Pardon me for so many requests. Thanks

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    BF Hammer's Avatar

    Re: Input needed

    Input needed
    Quote Originally Posted by blackstar View Post
    BF, Wonderful photography story and examples.

    Like to ask clarification and confirmation with each photo image you post:

    #1 -- single shot, post processed, no stacking
    #2 -- stacked image (can you share one individual image b4 stacking for comparison and how many single shots?)
    #3 -- "the shot I wanted" -- ???
    #4 -- single shot, post processed, no stacking
    #5 -- single shot, new FF lens
    #6 -- stacked image from #5 and others (wonder how you stacked out the nice color cloud below the MW? how many single shots?)
    #7 -- Stacked image (how many single shots and one example?)

    Pardon me for so many requests. Thanks
    Shot #2 was the portrait mode photo I took that night, I also composed in landscape to cut out the outhouse. But it looks more amateurish with just some tree-tops at bottom frame. I did not know to take several dozen photos at that time, so I only had 11 images in the portrait pose. Not even sure if I used all 11 in the stack, might have had to toss some with things like satellites showing. But I do have the Jpegs still saved, here are 2 outtakes. A sky exposure and a darker exposure for the foreground. A simple layer masking allowed me to fix that blown-out foreground because there was an actual light on a pole just out of frame.

    Input needed-dsc_4968.jpgInput needed-dsc_4984.jpg

    #3 is the shot I wanted because I wanted to have the Milky Way at that location, considerably farther to my right. I estimated it would not line up for another 3-4 hours and I was not waiting that long. I was already past closing time for the park, so any sheriff deputy cruising by and noticing me likely would have asked me to vacate. At the least.

    #5 is really a stacked photo. It was my second series of images because I moved me and my chair off of the boat dock. The clouds and twilight were right for me to begin serious work. Single frame outtake below.

    Input needed-dsc_0385.jpg

    But #6 was actually me goofing around as I was waiting for the clouds to move out and the twilight to darken. Turns out I liked the "selfie" shots and Sequator made the cloud motion blend into something dramatic. That bright area right side on horizon is light pollution from Portage, WI and some sunset twilight. Nearest community in that general direction. There were about 35 photos taken in that set. I think that is what I programmed into the camera intervalometer for all 3 sets that night (there is also a portrait mode set). An outtake below, but I think I had to throw out a good 10 photos from the beginning of the set that had clouds over most of the scene.

    Input needed-dsc_0347.jpg

    #7: I took more than 40 images for that particular set. However I only could use 20 images max to stack from the set. Lens and light-polution filter were fogging up badly as they were being taken, and I did not notice until near the end. 2 outtakes below.

    Input needed-dsc_1435.jpgInput needed-dsc_1461.jpg

    I have since purchased a USB-powered lens dew heater wrap, which helps that fogging on lens, but not if it happens on the filter.

    So it should be plain to see that while I have learned much on this subject, I am still learning and gaining experience. I will take progressively better photos in the coming years. Unless I veer off into another photography subject and devote myself to that for a while.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Input needed-dsc_0350.jpg  

    Thanks/Like blackstar Thanks/liked this post
     

  9. #9
    Senior Member

    Re: Input needed

    Thank you so much, BF.

    After all your explanation and sharing studied, still have more inquiries for you to help: Do you just throw raw files into Sequator to run stacking? or convert raw into TIFF and pre-process them b4 stacking with Squator? or just use jpg's to run stacking? The fact that the final stacked images stand out as brilliantly beautiful from the seemingly crapy single exposures really makes the (stacking) process impressive. (But I realize your effort and investment in equipment to improve single exposures also make a great difference. And post process also a big factor.)

    Viewing from your outtakes, it seems the MW images are visible in them, at least faintly though, if not very clear. So, I would assume for all four sets of single exposures, you were there able to see the MW in the sky with naked eyes (at least faint scene). If I'm correct, the place you took shots must have a light pollution scale = 3 or 4. So it's not comparable (aside from your investment and efforts) to the place I took shots -- backyard in town (scale=7). And was not able to see even faint MW in the sky.

    I think I'm going to get a new Rokinon 10mm f2.8 wide angle CS lens for my D3500 after failed to try two new Rokinon 12mm f2.8 fisheye FF lenses: incompatible lens! I figure that using Rokinon 14mm f2.8 FF with d3500, it will come down to ~18mm wide which overlap my kit lens. OTOH, when upgrade to FF body, Rokinon 10mm f2.8 CS lens will come down to ~15mm wide, which is close to 14mm. Am I on the right path? Afterward, I may try to take shots at other darker places and hope to get better result.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Needa's Avatar

    Re: Input needed

    Below is a link to a darktable image edit. If you download the original image and place it in several folders you can copy a sidecar file from each edit to one of the folders, import the image from the folders. Then you be able to see what steps were taken to achieve the results.

    https://discuss.pixls.us/t/milky-way...feedback/19702





Quick Reply Quick Reply

If you are already a member, please login above before posting.

Posting Permissions

  • You may post new threads
  • You may post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •