October 23, 2011

Back to Basics

Well, Canon Photo5 is over for another year, at least as far as my images are concerned. If you're interested, you can see how my shots look, click here, to see me being punched in the face (my powder entry), and browse my other entries if you have a mind to. So now the wait for November 9 begins, which is when the Judges announce their decision and open the briefs for voting.

In location news, Bill and myself went out yesterday, searching for somewhere dark, and high. Upshot is we think we found somewhere. The top of Conical Peak Road is at this stage, looking very good for our new favorite photo and observation spot. Also we're hoping that our attempts to attract like-minded people to join us up there is successful.

Also, I have discovered a new photo site for uploading of cool things.  Wander on over to Pixoto and take a look at things there.  My stuff can usually be found int he Astronomy section :D

Some Basics.
It struck me the other day that when I started this blog, (Holy crap, 2 years ago now!) The aim of the place was along the lines of "For now I am content to be on this journey, and anyone who is interested in shooting the stars on a budget or just with things you may have in your garage, I hope can find some advice, or at least a good laugh here."

Well it still is. Things have moved along a bit, I use a different camera now, I gained a DSLR and the skills to start using it, Bill brought his camera and expertise along, and now we're building trackers and trying to get long exposures, buying awesome second hand lenses and bringing Karen and Martin in. Things are slow, but growing.
So, in that vein. Lets talk about the most important thing you need for amateur astro-shooting. Teh Camera.
The quality and price of your camera is actually not as important as you might think. Sure, you may get better shots with a Canon 5D Mk II than a Canon 20D (story of my life folks)  but you also might get better shots from a webcam and a telescope than a 5D could ever achieve ... 

Webcam:  from  here

So, the big thing that you need to decide is what you want to shoot.  Will you be using a telescope? A tracker and long lens? A fixed camera?  

In each of these scenarios, there is lots of things that will become important to you if you're after the right shot. If you;re like me and want to take pretty pretty pictures of the sky, any and all of these methods might be what you're after.

I have one of each of these cameras, a DSLR, a film SLR, compact and webcam.  And to date i have used the DSLR (Canon 20d) most, closely followed by the compact camera (IXUS 80IS), and have developed systems for both of them to achieve the results I want.  For the dSLR I spend a lot of time focusing, and I shoot multiple ISOs to get the best shot I can.  Sometimes I also shoot multiple exposures and stack the resulting images.  I also shoot dark frames, but invariably end up forgetting I shot them, so losing out on the benefits of this technique. 

The compact camera is for use with my home-made t-mount and my telescope. I use and recommend CHDK to give me maximum control of my shots through the compact, also allowing me to get the RAW image data from the camera.  Focus is not so much an issue with this system, but DF is a lot more important asd the CCD on the compact is much smaller, and more sensitive to temperature.

The Film and Web cameras are just sitting on my desk at this stage, I hope to be getting on to them soon.

I also hope to be writing some more blog entries on what myself and Bill do to get the shots we get, we know they're not perfect, or in some cases even good to look at, but comparing the results of when i started, to now, I can definitely say that they're improving.

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