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Forums Lobby MASTER YOUR VISION - BY SPECIALTY Astrophotography topic #354
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Subject: "Orion Nebula" Previous topic | Next topic
lastdaylight Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest Nikonian since 09th Dec 2007Wed 26-Sep-12 04:36 AM
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"Orion Nebula"


Dallas, US
          

Here's a shot of the Orion Nebula, M42, taken about a year ago. I'm hoping to stir up some conversation about amateur astrophotography in general. On the one hand, with our incredibly easy access to photos taken of these celestial objects with the Hubble telescope, it can be disheartening to realize that we are never going to come close to taking a picture like that. But, on the other hand, I can tell you how thrilling it was for me to point the telescope at this nebula, take a picture, and then realize how much more color and detail the camera picks up in long exposures than we see in real time. It really is way cool! Any others with comments on this - why it's still fun and worthwhile to get out and give it a try for yourself?

D3100(it's small and light, and doesn't throw off the telescope balance too badly), Explore Scientific refractor ~1000mm f/8, equatorial mount with motor drive, 30 sec, ISO 3200.







Mark Smith
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My Nikonians Gallery

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Reply message RE: Orion Nebula
avm247 Moderator Awarded for high skills in documentary architecture and aviation photography Donor Ribbon. Awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014
26th Sep 2012
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lastdaylight Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest
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gbowen Gold Member
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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support
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avm247 Moderator Awarded for high skills in documentary architecture and aviation photography Donor Ribbon. Awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Charter MemberWed 26-Sep-12 05:01 AM
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#1. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 0


Rancho Cordova, US
          

GREAT shot! Nicely done, Mark...you're making me want to spend money on a telescope (and a truck to haul it around to dark sky location).

ISO 3200...wow did you run this through a noise reduction program?


Anthony

The Moderator Page and My Gallery
The important things in life are simple; the simple things are hard.

  

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lastdaylight Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest Nikonian since 09th Dec 2007Thu 27-Sep-12 03:12 AM
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#5. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 1


Dallas, US
          

Thanks, Anthony. You definitely should. Look at it this way, since you don't need auto-focus, vibration reduction, or even a variable aperture, you can get a really nice lens for a lot less than a 600mm Nikkor. (That's the rationalization I used, anyway )

I did one important step for noise reduction, see answer to processing question below.

Mark Smith
Just like I previsualized it, more or less...

My Nikonians Gallery

My Website, www.lastdaylight.com

  

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gbowen Gold Member Nikonian since 01st Apr 2011Wed 26-Sep-12 12:05 PM
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#2. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 0


Canton, US
          

Wow, that's awesome! Can you give more detail about the scope and mount? Maybe a photo of it? I am very interested in getting a setup like that. I already have a decent EQ mount and motor drive, a Celestron CG-4 with a dual axis drive, so I can put better OTAs on that in future.

Thanks for sharing.

George

  

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lastdaylight Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest Nikonian since 09th Dec 2007Thu 27-Sep-12 03:34 AM
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#6. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 2


Dallas, US
          

George,

Here's a snapshot of my rig. This was set up for a space station transit of the sun. The mount is nothing special. I'm using a Vixen GPD2 that I purchased used on eBay. It actually gets pretty frustrating with photography at higher magnifications. My shots of planets are pretty ho-hum, at best. It's my understanding that the big boys and girls use guiders that control the mount to keep the telescope pointed at a "guide star" or group of stars. I'd love to have a rig like that some day.

The telescope is an Explore Scientific 5-inch refractor with apochromatic air-spaced triple. I really like it, and highly recommend this scope for photography. I have used it for pretty nice terrestrial shots, too. Their whole line is very competitively priced.

I think that in general, if you want the best real-time view get a telescope with a huge aperture. If you want to do photography (particularly wider fields like this) get a decent refractor and the biggest, finest mount (preferably with guider) that you can afford.







Mark Smith
Just like I previsualized it, more or less...

My Nikonians Gallery

My Website, www.lastdaylight.com


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gbowen Gold Member Nikonian since 01st Apr 2011Thu 27-Sep-12 11:34 AM
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#9. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 6


Canton, US
          

Nice scope, but priced beyond my means right now. $2K is a chunk of change. Is Apo necessary for AP? ES has a nice 6 inch achromatic doublet that is easier to save for at $750, and a 5 inch at $650.

I have my Celestron CG-4 EQ, which is a pretty decent mount with a dual axis drive. I checked the specs of my mount, and it's rated for a 20lb scope max, and your scope comes in at 22lbs, and the 6 incher I mentioned is 23lbs. I am not sure how much a couples pounds over will do to my mount, but I worry about the motors.

This is why I was thinking that AP just won't be supportable with my budget. Always gotta have a better this or a better that, pretty soon you're talking a lot of $$$$. And then there's those unexpected expenses that can knock out what you've managed to save. Frustrating!

To make matters worse, we were informed at work yesterday that we probably will not be getting a bonus this year. Guess I am lucky to have a job in this economy. I'm just going to play with what I have, take nice moon pics, and call it a day (or night)

George

  

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lastdaylight Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest Nikonian since 09th Dec 2007Fri 28-Sep-12 02:20 AM
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#12. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 9


Dallas, US
          

George,

I've never owned any of the ES achromats, so I can't say for sure. But I'd be willing to bet you could do great work with any of them.

Which kind of comes back to my original thought (that no one has really chimed in on yet). There is always better equipment we will long for and people making better AP pictures than we can. And, if you extend that to the limit "if you can make a couple of mouse clicks on your computer and see a Hubble picture of M42, why bother at all?" But, I still argue that it is incredibly rewarding to get out there and figure out what it takes to milk the most performance we can out of the equipment we have. With patience and practice and every processing trick in the book, we can get some pretty interesting results. (My two cents )

Mark Smith
Just like I previsualized it, more or less...

My Nikonians Gallery

My Website, www.lastdaylight.com

  

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gbowen Gold Member Nikonian since 01st Apr 2011Fri 28-Sep-12 02:55 PM
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#18. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 12
Fri 28-Sep-12 03:01 PM by gbowen

Canton, US
          

I don't know how I'd do, but it's going to take quite awhile before I find out.

If I were to get the 6" ES achro, it will mean getting a sturdier mount and tripod as well. More $$. Guess I'll just have to find something that will work on my mount.

George

  

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RayC Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Dec 2005Wed 26-Sep-12 04:11 PM
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#3. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 0


Macungie, US
          

That's pretty nice Mark.
Curious, did you have an asto convergence done to your D3100?
If not, how did you process the photo?
Thanks ,

Ray

One thing I know is .... I don't know anything

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lastdaylight Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest Nikonian since 09th Dec 2007Thu 27-Sep-12 04:11 AM
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#7. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 3


Dallas, US
          

Ray,

I'll have to admit, I don't know what an astro convergence is. But, this was a plain Jane off-the-shelf D3100. I also use a D300, but it's a little less convenient for switching back and forth with an eyepiece. In that case I like to balance the scope for the extra weight of the camera.

As for processing, I'll tell you what I know, and hope that others chime in if they know answers to the problems I haven't solved. What I really wanted to work was HDR, so that I could show the stars clustered in the Trapezium. Here was a shot with 4 stops less exposure.







Alas, I never got that to work at all. As I recall, I tried both Photomatix and HDR Efex Pro. Both times I got very weird results around the stars (they simply show up larger in the longer exposures). Has anyone made this work?

But, what really works wonders is stacking shots for noise reduction. There are several software products out there for doing this, but I did this one by hand in Photoshop. It doesn't take a lot of shots to make a big improvement. This one is actually four separate shots "stacked" for noise reduction. (Not to be confused with focus stacking.) A quick summary of the procedure in Photoshop is:
1) Open all your "identical" shots on separate layers
2) Nudge them around to get them "perfectly" aligned (can use layer type "difference" to help with this, then change them back to "normal")
3) Use 100% opacity on the bottom layer, 50% on the next one up, then 33%, 25%, 20% etc for as many as you have

The details you want get clearer, and the noise just melts away. To illustrate, here's one of the four shots straight out of the camera:







After that, I just "twisted all the knobs" in Lightroom until I liked it. I'm sure that included some sharpening and additional noise reduction.


Mark Smith
Just like I previsualized it, more or less...

My Nikonians Gallery

My Website, www.lastdaylight.com





Attachment #1, (jpg file)
Attachment #2, (jpg file)

  

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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Thu 27-Sep-12 05:50 PM
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#11. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 7


US
          

Hi Mark,

Have you tried Registax to do the HDR stack?

I've never pursued that but I like your idea of the 4 shot stack in Photoshop. I'll have to go back and see if I have some candidate image sets.

_________________________________
Neil


my Nikonians gallery.

  

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lastdaylight Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest Nikonian since 09th Dec 2007Fri 28-Sep-12 02:27 AM
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#13. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 11


Dallas, US
          

Neil,

I've achieved reasonable results with RegiStax on shots of Jupiter. I kept getting the idea that what it would really like for input was video. I haven't figured out how to make it help a picture like this very much. I decided that some of the other star stacking programs were probably better suited, but just haven't gotten back to it.

Mark Smith
Just like I previsualized it, more or less...

My Nikonians Gallery

My Website, www.lastdaylight.com

  

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OldNavy609 Registered since 07th Feb 2012Wed 26-Sep-12 07:47 PM
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#4. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 0


Albuquerque, US
          

All I can say is "awesome". Thanks so much for sharing the photo.

Good shooting,
Lee

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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lastdaylight Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest Nikonian since 09th Dec 2007Thu 27-Sep-12 04:17 AM
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#8. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 4


Dallas, US
          

Thanks, Lee.

Mark

  

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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Thu 27-Sep-12 05:39 PM
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#10. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 0
Thu 27-Sep-12 06:26 PM by nrothschild

US
          

That is a beautiful image Mark

M42 is my favorite target, partly because I can mount my 500/4 on my Questar fork and actually find it. Unlike M31, which I find very difficult to find that way although it is a snap using a scope visually and would be similarly easy with a guide scope if I could rig that up.

I don't usually shoot M42 at such a high ISO, even with my D700. Maybe I should try it. I've always been concerned about noise in the delicate nebulosity but you did an outstanding job with that. And M42 is just coming into season

To improve things you probably need something on the order of a Losmandy G11 for that refractor, for long time exposures. And that can be a fair chunk of money, plus a fair chunk of weight. I would think the smaller GM-8 would be more marginal (likely a lateral move). I've been thinking about a G-11 for years, for my 7" (22lb) Questar, plus the 500/4. I think the GM-8 might be similarly marginal on my 500/4 and the optics are similar (5" aperture).

_________________________________
Neil


my Nikonians gallery.

  

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lastdaylight Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest Nikonian since 09th Dec 2007Fri 28-Sep-12 02:48 AM
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#15. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 10


Dallas, US
          

I totally agree, Neil. M42 is my favorite, too. Any time you get all frustrated with other targets, go back and work Orion.

Don't fear the ISO! Just take, say, 10 shots and stack 'em up.

I'm hoping one notch better mount is in my future before my AP career is over, but it will have to wait for now. G-11 looks sweet!

Best,

Mark Smith
Just like I previsualized it, more or less...

My Nikonians Gallery

My Website, www.lastdaylight.com

  

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wh2005 Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Mar 2008Fri 28-Sep-12 02:47 AM
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#14. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 0


Rancho Murieta, US
          

Hi Mark,

Really nice image, it makes me want to get my scope out. Did you use motor drive or just adjust for drift is post processing?

Bill Hawkins

  

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lastdaylight Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest Nikonian since 09th Dec 2007Fri 28-Sep-12 03:10 AM
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#16. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 14


Dallas, US
          

Bill,

I'm using a motor drive, but not a terribly good one

Mark

  

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RayC Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Dec 2005Fri 28-Sep-12 01:35 PM
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#17. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 0


Macungie, US
          

When I said astro conversion, I know of one shop, Spencers, which will convert cameras to astro photography much like converting a camera to IR. Canon makes an astro specific camera, the Canon EOS 60Da and the conversion would or should give similar results. Well, that’s what they say anyhow.

The reason I asked was because you have a fair amount of color which surprises me. You’ve inspired me to give it a try. I already have a Takahashi 102, now it’s time for a t-ring.

Ray

One thing I know is .... I don't know anything

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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lastdaylight Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest Nikonian since 09th Dec 2007Fri 28-Sep-12 04:26 PM
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#19. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 17


Dallas, US
          

Right, I'm with you now, Ray. No conversion here, that's part of the amazing thing. Even a grunt, off-the-shelf camera picks us much more than the eye. Allowing in more of the red and into IR probably is a good thing, but not required to get some pretty cool results. If you already have a Tak, you're way ahead of most of us...

Best,

Mark Smith
Just like I previsualized it, more or less...

My Nikonians Gallery

My Website, www.lastdaylight.com

  

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gbowen Gold Member Nikonian since 01st Apr 2011Fri 28-Sep-12 07:49 PM
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#20. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 19


Canton, US
          

>Right, I'm with you now, Ray. No conversion here, that's part
>of the amazing thing. Even a grunt, off-the-shelf camera picks
>us much more than the eye. Allowing in more of the red and
>into IR probably is a good thing, but not required to get some
>pretty cool results. If you already have a Tak, you're way
>ahead of most of us...

Light years ahead of me. Oops, sorry, could not resist!

George

  

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striate Registered since 21st Apr 2013Sun 21-Apr-13 09:09 PM
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#21. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 0


Holualoa, US
          

I am new to astrophotography (though not to photography) and sought out this forum to find help with image workflow ideas for deep-sky Nikon DSLR work to get rolling. This post struck me immediately as a good hit. Lovely image, Mark, and one I'd be proud to get myself.

But what also struck me is how you posed a more philosophical question of the wonder (awe, really) of being able to (or hopefully soon able to, in my case) point a scope to the heavens and pull down photons and images from beyond our galaxy. Talk about space travel.

Friends look at me with something between bewilderment and bemusement as I've been trying to explain why this seems so special to me. Thanks, Mark, for putting your finger precisely on why it seems so strange to want - so badly, it seems - to reproduce rather poorly what so many have already done with huge and expensive devices (and spacecraft for crying out loud).

When I open my images in Photoshop and come anywhere near to where you are in this post, I will probably sit staring at it forever. I can't wait for that moment. And the next one, and the next.

Steve

Steve

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lastdaylight Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest Nikonian since 09th Dec 2007Tue 23-Apr-13 05:59 AM
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#22. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 21


Dallas, US
          

Thanks, Steve, and welcome to Nikonians.

Yes, sometimes it is hard to explain, or even understand, why we do it. I like the way you put it - photons from beyond our own galaxy. That have been traveling for a very long time...

Bottom line, it's the greatest show on earth, and always playing. And, such a challenge to try to get a worthwhile image now and then.

I see that you are in Hawaii, you will have some opportunities that most of us won't. You got to see the whole transit of Venus, right?

Look forward to seeing your work here soon.

Best regards,

Mark Smith
Just like I previsualized it, more or less...

My Nikonians Gallery

My Website, www.lastdaylight.com

  

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striate Registered since 21st Apr 2013Wed 24-Apr-13 02:13 AM
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#24. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 22


Holualoa, US
          

We moved here last November, so we missed the transit. James Cook managed to see it in Tahiti only to be brained on our big island by the locals, so I'll take my bad luck over his any day. My great enthusiasm is the night sky (much better than Seattle was!) and no matter how bad the vog may be on any given night, Mauna Kea is only an hours drive up the road.

Thanks again for the warm welcome!

Steve

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Wed 24-Apr-13 12:34 AM
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#23. "RE: Orion Nebula"
In response to Reply # 21


US
          

Welcome to Nikonians and the Astro forum!

I believe you are the first to come here to this site specifically looking for astrophotography advice. That is very heartening

I think Mark said it very well. Some of us simply have an urge to photograph all the things we see.

_________________________________
Neil


my Nikonians gallery.

  

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