Astrophotography and Field Trip

The NatMAT group have organised an Astrophotography trip, open to all members, which should be a great night out! Judith Swann has also put together some very handy information to look through before the night, so have a read and start preparing 💫⭐✨

Image by Trevor Douglas

When: Meeting at 1800h on Saturday 12th June 2021 depending on the cloud cover. We will have another look at the weather on Saturday morning and if we need to cancel we’ll let you know, otherwise see you Saturday evening.

Where: Aramoana. Meet at the memorial carpark. Hereabouts: https://what3words.com/waterfalls.goalie.hubcap.

Moon, sun and tide.

The new moon is on the 10th June, so on the 11th and 12th it will still be basically moonless and dark. On the 11th and 12th sunset is at 1658h; moonset is at 1718h and 1805h; and the tide will be falling. High tide is at 1520h and 1600h.

What photos could I take?

Stars – https://www.flickr.com/photos/emmakey/34495994481
Star trails – https://www.flickr.com/photos/joedsilva/6132188906
Milky Way – https://www.southproud.co.nz/listing/aramoana-beach/
Foreground
Light painting
Reflections (in the wet sand)

How do I take these images?

You keep yourself and those around you SAFE

Dark – It will be DARK

Safety: Think about your safety. Bring a RED LIGHT torch our eyes take longer to adjust to the dark after looking at white light compared to red light. It is also very easy to get temporarily blinded by white light. Put fresh batteries in your torch. Remember Sea Lions use the sand and they don’t leave just because it is dark! Check before you take a step backwards.
Lights: Folks around you may NOT want your torch on just so you can make adjustments to your camera. Practice beforehand so you can change your camera settings by touch. Talk to each other about putting lights on.
Focus: Focusing in the dark is really hard. Find out if your camera will do focus magnification and turn it on. Teach yourself how to turn on manual focus by touch! On site, find a star and manually focus on it until it is crisp pin point of light.

Cold – More than likely it will be COLD

Layers: Taking astro photos can involve quite a lot of standing around, in the cold, doing very little. You will get cold. Wear some warm layers, bring more, including a wind-proof layer. Hat, scarf, gloves, chemical hand warmer pouches, something to sit or kneel on if you think you’ll need it.
Camera & Batteries: Your camera gear will get cold, and cold batteries don’t work so well. Take some spare batteries and keep the spares in a warm pocket. Putting a cold camera into a warm car risks inducing condensation inside the lens and/or camera. A Ziploc plastic bag or dry-bag with a silica gel sachet in and a plan to warm up your camera slowly will reduce this risk. (https://www.photographymad.com/pages/view/how-to-protect-your-digital-camera-in-cold-weather)

Movement – The subject (the sky) moves and your camera is at risk of movement

Subject movement: Actually it is the earth that is moving (turning) while the sky stays still! We perceive this as the stars moving. Photographing this movement is how you get star trails. If you want points of light for stars your exposure time needs to be less than about 25 seconds.
Camera movement: The long exposure time means you have to hold your camera completely still so a tripod, bean bag or similar is essential. Remember your cable release, or work out how to use the timer on your camera. Work this out in the light and warmth of home before you set out.

Stars / Milky Way

https://www.capturelandscapes.com/how-to-photograph-stars/
https://digital-photography-school.com/beginners-tips-for-night-sky-and-star-photography/
https://www.nikonusa.com/en/learn-and-explore/a/tips-and-techniques/photographing-the-night-sky.html

These articles are good backgrounders to taking images of the stars. Read about wide open aperture (f/4 or lower if you can get), higher ISO (1600 and up), longer exposure times (10 – 30 seconds), and white balance to 3200Kelvin (if you can). Then also read the pros and cons of each of these variables in this situation.

Star Trails

https://nightskypix.com/how-to-photograph-star-trails/
https://www.lightstalking.com/how-to-photograph-star-trails/
https://learnandsupport.getolympus.com/learn-center/photography-tips/astrophotography/astrophotography-101

Star trails use very similar settings but are taken for longer so your camera captures the movement of the stars OR you take a number of star photos and stack them together to make the star trails.

Milky Way

The techniques and settings for stars usually work for the Milky Way as well. One difference is learning where the Milky Way will be, at the location you’ll be at and at the time you’ll be there.
The videos on this site (https://www.davemorrowphotography.com/p/tutorial-shooting-night-sky.html) describe using free apps and programmes (Blue Marble, The Photographers Ephemeris (TPE), Google Maps, Stellarium) to work out where the Milky Way will be.
The Milky Way should be just to the seaward side of Taiaroa Head at about 1900-1930h on the 111th and 12th June.

Light Painting

https://digital-photography-school.com/add-more-interest-astrophotography-with-light-painting/
Bring along an led light source (torch, head lamp, panel) so you can add some more light in the foreground.

Aurora

http://www.aurora-service.net/aurora-school/how-to-photograph-the-aurora/
Just in case!!!

More details?

Have a look at these sites.

Stars:
https://www.davemorrowphotography.com/p/tutorial-shooting-night-sky.html

Star Trails:
https://www.davemorrowphotography.com/2012/03/StarTrailsPhotographyTutorial.html
https://www.photopills.com/articles/star-trails-photography-guide#step5

Milky Way:
https://www.photopills.com/articles/milky-way-photography-guide

Monitor Calibration

What?

Monitor Calibration is the process of measuring and adjusting the colours on your computer monitor to match a common standard.

Images from https://www.rubbermonkey.co.nz/X-Rite-i1Display-Pro

Why?

Every screen displays colours slightly differently. The image you see on your computer monitor screen will look slightly (or hugely!) different on your phone screen, and different again on anyone else’s computer monitor screen. This is partly due to the inner workings of the screens, and partly due to tweaks and settings on each screen.

Calibrating monitors to a standard set of colours, lessens the differences between the different monitors and improves the consistency of colour rendition. Consistency becomes particularly important when you want to print, as the professional printers are also calibrated to the same standard.

How?

DPS has the X-rite i1 Display Pro screen calibrator available to borrow to calibrate your screen/s.

Basically you download some software to your computer (and restart your computer), plug in the calibrator, then, following the instructions, you hang the calibrator in front of your screen and let it do it’s magic!

The calibration process will measure a range of colour variables (colour, gamma, brightness, contrast etc), and optimise your screen settings. These settings are stored on your computer or monitor and used each time you use your computer screen.

Depending on your screen a calibration will take about 10 minutes to complete.

How do I borrow the calibrator?

REQUEST: by emailing Nicola (secretary.dpsnz@gmail.com) and ask to borrow the calibrator. Judith will then get in touch with you about when and how you’ll get the calibrator and when it needs to be returned by.

USE: following the instructions.

RETURN: the calibrator, or pass on to the next member, by the date agreed when you requested the calibrator.

I want to read more about monitor calibration.

Excellent! Here are some useful sites (which are also the references for this blog post):

These next two sites provide further reading about calibration and discuss using a different calibrator the DPS one.

  • Judith

Learn more about your camera

Tony

This resource from Northrup’s website has tutorials on many modern cameras, covering the basics through to more advanced features. So if you can’t find a feature on a camera you’ve owned for a few years or you’ve just bought a new camera, have a look and see if there is a tutorial for you.

Find the tutorial library here

The nifty thing about each tutorial is that there is a Table of Contents, enabling you to find the feature you’re after and to fast forward.

Click on the SHOW MORE link to open the Table of Contents

More

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