DSLR ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY

NSAAC Class 2010

Experiment and Learn
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Astrophotograpy is a journey into learning Be willing to experiment with equipment and software Be patient – takes several sessions to get equipment, software and camera to work Are several digital photo processing methods to learn

My Book References
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“A Guide to Astrophotography With Digital SLR Cameras”, Jerry Lodriguss “The New Astro Zone System for Astro Imaging”, Ron Wodaski “The New CCD Astronomy: How to Capture the Stars With a CCD Camera in Your Own Backyard”, by Ron Wodaski.

Useful Websites

Cloudy Nights DSLR forum: http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/ubbth reads.php?Cat= Catching the Light: (Jerry Lodriguss) http://www.astropix.com/ Stark Labs PHD guiding software: http://www.stark-labs.com/ Imagesplus 3 software: http://www.mlunsold.com/

com . focal length 34 mm  Picture ref: Jerry Lodriguss:  http://www. F/5.Scenic Photos – Planetary Alignment Planetary alignments – Composition   Reflection in still lake Equipment : digital camera + tripod + delayed release (minimize movement)  Exposure: ISO 1600.astropix. White balance = sun. 10 sec.6.

ISO 400.Scenic Photos . focal length 135 mm. White balance = sun  Picture ref: Jerry Lodriguss:  http://www.com/  Note moon all white due to over exposure Correct exposure for moon 1/1000 sec (craters) . F/2.8.Moon Crescent moon (earthshine)  Equipment: DSLR camera + tripod  Exposure: 1 sec.astropix.

Composite of 4 photos showing radiant of Leonid Meteor Shower 2001 .Scenic Photos – Meteor Showers   Equipment: Olympus E20 + tripod Exposure: Not listed.

 . 22° (or more) distant and at the same distance above the horizon as the sun. and in ice halos. "beside the sun".[1] (formed by ice crystals) Sundogs may appear as a colored patch of light to the left or right of the sun. from Greek parēlion. (παρήλιον).Scenic Photos – Sun Dog  Wikipedia: sun dog or sundog (scientific name parhelion. often on a luminous ring or halo on either side of the sun. παρά(beside) + ήλιος(sun). also called a mock sun) is an atmospheric phenomenon that creates bright spots of light in the sky. plural parhelia. T Sundogs are best seen and are most conspicuous when the sun is low.

Scenic Photos .Aurora   Equipment: Tripod + Sony Cyber shot DSC S85 Exposure: F/2.2. 8 sec .

Scenic Photos – Star Trails   Equipment: DSLR + tripod Experiment to determine exposure ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Point towards Polaris Frame: Focal length (as desired) and focus to infinite Set F stop at full open to three stops down from full open Start at ISO 400 and white balance= sun Expose from 1-2 min (suburban light polluted area) to 3 or 5 min (dark sky) Examine histogram Combine many short exposures (Photoshop) .

8 – combined 6 images . ISO 400.Scenic Photos – Star Trails (cont)  Exposure: 8 min. F/2.

Jerry Lodriguss  . focal length 200 mm Ref: “A Guide to Astrophotography With Digital SLR Cameras”. ISO 250.0.Moon (Jet Flies by Gibbous Moon)   Correct exposure depends on lighting Exposure 1/1000th sec. F/4.

Exposures Moon Phase Full moon Gibbous moon Quarter moon Exposure 1/250th sec at f/11 at ISO 250 1/125th sec at f/11 at ISO 250 1/60th sec at f/11 at ISO 250 1/250th sec.8 at ISO 250 Ref: “A Guide to Astrophotography With Digital SLR Cameras”. F11. ISO 400 focal length 560mm Wide 1/30th sec at f/11 at ISO 250 crescent Thin Crescen t Earthshi ne 1/15th sec at f/11 at ISO 250 2 sec at f/2. Jerry Lodriguss .Moon .

Sun – Use Safe Filters  BE SURE TO USE PROPER. Jerry Lodriguss . SEVERE DAMAGE TO YOUR EYES COULD RESULT IF YOU DO NOT USE SAFE FILTRATION  ! Use same exposure rules as moon •Color balance altered by filter •Center image color balance corrected to white in Photoshop •Right image colorized in Phtotoshop Ref: “A Guide to Astrophotography With Digital SLR Cameras”. SAFE FILTRATION WHEN ATTEMPTING TO PHOTOGRAPH OR VIEW THE SUN.

Constellations         Tracking not needed Exposure time limited by star movement – trails Expose 5 – 30 sec Longer focal length – shorter exposure Experiment with ISO settings and exposure length Compromise between faint detail and star trails Frame with interesting foreground scene Tracking will give access to faint detail .

Jerry Lodriguss .Constellations: Camera on tripod Orion – increasing exposure time – camera on tripod at 24 mm 4 sec 8 sec 15 sec 30 sec Ref: “A Guide to Astrophotography With Digital SLR Cameras”.

8 Ref: “A Guide to Astrophotography With Digital SLR Cameras”. ISO 1600. 30 sec exposure.Constellation Example Focal length 35 mm. F/2. Jerry Lodriguss .

An analog-to-digital converter (ADC) then turns each pixel's value into a digital value by measuring the amount of charge at each photosite and converting that measurement to binary form. . CMOS devices use several transistors at each pixel to amplify and move the charge using more traditional wires.How Digital Cameras Work •Image sensor is a charge couple device (CCD) – left image •Image sensor is a complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) – right image •Sensor converts light (photons) into electrons •Sensor reads the value (accumulated charge) of each pixel •Sensor made up of 2D array of pixels A CCD transports the charge across the chip and reads it at one corner of the array.

which captures ~2% Not all photons that hit are captured. The number of captured photons determines the quantum efficiency CCD (CMOS) sensors contain a grid of individual pixels Each pixel continues to absorb light through out the exposure until the well is full The number of electrons a well can capture determines the dynamic range .Digital Camera Sensors        The advantage of DSLR camera versus film is that the sensors respond to ~70% of the incoming light More sensitive than film.

 The charge is small and is amplified by the analog to digital (A/D) converter.  Bit depth is the number of steps that the dynamic range is broken into. 16 bits •My Nikon D60 is 12 bits or 4056 tonal steps .    The sensor's output is called an analog-to-digital unit (ADU) ISO settings are changes in the gain of the camera Dynamic range is the range of brightness from light to dark in which detail can be recorded.Digital Camera Sensors Cont.

one blue. and two green The result of this is that luminance information is collected at every pixel.Black and white to color  CCD and CMOS sensors are only black and white Digital color cameras generally use a Bayer mask over the CCD.org/wiki/CCD_camera .    Ref: http://en.wikipedia. Each square of four pixels has one filtered red. but the color resolution is lower than the luminance resolution.

Signal and Noise      Signal is current that is generated by electrons that get counted and converted into numbers by the A/D converter. Noise is unwanted signal that comes from several sources that are dealt with by correcting the photos Noise can never be fully removed The correction process increases the signal level relative to the noise Astrophotography key is signal to noise .

Noise: Dark Frames     Frame that corrects for the thermal signature of the sensor Depends on exposure time – increases as time increases Depends on sensor temperature – decreases as temperature decreases The thermal environment for each pixel is slightly different .

ISO 800 at 23F Cropped and brightened in Photoshop .Noise: Nikon D60 Dark Frame   180 sec exposure.

Noise: Dark with Amp Glow  Depending on camera design. a second dark source is the electro-luminescence signal from transistors on the sensor mother board – Amp Glow .

temperature (within ~5 F) and ISO setting I usually take at least five dark frames prior to each DSLR photo session Combine each photo into master dark frame (use software such as Imagesplus 3) Subtract the dark frame from the “normal” light frame using software (Imagesplus 3) .Noise: Dark Frame Correction      Lens covered with lens cap plus a dark hood to ensure light is excluded Take photo at same time (sec).

ISO 800. lens cap + hood  . 27F. which is mainly increased dark current that occurs during the process of reading sensor data (A/D converter) Nikon D60 Bias: 1/4000th sec.Noise: Bias Frame   Corrects for underlying sensor noise (bias signal) Corrects for readout noise.

Noise: Bias Correction     Lens covered with lens cap plus a dark hood to ensure light is excluded Take several photos (>25) at shortest exposure time allowed for camera at same temperature as normal light exposure Combine photos into master bias frame (Imagesplus3) Subtract master bias from light frame .

Noise: Cosmic ray hits    Sensor randomly hit with cosmic rays through out exposure Creates “Hot pixels” Removed with software .

dirt and dust on the optics and distortions due to the optics Light frames are also corrected for sky fog (light pollution gradients) Use software (Imagesplus 3) to correct light frames .Signal: Light Frame Corrections    In addition to correcting for dark noise. light frames are also corrected for the shape of light generated by the optics.

Evaluate Photo: Histogram     Histogram is a plot of the number of pixels at brightness intervals Dark pixels on left Light pixels on right Mid-tone in center .

Andover.Evaluate Photo: Color Balance   Digital Photo made from combination of red. ISO 800 and white balance = sunny day Not balanc ed – red bias . Raw Orion. green and blue channels Nikon D60. 180 sec.

180 sec. green and blue channels overlap in histogram) Color balance corrected (levels corrected) Nikon D60. Orion.Evaluate Photo: Color Balance Cont   Correct photo for balanced color (red. Andover. ISO 800 and white balance = sunny day .

Evaluate Photo: Vignetting   Can be caused by actual blockages of the light from the corner and edges of the sensor chip by adapters and focusers that are too small. Tree branch Vignetting: Darking in corners . It can also be present for geometrical reasons due to the optics of the imaging system.

Evaluate Photo: Optical Distorsions Stars at center of photo (100%) Stars at left corner (100%) .

Evaluate Photo: Flat Frames & Gradient   Sky fog: Light Pollution Gradient Left to right gradient Darker area Lighter area .

rcastro.Evaluate Photo: Gradient Removed •Gradient Partially removed with GradientXTerminator:http://www.com/resources/GradientXTerminator •Photoshop plugin ($50) .

Evaluate Photo: Flat Frame Example •Uneven illumination •Dark spot are dust on sensor glass .

0. full open F/4. ISO 100.Evaluate Photo: Flat Frame   Actual Flat frame from Nikon D60 Used home made light box for “uniform” white light source  Problem red. green and blue channels not balanced same as normal light frame photo 3 sec exposure. ambient temperature and same focal length as normal light photo  .

Black & White Nikon D60 Flat Frame .

Flat Frame Correction with DeBayer and White Balance   Correcting DSLR photos with DeBayer layers and white balance differences in flat frames is done with software designed for this purpose Raw images are converted to Bayer basic raw data  No white balance  Without applied scale  Used for read noise and gain calculations  Used for precise dark. flat and bias calibration .

Software for DSLR Cameras   I use Images Plus 3 Use for camera control during photo session  Keeps current with new cameras  Each camera model has different built in software  Each camera has different sensor/DeBayer Layer  Use for processing normal light sub frame exposures  Dark. Bias and Flat correction  Align and stack images .

Cassiopeia: Raw image to Final Image .

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