Flame Nebula

Discussion in 'Astro Photography' started by JimFox, Jan 23, 2020.

  1. JimFox

    JimFox Moderator
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    This is the Flame Nebula and the Horsehead Nebula.

    I am just starting out with this Deep Space Astrophotography. This was my 2nd time out, both times I went to Joshua Tree NP to have lower light pollution and I could set up with the whole sky basically open to me to take photos of.

    The 1st time out was merely learning out to set up the SkyGuider Pro tracker along with my Nikon D850 and the Tamron 150-600mm lens. It was about 8 hours of taking it step by step, not knowing what I didn't know until I didn't know something... :) I wasn't expecting to get anything worth processing, and that was the case, but at the end of the night I felt good about where I was at.

    So I went back out 2 nights ago with clear skies on the forecast. The first night I had focused on the Flame Nebula and Orion Nebula. I was looking to shoot something different this next time. But my inexperience with both finding these objects in the sky (even with apps designed to help) and my inexperience in knowing what I should be seeing when I do take a photograph. Many of these objects seem to be very dim, and almost not seen in the photograph until you get back to process them and stack 60 photos and then the details start to emerge. But, being inexperienced and not knowing what to expect after an hour or two of trying to find the Andromeda Galaxy and the Rosette Nebula, I went back to make sure I could still see the Flame Nebula.

    One huge difference from my first night to this second night was the moon. The first time I had a full moon and was doing 60 sec tracked photos at ISO 1000. This time I was doing 120 sec tracking at ISO 6400 and was probably still underexposed a bit. So the moon made a huge difference, which of course I had no clue about. There seems to be like a zillion details like that which the Tutorials don't cover, and you only learn the hard way. :rolleyes:

    Anyway... enough excuses... :confused:

    Well, wait... one more. I was really happy to see that with that 600mm lens I was able to track for 2 minutes. There are some stars, mainly to the top that have smaller stars right next them. Not sure why that is. It almost makes them look like they were moving, but they weren't. Not sure if that was the lens, or maybe some moisture as I did have a 2 hour break during the night when light clouds rolled in and obscured the sky.

    Details:
    Stacked in DeepSkyStacker
    29 photos at 2 mins
    12 Bias photos
    12 Black Frames
    13 Flat Frames

    All comments are welcome,

    Jim

    Full 600mm
    HorseHead Nebula_20200121_dw.jpg

    Cropped a bit
    HorseHead Nebula_20200121_Crop_dw.jpg
     
  2. Ben Egbert

    Ben Egbert Forum Helper
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    Kudus for doing this Jim, Something I always wanted to try a few years ago until I realized I am just not a night owl. This looks really neat for your first real go at it. I will let the experts here say more.
     
  3. Amy Nelson

    Amy Nelson Supporting Member

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    Your vigilance paid off, it looks great...but this is coming from someone that knows nothing about this type of photography. I'm really surprised at the low level of noise. I would have expected much more, is this reduced due to the multiple image exposure? It's just amazing what the camera picks up that our eyes don't. Thanks for sharing.
     
  4. pepper

    pepper Well-Known Member

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    nicely done! i love the clarity that you captured.
     
  5. AlanLichty

    AlanLichty Moderator

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    Fascinating to hear your learning experience as you continued the journey. Cool result but as with above this is coming from someone with zero experience using trackers for astrophotography.
     
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  6. Brian

    Brian Well-Known Member

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    Those are really cool. A tracker is SO tempting right now.
     
  7. JimFox

    JimFox Moderator
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    Thanks so much Ben! It definitely chews up the night. On this particular night I was shooting the Deep Space until 3am, packed up and drove to another spot in Joshua Tree where I could shoot the last of the stars with my 14mm. So I took a 45 min nap before getting up and shooting wide angle stars and then shooting the sunset. I will admit I did find myself falling asleep at my desk while processing about 11pm last night... :oops:
     
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  8. JimFox

    JimFox Moderator
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    Thanks so much Amy! I was also surprised how all of the noise disappeared. For processing the multiple photos, in this case 20 photos, there is a program called DeepSkyStacker that aligns and stacks all of the photos. It appears to use the Mean method of noise reduction like is outlines in a couple of Tutorials here, it’s just it doesn’t need Photoshop to do it.
     
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  9. Mike Lewis

    Mike Lewis Staff Member
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    So coming from someone who has done all together too much of this type of photography :)) ) - this is truly an excellent result for your 2nd time out! Suffice to say my 2nd effort did NOT come out looking this good. In particular, achieving round stars in 2 minute exposures at 600mm with the small tracker you have and a lens of that size is really at the top end of what I would ever expect to be able to do. Your polar alignment must have been pretty good, and the tripod you are using must be quite stable. As I said when we talked, if you can routinely achieve that level of tracking accuracy there are a fair number of fun targets that are within your reach.

    There is of course a fair amount of time involved, and you can spend even more on the post processing end of things. But while I am way out on one end of the spending scale, it is fun to see what can be done with modest gear and free post processing software. As Amy so appropriately said above, it really is amazing to see what the sensor can integrate that our eyes cannot see. Solid state detectors absolutely revolutionized astrophotography when they replaced film, and the ability to stack exposures and subtract noise really give amazing results that were unheard of by amateurs in the film days.

    To paraphrase what you wrote in comments to my recent wildlife post, I am looking forward to more astro photos!

    ML
     
  10. Nilo Photography

    Nilo Photography Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely amazing!
     
  11. JimFox

    JimFox Moderator
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    Thanks Pepper!
     
  12. JimFox

    JimFox Moderator
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    Thanks Alan! I am glad you liked this. Up until 2 weeks ago I had no experience with trackers either, so I am barely ahead of you on the learning curve. :)
     
  13. Jameel Hyder

    Jameel Hyder Well-Known Member
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    As others have noted, this is a great result for a second try. I had, a few years ago, tried my hand at this and wasn't as successful. Given the weather in the PNW, the opportunities to do astro work anywhere close isn't that great. Had invested in a astrotrac which I have since sold.
     
  14. Alisa

    Alisa Well-Known Member

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    This is great Jim! Like Ben I am not a nigh owl or well I do need more than 45 minutes of sleep! :D
     
  15. JimFox

    JimFox Moderator
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    Thank you Jameel. Yeah, I would think the PNW would not be a great place for doing Deep Space Astro photography.
     
  16. Colorado CJ

    Colorado CJ Well-Known Member

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    Looks good! Your camera seems to pick up H-Alpha nicely, which is a big bonus.
     
  17. Douglas Sherman

    Douglas Sherman Supporting Member

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    Although I will never do astrophotography (I’m too damn old for those all nighters) I at least can enjoy it vicariously through you and Andrew. It is fun watching you grow, Jim. I can imagine how good you will get, knowing your dedication.
     

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