Day 348 (13 Dec 2012) Star Trails, or Lessons Learned

So the night of the 13th ended up having an amazing meteor shower!  I saw lots and lots, from really bright to dim in the two hours I was out watching.  Prior to going out I planned my shoot to a T, I thought: I found an image stacker designed to make star trails from individual images (the best way to make them w/o lots of noise or being affected as much by light pollution), had my camera settings set, used a dark sky site to find the darkest area around here, located several candidate sites, make a thermos of hot coco, dressed in LOTs of layers (it was 24F / -4C), put toe warmers in my boots, packed a sleeping bag to wrap in if needed, loaded all my camera gear (inc. the wired remote) and headed out.

First lesson learned: remember to pack my camp chair!  I wasn’t going to foul up my sleeping bag on the rocks/dirt.  Second: don’t forget to put the extra hand warmer on my lens.  I brought an extra for that reason to keep it from icing.  I forgot till too late.  Third: it appears most meteors are visible around the horizon (I didn’t catch any in an hour, yet saw dozens).  I pointed at the Gemini constellation, as thats where I read most would start from, which was almost straight up.  Also, pointing up more exposes your front lens element to space more, which will cause it to cool to colder than the air and get ice/condensation faster (leave a comment if you want the science behind this, and I’ll explain)  Fourth: a scraggly tree does not provide a good foreground subject against streaks of light.  Fifth: don’t knock over your glass-lined thermos on the rocks, because the glass inside will break 😦  Sixth, and maybe most important: DO NOT stop the camera sequence, unless you want to start completely over.  Notice the gaps in the trails?  Those each are from a 30ish second gap in shooting.  I had do delete one image because a car drove by and illuminated the tree.  Pulling out the aircraft light images make it look a lot worse due to a lot more gaps.

So, I count this expedition a success!  Yes, my image isn’t what I hoped for, but the next one will have some more knowledge to do this better 🙂  Like not setting up near a road, being more careful w/ my thermos, setting up the camera pointing in a better position and leaving it alone!

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The software I used for this is StarStax.  Click on the link to get it!

Day 324 (19 Nov 2012) Meteor over Avery Point Lighthouse

A couple weekends ago I was talking with my friend Shannon from SeeingSpotsPhoto about her lighthouse project, and that inspired me to shoot the Avery Point Lighthouse in Groton, CT tonight.  The moon was just under 1/2 and I wanted to try my new-to-me 75-300 mm zoom to try and make the moon larger over the lighthouse.  However, the moon was not in the right place (I would have has to be swimming to get the angle I wanted, lol).  However, the constellation Orion was in the perfect location to shoot with the light house.  I tried several perspectives, trying to keep the shutter speed at 25 seconds or less to minimize star trails while having a sufficient exposure.  And during one exposure a meteor blazed almost directly over the top of the light house, and IN THE FRAME!!!  It’s intensity changed as it flared in and out before dying.  It was one of the most spectacular meteors I’ve seen, and I got it on the image!!!!  I was (still am) so excited I texted Shannon and some other photog friends right away (past 10pm, lol).  So, here it is for you to see, as well 🙂

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18 mm, 25 sec, f/3.5, ISO 100 (Avery Point Lighthouse Meteor)

This is one image, no layering, not combining, just some minor tweaks in Lightroom.  A bucket list shot, if I do say so myself 🙂

Day 225 (12 Aug 2012) Perseid Meteor Shower

Seems I’m running a day late!  Well, I did send the last hour of yesterday with my shutter open (and the first hour of today waiting for the image), so I hope you like the result!

Since the sky was clear and the Perseid meteor shower in progress, I set up my tripod in my drive way, triggered the shutter, took a nap, and hoped for the best.  Well, actually I did spend about 10-15 min on my deck and saw two meteors.  However, in an hour, my camera only caught one (maybe North isn’t the best direction?).  My lens fogged up at some point, so you can see the it in the way the star trails change over time, but It’s still a good image.  Can you spot the one meteor streak?

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18 mm, 61 min, f/4.5, ISO 100 (Perseid Meteor Shower)

It crosses the bottom left corner 🙂