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Anatomy of a Nightscape, Episode I: In the River at Midnight

In previous posts, I’ve described at length many of the techniques I use to shoot nightscapes. In this tutorial series, I’d like to keep things much shorter and pick apart some of my photos with minimal step-by-step instructions. The shot we’ll be going over this time was taken on the Santa Barbara River in New Mexico.

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How to do Exposure Compositing in GIMP

One of the more challenging aspects of nightscape photography is getting the foreground to appear as striking as the background stars in the image. While it’s possible to shoot both in the same exposure, I’ve found it easier to shoot them with separate exposures and merge them in post. In this article, I share my process for exposure compositing.

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iOptron SkyTracker Review

DSLR astrophotographers must strike a delicate balance between ISO sensitivity, aperture, focal length, and exposure time every time they take a shot. The greatest single factor influencing all of these variables is the rotation of the earth. The iOptron SkyTracker attempts to relax these variables by cancelling out Earth’s rotation. Is it worth the price?

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How to Expose the Foreground in a Nightscape

In past tutorials, we’ve discussed planning imaging sessions, taking into account the weather and positioning of celestial objects. We’ve talked about how to properly expose the sky while avoiding star trailing. What we haven’t talked about yet is the other half of a nightscape; the foreground. In this tutorial, I share six techniques I’ve learned over the last couple of years that you can use to ensure your foregrounds compliment the starry skies in your images.

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Look Mom, No Forks! My Adventures Deforking a NexStar 11 GPS

About 18 months ago, I was graciously given a telescope by a member of my town’s local astronomy club: a Celestron NexStar 11 GPS. I could hardly contain my excitement! This scope would give me the ability to see things I couldn’t with my smaller refractors. It also presented me with a new challenge; getting it to work for long-exposure, deep sky objects. Here’s how things have turned out so far. Continue reading Look Mom, No Forks! My Adventures Deforking a NexStar 11 GPS

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What can you do with a $40 lens?

I love the challenge of pushing hardware to its limits. I did it professionally as a software engineer for over a decade, and now I do it for fun with my cameras. So when I found an already-cheap 50mm prime lens for $40 on Craigslist, I jumped on it. But can such a cheap lens produce good astro-photos?

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Shooting the Stars from a Plane: Part 1

Shooting the stars usually requires a high degree of precision. You need a good understanding of how your camera behaves and a rock-solid tripod, so intuitively, it seems impossible to do from a passenger jet. But late-night flights aren’t exactly known for their entertainment value, so I tried it for myself, and here’s what I found.

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How To Plan An Imaging Session

Capturing our place among the stars in a photograph can be one of the most rewarding experiences for any astrophotographer. It can also be one of the most frustrating if you don’t put some thought into it ahead of time. Here are a few things you can do to minimize frustration and get the most out of your imaging sessions. Continue reading How To Plan An Imaging Session

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Trying New Things With an Old Lens

… It was 6:15AM, and still dark enough to go back to bed. At this point, I realized I wasn’t cold even after standing in the dark for almost 2 hours. My dashboard thermometer showed 57 degrees, and only the slightest breeze was blowing. I’ve had some great nights out, but this one was exceptional …

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