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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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How to Avoid Star Trailing

In last week’s First-Timer’s Gear Guide, I mentioned that your camera can take hundreds of times longer to properly expose a scene at night than it might during the day time. It’s all too easy to open your shutter long enough that the stars in the scene will start to trail. In this article, I explain how to avoid star trailing when shooting from a fixed tripod.

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First-Timer’s Gear Guide

So you’ve decided you want to try your hand at shooting the stars. You go outside, whip out your smartphone, and take a couple shots. You’re left with a mostly-black screen, with a big bright blurry circle in it if the moon was anywhere in the frame. How in the world do you take half-decent pictures of the night sky, anyway?

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SkySafari 5 Pro Review

The Earth is constantly in motion, rotating once every 24 hours and taking a lap around the sun once a year. If you want to take great pictures of the night sky, it isn’t enough to know just what you want to shoot, but when. An astronomy simulation app can make planning your next successful imaging session much simpler. SkySafari 5 Pro is one such astronomy simulation app. Can it get the job done?

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Just Getting Started

When I was a kid, the internet was barely a thing. Even so, photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope were making quite the splash around the world. I remember the first time I saw Hubble imagery of the Pillars of Creation – bright stars and brilliant glowing gas clouds that put the best imagery from Star Trek to shame (not a huge ask in 1995, but still true today). I’m not sure if I decided then that I wanted to become a scientist and create photographs of nebulae and galaxies, but it definitely made an impression!

Twenty-some-odd years and BS/MS degrees in Computer Science later, I decided to jump head-first into the world of astrophotography. In a couple of short years, I’ve learned (and $pent!) more than I ever thought I would, and still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible.  I hope that by sharing my experiences, failures, and victories, others will be able enjoy exploring the cosmos as much as I have.  My plan for this blog site is to share ideas, art, and some home-brew software.  Stick around!

– The Photon Collector