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Sugestions/Thoughts/Criticisms for a beginner?

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#1 C&Hobbs

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 11:19 AM

Greetings all,
I have been a long time ‘researcher’ on this forum and have finally decided to create an account as I have hit somewhat of an intellectual wall. (It happens a lot when you are dumb 😊 ) The inundation of information has left me confused on how to proceed. As a conscientious (mostly for my wallet) inspiring beginner in astrophotography, I am trying to absorb the wealth of information provided here by all the generous patrons of similar passions. My intention is to gradually ease into the area of space/deep space photography building my equipment collection with experience. Starting simple, possibly expanding into the complex. I currently enjoy taking nightscapes with a regular CanonT6i and tripod; but like everyone here, I have always had an appreciation for the humbling expanse around us, so I have been inspired to capture more demanding space targets.

My priorities are having a very portable set-up that can be carried while hiking while still producing acceptable photos. My initial plan was to start with a tracking device (obviously) to work in conjunction with a regular unmodified dslr. Then gradually add a scope, additional guidance, CCD etc.; with the intention of staying very portable. (without computer/power supply) Also, I currently reside in a Bortle class 7/8 area. (St Louis Missouri)

Here is where I would like to solicit your opinions/expertise. For the tracker I think the ioptron SkyGuider Pro would be sufficient. (thoughts?) William Optics RedCat 51/Zenithstar 61 for the scope. (thoughts?)

Where I really get stuck is the light pollution filters and guiding equipment. Due to the convenience factor, I would ideally like to be able to photograph from my location; which would mean I need a light pollution filter. What filters would you suggest? I know it varies by location and what objects you are intending to shoot. What would be the suggestion for shooting galaxies? Nebulae? Milky Way? All the different options are daunting to a beginner, let alone the price is a barrier to the trial and error method of experimenting what works best. In the future, if I wanted improved tracking accuracy, would it be possible to use a guidance system in conjunction with the ioptron SkyGuider Pro without the requirement of a computer/software? Like the ZWO ASIair or something similar?

Apologies for the long post. I do want to say in advance, thank you to everyone who have provided priceless information on this site. It has been fun learning from everyone. Also, thanks in advance for any suggestions/thoughts/criticisms and taking the time to respond.
Regards,


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#2 jerahian

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 12:08 PM

Welcome to CN (finally)! :)

 

If you haven't already, check out Trevor's vids on AstroBackyard.  He is reviewing and detailing his experience with both the iOptron SkyGuider Pro and the RedCat.  Here is his latest video.

 

Also, with a little extra effort, you can get auto focus and a place to mount a guide scope if you check out Deep Sky Daddy's site here:  https://deepskydad.c...focuser2/redcat

 

Lastly, if you look through Trevor's vids, he has a few reviews of LP filters on there as well.

 

Personally, I don't do DSLR photography and mostly shoot with a ZWO ASI1600MM (mono) camera with LRGB and NB filters.  But, for my ASI294MC (color camera), I have the IDAS QRO LPS-D1 48mm filter as well as the STC Duo Narrowband filter (for Ha & OIII).

 

Good luck,

-Ara


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#3 2ghouls

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 01:05 PM

General

I think your plan sounds good. I started with a tracker and my existing DSLR and lenses. With a portable tracker-type device like the SkyGuider Pro, I wouldn't suggest jumping in to light pollution filters and autoguiding right away. They are complications that you may want later, but I would start by just getting the tracker, and learn how to polar align and get decent subexposures in the 1-3 minute range. I would also invest in either AstroPixelProcessor or PixInsight from the start. The difference between an ok and a great photo is often in the processing.

 

Specific

 



 I need a light pollution filter. What filters would you suggest? I know it varies by location and what objects you are intending to shoot. What would be the suggestion for shooting galaxies? Nebulae? Milky Way? 

 

Only emission nebulae are greatly enhanced by light pollution and narrowband filters. Since emission nebulae only emit light in very narrow bandpasses, it is fine to block most of the spectrum, and this will increase contrast by blocking light pollution sources. Reflection nebulae, star fields, milky way, and galaxies are all fairly broadband targets that will work better without these kinds of filters that block parts of the visible spectrum. That said, there are many awesome emission nebulae, but after you get past the brightest ones, you might need a better mount and/or guiding to capture them well.

 



My priorities are having a very portable set-up that can be carried while hiking while still producing acceptable photos. My initial plan was to start with a tracking device (obviously) to work in conjunction with a regular unmodified dslr. Then gradually add a scope, additional guidance, CCD etc.; with the intention of staying very portable. (without computer/power supply) 

The first part of your plan sounds good. Gradually adding those other things while staying 'very portable' will definitely be a challenge. I can't think of any dedicated CMOS/CCD that doesn't require some kind of computer to run (more below on this).

 



Would it be possible to use a guidance system in conjunction with the ioptron SkyGuider Pro without the requirement of a computer/software? Like the ZWO ASIair or something similar?

There are some standalone guiders that don't require a computer like the Lacerta MGEN, but they are usually very expensive. The ZWO ASIair actually is a small computer (a raspberry pi) that you can control from your phone through wi-fi. I don't have experience with it, so I am not sure how easy it would be to control the guiding and skyguider pro with it, but probably possible. Once you reach this level of complexity (guide scope, mini computer, external battery), I think it might be a stretch to hike with your kit.

 

 



William Optics RedCat 51/Zenithstar 61 for the scope. (thoughts?)

I have the Astro-tech equivalent (AT60ED to the Zenithstar 61, and I think it is a great little scope. If the RedCat 51 had been out, I would have probably gotten that instead. For learning astrophotography, shorter focal length is better. Neither will be very good on galaxies other than M31. Here is a photo I took with the AT60ED, a DSLR (Canon T3), and an iOptron SmartEQ (similar class mount to the Skyguider Pro):

get.jpg?insecure

 

Clear skies!


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#4 C&Hobbs

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 02:22 PM

Wow, thank you both for the information. I will check into those resources jerahian, thank you!

 

2ghouls, thank you for the positive feedback. I was starting to get lost in the proverbial weeds with all the different equipment, costs and abbreviations. I work in finance, and I thought those people loved their abbreviations, my goodness. lol.gif  It was starting to get a little overwhelming. As stated I wanted to start small, then work my way up through years of experience; however, I don't want to invest in equipment that would be rendered unnecessary, or at the least prohibitive of my future goals considering the potential costs. I'll obviously start with a tracker, but always thought I would need light pollution filters if I wanted to shoot from my location. I actually just read a previous post of yours on another thread about the processing/processing applications; I had no idea. That is a great suggestion. I will take your advice and run with it and see what develops. Mainly I will learn how to consistently polar align, and become more comfortable with the processing aspect.

 

"The first part of your plan sounds good. Gradually adding those other things while staying 'very portable' will definitely be a challenge."

-Yeah, that was more to see if it was even possible in generic contexts. That would be years down the road if I wanted to become more complex in my photography.

 

To me, this would be less about professional quality photos and more about getting out and enjoying nature. I say that now, but I can easily see how obtaining better and better quality photos could be addicting.

 

Just one more (ok maybe 2 more) question if I may. Could you recommend a (any) tutorials/lectures on processing astrophotography pictures (from high light polluted areas) for beginners? And I currently own Photoshop for my regular photography. Are there any additions for Photoshop that you would recommend for astrophotography processing? I assume that would be a comparatively less introductory expense than purchasing one of the programs listed above.     



#5 2ghouls

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 02:51 PM

Could you recommend a (any) tutorials/lectures on processing astrophotography pictures (from high light polluted areas) for beginners? And I currently own Photoshop for my regular photography. Are there any additions for Photoshop that you would recommend for astrophotography processing? I assume that would be a comparatively less introductory expense than purchasing one of the programs listed above.     

Sure. I have a video tutorial for beginners that goes through all the equipment, DSLR settings, acquisition, calibration frames, stacking with DeepSkyStacker, and basic post processing with Photoshop. Because that is a lot to cover, the video is fairly long (over 2 hours). Anyways here it is: https://youtu.be/Qb1ceFM-DkQ

 

Yes, you can definitely get started with Photoshop + free software.

If you are on Windows, I would highly recommend DeepSkyStacker which you use before moving to Photoshop. If you are on Mac or Linux, you can use Siril for calibration/stacking.

 

If the gradient reduction technique I show in the video doesn't work for you, there is a Photoshop plug-in called GradientXterminator that is highly regarded. Caveat: I've never used it since I use PixInsight for this kind of thing normally. http://www.rc-astro....entXTerminator/

 

I'll also just give the standard advice to read Charles Bracken's book The Deep Sky Imaging Primer to understand all this stuff at a deeper level.


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#6 C&Hobbs

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 03:06 PM

Thanks! I actually have downloaded DeepSkyStacker and have experimented with the application. Due to time constraints, I wasn't able to get anything worthwhile from my light-polluted shots; but I was able to become familiar with the stacking process of lights/darks. I suspect after watching your video, I will probably find how to bring out the night sky and lessen the light pollution in my pictures without the need for filters.

 

Much appreciated, off to watch your tutorial!



#7 lock042

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Posted 27 June 2019 - 12:24 PM

Siril works well on Windows ;).
Not only linux and macOS

#8 FDR

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Posted 28 June 2019 - 01:33 PM

Neither will be very good on galaxies other than M31. 

Not enough focal length, I'm guessing? Or is there something else to consider?



#9 2ghouls

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Posted 28 June 2019 - 01:39 PM

Not enough focal length, I'm guessing? 

Yep, that's it.




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