Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Imaging vs observing... the slow transformation

  • Please log in to reply
27 replies to this topic

#1 kbastro

kbastro

    Apollo

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,259
  • Joined: 20 Apr 2008
  • Loc: Running from Clouds

Posted 23 January 2020 - 03:15 AM

Over the history of me being involved with this hobby,, I started out as a wide eyed observer,,, 20 years later I found myself doing more imaging than observing,,, I kind of got hooked into imaging when I was looking at an object with the 25" dob and I imaged the same object with a 5" apo and was able to see greater detail & fainter stars with the apo than I was ever able to see visually.

 

 After a while I realized it's NOT about beating an imaging device,, its more about challenging yourself & thrill of "the hunt" for the elusive Abell Planentaries etc... while I treat my imaging as a work of art,, perfecting the techniques to achieve perfection,,,,

 

anyone else wanna weigh in on this?

 

kb

 


  • Ptarmigan, Stargazer3236, Stephen Kennedy and 1 other like this

#2 TOMDEY

TOMDEY

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,722
  • Joined: 10 Feb 2014
  • Loc: Springwater, NY

Posted 23 January 2020 - 07:39 AM

Yeah... they're both good and complimentary. I've concentrated on one or the other and am currently doing >>> Night Vision! Which is most certainly the other cornerstone of the avocational astronomer's toolkit. For some reason, only EAA/Night Vision enhanced image-capture and viewing are still relegated to the back corner of the room as somehow "cheating". Indeed, many/most of the traditional imaging folks refuse to even acknowledge EAA as legitimate. I guess they will eventually come around, kinda like the Kodak Film guys rejected CCDs as irrelevant... until Kodak Chemists were driven out of the market by the CCD guys. Believe me, I know... worked at Kodak for a couple of decades!

 

Just last night, I strolled out on the back deck for five minutes, and viewed the Horsehead and myriad other nebulae with my 3x hand-held Night Vision binos! If this is cheating... I'll take more of it!   Tom


  • Ptarmigan, Phil Cowell and starbuckin like this

#3 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 81,908
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 23 January 2020 - 08:17 AM

This is a hobby. It's supposed to be fun. There are no rules so there's no way to cheat.

 

For me, what's important is the reality of the experience. If I spend the evening imaging, it's a very different sort of evening than if I spend it observing visually. 

 

There's a certain special experience that drives us, something almost magical that thrills us. What that magic is something deep inside, different for different people.

 

It's not something to argue about, it's something to discuss and appreciate.

 

Jon


  • Dave Mitsky, desertstars, Asbytec and 7 others like this

#4 desertstars

desertstars

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 44,999
  • Joined: 05 Nov 2003
  • Loc: Tucson, AZ

Posted 23 January 2020 - 08:27 AM

 

For me, what's important is the reality of the experience.

Sums up the feeling that keeps me coming back to the eyepiece after so many years. To date I have no inclination to give imaging a try, and I don't see that changing any time soon. Nothing against imaging, I just don't feel motivated to embrace the time and expense involved when sketching at the eyepiece provides what satisfies me. It's all so real.

 

But I never say never. I have a terrible track record when it comes to predicting even my own future. Fifteen years ago, when I acquired the Three-legged Newt, I blew off the notion of bothering with goto. And now there's a Celestron AVX under the tube. Funny how that worked out. wink.gif


  • bumm, jf-red and SeaBee1 like this

#5 Sketcher

Sketcher

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,207
  • Joined: 29 Jun 2017
  • Loc: Under Earth's Sky

Posted 23 January 2020 - 09:25 AM

What can equipment do.  vs.  What can eye do.


  • Jon Isaacs and Asbytec like this

#6 bikerdib

bikerdib

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 775
  • Joined: 30 Apr 2014
  • Loc: Southeast Texas

Posted 23 January 2020 - 09:40 AM

As you can see from my equipment list I have a range of different scopes but no giants.  When I started, I only had the little 60mm and I used that for many, many years (and still do on occasion when I want a quick glimpse of the moon or open cluster).  For me, it has always been about the challenge, the hunt.  I remember the first time I found and observed a deep space object with the little scope, M31.  Man, the feeling  of awe, of accomplishment, of surprise even that I could see it with my little scope.

 

A few years ago, I got into Real Time Imaging but it is only as a supplement to visual.  If I want to see pictures on a screen, there are plenty available online.  Like you, I did it to see the color and more detail than can be done with the human eye.

 

To me, using a computer or film camera to collect light will never replace the satisfaction of using my eye to gather and stop the photons that have traveled so far and for such a long time to bring the beauty to me live.


  • jf-red likes this

#7 Michael Covington

Michael Covington

    Author

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 5,661
  • Joined: 13 May 2014
  • Loc: Athens, Georgia, USA

Posted 23 January 2020 - 10:01 AM

Be sure to observe your images.  You might find a variable star, variable nebula, comet, or something.


  • Jon Isaacs, DHEB, Stephen Kennedy and 1 other like this

#8 InkDark

InkDark

    Mercury-Atlas

  • -----
  • Posts: 2,614
  • Joined: 29 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Province of Quebec, Canada

Posted 23 January 2020 - 10:39 AM

 its more about challenging yourself & thrill of "the hunt" 

I don't do AP, but I understand the reward and appreciate the work of others.

 

I hunt by pushing the tube and looking through the finder and EP. It's diferrent, but it's still exploring.


  • bumm likes this

#9 George N

George N

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,651
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 23 January 2020 - 12:29 PM

…..

 

anyone else wanna weigh in on this?

 

kb

I remember reading an article a few years back in one of the Brit Astro magazines. The author was describing moving to a new city and joining the astronomy club there. At the first meeting he found a group in one corner of the large cafeteria-like meeting space - and found guys talking about Dobs, eyepieces, etc. He noticed another group - in its own corner - completely detached. He asked "Who are those people?" The answer -- "Oh, those are the imagers!"  lol.gif 


  • bumm likes this

#10 George N

George N

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,651
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 23 January 2020 - 01:04 PM

As others have said -- do what ever you like! it's all a lot of fun.

 

Personally - I have been doing both since I started visual observing 'seriously' in 1962 with an Edmund 4.25" Newt -- and also took my first astro-photos of the moon and some bright deep sky - using a 35mm camera and Tri-X. Ever since, I find that while my interest may swing from one to the other, I always do a little of both. The result is I've never become 'expert' at any of it.  ;)

 

I sometimes do both at the same time -- for example I might have a DSLR/tel-lens on my iOptron SkyGuider tracking mount - 'clicking away' using a camera controller - while I'm some feet away with my 20x80 binoculars on my parallelogram mount, star-hopping thru the Milky Way. When at a dark-sky site like Cherry Springs I might be visual observing with my 20-inch Dob while having the DSLR on a tripod or tracker doing wide-field "Milky Way movies" -- or I might have my 5-inch APO and CCD camera on my Losmandy mount doing imaging -- while also observing with binoculars -- or a friend's telescope. In 2017 & 2018 I regularly connected up with a 36" F/4 Dob owner while imaging - we observed thru his Dob while I imaged -- and looked at my pictures during the daytime while sitting in the shadow of the 36-inch. Alas, he seems to have 'disappeared' somewhere. I'm also lucky enough to use the scopes at Kopernik Observatory & Sky Center, Vestal, NY (SQM = 21.0) - which has an OGS 20" RC with FLI ProLine CCD attached, a C-14 EdgeHD, and an Astro Physics 6" F/12 triplet - all in close domes. 20 minutes set-up time before dark is enough to get two of the domes open - one for imaging, the other for visual -- or I can go out in the parking lot with the coyotes and bears for some star gazing at the Milky Way.

 

The only thing I've not done much of is 'electronic eyepiece' observing -- but I have looked thru Al Nagler's rig - both on a TV-76 refractor and the 36-inch Dob -- nice views, but it's not for me. However, I'm glad the tech is there for those who like it. If I find myself stuck under a lot of light pollution I might revise my thinking!  cool.gif 



#11 InkDark

InkDark

    Mercury-Atlas

  • -----
  • Posts: 2,614
  • Joined: 29 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Province of Quebec, Canada

Posted 23 January 2020 - 03:31 PM

This is old news, but even though I'm not an imager, this must be one of the most rewarding find/observation an amateur can make:

 

https://www.skyandte...as-first-light/


  • Dave Mitsky and hiMike like this

#12 Spider

Spider

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 5
  • Joined: 12 Jul 2010
  • Loc: SNJ

Posted 23 January 2020 - 03:45 PM

Imaging is observing. 

Observation does not describe the "how" but the "what". Visual observation can be done with or without tools, still in the case of astronomy, it's only light what get's sensed and processed.

 

/Spider


  • desertstars and George N like this

#13 kbastro

kbastro

    Apollo

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,259
  • Joined: 20 Apr 2008
  • Loc: Running from Clouds

Posted 23 January 2020 - 04:09 PM

I was also thinking along the lines that as we age our eyes become less sensitive,, where as imaging devices are always improving and are becoming more sensitive. At what point do we just accept what we see is what we see is what we live with?

 

I chose to go digital to enhance my viewing and help me see things that I can never see visually (aka abell planetaries)

 

kb


  • Phil Cowell and Stephen Kennedy like this

#14 wtd1114

wtd1114

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 127
  • Joined: 07 Jan 2017

Posted 23 January 2020 - 08:36 PM

I've done visual observation. I've done cameras.  I've done EAA.  I've done night vision (NVD) and a combination of some of them together.  It's all about seeing things you would normally not be able to see and marvel at the sight.  I could look up at the sky and see the moon or stars.  But with a telescope I can see things I couldn't with my naked eyes.  If I put a camera on the telescope, I can reach deeper and see other things.  I can record the things I cannot see.    There is a deep sense of accomplishment and awe when you are able to locate and see a target whether it is with your eyes, screen or on paper.  You can look at a Hubble image of a target, but when you see a fuzzy, grey image of the same target with your telescope- there is nothing like that feeling.  So whatever brings you joy, awe and wonder, use it.


  • kbastro, Stephen Kennedy and starbuckin like this

#15 jgraham

jgraham

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 20,547
  • Joined: 02 Dec 2004
  • Loc: Miami Valley Astronomical Society

Posted 23 January 2020 - 09:11 PM

My journey in imaging began in 1968, the same year that I built my first telescope. To this day for me imaging serves as a wonderful extension of observing. The two activities are not separate, but intimately overlap each enhancing the other. As a telescope maker I spent 30 years making larger and larger scopes to see what I could see, and building better cameras to help make the invisible, visible. The immediate feedback that I get from modern imaging firmly merged these two activities. Having access to my own unprocessed source images has shown me what objects really look like before they are processed beyond all recognition, showing me exactly where to look and what to look for, forever removing the frustration of the limits of what I can see from the comfort of my backyard while at the same time producing stunning processed images that I can enjoy and easily share with others.

What a wonderful hobby! 58 years on and still going strong! :)
  • George N, kbastro, Stephen Kennedy and 1 other like this

#16 tommm

tommm

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 622
  • Joined: 16 Dec 2015

Posted 24 January 2020 - 11:23 AM

...I chose to go digital to enhance my viewing and help me see things that I can never see visually (aka abell planetaries)

 

kb

Well, you could do that by looking at images online without ever buying a telescope, so must be more to it than that.



#17 jgraham

jgraham

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 20,547
  • Joined: 02 Dec 2004
  • Loc: Miami Valley Astronomical Society

Posted 24 January 2020 - 12:41 PM

Oh no, that doesn't work. As an example Google images of M27. You won't get any images of M27, you'll get thousands of examples of what other imagers processed their images of M27 to look like, some with the most imaginative color schemes. :)

 

When you take your own images it is a wonderful and enlightening experience to see the source data before it is processed beyond all recognition. For me imaging proceeds in 3 distinct steps. First, I acquire, stack, and calibrate my source images. This unprocessed source image actually looks a _lot_ like what I'll see through the telescope, maybe a bit brighter but will all of the light pollution and low contrast that I get at the eyepiece. If I'm imaging from a dark sight I get exactly the same experience, just minus the light pollution scrum. Second, I'll go easy on the processing to remove the light pollution giving an image that looks a lot like I would see from a dark site. Both of these images make the best darned finder charts ever! They show me exactly where to look at what to look for. Finally, I'll push the edge of processing to pull as much out of the data as I can. This lets me put all of the available data in context, although in reality these objects _never_ look this was. Biologically, our vision just doesn't work that way.

 

Interestingly, one thing that imaging has taught me is that no image, even those taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, can capture the subtle beauty of the real thing. These images can be truly beautiful in their own way and I love processing my images to pull up faint details and colors that I will never see, but I have learned to appreciate and dearly love that the beauty of the real thing is in its subtlety, not brash eye-burning colors and impossible contrast. However, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

 

To each their own path. There is no One True Way.

 

Enjoy!


  • Mike Spooner, coinboy1 and jf-red like this

#18 Asbytec

Asbytec

    Guy in a furry hat

  • *****
  • Posts: 16,405
  • Joined: 08 Aug 2007
  • Loc: Pampanga, PI

Posted 26 January 2020 - 08:20 AM

After a while I realized it's NOT about beating an imaging device,, its more about challenging yourself & thrill of "the hunt" for the elusive Abell Planentaries etc...

kb

waytogo.gif

Imaging has it's rewards, so does a successful visual hunt. Both require our attention and some effort. I never worry about what I cannot see, I am pleased as punch when I do see something. Because I earned it.

Edit: As I understand the telescopic image, the object is there in all of its glory. The proof seems to be we can image what the scope is delivering. The trick to visual seems to be seeing as much of that glorious image as is humanly possible. Therein lay the personal challenge and possibilities of seeing distant and dim things as they appear to us.

Edited by Asbytec, 26 January 2020 - 08:48 AM.

  • Jon Isaacs, jf-red and JuergenB like this

#19 Stargazer3236

Stargazer3236

    Soyuz

  • ****-
  • Posts: 3,979
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2010
  • Loc: Waltham, MA

Posted 26 January 2020 - 07:23 PM

Precisely why I went into imaging. I could see more detail and retain a picture of what I observed/imaged for future posterity. Although the initial outlay for equipment was a lot, I slowly built up my imaging cred with practice. I now have three cameras: Neximage 5, ASI178MM and an ASI294MC. I will be getting the ASI533MC cooled shortly.


  • kbastro likes this

#20 SonnyE

SonnyE

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,388
  • Joined: 01 Nov 2015
  • Loc: Cali for ni a

Posted 27 January 2020 - 12:23 AM

I came into Astrophotography as a means to broaden my Photography hobby.

After all, imaging the night skies is a lot like Macro photography, taken with long exposures.

 

I blame finding The Great Orion Nebula one night with my 20-60X Redfield spotting scope. What a thrill that was!

I sent me on a 1 month justifying, and 4 months of learning how to capture Nebula images. Then I pulled the trigger, a bunch of equipment arrived, and I began learning in earnest.

But, I think the reason I enjoy the imaging is because I can watch the picture build. My first Astro camera was a veritable POC. But trying to make it work forced me to work twice as hard.

When a friend volunteered his Atik Infinity to me, I saw instant success due to having to learned so much to get any sort of image at all from my first camera. I bought that camera from him and still use it.

 

But the human eye cannot build the light image the way a camera sensor can. So they are two different means of observing.


  • Phil Cowell likes this

#21 Astro-Master

Astro-Master

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 738
  • Joined: 09 May 2016
  • Loc: San Diego County,Ca.

Posted 27 January 2020 - 02:34 AM

I've been observing the night sky with bino's, and telescopes for 60 years.  I always enjoyed looking at images of celestial objects, but liked the thrill of the hunt better.

 

Sometimes I like to sweep the Milky Way from a dark site with my 9x63 binoculars.  You see wide angle vistas not possible with a telescope, and a photo just lacks the sparkle of seeing thousands of stars with your eyes.

 

Its fun to put a low power eyepiece in the 18" Dob. and just sweep back and forth across the Milky Way, and discover hidden treasures in the star fields.

 

At high altitude Bortle 2 sites with excellent transparency, and good seeing bright galaxies show amazing detail in the 18" Dob, with Ethos eyepieces at 350x or more.  The ring nebula at 1000x on those rare nights of excellent seeing is something to behold, and globular clusters with a thousand points of light will take your breath away.  This is what keeps me coming back for more.

 

Photo's are great to look at during the day, but I'll always prefer the majesty of the starry sky from a dark site.


  • Jon Isaacs and Ptarmigan like this

#22 Stargazer3236

Stargazer3236

    Soyuz

  • ****-
  • Posts: 3,979
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2010
  • Loc: Waltham, MA

Posted 27 January 2020 - 09:57 AM

I built most of my astronomy life on observing and finding objects by way of the Tirion Field Atlas and the Uranometria books. For 40 years, I employed the use of my push to dobs and star charts. I learned where ALL the constellations were and where  a good 80% of the brightest DSO's where located. I even hunted down 42 of the 82 Abell planetaries by visual observing alone and using various EP's and OIII filters. I was the first in my astronomy club (out of 360 members) to see the Horsehead in a 13" dob with the H-beta filter.Then in the early 2000's, I bought my first Goto scope and haven't looked back. I still use my Sky Safari app to find all those faint fuzzies and use the info to input designations and even RA/DEC coordinates into my hand controller. I went into imaging about 4 years ago with my first camera, a Neximage 5, for imaging the planets in iCap 2.3 and Firecapture. I then bought my first real DSO camera, the venerable ASI224MC. I learned how to take images with SharpCap and eventually learned how to post process my images with info I gleaned from these forums. I am now on my 6th camera (I have three now) and will soon be buying a new cooled camera.

 

I like the way the image builds up while stacking and seeing detail you cannot see by eyesight alone. Even without post processing, I still see more detail by image capture than I could by my eyes alone! Now with the advent of increased light pollution and worsening sky conditions, it is far better to use a camera than your eyes at the eyepiece. I always do afocal imaging and never through an eyepiece. But as new tech comes along, I find it hard to keep up. with my SS disability and a part time job, I cannot afford too many hobbies.



#23 Asbytec

Asbytec

    Guy in a furry hat

  • *****
  • Posts: 16,405
  • Joined: 08 Aug 2007
  • Loc: Pampanga, PI

Posted 27 January 2020 - 07:57 PM

In my view, and we all have different views, the fun and challenge of visually observing dim distant celestial objects is trying to see the glory of what can be digitally imaged. I know I will never get there, but it's an exciting and very a personal pursuit to try doing so. The result is an image of what the object looks like to me. It may be similar to someone else's view, it is the same object after all, but my view is uniquely my own. I'm into the very personal aspect of seeing such things and the reward that comes from it. Not unlike the reward of a fine digital image. 

 

I used to image back in the 90's, and I am astonished by the work imagers are doing these days. Imaging has come such a long way since I had my brush with imaging. I just got tired of the long set up and tear down times, cables and wires, waiting for the image, and achieving less than stellar results after hours of processing. In other words, I was just no good at it. So, I "transformed" back to visual and worked on being better at that. "A man's gotta know his limitations". My limitation is digital imaging, while I am still trying to find my limitations visually. 


Edited by Asbytec, 27 January 2020 - 08:06 PM.


#24 Jeffmar

Jeffmar

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 841
  • Joined: 18 Mar 2012
  • Loc: salt lake city, utah

Posted 29 January 2020 - 12:40 PM

I do imaging and visual. Twenty years ago when I got back into astronomy I spent 95% of my time with an eyepiece. I tried some astro imaging and quickly found out how complicated it could be. Some people love the challenge. I just thought it was an annoying and unfulfilling process. Over the years I started getting a few nice images, now and then. Behavioralists call that intermittent reinforcement, which can induce us to spend all our money in slot machines, look for true love at bars, and other foolish things. I suppose spending all my money on boutique mounts, high priced cameras, and apochromatic telescopes is better than the slot machines. At least I will have something to show for my addiction. 

 

I still find astrophotography to be frustrating at times but that occasional reward of a really nice astroimage seems to make it worthwhile. 

 

I do most of my visual astronomy at public star parties my local club sponsors. For me it is great to hang out with other telescope nerds and show visitors the wonders of the universe. I have watch a lot of people get excited over a good view of the moon, Jupiter, Saturn, star clusters and nebulae through my telescopes. It is just fun!


  • jf-red likes this

#25 Mike Spooner

Mike Spooner

    Vendor (mirrors)

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 695
  • Joined: 06 Aug 2010

Posted 29 January 2020 - 01:07 PM

Visual allows a moment of intimacy with the universe.

Imaging is the vacation photos.

 

 

What's not to like?

 

Mike Spooner


Edited by Mike Spooner, 29 January 2020 - 01:08 PM.

  • Jon Isaacs, Rick Runcie and Asbytec like this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics