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Need help to get better Astro photos - not sure what to do next

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#1 Gschnettler

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Posted 03 July 2022 - 10:41 AM

I am very new right this hobby.  Here is a photo I took the other night of the Gamma Cygni Nebula.  I don’t think it’s very good.  It looks a lot different (and worse) than the photos I see on astrobin.

 

Modified Nikon d5300 with STC multi-spectral filter, ISO 400, Nikon 105 mm, f/2.8, star adventurer mount, 120 30 second photos, 25 darks, flats and bias frames.  Shot from within Cincinnati city limits. (at the Hyde Park Observatory).
 

I did stacking and stretching in APP.  I don’t really know what I’m doing so I just loaded the photos and used all default settings, then removed light pollution and stretched it.
 

I can try to capture it again tonight and want to try to do better.  What do think I should do to improve?  Capture more lights? Drive somewhere darker?  Try it without the light pollution filter?  Learn more about processing in APP?   I’m not sure what would give me the most improvement.  

 

 

6F3330DF-6244-4809-8A82-94189CDE9D69.jpeg


Edited by Gschnettler, 03 July 2022 - 10:42 AM.

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#2 Gschnettler

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Posted 03 July 2022 - 11:11 AM

It looks like this person got a much better photo using similar equipment to mine. He only captured for 44 minutes. What do you think I could do to get a result more like this?

https://www.astrobin...mma Cygni d5300

#3 matt_astro_tx

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Posted 03 July 2022 - 11:35 AM

I don’t think your flats are being applied correctly. You can tell from the vignetting around the edge of the frame. Or it could also be a light pollution problem.

Can you post a link to an unstretched, stacked image? Straight out of APP after stacking with no processing done.

#4 Tapio

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Posted 03 July 2022 - 11:35 AM

You still have light pollution left.

Going to a darker skies would be the best option.



#5 vidrazor

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Posted 03 July 2022 - 02:27 PM

I think it just comes down to post processing. You can't just throw a stack in an app and it miraculously spits out a finished result. The tools in APP to remove gradients, for instance, you said you applied them, did you see a difference? Did you apply proper color calibration? How are you stretching the data?

There's  lot of variables involved in processing any one image, and what works well for one image may not for another. I would spend some time going through APP tutorials to get up to speed with the app.


Edited by vidrazor, 03 July 2022 - 02:31 PM.


#6 Gschnettler

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Posted 03 July 2022 - 02:42 PM

Thanks for the help thus far.  The processing I did in APP was to stack, crop slightly, remove light pollution and calibrate star colors.  For stretching I used the APP 15% stretch from the drop-down.  I also tried to mess around in Gimp.  I watched several tutorials about various things and they helped somewhat but not that much. 

 

I copied a few of the files to the Cloud here.  Hopefully you will have access:

 

 

https://www.icloud.c..._-_Garys_Folder

 

  • DSC_1416 = 1 light frame

 

  • DSC_1485 = 1 dark frame

 

  • DSC_1560 = 1 flat frame

 

  • Gamma_Cygni_Nebula-RGB-session_1 = stacked with APP, but no modifications or stretching.

 

 

I also tried stacking in DSS, Nebulosity and Siril, but APP produced the best result. 


Edited by Gschnettler, 03 July 2022 - 02:43 PM.


#7 matt_astro_tx

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Posted 04 July 2022 - 10:52 AM

Best i cold do with a backgrond extractor.

 

Gamma Cygni Nebula RGB session 1 copy
 
Gamma Cygni Nebula RGB session 1 B copy


#8 Ranger Tim

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Posted 04 July 2022 - 11:05 AM

It is difficult to “armchair” analyze your results without seeing the original files and watching you apply corrections. Try it again from the beginning using APP to stack, using no corrections and no normalization, only stacking. Try stacking several ways, including and excluding different calibration frames — see how the results differ. Then try using the demo version of Startools to eliminate light pollution using the wipe module and masking. Or use another good SW like PixInsight. There are more programs beside these two. With the intense LP problems you are dealing with you need some robust techniques for salvaging what you can.

 

The software is struggling to discern between LP sky fog and enhanced red signal from the modded DSLR. Shooting at f/2.8 is very fast even for 30 sec. subs. Shooting with very wide lens complicates this even more. Your target signal is a needle in a haystack. I have shot subs like this and never been able to stack a reasonable result. I don’t have the technical expertise to describe why it’s not working but I’m sure someone here can suggest either how you can fix your stack or how to change your shooting for the next attempt. Avoiding LP is always better, but we can’t always choose that.


Edited by Ranger Tim, 04 July 2022 - 11:06 AM.


#9 FrostByte

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Posted 04 July 2022 - 11:36 AM

Can you upload a dark flat or a bias as well? Flat correction doesn’t work properly unless you also calibrate your master flat by subtracting a dark flat or bias. APP probably complained about it if you didn’t include one in the stack. 



#10 Gschnettler

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Posted 04 July 2022 - 11:50 AM

Thanks for all of the advice!  I decided that maybe one of my major issues was with my flats.  So, I processed in APP without flats and it came out much better.  It's still not great but I think it's less of a total disaster. 

 

 

GammmaCygnus_without_flats-final_APP_output.jpg

 

 

 

matt_astro_tx - I couldn't open the images you linked to.  I got this error: You do not have permission to view this image.  Is there a way to grant permissions?

 

 

I can drive to an area with less light pollution but before I make the trip I want to make sure that I have at least some idea what I'm doing. For example, it seems as if I don't know how to take flats  I tried taking the camera off the mount, putting a t-shirt over the lens (tight, no wrinkles) and putting it up against my ipad which was on a white page.  Then I changed the camera speed until the histogram spike was in the middle. I may have changed the ISO too, but I have since read that you shouldn't do that.  So, it seems as if something is wrong with my process there - any ideas on what I should be doing differently?

 

Also, I'm not sure what to do about this situation: 

      "Shooting at f/2.8 is very fast even for 30 sec. subs. Shooting with very wide lens complicates this even more."

 

I am using a wide lens because I thought that sounded like good advice for starting out.  And it seems like the stars are pretty sharp edge to edge with it at f/2.8.  When I go to a darker site do you think I should step it down to f/4?  

 

 


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#11 vidrazor

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Posted 04 July 2022 - 02:01 PM

I would still shoot a full set of calibration frames if you do this again. I could not get access to your files unless I opened an iCloud account, so I didn't see the condition of your flats. You might also try stacking your files in DSS and then processing in APP. If you're on a Mac try stacking in Siril and either continue in Siril or finish it off in APP.



#12 matt_astro_tx

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Posted 04 July 2022 - 03:49 PM

Yes it appears your flats are the issue looking at your reprocessed image. Note that you must take bias or flat darks to accompany your flats.

 

here was my best effort from above. Not sure what’s going on with the permissions. 

Attached Files


Edited by matt_astro_tx, 04 July 2022 - 03:51 PM.


#13 Gschnettler

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Posted 04 July 2022 - 06:11 PM

for any of you who couldn't get to my files on iCloud, here they are on another cloud service I just found called Mega.  

 

https://mega.nz/fold...DkYbPmoq9CIZKkw

 

files are same as before: 

 

DSC_1416 = 1 light frame

DSC_1485 = 1 dark frame

DSC_1560 = 1 flat frame

Gamma_Cygni_Nebula-RGB-session_1 = stacked with APP, but no modifications or stretching.

 

If I have time later I'll try to upload the APP stack without the flats. 

 

Thanks again for all of your help with this!



#14 vidrazor

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Posted 04 July 2022 - 06:51 PM

for any of you who couldn't get to my files on iCloud, here they are on another cloud service I just found called Mega.  

https://mega.nz/fold...DkYbPmoq9CIZKkw

files are same as before: 

DSC_1416 = 1 light frame

DSC_1485 = 1 dark frame

DSC_1560 = 1 flat frame

Gamma_Cygni_Nebula-RGB-session_1 = stacked with APP, but no modifications or stretching.

If I have time later I'll try to upload the APP stack without the flats. 

Thanks again for all of your help with this!

I would turn off auto rotate in the camera's settings. Your flats are in portrait mode, the stacking software may not know how to properly deal with putting the orientation right, if at all.
 



#15 BucketDave

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Posted 11 July 2022 - 11:51 AM

I just made a big break-through in the quality of my imaging. I have a modified Canon 1100, a clip-in filter (Ha and Oiii) and 135+300mm lenses bought off ebay. Cheap stuff. To date, my images of stars have had purple fringe-ing and nebula have been weak/undistinct.

Then last week, i started to look at focussing in more detail. Previous modus operandi was to get the sharpest RGB image.

A few nights ago, i imaged Vega with the focusser on my 135mm lens at eight rotational positions. I then took the images into APP and extracted separate images for the Ha and Oiii channels. I took a cross-section of Vega in each image (using ImageJ) and plotted the peak intensity against rotational position.

The result of adding the clip-in filter was that i found that Ha and Oii required separate focus positions.

So my new modus operandi is;
1l insert clip-in filter.
2) focus specifically for Ha and take images.
3) Refocus specifically for Oiii and take more images.

To process, i extract only the Ha channel from the first images and i then extract the Oiii channel from the second set.

Obviously, this has just doubled my future imaging requirements but the results are FAR BETTER than before. I highly recommend this approach for anyone using a prime DSLR lens. It only took a couple of hours to take the images and process the data but it has finally given me the knowledge to get the best out of my camera+lenses.

#16 bnick

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Posted 12 July 2022 - 01:45 PM

Great info here thanks to all for your viewpoints and advice...

 

I have a quick question, and forgive me as this is as basic as it gets...  I've been imaging for 3 years on a heavy duty tripod, but 6 months ago I finally purchased an iOptron CEM26 mount, which I dearly love as it's incredibly quiet, and it tracks perfectly after Plate-Solving on targets for up to 3 hours so far, and up to 180 second exposures before my stars start to egg shape slightly... I know Guiding will help immensely and I still intend to Guide down the road but this mount has amazed me even though I'm sure it's just my novice experience...   Sorry for this background, here's my question...

 

I've been shooting with a Nikon Z6II and a Sigma 150-600mm lens with it's matching, and very expensive, 1.4 Teleconverter, in which I image in my Nikon's APS-C Mode and this gives me a reported 1275mm...  Ok, even though I'm a novice I've been amazed with the corner to corner sharpness and roundness of all my stars up to 3 minutes...

 

I've normally imaged in the 16:9 format but recently since I've been playing around with imaging in APT's Planetary Tool which I take is Lucky Imaging and many recommend I shoot in a 1:1 ration rather than 16:9 or the other formats...

 

With reading so many advising shooting in a 1:1 format should I be doing ALL my Deep Sky imaging in 1:1 format to aid in less distortion of detail as they say...?

 

Sorry if this is a totally wrong question for this thread...

Peace

bob



#17 bnick

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Posted 12 July 2022 - 03:58 PM

It is difficult to “armchair” analyze your results without seeing the original files and watching you apply corrections. Try it again from the beginning using APP to stack, using no corrections and no normalization, only stacking. Try stacking several ways, including and excluding different calibration frames — see how the results differ. Then try using the demo version of Startools to eliminate light pollution using the wipe module and masking. Or use another good SW like PixInsight. There are more programs beside these two. With the intense LP problems you are dealing with you need some robust techniques for salvaging what you can.

 

The software is struggling to discern between LP sky fog and enhanced red signal from the modded DSLR. Shooting at f/2.8 is very fast even for 30 sec. subs. Shooting with very wide lens complicates this even more. Your target signal is a needle in a haystack. I have shot subs like this and never been able to stack a reasonable result. I don’t have the technical expertise to describe why it’s not working but I’m sure someone here can suggest either how you can fix your stack or how to change your shooting for the next attempt. Avoiding LP is always better, but we can’t always choose that.

This was good advice Tim and so many times I've seen both positive and negative results depending on the initial stacking options I choose, whether in DDS, or any of the other stacking software I use...  Seems there are infinite opinions on how to process our work...  I might also note a real big improvement factor for me was finally doing my Flats in a more correct fashion and not using a library of past sessions all with their own dust and dirt...  Every shoot now get's it's own flats for me... Another even bigger improvement for me showed just within the last couple weeks when I started shooting the same number of darks as my light frame subs...  Again this was another of the millions of opinions out there on the correct way to process darks... This seriously was the single biggest noise reducer for me... It made me really smile when I saw the results... It literally starts my Post Processing off in a much better way... Common sense for those who already know but for a novice like me it was a very happy thing...

 

I see you're in SW Idaho, I'm over in Walla Walla...

Clear Skies and Peace...

bob



#18 Gschnettler

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Posted 14 July 2022 - 08:01 AM

ED69CA65-DABB-4907-BF24-C3F2D3046132.jpeg

 

I tried my best to take all of your advice and try again.  I think I got much better results this time.  The main differences are (1) turned off auto-rotation so my flats won’t accidentally be in portrait mode; (2) stepped down the lens from f/2.8 to f/4; (3) went to a darker site about 20 miles farther from the city.  

 

This time I processed in Siril.  When it finished the stacking script and i clicked on auto-stretch I couldn’t see the nebula at all which was surprising.  But then I did a Histogram stretch and it popped right up.  Then I applied the Siril commands recommended in a tutorial, which at the end included using Siril to stretch the image.  After that I made a few alterations in Gimp, like color levels and saturation.

 

thanks for all of your help!

 

 


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#19 bnick

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Posted 14 July 2022 - 03:59 PM

attachicon.gifED69CA65-DABB-4907-BF24-C3F2D3046132.jpeg

 

I tried my best to take all of your advice and try again.  I think I got much better results this time.  The main differences are (1) turned off auto-rotation so my flats won’t accidentally be in portrait mode; (2) stepped down the lens from f/2.8 to f/4; (3) went to a darker site about 20 miles farther from the city.  

 

This time I processed in Siril.  When it finished the stacking script and i clicked on auto-stretch I couldn’t see the nebula at all which was surprising.  But then I did a Histogram stretch and it popped right up.  Then I applied the Siril commands recommended in a tutorial, which at the end included using Siril to stretch the image.  After that I made a few alterations in Gimp, like color levels and saturation.

 

thanks for all of your help!

GS...  Great update and excellent image... This one should have made you happy...

 

1: Dark skies are as we all know so beneficial...

 

2: Yet my Bortle 5 backyard is so tempting and convenient...

 

3:  SiriL and it's wonderful companion program Sirilic is a wonderful alternative to explore results in...

 

4: I have the Rokinon 135mm f2 and love it's razor blade sharpness, but I've found, per much advice, the f2.8 - f4 really sharpens my images...

 

 

If I might add:

 

I've for 3 years been pondering a first scope purchase of an ES 102mm f/7 Essential FCD100 Triplet... I was so close to ordering either Sky-Watcher's 127 or 150 Mak, but the f12 just wouldn't have served my Galaxy passion... We know they are Planet Killers in their own rite... I also long considered a C8 HD Edge, as well as their 9.25...   Problem has been diving into the purchase, which I can afford, but it has been putting me off due to my age of 72...  My eyes, body and mind are still great, though my wife may argue that, ha...  I'm still doing 17 to 30 mile bicycle rides, but still the age thing has held me back, until now... I really think I'm ready...

 

I've been shooting with my beloved Nikon Z6II paired with Sigma's 150-600mm Zoom and at it's sweet spot of f9, and even though it's not the quality of a true FPL51-53 OTA but it shoots corner to corner sharp stars which has so impressed me...  I'm also using their matched, expensive 1.4 Teleconverter, which as a life long photographer,  I've never yet been able to see optical derogation from this 1.4TC which lets me shoot at 1275mm...   Problem is that it's manual focusing ring is stiff and jerky, or is becoming so...  Autofocus though, which we don't use, is literally unbelievable... Even with the 1.4 Teleconverter it locks onto a blackbirds eyes at 40' away and tracks him instantly as he runs across the yard, so for being just a lowly zoom lens it's amazed me from day one, but it's not a true telescope...

 

With my batinov mask I focus, spot on, for very sharp stars, but for shooting the moon lately I've been so struggling with not being able to come to a sharp lunar focus, and this is where I'm now seeing the importance of a fine OTA and it's also fine focuser...  So it may well be time to start using the grandkids inheritance, ha...

 

 

Clear Skies and Peace be upon this World...

bob



#20 Alen K

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Posted 14 July 2022 - 07:12 PM

With my batinov mask I focus, spot on, for very sharp stars, but for shooting the moon lately I've been so struggling with not being able to come to a sharp lunar focus, and this is where I'm now seeing the importance of a fine OTA and it's also fine focuser...  So it may well be time to start using the grandkids inheritance, ha...

Slew your telescope from the moon to a nearby bright(ish) star. Put your Bahtinov mask on the telescope. Adjust focus until optimal. Remove mask. Slew back to the moon. Done.

 

And if someone says that won’t work because the moon isn’t really at infinity, I will scream. ;-D 



#21 bnick

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Posted 14 July 2022 - 07:42 PM

Slew your telescope from the moon to a nearby bright(ish) star. Put your Bahtinov mask on the telescope. Adjust focus until optimal. Remove mask. Slew back to the moon. Done.

 

And if someone says that won’t work because the moon isn’t really at infinity, I will scream. ;-D 

Ohhh thank you...

Why the heck didn't I think of this...?

That's it I have to sell all this gear I'm not worthy of this hobby, ha...

 

Going to be clear all this next week except for that big full white ball floating in the southern skies...

Clear Skies and Peace

bob



#22 unimatrix0

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Posted 15 July 2022 - 02:11 PM

attachicon.gifED69CA65-DABB-4907-BF24-C3F2D3046132.jpeg

 

I tried my best to take all of your advice and try again.  I think I got much better results this time.  The main differences are (1) turned off auto-rotation so my flats won’t accidentally be in portrait mode; (2) stepped down the lens from f/2.8 to f/4; (3) went to a darker site about 20 miles farther from the city.  

 

This time I processed in Siril.  When it finished the stacking script and i clicked on auto-stretch I couldn’t see the nebula at all which was surprising.  But then I did a Histogram stretch and it popped right up.  Then I applied the Siril commands recommended in a tutorial, which at the end included using Siril to stretch the image.  After that I made a few alterations in Gimp, like color levels and saturation.

 

thanks for all of your help!

Now, what you have to do is keep repeating what works for you on different DSO's or try adding even more subs for even more nebulousity.  After a while some things become routine.  Later even more become routine to a point that you gonna start craving for more procedures and experience just keeps accumulating. 



#23 bnick

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Posted 15 July 2022 - 03:00 PM

Now, what you have to do is keep repeating what works for you on different DSO's or try adding even more subs for even more nebulousity.  After a while some things become routine.  Later even more become routine to a point that you gonna start craving for more procedures and experience just keeps accumulating. 

Excellent advice and so true...

 

For those of us who have been troubleshooters our whole life the infinite testing and fun of applying options fit well with the complexity astrophotography provides...

 

I read all the time those who are passionate observers and the wonderful peace and stress free approach of just grabbing your scope, sitting down in a lawn chair, and take in the infinite beauty of creation, or big bangs, or whatever your minds eye views through your optics...

 

I get that, and love the simplicity and ease of observing, nor does it lack in it's own complexities, yet for me who has for many decades loved graphics in it's highest resolutions and clearest detail, there simply was no way I could just look at M31 and not want to put a sensor up to that beautiful image and capture it...

 

The urge to capture imagery, even though Hubble and Webb will always look better than the atmospheric distortion and ever growing light pollution above my house, still persists, and drives me to so often click on that darn, "Place Order" button...

 

Clear sky's guys...

Peace,

bob



#24 bnick

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Posted 16 July 2022 - 12:18 AM

Slew your telescope from the moon to a nearby bright(ish) star. Put your Bahtinov mask on the telescope. Adjust focus until optimal. Remove mask. Slew back to the moon. Done.

 

And if someone says that won’t work because the moon isn’t really at infinity, I will scream. ;-D 

I use my bahtinov mask daily but never thought to use it for focus on the moon...

It made a real difference...

Thanks

bob

 

Photoshop-Registax-PIPP processing my 44.8 gb, 27600 frame 4k .Ser file of our Backyard Moon taken on 071522 with my Nikon Z6II and Sigma Lens at 1275mm (6 minute 4k video at 60fps

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#25 RedLionNJ

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Posted 16 July 2022 - 03:27 PM

Great info here thanks to all for your viewpoints and advice...

 

I have a quick question, and forgive me as this is as basic as it gets...  I've been imaging for 3 years on a heavy duty tripod, but 6 months ago I finally purchased an iOptron CEM26 mount, which I dearly love as it's incredibly quiet, and it tracks perfectly after Plate-Solving on targets for up to 3 hours so far, and up to 180 second exposures before my stars start to egg shape slightly... I know Guiding will help immensely and I still intend to Guide down the road but this mount has amazed me even though I'm sure it's just my novice experience...   Sorry for this background, here's my question...

 

I've been shooting with a Nikon Z6II and a Sigma 150-600mm lens with it's matching, and very expensive, 1.4 Teleconverter, in which I image in my Nikon's APS-C Mode and this gives me a reported 1275mm...  Ok, even though I'm a novice I've been amazed with the corner to corner sharpness and roundness of all my stars up to 3 minutes...

 

I've normally imaged in the 16:9 format but recently since I've been playing around with imaging in APT's Planetary Tool which I take is Lucky Imaging and many recommend I shoot in a 1:1 ration rather than 16:9 or the other formats...

 

With reading so many advising shooting in a 1:1 format should I be doing ALL my Deep Sky imaging in 1:1 format to aid in less distortion of detail as they say...?

 

Sorry if this is a totally wrong question for this thread...

Peace

bob

Why would you shoot in anything other than the native format of the sensor, unless using a reduced ROI (i.e. you're cropping, not distorting in any way)?

 

A reduced area of the sensor makes sense for high fps "lucky imaging" on a small target, but unless your camera supports some aspect ratio other than its natively-provided one, I don't see the advantage in trying to achieve anything other than what's provided. 




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