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Thursday, October 12, 2017

HDR Crepuscular rays

 I recently purchased the Aurora 2018 HDR software and have found it relatively easy to use with many presets tailored to many different types of imagery.  My most recent eclipse post on this blog shows another sample of its utility.  Here is a mid afternoon cloud shot taken from near the 4-meter telescope on Kitt Peak looking generally west-south-west-ward towards the southwest ridge of telescopes.  The scene greatly benefits from HDR techniques:

The first image is a combine of 5 images taken with my Sigma 17-70mm lens at 17mm focal length with exposures on the short end starting at 1/1250 seconds at f/8 and the longest at 1/200 seconds, all at ISO 100.  I used Aurora's "Realistic Bright" preset which brought out the landscape and helped also show the crepuscular rays coming down from the clouds.

This is the mid exposure (which is also the nominal exposure on this scene) of the 5 HDR images so you can see how dark the landscape is and also how washed out the details in the clouds appear.  The exposure was 1/500 seconds at f/8, ISO 100.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Total Eclipse, take 2 on HDR combines...

I recently installed the Aurora 2018 HDR software on my PC and here are a couple different HDR combines which greatly enhance the detail in the solar corona as well as helping to bring out the detail in the Earthshine-lit lunar surface in some HDR exposed images of the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse.  The HDR combines use 5 images taken at 2 stop intervals from 1/500 seconds to 1/2 seconds using my Canon 6D with a 0.7x focal reducer on my 8 inch EdgeHD telescope.  The images were taken about 25 seconds before the end of totality when the prominences on the western side of the Sun were mostly uncovered by the Moon.  Once I learn how to use Aurora, I might be dangerous in taking HDR images!

This first image combine is from 5 HDR frames taken at 2 stop intervals about 25 seconds before the end of the total phase of the August 21st total eclipse.  I wanted to show off the prominences on the western side of the sun as well. Not only is there lots of detail in the corona, but the Earthshine-lit lunar surface shows a great deal of detail.

This second image trades some corona brightness for some more detail on the view of the prominences but uses the same 5 images as the first image above.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Lightning storm near Kitt Peak

Last night while waiting to observe on the 4-Meter Mayall telescope on Kitt Peak, a lightning storm passed to the southwest of Kitt Peak.  Here is some lightning to the southwest of the mountain with the Steward Observatory 90 inch Bok telescope building lit by the Moon in the foreground.  The image was taken with my Canon 6D with my 50mm lens at f/8, ISO 1600 with a 20 second exposure.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Eclipse HDR and Earthshine

My eclipse photography plan during totality was to take a sequence of images with exposures tailored to see both the bright prominences and the faint outer corona, so my exposures were a set of 5 images every 5 seconds at ISO 200, f/7 (on my EdgeHD C8 with my Canon 6D and a 0.7x focal reducer) with exposures of 1/500 sec, 1/125 sec, 1/30 sec, 1/8 sec, and 1/2 second.  I used the same exposures on my Canon 70D with my 70-200mm lens at f/8.  Here are the result of some HDR combines using Picturenaut and then some touchup with the GIMP.

This is an HDR combine of 5 images taken with my Canon 6D attached to my Celestron EdgeHD C8 using a 0.7x focal reducer.

This is the same image as above but with some contrast stretching to bring out the Earthshine on the Moon.  I was hoping I'd be able to see it in the longest exposure of the sequence.

This HDR combine was obtained with my Canon 70D attached to my 70-200mm lens at 200mm focal length.  The exposures were made at ISO 200, f/8, and 1/500 seconds, 1/125 sec, 1/30 sec, 1/8 sec, and 1/2 sec.  You can see the dark blue sky along with the bright star Regulus to the left of the Eclipsed Sun.

This image is the same as the previous one but with some contrast stretching of the Earthshine on the dark face of the Moon.

Mount St. Helens

After seeing the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse, we headed for Mount St. Helens, the volcano in southwestern Washington that produced the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century and the largest landslide recorded in history on May 18, 1980.  The eruption killed 57 victims as the north side of the mountain collapsed and blew out.  The landslide devistated a huge area mostly north of the volcano and an ash cloud rose to more than 7 miles, covering a huge area to the northeast of the mountain as the volcano lost 1313 feet from it's height.  The appearance of the formerly symmetric volcano was changed in minutes to a large horseshoe shape and over the next 6 years, a volcanic dome grew inside the crater atop the volcano.  Activity is greatly reduced but continues off and on, adding to the volcanic dome complex near the summit.

This photo shows Mount St. Helens from the north as viewed from the Johnston Ridge Observatory.  This location used to be called Coldwater ridge but was renamed after the May 18, 1980 eruption after the USGS geologist David Johnston who was killed during the eruption while manning some measuring equipment near this location.  His body was never found so he is almost certainly still very nearby.  It was a bit of an eerie feeling standing near Johnston's final resting place.  Johnston was one of the faces of Mount St. Helens during the nearly 2 months of volcanic activity around the mountain prior to the catastrophic eruption of May 18.

Spirit Lake was inundated by the landslide debris, sloshing water 800 feet up the slope of the hills to its north and burying the many cabins around the lake including the octogenerian Harry Truman who refused to leave the area despite the warnings of impending eruption under as much as 600 feet of debris.

This closeup of the summit of Mount St. Helens is the first of 3 images showing the horseshoe shaped summit left over from the eruption.  The clouds surround the summit area, especially the lava dome which grew after the eruption.

This second image shows the lava dome a little better. You can see a vertical column of steam rising from the vent.

Here is a closer view of the lava dome and the steam vent on its summit.

As we drove out of the park, we watched a pretty sunset over the mountain.

The magic hour around sunset produces some spectacular lighting and this day was no exception to that.

Wide field Total Eclipse shots

The following images were taken midway through totality using my Canon 70D with my 70-200mm lens.  The images used a 2 stop bracket with mid exposure of 1/30 seconds at f/8, ISO 200 and 5 total shots.  The images were taken in just over 1 second and I took a set every 5 seconds.  You can see prominences in the first image and increasing corona details as the exposures increase.  The final image also shows Regulus to the left of the Sun/Moon.






Tuesday, August 29, 2017

2017 August 21 total eclipse - the sunspot groups.

These images show the sunspot groups that were visible on the face of the Sun during the partial phase of the 2017 August 21 total eclipse.


The first image was taken on August 20, 2017, the day before the total solar eclipse with my Canon 70D attached to my 8 inch EdgeHD telescope.  The two sunspot groups include the group near center and another group coming around the east side of the Sun.  The exposure was 1/1000 seconds at ISO 200, f/10.


This image was taken after the end of the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017.  It shows the two sunspot groups visible during the eclipse.  The image was taken with my Canon 70D attached to my 8 inch EdgeHD telescope with an exposure of 1/1000 seconds at ISO 200, f/10.


This is a closeup of the central sunspot group cropped from the above image with a little sharpening and brightness stretching to enhance the appearance a little.

This is a closeup of the sunspot group on the eastern limb of the Sun, just a couple days from making its initial appearance on the eastern limb.  I cropped this from the above image and applied a little sharpening and brightness stretching to enhance the appearance a little.

August 21, 2017 total eclipse - the diamond ring

This image was taken at the end of the total phase of the 2017 August 21 total solar eclipse just as the Sun reappeared on the west side of the Moon.  This image was taken with my 8 inch EdgeHD Celestron telescope with my Canon 6D attached via a 0.7x focal reducer.  The exposure was 1/500 seconds at ISO 200.


Total Eclipse, 2017 August 21 - West side prominences.

This image was taken just before the photosphere reappeared on the west side of the Sun at the end of the total phase of the 2017 August 21 total eclipse.  This image was taken with my Canon 6D attached to my 8 inch EdgeHD telescope with a 0.7x focal reducer with an exposure of 1/500 seconds at ISO 200.


August 21, 2017 total eclipse

During the total solar eclipse on 2017 August 21, I shot a sequence of 5 exposures, each 2 stops from its neighbor, in order to get reasonable exposures on prominences on the bright end the solar corona on the fainter end.  In this case, I used my Canon 6D with a 0.7x focal reducer on my f/10 Celestron EdgeHD 8 inch telescope with exposures of 1/500 sec, 1/125 sec, 1/30 sec, 1/8 sec, and 1/2 seconds going down the images below.  These images were taken early in the eclipse so that the Sun's photosphere is just covered by the Moon on the east (left) side while the west (right) side is well covered by the Moon.






Saturday, August 05, 2017

Eclipse photography practice.

The August 21st Solar Eclipse is just 16 days away so it's time to practice some setup and photography of the Sun.  In this case, I used my Canon 6D with its full frame sensor on my Celestron EdgeHD 8 inch telescope and a white light solar filter.  For the eclipse, I'll use a 0.7x focal reducer to get a bigger field of view for the phenomena around the Sun and Moon.
This is the full image with some sharpening and contrast stretching.  The C8 is an f/10 telescope with 2032mm focal length.  You an see some sunspots a little left and below the center of the Sun.  You can also see lots of granulation on the Sun in general and I was hoping to see a little more activity.  The eclipse is on August 21st, 16 days after this image, so given that the synodic rotation period of the Sun is about 27 days, this sunspot group will be on the other side of the Sun, at least a few days from coming around the edge.  This exposure was 1/1000 seconds at ISO 200 using my Canon 6D.

This is a closeup of the image above to get a better look at the small sunspot group.  You can see at least three sunspots in the group and maybe a couple more small ones if you use your imagination a little.  The Sun was getting a bit low in the sky, so there is some atmospheric color dispersion - the top of the spot looks a little red while the bottom looks a little blue.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Monsoon Storm from Kitt Peak

Last night while between local storms on Kitt Peak, I watched some storms around the area.  This one to the northwest of Kitt Peak was quite pretty and spectacular at the same time.  I took a series of five exposures in an HDR sequence and this is the middle exposure at ISO 400, f/8, 1/400 seconds at a focal length of 17mm on my Canon 70D.

This is a combination of 5 frames from 1/1000 second to 1/160 second exposures which shows the range of activity from the rays from the sun behind the clouds to the mountains and valley in the foreground.  Note the area in between the anvil and the local mountains which is covered in water from rainfall in that area.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Summer Milky Way from Kitt Peak

The Summer Milky Way sets over the little Tohono O'Odham town of Sells as viewed from Kitt Peak.  The exposure was made with my Canon 70D using a 17-70mm Sigma lens at 17mm focal length with an exposure of 30 seconds at f/2.8, ISO 1600.

International Space Station and the Milky Way in twilight

While taking a timelapse of the summer Milky Way my sequence caught the International Space Station flying over in the morning twilight.  Some clouds are moving in from the left and the Milky Way with the Tea Kettle of Sagittarius at the bottom, just about to set.  The Tohono O'Odham town of Sells is just below the Milky Way in this view from the 90 inch Bok Telescope's Bok Walk on Kitt Peak.  This image was taken with my 17-70mm Sigma lens at 17mm focal length and an exposure of 30 seconds at f/2.8, ISO 1600.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

The Crescent Moon

Last Saturday night I set up my Celestron 8 inch EdgeHD telescope in my back yard.  I attached my Canon 70D with a 0.7x focal reducer (so I could fit the entire Moon on my APS-C sensor) and took some photos of the Moon.  Here are a couple, processed somewhat.

This first image used an exposure of 1/50 seconds at ISO 400.  I used an unsharp mask to sharpen the image.

This image was obtained with an exposure of 1 second at ISO 400.  Along with an unsharp mask, I stretched the image quite a bit to bring out the Earth-shine lit dark side of the Moon.  You can see some mountains over the southern limb of the Moon as well as a few stars in the sky around the Moon.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A colorful Kitt Peak sunset

The view of sunset from Kitt Peak can be quite spectacular.  Of course, a pretty cloud filled sunset does not normally bode well for the nights observing program....

 This Sun Dog was visible at about the same time as the first image.

Just after sunset, this deep red glow was quite spectacular.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Downtown Tucson at night.

Exposure 1 second at f/2.8, ISO 1600, 17mm f.l.
While in downtown Tucson one evening, I couldn't help but admire this scene with the tallest building in town lit nicely by the city lights.

Exposure 1/20 second at f/2.8, ISO 1600, 17mm f.l.
A statue near the Pima County Courthouse commemorating early Tucson settlers.