Nightsky Shooting

Discussion in 'Digital Point & Shoot Camera' started by zach, Nov 18, 2004.

  1. zach

    zach Guest

    It's Leonid time. I'll be up on the mountains and out of the Bay Area,
    thanks to a week off, and the weather will be very clear here in
    Cali'. Anyone have any experience taking night sky photos with digital
    cams? I have an Olympus C-755 4Mp. Might it be worth picking up a
    cheap tripod at Wal-mart and giving it a go...? Any other advice?

    zach, Nov 18, 2004
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  2. Some cameras have a night modus, you should try that. If not, you should
    definitely experiment with exposure offsets. Maybe you can do that
    beforehand and check images on your PC so you have some basic data to
    carry with you and don't have to spend the whole night figuring the
    correct metering. :)

    Kind regards

    Robert Klemme, Nov 18, 2004
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  3. zach

    zach Guest

    Yer right... I think it does have a night mode. I've only had it a
    little over a month and have only had it out in the woods twice taking
    pictures. I haven't delved into the manual yet (hate reading manuals),
    but I will to figure out to manually change the settings.
    zach, Nov 18, 2004
  4. Often cameras have a bracketing feature (my Canon Powershot G5 has it)
    where you press the release once and get three pictures with different
    exposure. For some models you can even select the exposure difference.

    But you should drop your resistance against manual reading - if only to
    avoid "RTFM". ;-)

    Kind regards

    Robert Klemme, Nov 19, 2004
  5. zach

    Esmond Guest

    Manual focus, long exposures, continuous drive.
    You will definitely need a tripod, it won't need to be fancy, just steady
    and able to point your camera towards the sky.
    Depending on light pollution, angle towards the vertical and ISO rating
    you'll probably be looking at exposures of 5" upwards - experiment by
    photographing the stars.
    Continuous drive, if your camera has it, will allow you to catch some
    semblance of action without having to keep manually releasing your shutter,
    thus avoiding much camera shake. In fact use a remote control or remote
    shutter release or even your camera's timer to take your photos.
    Dress appropriately.


    Esmond, Nov 20, 2004
  6. I liked that one. :)

    Robert Klemme, Nov 20, 2004
  7. zach

    zach Guest

    All right... I'm back. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate
    with me, nor did the moon. I was a bit annoyed, but then thought, "the
    stars aren't going anywhere." I had played with the manual setting on
    the camera, and set the ISO to the max (400), and then lowered the
    aperture, however, my camera only has a max 16" exposure. I got one
    decent shot, but when I switch from manual back to other modes, or
    turn the camera off, the resolution setting goes back to "HQ" (~2K x
    1.7K), so the one good photo I got came out with some of the fainter
    stars as single pixels. Curses! Other events, and the rising moon
    precluded my trying again. Here, I was setting the camera on a log and
    aiming upwards, so I didn't have a choice of sky.

    A few days later, a friend of mine went down to Wal-mart and I
    requested her to pick up me a tripod (I was staying at their house,
    and we are like 18 miles from the nearest real town). She brought it
    back as a late b-day present to me. Yay. Now, this was much better. By
    this time, however, I had to wait for the moon to set. Monday or
    Tuesday night, I think, I went outside around 1AM, and Orion had risen
    enough from behind the trees that it looked good to shoot. However,
    high clouds were coming in. I took a few shots anyway, just to see how
    the brighter starts turned out. They looked good... but most were
    obscured by these thin clouds. Curses again! F-stop 2.8, ISO 400, 16"
    exposure, the longest my camera has. If I can post something
    somewhere, I will... maybe later. What I did find out, except for the
    problem described below, is that I should be able to get some nice sky
    shots when it turns clear, expecially when it is dark enough that I
    can see the Milky Way with the naked eye.

    What I did run into, however---- and maybe someone can help me with
    this, is a faint reddish area on the images at the upper left hand
    corner of the array. Does anyone have an idea what this is? All lights
    were shut off, it was pitch black except for starlight and residual
    moonlight (turned the LCD off on the screen, etc...). This seems
    familiar somehow, but maybe the chip is just bad... hey, just now I
    thought of taking a dark image (with the lens cap on) at the same
    settings to see if it is there. I will try that later and see.
    zach, Nov 29, 2004
  8. zach wrote:

    It might be "dark current". Does your camera have a "noise reduction" or
    "dark frame subtraction" setting, which doubles the picture taking time?
    If so, try it.

    David J Taylor, Nov 29, 2004
  9. zach

    zach Guest

    Yeah, I would think dark current would be evenly distributed, but
    maybe it is higher near an edge of the chip near where I/Os outside
    the pixel array are switching more. The basic manual, which is what I
    had with me, didn't have how to take a dark image, but now that I am
    back, I will check the manual on the CD and see (and for noise
    reduction... or maybe it is the same function). I hope so.
    zach, Nov 30, 2004
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