Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Moogerah Milky Way

Moogerah Milky Way
Originally uploaded by jezza323
I spent the weekend just gone camping out at Lake Moogerah, about 1.5 hrs drive south west of Brisbane. I went on Friday night after work, and returned just before lunchtime on sunday. The sky was beautifully clear on Friday night (despite a tropical cyclone hitting the coast about 1000 km's away). So immediately after setting up camp, we broke out the tripods and cameras and started snapping the amazing stars which were visible.

People who have seen this shot keep asking how I knew where to point the camera, but its very easy, you can see almost as much as this with the naked eye. It really is amazing how much light pollution kills the view of the stars.

I went with a good mate of mine, and my fiance. It was due to be a boys photography weekend, but when my fiance said she wanted to come and check out this whole camping caper, who was I to say no? She enjoyed viewing the stars, and the two of us took enough photos to last a few weeks of PP.

This shot was taken using the K200D and the Pentax SMC DA 18-55 AL II kit lens. I set the lens to f4.0, as it is slightly soft wide open, 18mm because I wanted the shot as wide as possible (I really wish I could have gone wider! When Zennon posts his shots with the Sigma 10-20mm I will be sure to share them). I set the ISO to 1600, the camera's inbuilt long exposure noise reduction to ON, and the mode to Bulb.

Carefully I aimed my shot at our campsite (yes those are our tents, my fiance is even in the one on the right sleeping) and started the exposure using a cable remote (with a lock). I could lie and said I timed the exposure to perfection, but in reality I just waited till I thought it might be a good time to stop, and unlocked the shutter button on the cable remote. This is where it gets frustrating....now I had to wait again as long as the shutter was open for the noise reduction to process.

What happens here is the camera takes another exposure, the same length, at the same ISO, but with the shutter closed. This creates a dark frame, but with all the same noise/hot pixels as the original shot. The software in the camera then subtracts this dark frame from the original, which leaves it with much less noise.

I was immediately happy with this shot upon seeing it on the LCD, but I was unable to get more the same. The dew in the air was at all time record highs it would seem, anything and everything exposed to it was getting covered with a lovely layer of moisture, including my lens. Everytime I tried another long exposure after this one, the lens would fog up so badly it would ruin the shot.

This was processed in Lightroom 2.5 with the only the following 2 changes, Brightness +87, Contrast +51

I am really keen to head back to the camping spot for more of these kind of shots in the near future. Hopefully after I have myself a wider lens. I am currently looking at something like the Sigma 10mm f/2.8 EX DC Fisheye, which would give great views of the milky way, and allow me to do little planet photos and VR tours. Lets keep hoping!

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