First steps in Landscape Astro

Discussion in 'Astrophotography' started by Hypilein, Dec 21, 2015.

  1. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
    Hi All,

    I am looking for some advice regarding Landscape Astro shots. I recently managed to get away from my densely populated area and took a few shots of a slightly darker sky (Egypt Red Sea). Here is what I did. First I took a shot from the Hotel Balcony overlooking the whole area with my 9mm bodycap (looong exposure). I bracketed it just to be sure (40sec, 20sec and 80sec). Then I went to the beach and took shots of the sky with no foreground at all intending to merge things. I did not have my P7-14 with me but would probably want to use it in future as 20mm seems way to close for getting enough sky in. This would also make it easier to compose background and foreground in one go but wasn't possible here due to the insane amount of lights in the hotel area itself.

    I took 10 exposures at 15sec ISO4000 with long exposure noise reduction on. I manually focused on the stars but I might have missed focus anyway.

    Now back at home, here is where the problem starts. Is there any good (and easy to use) stacking software for mac. DSS seems to not work that well with the ported version (I just got a bunch of coloured streaks back). I would be willing to pay some money but probably not more than 50€ seeing how I only get away to darker skies every once in a while.

    I've therefore processed just one image in lightroom and then blended it with the hotel shot.
    This is the shot: P1040536-Bearbeitet-2_bearbeitet-2.

    Are there any things I could do to improve this (either when shooting or in post). Is there a good and easy working solution for mac? Googling found me starry landscape stacker, but with no test version available I am not willing to spring 20€s without at least a good review. I prefer freeware and I am willing to go through a learning curve if there are reasonable tutorials available, but with DSS on mac I just wasn't sure if it was me or the programme when I tried to follow some tutorials.

    In terms of exposure: Do you have to shoot dark frames on location or is one that uses the same exposure values done anywhere good enough.

    I'Ve also read about Bias Frames and have no idea what they are.

    Sorry for the long and probably slightly convoluted post but maybe someone can help me get some answers.
  2. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
  3. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    I'll give it a go.

    You did miss focus on the stars unfortunately. The WB for the foreground could be cooled down a little? The blend doesn't look natural. Usually around the horizon it's a bit brighter, you might want to add a grad in post with maybe a little warm tint.

    I cant comment on the mac stacking software but I also dont think you really needed it for this shot. The sky doesn't look noisy. I would also try bringing the exposure of the foreground down a little to help the blend.

    Hope I didn't offend thats just my quick observation. To me it would have looked a little more natural in the blue hour given your foreground subject.
  4. Youngjun

    Youngjun Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 24, 2015
    The stars look out of focus - big, or maybe you used a longer focal length lens for the stars?
    To me the stars look big relative to the foreground elements, making them look very close.

    I'd take another shot of the sky for sharper focus (smaller) stars, or use a shorter focal length lens if that is the case.
    I hope you can improve the picture to your content.

    By the way, the blue lighting at the pool looks cool!
  5. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
    Thanks for the reply.

    The stars were shot with the P20 while the rest was shot with the Olympus Bodycap. Didn't really have another option. Any tipps on getting the stars in focus. I used magnified view but something must have gone wrong. Didn't have a tripod and had to put it down on some steps at an angle, which probably didn't help.

    Any tipps on post processing? I've got a stack of the star available but couldn'T get dss to run on my mac.
  6. Youngjun

    Youngjun Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 24, 2015
    Also, 15 s would cause star-trailing effect to kick in.
    The general rule I learned online for longest shutter speed without suffering from star-trailing is the 500 rule: (500)/(35mm equivalent focal length).
    For the P20 lens, that would be 500/(20*2) = 12.5 s.
    Reducing the exposure duration may help as well.
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