Meteor shower photography

jlouisalmeida

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Meteor shower photography EDIT: Added photos

I have a trip coming up to Joshua Tree that coincides with a meteor shower so the night sky is going to be b-e-a-utiful. Currently I have an EM-5 with a 14-42 lens as my best option for shooting but I would prefer something a bit better, more wide angle with larger aperture. I am on a tight budget so I was wondering if there was maybe an old wide angle OM lens I could use for this. I obviously don't need the auto focus and quite like using manual focus even outside of this scenario. Any recommendations?

Also, I often see photos of well lit subjects with large starry backgrounds. Are these composites? Or is simply achieve with a flash followed by a long exposure? In the latter situation, could the well lit subjects move out of the way after the flash?

Thanks for all your help!

EDIT: Added my successful photos, on page 3 of this thread :smile::biggrin:
 

jlouisalmeida

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No I don't want pictures of star trails. Just of the night sky, hopefully capturing meteors. I havent decided yet if I am going to combine the pictures in to a timelapse after but I plan on taking many
 

ivoire

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No I don't want pictures of star trails. Just of the night sky, hopefully capturing meteors. I havent decided yet if I am going to combine the pictures in to a timelapse after but I plan on taking many
The Panasonic 14mm f2.5 would be an inexpensive alternative. And you could get a wide angle converter, see this thread:

https://www.mu-43.com/showthread.php?t=67596



This site offers very good info on astro photography. Looking forward to your results

http://www.lonelyspeck.com/how-to-make-an-amazing-photo-of-the-milky-way-galaxy/
 

CiaranCReilly

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You want as long an exposure as possible until the stars start to become ugly oval potatoes due to the fact they are moving across the frame. The wider the angle the better, 14mm is good, as the wider the angle the less noticeable each potato-star will become. Try a few experiments in Shutter Priority of 10, 15, 20, 30 seconds and see what you think of the distortion of the stars, that will determine how long you are comfortable leaving the shutter open. The longer the exposure, the more chance you have of catching a meteor. Keep taking shots until you can't feel your extremities due to the cold!!!

There is some excellent reading on astrophotography without blowing the bank on my friend Bart's site - https://www.bartbusschots.ie/s/tag/astrophotography/

This (admittedly crappy) shot was taken at 14mm and 30 seconds on my old E-P1 at ISO 1600 (big mistake on the first generation sensor, your E-M5 should be fine though!)

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Lyrid Meteor Shower 2012 by Ciaran C Reilly, on Flickr

I think your kit lens will be ok at 14mm and open at f/3.5, I wouldn't go buying anything extra until you know what you need.

As for lighting up stuff in the foreground, light painting is a good technique, where you open the shutter, run into the scene and "paint" what you want lit up using a torch before the shutter closes!
 

quatchi

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I would suggest the Oly 12mm/F2.0

I know that you wrote, you are on a budget anf the 12mm issn't cheap. But how about buying a used copy (forum, ebay, ...) getting to know the lens, have a blast at Joshua Tree and afterwards selling the lens? In that way you have very low costs for the lens.
 

jlouisalmeida

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I would suggest the Oly 12mm/F2.0

I know that you wrote, you are on a budget anf the 12mm issn't cheap. But how about buying a used copy (forum, ebay, ...) getting to know the lens, have a blast at Joshua Tree and afterwards selling the lens? In that way you have very low costs for the lens.
That would be a possibility but that is a lot of money for person like me to play around with :/ but it could definitely be done.

What about the Rokinon 12mm/F2.0? Does anyone have experience with this lens?
 

jlouisalmeida

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Ya that was one of the first reviews I saw, seems like it would be great choice. Thanks for the link.

Field of view aside, what would be most important for capturing the most light from the stars, aperture or exposure time? By the 500 rule:

Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye - 33 sec exposure max at F3.5
Rokinon 10mm Wide - 25 sec exposure max at F2.8
Rokinon 12mm Wide - 20 sec exposure max at F2.0
 

ivoire

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Ya that was one of the first reviews I saw, seems like it would be great choice. Thanks for the link.

Field of view aside, what would be most important for capturing the most light from the stars, aperture or exposure time? By the 500 rule:

Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye - 33 sec exposure max at F3.5
Rokinon 10mm Wide - 25 sec exposure max at F2.8
Rokinon 12mm Wide - 20 sec exposure max at F2.0
I'm certainly no expert in this area, however using the widest aperture and shortest exposure time is what I would experiment with. Short exposure reduces the chance of elongated stars. At 24mm (equivalent) you should have a wide enuff field of view to capture the milky way and any object you want in the foreground. I suspect you will also get very good meteor trails even at 20 sec exposure. All of that being said, if i had a f2.0 or lower lens, i'd shoot at the lowest aperture and start at 20sec exposure at 3200iso and adjust accordingly. Keeping the iso low will result in less noise on m4/3. I'm hoping to try this out soon with my EP5 and RX1. The moon just hasn't been co-operating on my recent cloudless nights. Check out this guys video on post processing for light polluted star shoots:

http://www.lonelyspeck.com/light-pollution-video-tutorial/
 

jlouisalmeida

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I'm certainly no expert in this area, however using the widest aperture and shortest exposure time is what I would experiment with. Short exposure reduces the chance of elongated stars. At 24mm (equivalent) you should have a wide enuff field of view to capture the milky way and any object you want in the foreground. I suspect you will also get very good meteor trails even at 20 sec exposure. All of that being said, if i had a f2.0 or lower lens, i'd shoot at the lowest aperture and start at 20sec exposure at 3200iso and adjust accordingly. Keeping the iso low will result in less noise on m4/3. I'm hoping to try this out soon with my EP5 and RX1. The moon just hasn't been co-operating on my recent cloudless nights. Check out this guys video on post processing for light polluted star shoots:

http://www.lonelyspeck.com/light-pollution-video-tutorial/

I'm with you on the wide aperture. Doing some stop calculations:

F2.0, 20s, ISO 1600 is equivalent to:

F2.8, 40s, ISO 1600 (too long) or F2.8, ISO 3200, 20s (higher ISO than I'd prefer)
F3.5, ~70s, ISO 1600 (way too long) or F3.5, ISO ~5600, 20s (much higher ISO than prefered)

Now I know ISO and Exposure could both be adjusted less to balance it out (like 2.8,30s,2400ISO or 2.8,25s,2800ISO) but I still think the widest aperture would be the best option. Thanks for all your help so far!
 

jpig

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That would be a possibility but that is a lot of money for person like me to play around with :/ but it could definitely be done.

What about the Rokinon 12mm/F2.0? Does anyone have experience with this lens?
I recently bought the Rokinon 12mm f2 for star photography, and I've been pleased with the results so far. I find the all manual operation of the lens a big plus for this sort of thing. Much easier to focus on infinity using the focus scale (pre-calibrated in good light) than trying to do so squinting at an LCD or EVF in the dark. Here are a couple of shots with the EM10 and Rokinon 12mm f2. First one of the Milky Way over the Eastern Sierra, f2 16 sec ISO 1600.

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And another of moonlit peaks in the Sierra Nevada f2 16 sec ISO 400:

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jlouisalmeida

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Wow, amazing pictures. That second one of the moonlit mountains is incredible. Thank you for your input! I wish there was a wider/fisheye with a wider aperture but I guess we work with what we got! (and can afford)
 

jpig

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Yes, I would also like a wider prime than 12mm, but it probably wouldn't be as fast, so not as useful for starry sky photography. Wider also has some drawbacks. Even with the 12mm, there are times when I find it a struggle to keep unwanted light sources out of the photo. In the Milky Way shot, above, I had to be careful to keep the glare of headlights from cars on highway 395 out of the bottom of the photo while keeping a silhouette of the Sierra crest in the image. It's amazing how large an area car headlights can illuminate, even at a considerable distance. At any rate, I recommend the Rokinon 12mm f2 for this sort of thing. Nice lens in daylight as well. I only wish it were a little smaller and lighter. Saw at least one vendor selling them online new for $349 the other day.

I had the Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye for a while, and it's an impressively sharp lens. But composition with a fisheye was too challenging for me, and I had trouble keeping my fingers out of the photo, so I sold it.
 

jlouisalmeida

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So I finally got the Rokinon 12mm (I love the lens, takes amazing pictures) and I am headed to Joshua Tree this weekend. I forgot to figure out tho, how do I got about focusing on the stars? What do you mean by pre-calibrated in good light?
 

ivoire

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So I finally got the Rokinon 12mm (I love the lens, takes amazing pictures) and I am headed to Joshua Tree this weekend. I forgot to figure out tho, how do I got about focusing on the stars? What do you mean by pre-calibrated in good light?
I set the rokinon fisheye to just a hair before the infinity mark on the lens and everything from about 5ft to infinity is in focus. This should be the case with the 12mm also but lens samples vary so test yours during daylight just to be sure. I read where one guy has to set the 12mm to just a bit beyond the infinity mark. looking forward to your pics
 

jpig

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Focus on a distant object at or near infinity in daylight. Note the position of the focus ring (it probably won't be at the infinity mark; on my lens, it's several mm before the infinity mark). You can even mark this position if you like. Then at night, when you're setting up your star or meteor shot, simply turn the focus ring to the infinity position you found in daylight. No need to even look through the viewfinder. This is the beauty of old, mechanical manual focus technology.
 

JimUSNY

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too late for this thread but more meteor showers are coming, you can turn off NR to be able to shoot without waiting for that, and fix up in pp, its really not that bad on the EM5... believe me a bright meteor will always seem to come by when the camera is in middle of NR.. use a remote and sit back in a lawn chair, check a few shots to make sure your focus is good.. also if it is cool out watch for condensation on the lens that will mess up your shots pretty good
and you can always get an old manual lens cheap enough with an adapter, you cant use AF anyway.

I always shoot about 30 seconds and wide open.. and when previewing images you may have to zoom 100 percent to see them, so dont just click thru them at fit to screen ( especially if using a lap top) and delete, you really need to look em over, especially if your sure you caught some but aren't seeing them in the images, sometimes I just add a few stops of exposure while going thru them to brighten it up and they will stand out better on smaller size screens

Generally I use my 4/3rds 11-22MM at 11MM, dont forget the 4/3rds lenses may be cheaper than the micro 4/3rds equivalents
 

jlouisalmeida

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too late for this thread but more meteor showers are coming, you can turn off NR to be able to shoot without waiting for that, and fix up in pp, its really not that bad on the EM5... believe me a bright meteor will always seem to come by when the camera is in middle of NR.. use a remote and sit back in a lawn chair, check a few shots to make sure your focus is good.. also if it is cool out watch for condensation on the lens that will mess up your shots pretty good
and you can always get an old manual lens cheap enough with an adapter, you cant use AF anyway.

I always shoot about 30 seconds and wide open.. and when previewing images you may have to zoom 100 percent to see them, so dont just click thru them at fit to screen ( especially if using a lap top) and delete, you really need to look em over, especially if your sure you caught some but aren't seeing them in the images, sometimes I just add a few stops of exposure while going thru them to brighten it up and they will stand out better on smaller size screens

Generally I use my 4/3rds 11-22MM at 11MM, dont forget the 4/3rds lenses may be cheaper than the micro 4/3rds equivalents
Thanks for this, I did not realize the NR is what was making the photos take so long! Next time I'll turn that off. For my first time shooting, I think I did alright. I loved doing this and hope to do it again soon :) I'll post a few pics in a second.
 

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