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Messages - Niterider

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31
EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: Any astrophotographers out there?
« on: April 10, 2013, 03:08:14 PM »
Hi,

I think for  planets a webcam is more often used than a DSLR (those are more suitable for DSO).
I don't know if there is an astronomy club close to you?, you could go out there to get some information and possibly ''play'' with some of the gear available before purchasing any.

I have a dobson telescope and used it with an adapter to take pictures of the moon and saturn/jupiter.
Results of the moon are great, but a full frame body for planets is not putting enough pixels on them.

Also for planets / nebulas (basically anything but the moon), you combine many images to get a far better result.

For DSO's you want longer exposures and need a good tracking system, then afterwards you correct each image before combining them to 1 image ( ideally you use different filters: for example for a galaxy a R V an B filter, take multiple exposures (different lengths) in each filter to reach a certain number of counts that reach your sensor, then you correct each image for a : flat field/dark/bias and combine the different images to one nice image).

This requires a good tracking system, ccd and software.

There are lots of people who make beatiful images with their DSLR (they also correct for dark i think), and us tracking system with follow scope(to ensure the tracking keeps tracking correctly).

Last time i checked tracking systems (even simple ones) were quite expensive (eq5 and eq6 were 600-1200 dollars), a good dobson telescope for DSO is another 1000.

For planets a ''simple'' refractor and 20$ webcam (modified) will yield better results than a dslr!, you take hundreds of images and combine them afterwards with software.

I think you dont need a good tracking system for that either , a bit more work on aligning the images afterwards maybe but it should be doable.


The moon is the most easy to do, but you will want more, where i live there is an astronomy club(not 2 many members), where for 50 euros/year you get membership and access to the telescope ( +- 24 inch/60cm reflector with a great tracking system, where you can connect your dslr with an adapter).
Alternatively you could visit a university for more information!, most people who are into these kind of things love to share knowledge and give advice/tips etc.

If you got something like that close to you, there would be no need to spend a lot of money , and you can photograph different objects ( moon/planets and dso's). Or at least orientate a lot better before spending the money!

Hope it was of any use.

Thanks for the very informative reply! I was hoping that I would be able to get started for around $600 or less, but it looks like I was dreaming! Better start saving I guess. I will definitely look into astronomy groups or using the telescopes at the local university until I have enough saved up.

I was hoping I could get some advice regarding using a camera for astrophotography. Any advice is greatly appreciated!! I am not looking for exceptional pictures of nebulas, but something that can take pictures of some of the larger planets and the moon.

Unfortunately, my budget is rather limited. As much as I would love a star tracking telescope system, I am hoping to settle for a dobsonian reflector.

What I am looking at is as follows:
Orion SkyQuest XT8 - F/5.9 @ 1200mm (build a scope version)
Orion 2" low profile focuser
Canon T-mount adapter and Orion 2" Zero-Profile Prime Focus Camera Adapter
And a kit of 2" eyepieces for when I want to do viewing rather than imaging

I read that refractors are considerably better for astrophotography, but ouch are they expensive. I am always open to suggestions though!

I am hoping to get into astrophography, but fear spending money on a system that isnt compatible or wont give good results at all (I have heard focusing issues is a common problem).

Thanks! Feel free to post pictures you have taken or of the setup you use to photograph the night sky!
Back in the 70's and 80's I did a fair amount of astrophotography, using film. And I was involved in the making of telescopes, mainly reflector types. While times have changed, the basic techniques are still the same.

As a rule of thumb, a refractor is a good telescope for planetary use. High magnification, and good contrast. Reflectors are better suited for deep space use (the secondary mirror tends to reduce contrast a little). That said, they both can be used for general astronomy.

For tracking, an equatorial mount is best, although, I believe an alt-azimuth mount can be used with todays computer controlled systems. Dobsonians are really best used for visual observations, as they tend to be set on a simple alt-azimuth mount, which is manually controlled. I tended to use an equatorial mount in the field, and use a small guide scope to keep things on track.

From a camera perspective, the Canon 60Da is designed for astrophotography. It has the IR filter removed and a number of other enhancements. In the film era, it was common to run exposures (for deep space objects) for up to 2-3hrs. In the digital era, its more likely to take a great number of short exposures, then combine them later. This is done to cope with sensor noise, as long exposures tend to get very noisy.

I got carried away with the wide apertures and long focal length of the dobsonians, so I didnt give too much thought to a refractor. Maybe picking up an astrotrak and using my 70-200mm may be a cheap alternative given the cost of the equatorial mounts?

I am hoping to grab a 60Da the next time lens rentals does a promotional sale and lists that camera. Hopefully that will be soon because I just found a wonder spot away from all of the city lights!

32
EOS Bodies - For Stills / Any astrophotographers out there?
« on: April 10, 2013, 02:55:08 AM »
I was hoping I could get some advice regarding using a camera for astrophotography. Any advice is greatly appreciated!! I am not looking for exceptional pictures of nebulas, but something that can take pictures of some of the larger planets and the moon.

Unfortunately, my budget is rather limited. As much as I would love a star tracking telescope system, I am hoping to settle for a dobsonian reflector.

What I am looking at is as follows:
Orion SkyQuest XT8 - F/5.9 @ 1200mm (build a scope version)
Orion 2" low profile focuser
Canon T-mount adapter and Orion 2" Zero-Profile Prime Focus Camera Adapter
And a kit of 2" eyepieces for when I want to do viewing rather than imaging

I read that refractors are considerably better for astrophotography, but ouch are they expensive. I am always open to suggestions though!

I am hoping to get into astrophography, but fear spending money on a system that isnt compatible or wont give good results at all (I have heard focusing issues is a common problem).

Thanks! Feel free to post pictures you have taken or of the setup you use to photograph the night sky!

33
Pricewatch Deals / Re: Nik Collection Bundle for $126.65
« on: March 30, 2013, 12:48:00 AM »
Lots of stellar recommendations in this thread. So, here's my question to any and everyone.  I have PS and LR and DPP came with my cameras.  I don't consider myself expert with PS (and often spend time with forums on the Internet trying to figure out exactly how to do something) but LR is a lot more intuitive and seems to work for my needs.  My biggest complaint with my post processing is the time commitment I need to get through a bunch of RAW pics.  So, what is different about Nik /what can it do for me / will it decrease my time per shot?  I would like to hear about your experience.

As always, thanks.

I have found that if you are just adjusting the photo globally (not using brush or masking), lightroom is faster. If you do a lot of masking, Nik will definitely speed up the time to edit each photo. What I like about the software suite is that the noise reduction is absolute amazing and it gives you much greater control over the colors in localized areas rather than the image as a whole. For example, in lightroom you can adjust the hue/saturation/luminance of each color, but with Nik you can adjust the blue for the sky then adjust the blue of say a car and so on. That way, you can dial in each part of the photo.

34
Lenses / Re: Landscape Lens advice
« on: March 29, 2013, 01:53:08 PM »
I would go with the 24mm TS-E ii F/3.5 over the zeiss. You would be able to take so many pictures you wouldnt have been able to take before.

35
EOS Bodies / Re: 5DMK2 just dropped from canon website.
« on: March 21, 2013, 10:50:10 AM »
Nevermind, I figured it out.
Also, gotta say I'm glad to see it go. It was a deservingly popular camera for a long time, but the 5DIII is definitely a huge step up in a lot of ways. Namely image quality.
Then again, now that they're dropping the two anomaly SLRs (5DII and T3 as soon as the B is out), they only have one SLR in the whole range that isn't 18MP. That looks to me like a lack of creativity.

I am fairly certain that there is no image quality improvement at low ISO. Actually, most landscape photographers I talk to think that the mark ii is slightly better than the mark iii in image quality. The most obvious upgrade I see is better performance at high ISO and autofocus.

36
You definitely get more bang for the buck with a PC.  I don't do video, but here's the base for my new PC I'm building for photo editing:

Shuttle SZ77R5 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007UZO3F6
Intel Core i7-3770 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007SZ0EHE
32GB DDR3 1600 MHz http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0068ZWZY0
Crucial m4 256GB SSD http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0085J17UA
GeForce GTX 650 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00966IU4M

~$1150

I haven't decided which direction I want to go on monitors yet, probably either a pair of Dell U2410 or U2412M monitors.  Those are about $400 and $300 each respectively.  Or I may go with a single 30".  I'd prefer 27" but I insist on a 16:10 display, so that's not happening.
Bulk storage will be a few 3TB USB3 drives (which are only about $110 each these days).

All said and done I'm looking at about $2k and change, which doesn't get you much in the Apple world.

Thats a solid build. I hope you dont mind, but I may propose a slightly different setup. The thing I value most in a custom built computer is the motherboard. The option to choose from the thousands on the marker make it possible to customize everything to the fullest. I would start with a Corsair 300R/Antec 900 or others depending on your budget. Those cases are optimized for airflow and will allow for the coolest temperatures. Couple that with a 500-750w power supply (depending upon needs). I recently built a computer where I got a corsair 300R and a corsair 650w builder power supply together for $75, but those deals are hard to find. Then all you have left to match the bare bones setup is a motherboard. The best for the price is the asrock z77 extreme4 (or extreme 6 depending upon needs). I promise you would not be disappointed with this setup.

Also, check out the intel i7-3770k processor. For barely any more money, you have full control of the overclocking capabilities. Place a cooler master hyper 212 heatsink on that with arctic silver thermal compound and the temperatures will be unbelievably low.

Whichever route you go, have a great time building it!

37
Landscape / Re: How Would You Edit This Landscape Photo?
« on: March 08, 2013, 11:31:37 PM »
I'll give it a shot!


38
Lenses / Re: 17-40mm advice please!
« on: March 02, 2013, 11:07:55 AM »
I think the question in UWA really boils down to your purpose.  If you are wanting dramatic portrait or wedding shots (and thus might be making money with it), I would recommend the 16-35II.  If you are going to be stopping down a lot and shooting landscapes, then the 17-40L will work just as well.  From f/8 on the 17-40L is a very strong lens.  Great color rendition and renders distant details exceptionally well.  It also handles flare very well and has less distortion than, say, the 24-105L.

Great pictures Dustin! I like the third one the best. As far as the first one goes, I personally find the sky too blue. In Lightroom 4, the vibrance slider is very aggressive on blues and turning it up to make the yellows, oranges, and reds pop, can often result in this effect. Just a personal preference though I guess.

It is a matter of preference, for sure, but fortunately these days in Lightroom you can control saturation and luminosity on the individual color channels.  It gives you a lot more processing flexibility without leaving LR

Definitely, I am just used to seeing people adjust the vibrance slider and never touch the HSL individual color channels. Since vibrance adjust the least saturated colors, it is often overdone and the effect is apparent in the transitions of colors (it looks very harsh). This is more of a generalization about LR4 edited photos. Your pictures definitely looked balanced and not overdone in terms of color management though. Keep doing what your doing!

39
Lenses / Re: 17-40mm advice please!
« on: March 01, 2013, 10:33:34 PM »
I think the question in UWA really boils down to your purpose.  If you are wanting dramatic portrait or wedding shots (and thus might be making money with it), I would recommend the 16-35II.  If you are going to be stopping down a lot and shooting landscapes, then the 17-40L will work just as well.  From f/8 on the 17-40L is a very strong lens.  Great color rendition and renders distant details exceptionally well.  It also handles flare very well and has less distortion than, say, the 24-105L.

Great pictures Dustin! I like the third one the best. As far as the first one goes, I personally find the sky too blue. In Lightroom 4, the vibrance slider is very aggressive on blues and turning it up to make the yellows, oranges, and reds pop, can often result in this effect. Just a personal preference though I guess.   

40
Landscape / Re: Yosemite in the wintertime
« on: February 27, 2013, 12:29:36 AM »
Very, very nice shots! I was there too over the weekend showing my friends around so I wasn't really able to shoot a lot.

I was also there a few days before Christmas when there was a lot of snow. I wished there was more snow over the weekend, but I guess Global Warming has changed that!

I only used 1 lens the entire weekend: TS-E 24mm 3.5L II. I didn't even bother using other lenses. I think those who were shooting with 70-200mm were there for the Fire Falls near El Cap.

Wonderful picture! The 24mm II TS-E is my dream lens. I too was hoping for more snow, but at least it was not as bad as last year. Snow did not last on the valley floor for very long if it did snow (from what I heard from the people who worked there).

I agree with the OP that winter is the best time to visit Yosemite. Significantly less crowded, especially if snow is forecast (it's great to have 4WD).

You pictures make me want to go back after the next snowfall! By the way, those are some beautiful pictures. Honestly, I just don't know if I would visit in the summer in the near future. Winter was so peaceful with the buses never filling up, the campground was quiet after 8:00pm, and the short line for the food court.

I find 24-105L to be great for landscape - just take a couple of filters and a sturdy tripod.

Cheers

Thanks for the advice Menace! I will definitely look into picking up a 24-105L. Plus the 77mm filter threads keep me from having to buy new filters.

41
Landscape / Re: Yosemite in the wintertime
« on: February 26, 2013, 09:08:25 PM »
Lovely shots. Personally, I shy away from the 70-200 2.8II...leaving the hype aside, I find its weight intolerable. I travel light and you can take excellent landscape shots with the 24-105L or even the lowly 50 f1.4. It is all in the creativeness of the photographer. Cheers!

Thanks for the input! I agree that a lens that heavy is going to make getting around considerably more difficult. At times, I wished I just threw the 40mm pancake on and left the lenses and tripod at my campsite (locked up of course). I have not had the chance to use the 24-105L, but from what it sounds like, it makes a great landscape lens. Would you recommend bringing that lens instead of various primes in that focal range?

42
Landscape / Re: Yosemite in the wintertime
« on: February 26, 2013, 09:02:28 PM »
Tioga and Pugshot, excellent advice and info.  Oh, and don't stay in the cabins unless you want to die, right? 

Hiking 15 miles with all of your gear, eh?  Are you saying the only way I could get your respect, is by strapping two 400 f/2.8's to my back, making friends with hungry amorous bears by letting them play with the IS switches...and then scaling straight up Half Dome's "wall" at night...then using a camera on each lens to simultaneously shoot a 360 degree night sky/terrestrial panorama from 1000 feet above the valley floor...in a gentle breeze...while suspending the gigapans only to ropes and hoping it all works out...and then somehow get it printed on the cover of National Geographic the next day...then attend the after-party at The Skywalker Ranch?  Ok, I'll give it a go!  :P

I actually camped when I visited Yosemite. The low was around 20 degrees so not bad at all. Curry Village in Yosemite has heated tent cabins which is a good route if you are on a budget but dont want to freeze. The bears are not a problem at all and dont bother you if you dont leave your food in the car/tent/cabins. The one thing I very much fear when I am there are the rock slides. A ranger I talked to said that on average, they have a rock slide every day during the summer months.

Haha you would definitely earn my respect that way, but you have already earned it just by responding to my post and helping me out! I do really appreciate all those who responded to this post. Anyhow, I hiked so much because I was only in Yosemite for 2 nights and wanted to see it all. I also arrived by bus so I had to walk/hike everywhere unless the free Yosemite Valley bus took me where I needed to go.

But hey if you do make friends with hungry amorous bears, definitely take a picture. I would love too see that!

Here are a couple more pictures if anyone is interested. Feel free to critique them if you want!

Yosemite9-1 by Live By The Night, on Flickr


Yosemite8-1 by Live By The Night, on Flickr


Yosemite10-1 by Live By The Night, on Flickr


Yosemite7-1 by Live By The Night, on Flickr

43
Landscape / Re: Yosemite in the wintertime
« on: February 26, 2013, 11:14:51 AM »
Niterider, I like your pics.  Show more if you have any others.

Yes, it's a lovely park, someday I will visit.  It sounds like there's no shortage of people shooting pics there, though...and there's also no shortage of pictures of the park done by well known photographers.

The reason people walk around with a 70-200 f/2.8, is because they don't look like a big shot photographer unless they have one.  They see the photo press on tv, all of them have one, so they buy one.  I assume they are there to shoot wildlife, or else to take some of family or friends while with them...or something.

Every time I visit the parks in my area (such as the Smokey Mtns), there are people with wide angles, and people with 70-200's.  I usually go with a wide zoom and some exotic medium prime lens.  What did not surprise me last year (via part of the Blue Ridge Parkway), were the billions of extremely loud Harley Davidsons piloted by gray haired couples, complete with micro dog in the wife's purse or backpack.  Every stop possessing fresh grass and picnic tables, smelled like horrible tiny doggie poo! 

What did surprise me was the multitude of people shooting standard wide angle landscape shots in the daytime, on tripods.  I fail to see the logic of this.  If they're shooting macro, or wanting to participate in the "stream water as smoke" fad, with long exposures and ND filters, that's one thing.  Or if it is late afternoon light, then yes I can see needing a tripod.  But if they are not doing long exposure, there's no reason for a tripod in mid afternoon light, in my opinion.  It certainly limits the total number of shots you can take, to constantly move around a tripod and set it up, and aim the camera, etc.  I had rented a 1D4 with 24-105 IS.  I shot about 1400 pictures over a day and a half.  With the IS, I was able to close the lens down to f/16 or 18 at times, to try to minimize CA at the wide end, and still got sharp shots handheld even if the speed was less than 1/100.  I felt like a bigshot with the big 1 series around my neck, but nobody really seemed to notice!   

When I visit Yosemite, I think it will take me several visits to figure out what's been least photographed, but still is worth shooting.  Ideally I would do night photography of the comet later this year (assuming it lights up like they say), but I have a feeling something or some park ranger would try to stop me...stuff like that always happens ("sorry folks, the park closes at 5pm, it's time to go home").  If I can't do it there, there are other parks and other nice places.  There won't be a shortage of other people shooting the comet, either...will be kind of hard to stand out from the crowd...or rather impossible.

Yes, everyone had tripods and most had them set up for long exposures of the waterfalls. In terms of the long lenses, I had the feeling it was a bit of an insecurity thing. I did have a lot of people talk to me about gear and very few talk about lighting, composition, etc. I did do a bit of night photography while I was there and the rangers are totally cool with it. I also hiked some trails at night and no one stopped me.

The places that have not been photographed like crazy are definitely the places you have to hike miles to get to. I did not see a single photographer when I hiked up to Nevada Falls or going to the top of upper Yosemite falls, but saw hundreds around the valley floor. After hiking 15 miles one day with all my camera equipment, snow gear, and water & food on my back, I dont blame most photographers for sticking on the valley floor.

Hopefully you make it to Yosemite soon! I'll try to upload some pictures of the less photographed places when I can.

I did notice that about 80% of photographers were walking around with a 70-200 F2.8 (canon/nikon/tamron/etc.). For the life of me, I could not figure this out! For my entire trip, I was constantly reaching for my 14mm uwa lens. If that was not on the camera, the 50mm was. I only put my 70-200mm on my camera 3 times over the course of the trip.

And when I look at your photos, what do I see? Uncorrected lens distortion.

Where does lens distortion come from?

UWA lenses that people don't know how to use.

Your photos are a great example of why lots of people don't use wide angle lenses in Yosemite Valley.

Best lens for the Yosemite Valley is arguably 24-70. It would be 24-105 except that the 24-105 is rubbish wider than 28mm.

I would happily argue that the best lens for Yosemite is a 24 or 17mm tilt shift lens, but everyone has their preference. The distortion is corrected for as best I could (using a lens profile), but that is definitely the downfall of the Samyang 14mm. I am sure I could have done a better job correcting the distortion, but I have not figured out how. If you have any advice feel free to share!

44
Landscape / Yosemite in the wintertime
« on: February 25, 2013, 09:13:34 PM »
I just came back from Yosemite. I have to admit that February is now my favorite month to visit that region. The valley floor is still a bit busy, but the hiking trails are pretty quiet. I was not able to see the Horsetail Fall's Fire Fall due to it being cloudy when I went to watch it. There were well over a hundred photographers there waiting to catch a shot though! Anyhow if you have the option too, I would highly recommend staying a weekend in Yosemite during the month of February. Just don't wear tennis shoes!!!

I did notice that about 80% of photographers were walking around with a 70-200 F2.8 (canon/nikon/tamron/etc.). For the life of me, I could not figure this out! For my entire trip, I was constantly reaching for my 14mm uwa lens. If that was not on the camera, the 50mm was. I only put my 70-200mm on my camera 3 times over the course of the trip.

I do understand wanting that focal range for the waterfalls when observing from a distance, but these lenses were everywhere. Does anyone know why everyone in Yosemite has that lens attached to their camera 24/7???

Anyhow, here are a couple pictures from the trip. Hope you like them!
Also, feel free to critique the photos. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


Mirror Lake Trail by Live By The Night, on Flickr


Vernal Falls by Live By The Night, on Flickr

45
Lenses / Re: New Wide Angle Lens Ideas, please!
« on: February 14, 2013, 04:18:52 PM »
Well I sold it though because I loved wide angle so much I decided to get a 17-40 4.0L for it has got autofocus and is affordable. Maybe upgrading to 16-35 later or lets see how much a 14-24 will as soon as it comes.

How does the Canon 17-40mm compare to the Samyang??? I have been debating a 17-40 for traveling, but I am worried that after getting used to the IQ of the Samyang, I will be left wanting more out of the 17-40mm.

By the way, I really enjoy the pictures you have taken with the 14mm!

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