Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pleiades Rising

Trying to make the best of a trip to New Mexico during the full moon and monsoon season.  Don't get me wrong - the skies are spectacular.  I'm just haven't learned how to best capture what I'm seeing and feeling.  I have plenty more day shots that I like but haven't decided if I want to "cross the streams" on what would otherwise be a astronomy centric blog.  If I did it would increase the rate of images I post given the glacial pace of astro-imaging this year.

Here come the Pleiades again.  click to enlarge
The moon is two days shy of full and is swinging low on the horizon about 30 degrees outside of the right side frame.  The full width is about 170 degrees but the above image is a little less than that since I cropped out my shadow which was on the left side of the frame.  Only the brightest stars are visible because of the short exposure and moonlight.  You can see the Pleiades rising just above Kitchen Mesa, the large rock face in the left hand frame.

I experimented with a number of ways to capture/process this.  It is a two frame mosaic with each frame processed with 4 different exposures using Photoshop's HDR function.  I certainly do wish for more tools in the PS HDR module but at this point I don't do enough HDR to justify a specialty package.  I stitched the two frames using PTGui Pro since PS couldn't figure out how to stitch this correctly.  After that I did some final tone/exposure/noise reduction in Lightroom.

Pleiades Rising

Taken at Ghost Ranch, NM   July 31, 2012
Canon T2i (stock), Canon EF-S 10-22mm @ 10mm  f3.5
Manfroto Tripod (stationary)
two frames, each frame with 1, 2, 4, 15 sec exposures @ ISO1600
no dark or flat subtraction
vignetting and lens correction in Lightroom 4
HDR combine in Photoshop
frame stitching in PTGui Pro
final adjustments and noise reduction in Lightroom 4

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