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Thread: Milky Way over Yosemite

  1. #1
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Milky Way over Yosemite

    I'll be honest and say I was rather surprised/disappointed with how little response one of my previous threads with night photography in Yosemite got - I thought the photo was quite interesting and really had a feel to it that was different than the standard nighttime starry sky over the horizon silhouette. So as comparison, I present some of those starry skies...

    Milky Way over Yosemite

    Milky Way over Yosemite

    Milky Way over Yosemite

    Thanks for viewing.

    - Bill

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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    These are nice Bill, but I am afraid I have missed the post which you refer to. Care to point me and anyone else whom may have missed it, in the right direction?

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    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    The other thread is over here... Need a Title

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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    Thanks Bill, of these, I do like the color of the milky way best. Although I like the darker sky of the others. lol I guess I am not much help there.

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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    Super shots of the milky may!

    I wonder if there was any way you could have exposed the foreground at all (light painting / absurdly long shutter speed) and blended it with the sky to give a bit of foreground interest. Otherwise i guess it could have been taken anywhere. Unless of course the silhouette is of a particularly iconic rock formation / structure.

    Still, the sky is magnificent. I'd like to see a larger resolution

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    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    Feel unappreciated, Bill?

    Me too!

    Great exposures for the sky, but as above I would like to see a little detail in the foreground. I'm not expecting you to scale large conifers and rock faces with a strobe, but maybe that will generate a bit more interest. A blended longer exposure for the foregrounds may help a lot.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    I'm not going to comment on the images, as I'm not viewing on my own home monitor.

    In terms of the comment about lack of responses, I feel CiC has been a victim of its own success in this regard. I remember the days when it was reasonable to expect that every and all images would regularly attract 10, 15, 20 comments. By virtue of the fact of the greatly increased volume of traffic on the forum, I certainly find that the number of responses to posts asking for C & C are much less. Collectively it may be the same, but they're just spread out much more thinly.

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    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    On these photos, I was using an ISO of 12800 to get an exposure time of 30 seconds because I wanted to stay out of the realm of star-trails. I wanted to keep the Milky Way as crisp as possible (which I think I achieved). It was a fairly new moon (only 2 days old) when we were in Yosemite, so I have no idea what it would have taken to get foreground detail.

    Granted, to be honest, to help with the noise cleanup, I did nudge up the blacks slider in ACR on most of these (forget the actual value right now), so I don't know if pulling that back would have left just the slightest of detail in the foreground - though at the same time, it would have also left the sky brighter.

    As for doing light painting, that idea is pretty well impossible as the landscape here is enormous. Consider that the shots are taken with a Sigma 10mm fisheye for the first, and a Sigma 10-20mm wide-angle at 10mm for the second, and 20mm for the second. The amount of ground that is covering is just impossible to try and get any kind of light painting to look like anything other than tiny spot lights. For reference, here is a shot with the Sigma 10-20mm at 10mm.

    Milky Way over Yosemite

    That view is Tunnel View which is a fairly iconic view in Yosemite. Though at the scale we're talking, it really isn't all that identifiable. As for the other two, I'm sure someone who knows Yosemite well might be able to identify them, but I don't know which rock formations they are right now (I'd have to do some research at home later).

    - Bill

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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    Hi Bill,

    I love the shots. It may sound a little rich coming from someone who hasn't acheived anything close to the quality of your pictures, but I agree with the foreground silhouetting. I'm a big fan of astrography and I've reviewed a lot of pictures whilst learning how to approach such a shot.

    I noticed that most of the 'wow' shots have somehting in the foreground, regardless of the fact that it's by no means the main focal point. I read somewhere that sticthing two potographs together, 1 long exp. (very long in your case) for the foreground and a second shorter exp. for the stars (exactly what you have done). The results were quite impressive in my opinion. The second approach I know of would be to simply paint the foreground with a torch for the entire exposure time, which probably wouldn't have worked in your case.

    Anyway, as I mentioned above I'm learning. I'm due to fly to Nepal on Monday to begin the long trek up to Mt. Everest base-camp and hope to capture a shot of the milky-way along the way at the next new moon (16.10.12) high up in the Himalaya. So, here are my questions:

    1) exposure time?
    2) ISO, Lens &Focal length, and Aperture?
    3) how did you set/find the focus?
    4) did you use high ISO noise reduction?
    5) any post processing applied?

    Thanks in advance for answering my questions and for sharing your pictures!

    - Rob
    Last edited by EDGE1; 26th September 2012 at 05:06 AM.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I'm not going to comment on the images, as I'm not viewing on my own home monitor.
    Now able to see them on my own screen. Wonderful.

    I think the first one is that which really stands out. The reason I say that is not only is it a wonderful image of the sky, but the land works well with it - right amount; good lines. In the second one I feel we have a great big lump of land that is not so attractive and in the third we have a land contour that becomes indistinguishable and lost in the image.

    But in the first one there is a lovely clean line and those lines take us back into the image and up to the sky.
    Last edited by Donald; 26th September 2012 at 01:12 PM.

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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    I love all three images but I am particularly in awe of #1 which is simply stunning.

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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Now able to see them on my own screen. Wonderful.

    I think the first one is really strands out. The reason I say that is not only is it a wonderful image of the sky, but the land works well with it - right amount; good lines. In the second one I feel we have a great big lump of land that is not so attractive and in the third we have a land contour that becomes indistinguishable and lost in the image.

    But in the first one there is a lovely clean line and those lines take us back into the image and up to the sky.
    Donald,

    As to the response count on the other thread, I made the comment more out of observation than anything. I honestly was surprised when the other post got so few responses - I figured with it being such a different photo from things I've seen, it might garner some extra attention. It wasn't a complaint against the folks of CiC in any sense - it was more a (albeit probably poorly worded) stream of consciousness in which I was wondering whether there was something about the difference between the photos that might make one more popular than the other.

    And now - on to your quite accurate critiques of the compositions of these photos...

    I think you're spot on for each one! The lines the fisheye causes in the first one are really interesting and whereas in a normal daylight photo, the distortion of a fisheye can be distracting, I think in this case it blends in nicely and allows me to capture much more of the sky while still giving enough landscape to act as grounding without taking up too much real-estate in the frame.

    Which as you point out in the second shot is the problem. Unfortunately, this shot has what I tend to consider the most interesting section of the Milky Way with the heavier "nebulae clouds" (I don't know if that is what they are actually called, but you know what I mean). I genuinely wish I had corrected this at the time of shooting and bumped up the framing a bit to include more sky and less landscape (I will try tonight with some cropping to see if I can find something that works better). Unfortunately, this location we were basically just stopped on the side of the road and though traffic was very light, any car that would drive by would mess up the exposure... add to that that one member of our party thought she heard some rustling in the trees and was getting extremely nervous and wanted to move on (I think it was just a raccoon, but she was convinced it was a bear or mountain lion - all of which are actually real possibilities in the park), but I'm stuck with what I got until I can make it back to the park (which won't be anytime soon).

    And yes - the third shot is kind of boring... I think it is the level horizon in this case that makes it kind of "blah" - the other shots that seem more interesting have a horizon that isn't level like this. I think in this case, it looks like I just pasted a silhouette over the sky. Out of the three, it is obviously my least favorite, but I shared it just the same.

    Thanks for pointing out those differences in each shot.

    - Bill

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    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    Quote Originally Posted by EDGE1 View Post
    Hi Bill,

    I love the shots. It may sound a little rich coming from someone who hasn't acheived anything close to the quality of your pictures, but I agree with the foreground silhouetting. I'm a big fan of astrography and I've reviewed a lot of pictures whilst learning how to approach such a shot.

    I noticed that most of the 'wow' shots have somehting in the foreground, regardless of the fact that it's by no means the main focal point. I read somewhere that sticthing two potographs together, 1 long exp. (very long in your case) for the foreground and a second shorter exp. for the stars (exactly what you have done). The results were quite impressive in my opinion. The second approach I know of would be to simply paint the foreground with a torch for the entire exposure time, which probably wouldn't have worked in your case.

    Anyway, as I mentioned above I'm learning. I'm due to fly to Nepal on Monday to begin the long trek up to Mt. Everest base-camp and hope to capture a shot of the milky-way along the way at the next new moon (16.10.12) high up in the Himalaya. So, here are my questions:

    1) exposure time?
    2) ISO, Lens &Focal length, and Aperture?
    3) how did you set/find the focus?
    4) did you use high ISO noise reduction?
    5) any post processing applied?

    Thanks in advance for answering my questions and for sharing your pictures!

    - Rob
    Rob,

    Typing my respond for Donald actually took me longer than I expected, and considering I am at work, I should be doing work.... so I just wanted to post to promise that I'll respond to your questions later and can definitely provide all of the information you're asking for. I'm definitely would love to see what results you get when you go to Everest, so please be sure to share them!

    - Bill

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    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    Rob,

    As promised... here are the answers...

    Exposure data:
    Image 1: Canon EOS 7D, Sigma 10mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM Fisheye, 20 sec at f/4. ISO 12800.
    Image 2: Canon EOS 7D, Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM AF at 10mm, 30 sec at f/4. ISO 12800.
    Image 3: Canon EOS 7D, Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM AF at 20mm, 30 sec at f/5.6. ISO 12800.

    Focus:
    Normally when I do this kind of photography, I set the lens to manual focus, turn the focus ring to infinity, and then ever so slightly pull it back a bit. I'm not sure exactly why this is the case, but I've found that if I leave it at infinity, things are blurred. I also found that if I went to f/2.8 on the fisheye, things would be blurred then too, though I'm not entirely sure why.

    High ISO Noise Reductions:
    No, I did not use it for these shots. I did try it on a couple shots, but I honestly don't know if I was doing something wrong or what... I remember turning it on and trying a couple frames and then turning it back off. I don't exactly remember what was happening that caused me to turn it back off, but I did all my NR in post (see below).

    Post Processing:
    As I said, I did all of my NR in PP, and all of it was done using Adobe Camera Raw. The first thing I did was use the Basic tab and made any necessary adjustments to the exposure - most notably, bumping up the Blacks slider to help cut down on a portion of the noise just to start. I then went to the Detail tab, and adjusted the Color NR slider, then the Luminance slider, and then the Luminance Contrast slider, then finally the Sharpening Amount slider. That's my entire NR process (well sort of... more on that in a bit), and I've gotten some pretty amazing results with it (check out my P52 posts here, here, and here for more non-night high-iso photography).

    For the 1st and 2nd photos, I had to use the HSL / Grayscale tab in ACR to adjust the Saturation of the various color channels to remove as much false color due to light pollution as possible (of course after adjusting the color temperature to get as close as possible).

    At that point, I then took the images into Photoshop CS5 and used either the content aware fill or the clone stamp to clean-up as much as possible. In particular, the first image had stray lights from a nearby campsite that were just distracting, plus there was a slight reddish tint on some of the trees due to car brake lights - I just cleaned it all up by making it appear black.

    This is way beyond my normal PP routine, so it was kind of daunting at first, but after I made it through a couple images, I really fell into a routine with it (each image was slightly different in its needs, but the general concept was pretty well the same). However, if I had been shooting in JPG only, I would have had a much harder go of it. The tools in ACR are incredible, and I find I do almost all of my PP work there and then use PS for what I absolutely have to.

    So that's my biggest piece of advice for when you go on your trip... shoot RAW! Yeah, the other stuff is important too, but if you get home and have to do NR on JPGs, I think you'll pull your hair out. Shoot RAW and always keep an original copy you can go back to and try different techniques and you'll find something that works for you.

    And be sure to share those shots from your trip to Everest!

    - Bill

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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    I asked about exposure etc but internet must have been acting up as it didn't come up. I wondered if you had used stacking and dark frame subtraction. It's a simple idea really much used by astro people. Instead of taking one long exposure take several and add them up subtracting a dark frame from each one. There is more info here

    http://keithwiley.com/astroPhotograp...Stacking.shtml

    The same person has a program for actually doing it. The other one is registax http://www.astronomie.be/registax/index.html
    That appears to only handle avi's - it will also handle other formats including tiff. AVI is better for the moon and planets etc. There are others. The best for this sort of thing might be http://deepskystacker.free.fr/english/index.html

    The technique has revolutionised amateur astronomy. Even small telescopes can produce amazing shots. The main limitation is just how dark the sky really is. You seem to be lucky in that respect.

    I suspect you would gain a lot more colour this way. It's something I want to try with a camera this winter. That's the only time in the UK when the sky is clear enough really and it's oh so cold at times. A quick web search found this comparison stacked against high iso and 30 sec exposure.

    http://photography-on-the.net/forum/...php?p=11050710

    -The artefacts he mentions could well be down to the lens. Pin point light sources are very good at showing defects of one sort or another.

    -

  16. #16
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    And, as promised... here is the second shot cropped... I selected a 9x16 ratio and simple sliced off all the extra black at the bottom...

    Milky Way over Yosemite

    Any better?

    - Bill

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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    Great shots with #1 the outstanding piece. Now #2 is good too with the edit.

  18. #18
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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    Is there a problem as I am not seeing any images on my monitor?

    Donald, in response to your first reply. Maybe, just maybe it would be a good idea to consider adding a few more sub-forums so that the new threads could be viewed and help rendered to those who need help with their photos. I do understand that this issue was discussed in detail in another thread.

    Bill, sorry for hijacking your thread.

    Steven
    Last edited by teokf; 27th September 2012 at 07:00 AM.

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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    Quote Originally Posted by teokf View Post
    Is there a problem as I am not seeing any images on my monitor?

    Donald, in response to your first reply. Maybe, just maybe it would be a good idea to consider adding a few more sub-forums so that the new threads could be viewed and help rendered to those who need help with their photos. I do understand that this issue was discussed in detail in another thread.

    Bill, sorry for hijacking your thread.

    Steven
    I have the same problem on here at times. It seems to be down to the pages not loading correctly. As a for instance my browser shows 61 of 66 elements loaded and has done for the last several minutes. The missing elements seem to be the recent pictures. It's just changed to 49 of 54 and that means this post may not actually appear. Some sites seem worse than others in this respect.

    -

  20. #20
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    Re: Milky Way over Yosemite

    Quote Originally Posted by teokf View Post
    Is there a problem as I am not seeing any images on my monitor?
    My server is currently down... I was upgrading my gallery software, and it appears to have choked on doing the import from the old gallery. I have to wait for my friend who houses the server to wake up and kick it (he's on the west coast).

    Sorry for any inconvenience.

    - Bill

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