Currently on vacation in Jamaica, thought I would try to get some night shots and realized I could see the milkyway through the slightly hazy conditions. Looking for helpful tips on photography technique as well as editing techniques.
Hi Chris, can’t give you any tips I’m afraid but noticed you used the Tamron 17-70 for the shot.
Have you tried your Sigma 16mm as I’m sure I’ve seen positive comments elsewhere about its use in astrophotography?
Hope your having a great vacation and I’m not jealous at all sat here in cloudy and cool Wales. Enjoy.
Sadly I didn't bring the Sigma 16 with me. My vacation kit nowadays only consists of the 17-70 for most shots and the 10-18 for wide shots (rare).
I might try again tonight, maybe. Depends on how many Rum beverages I consume tonight haha!
Chris, Great shot! Looks like you captured M31 - the Andromeda Galaxy on the right side of the frame. Those are some 2.5 million year old pixels there! Andromeda fun fact: Our galaxy is headed on a collision course with M31. Don't worry. Won't happen for 4.5 billion more years, give or take. Looks like you also got good focus which is critical with point sources like stars.
To start just play a little bit with levels or curves to improve the contrast and to darken the sky background. You can also play a little with the color channels too. Go easy and make small adjustments. Just for giggles, I've converted some star shots to B&W. That's sorta a sledge hammer approch to getting a black background sky.
Another thing you can do is to take a series of photos and stack them for better signal to noise ratio. There's free programs for stacking the images. Here's one: http://deepskystacker.free.fr/english/index.html I bought a cheap intervalometer my my a6000. When stacking you'll also take some bias, flats and darks for getting rid of noise. The stacking programs will use those.
The following is a tutorial that are specific to a particular software, but the basic should apply to whatever program you are using. I purchased Affinity Photo because it does have some features that are astrophotography specific like stacking. It does have a learning curve though. Occasionally it comes on sale for half price. Otherwise, there's free stuff like the program in the link above.
Be aware this can get complicated very quickly so keep it simple. Experiment with what you have to see what works best with your camera and lenses. Another nice thing about stacking is it overcomes the problem of being limited to a certain exposure length due to stars trailing as the Earth rotates. One rule of thumb on exposure limits is the 500 rule. Take you lens' effective focal length and divide it into 500 to get the maximum length of exposure in seconds before the stars elongate. Some people suggest using 300 instead. I noticed I get some trailing at 30 seconds using my 12mm lens which is 18mm equivalent on my a6000. The rule of 500s says I should be ok up to 27 seconds. If I shorten the exposure to around 20 seconds, I'm good.
If you really want to go down the astrophotography processing rabbit hole, there are programs that remove the stars from you image so you can processes the rest of the background separately, then stack the stars back in. Wow!
If you are willing to wade through posts there's a very popular astronomy forum/website that has a DSLR/Mirrorless section with a ton of info. I don't think you have to join to read it. If you do join, it's free. It's the biggest US based astronomy forum. I want to warn you though. It'll expose you to another time and money sucking hobby.
I'm still waiting for good skies to try my hand at this some more. Rain, haze, smoke, the Moon and trees have stopped me from trying since late spring! Learning casual astrophotography is the whole reason I bought my a6000.