Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Astrophotography With The Fuji X-E1 - Part 2

Our Galaxy - Mirror Lake, Utah
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/2.8, 20 seconds, ISO 6400, Velvia film simulation, dynamic range 100, shadows hard, highlights medium-hard, saturation medium-low, sharpness normal, noise reduction normal, long-exposure noise reduction on, auto white balance, manual focus to infinity, Dolica Proline tripod, cable release, out-of-camera JPEG.

I've had a couple of opportunities since the first installment to photograph the stars with my Fujifilm X-E1. Each attempt has provided lessons to be learned--trial and error is a common course in photography. While I'm no newbie to photography, astrophotography is something I'm very new to, and I'm still learning how to capture good images of the night sky.

The first opportunity came a little over a week ago because I had some family in town, and they wanted to see some stars. It came up in conversation that they hadn't really seen an amazing night sky, so I offered to take them to a good location nearby.

I knew, however, that this wasn't the greatest location for astrophotography, because I'd already attempted it there before. This was the same place--near Huntsville, Utah--that I first attempted to capture the stars with the X-E1, and I discovered that there was too much light pollution. Even so, as long as we were viewing the stars, I figured it would be worth trying to capture them.

Here are the results (all out-of-camera JPEGs):
Night Streak - Huntsville, Utah
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/2.8, 18 seconds, ISO 3200.
I'm not sure what the light streak is, I'm thinking that it might be a bug.
Satellite Soul - Huntsville, Utah
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/2.8, 28 seconds, ISO 3200.
The faint streak in the upper-right is a satellite. 
The Stars Above - Huntsville, Utah
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/2.8, 20 seconds, ISO 3200.
Stars - Hunstville, Utah
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/2.8, 20 seconds, ISO 3200.
Picture Opportunity - Huntsville, Utah
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/2.8, 15 seconds, ISO 3200.
The sign was illuminated by an appraching car.
The two lessons that I learned from this attempt was double check that you have your camera settings correct (because I didn't quite get them correct at first) and adding a little artificial light can make a big difference to a night picture. I did feel like overall it went noticeably better than my first try at this location.

This last weekend I drove out to Mirror Lake in the Uinta Mountains in Utah. This is a beautiful area way out in the middle of nowhere at about 10,000' elevation. In other words, it's a perfect location for astrophotography!

My mistake was that I arrived late--well after dark--and it was difficult to scout good locations to place the tripod. Next time I'll have to get to the destination much earlier while the sun is still out so that I know exactly where to be.

It was very dark when I arrived, and there were other photographers there shooting the stars--and lots of campers, too. I circled a couple of times trying to find the lake--finally I asked someone. I was really close to it, I just couldn't see it.

I spent about 45 minutes photographing the stars. There were four different spots that I set up at during that time (none of them were all that far apart from the next). The stars were the best towards the north, and (unfortunately) I didn't scout the location in the daylight to know how to get to a good spot on the south side of the lake to capture the brilliant stars and water in the same shot.

I still feel that I captured my best astrophotography images at Mirror Lake. And I think I refined my JPEG settings to be a little better, too. The additional contrast of the Velvia film simulation is good, but I had to tone down the color saturation. I used both my "old" and "new" JPEG settings on this outing, and sometimes I preferred one and sometimes I preferred the other. I spelled out my "new" recipe underneath Our Galaxy at the top (the "old" JPEG recipe can be found in Part 1).

Here are the photographs (all out-of-camera JPEGs):
Night At Mirror Lake - Mirror Lake, Utah
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/2.8, 20 seconds, ISO 6400.
The light is from the bed lamp on my pickup truck.
Stars Over The Pines - Mirror Lake, Utah
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/2.8, 25 seconds, ISO 6400.
Mirror Lake After Dark - Mirror Lake, Utah
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/2.8, 20 seconds, ISO 6400.
Mirror Lake At Night - Mirror Lake, Utah
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/2.8, 20 seconds, ISO 6400.
Earth & Galaxy - Mirror Lake, Utah
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/2.8, 20 seconds, ISO 6400.
Universe Over The Uinta Mountains - Mirror Lake, Utah
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/2.8, 20 seconds, ISO 6400.
Universe & Uinta - Mirror Lake, Utah
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/2.8, 20 seconds, ISO 6400.
Milky Way & Pine - Mirror Lake, Utah
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/2.8, 20 seconds, ISO 6400.
Next time I plan to use more artificial light to illuminate foreground objects. I may also do some light painting experiments. I'm also looking forward to visiting more iconic locations (such as the many National Parks nearby). Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment