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Old Jul 28, 2011, 1:39 PM   #11
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I noticed that when I have the lens set to 55, the aperture is automatically adjusted to 5.6 and I can't force it to go any lower; I don't know if I can turn that off. But, when set to 18, my aperture will go all the way down, so that's where it's set. That really seemed to be the main issue that I was having last night. As soon as I changed the focal length on the lens, I got clearer images again.

I tested this aperture/length at all of the higher ISOs: 1600, 3200 and 6400. 1600 was where I was the night of my first attempt, and that image looks good. At 32 and 64, there are a lot more stars, but also a lot more noise; even with the noise reduction on. I ran the worst of the photos through Noise Ninja and it really didn't seem to help, and actually seemed to make it worse. Obviously I'm not doing something right. Until I can get that figured out, I'm going to stick with 1600. Maybe tonight I'll be able to get out there and try the higher ISOs without interference from house lights; just in case the worst of the noise was from the lights.

I thought about changing the shutter speed, because there are some small trails, at 30 seconds. But, I haven't tested it yet to see which speed will give me the best results. I think I'll just take a series, stepping up a notch at a time. With the lower ISO, I think I want the shutter open as long as it possibly can be. I just need to find that line.

I am shooting in both RAW and jpeg. My version of Photoshop does not support RAW images, even with the updates and DNG converter. And I can't afford to upgrade to a newer version, so I need to find workarounds or other software that will do the job.

I did notice that with the noise reduction on, it took a lot longer for the camera to process the images. This isn't an issue when doing one shot at a time (well, except for killing the battery, which it did last night), but I think when I graduate to trails, it might have an impact on the series quality. I didn't try taking any of the shots without the NR, so I have no idea what the higher ISOs look like without it. Maybe I'll test that tonight, too.

Oh, and I think I caught a meteor! In the worst of the photos, of course...
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Old Jul 28, 2011, 2:59 PM   #12
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Unfortunately with the kit lens, at 55mm the aperture can only go open as far as f/5.6
Also set the lens to manual focus if you have not already done so, and focus by turning the focus ring all the way counter-clockwise, when it stops move it back just a hair, since the kit lens does not have a focus scale this may help in getting you close to "infinity" focus. After that experiment with a few photos making slight adjustments to the focus ring

The image you posted with the trees in it, i think would have been amazing had the focus been sharp, always zoom in on the first few photos on the LCD to make sure everything is sharp, especially look at the edges of the tree when they are in the photo. Since LCD screens are so small they may fool you into thinking that an image is very sharp when in fact it is blurry.

As far as doing star trails then yes turn off the noise reduction. Trying using the Canon provided software for opening the raw images, you can download the latest version for free from canon's website, but you have to have the version that came on CD installed first to do the upgrade. Working with the RAW file will yield highly better results since the RAW is a 16-bit or 24-bit (depends on camera) file and JPG is only 8-bit.

Since noise ninja is failing at removing the noise, try in photoshop to go to Filters - Noise - Despeckle. That's what i used on mine to get rid of most of the noise, then cleaned up in Neat Image.

It takes a lot of practice to get it right and even then there is always someway to improve upon it next time, please keep posting because i have a feeling you are going to hit one right on soon if you keep up with it every night it is clear out.

-Travis-
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Old Jul 28, 2011, 3:06 PM   #13
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Also jeannie so you don't get discouraged from the kit lens, here is one of my photos from my previous post taken with the kit lens at 18mm f/3.5 ISO 6400, exposure was 15 seconds.
There was no post editing done with the photo except for a straight conversion from RAW to JPG

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Old Jul 28, 2011, 4:35 PM   #14
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Thank you, Travis for all the encouragement and advice! You and spy have been the most awesome, patient and encouraging teachers! I really appreciate you both!

When it comes to photography, I tend toward obsession... So, barring any acts of God, I'll probably be out there every night. Hopefully, armed with my new knowledge, I won't be out there at 2 am, tonight; like I have been for the last two nights! Sleep??? What's that??? Who needs sleep??? There's a problem to solve, no time for sleep!!!
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Old Jul 28, 2011, 5:24 PM   #15
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G'day Jeannie

Some time ago I created a tutorial on Star Trails & stacking
If you would like a copy as a PDF file, please PM me

Regards, Phil
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Old Jul 29, 2011, 2:38 AM   #16
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Okay, here are tonight's offerings... Much better!

ISO 6400
Aperture 3.5
Shutter speed 15s
NR on


Adjusted noise, contrast and saturation in Canon's software; cropped and resized in Photoshop:




Another shot of this same roof, but from a different angle. Post-processing was done the same way as the first:




Again, same roof, different angle. Includes the Big Dipper. Post-processing the same as the last two:




This one I did the same as the others, but I decided to have fun with colors. It's a bit much, I think... But, I couldn't figure out how to make it more subtle. I need to play some more:


Last edited by JeannieBug; Jul 29, 2011 at 2:40 AM. Reason: To put more space between photos and say I'm in before 2am!
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Old Jul 29, 2011, 7:29 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeannieBug View Post
The stars appear to be nothing but bokeh...

What did I do wrong?
I had the same problem on some shots I took. It was because I was using manual focus and in the dark thought I was setting it to infinity. Checking the lens in the light, it's clear that the lens actually focussed past infinity and you have to carefuly adjust it to where infinity is marked on the focus ring.
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Old Jul 29, 2011, 1:12 PM   #18
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Thanks, Martin! I followed Travis' advice and took it all the way til it stopped and then back a hair. I wasn't able to see anything useful on the screen (too dark) so I just pressed the shutter button and hoped for the best! Unfortunately, I don't think infinity is marked on this lens (or if it is, I don't recognize it). But, it seemed to work out!

On a side note, I see you live in Cheshire. I know someone who used to live in Sale. It's a small world!
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Old Jul 29, 2011, 7:59 PM   #19
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Jeannie, you nailed it, and those are some great starting photos, i especially like the third with the trees in the distance. And you are definitely right, you can't see anything on the screen if using live view, just press the shutter, hope for the best, and adjust if necessary. You are on your way to becoming a great night time photographer, and i can't wait to see more!

-Travis-
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Old Jul 30, 2011, 12:20 AM   #20
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Thank you, Travis! Your advice made a HUGE difference in how fast I have progressed, and I soooo appreciate your help!

I can't wait for my cable release to arrive... I'm going to have so much fun with trails!

But tonight, I will sleep... No camera play... Bug has to get to bed at a decent hour tonight.
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