The stacked image has significantly less noise and also has better contrast. With the stacked image, I suspect you could push the levels and curves a little further to tease out more detail from the Milky Way if you wanted to.
Thanks for your thoughts, Mike! I’ll try in a bit!
However, I’m not keen on what it’s done to the foreground objects, despite what the impressionist art fans say . It’s too distracting for me… I’m no longer sure what the subject is. To me, stacked images are better used when you are photographing the sky only.
That made me laugh 🙂 I would be of the same opinion. I am not very keen with being known as the Van Gogh or Monet of Astrophotography within Flamsteed AS (or anywhere else for that matter). No offence Brian and Andy, I am still glad you found something for your liking in my photos 😉
I do not like any of the stacked version I have done. I feel like I was either sneezing from my feet being frozen, or having a coughing fit and grabbing my tripod for support! 😀
So for me too: Stacking for sky only!
But good to try to form an opinion!
Hey Mike, you know when I said “silly maximum of 25600” I meant silly as in their claim being ridiculous. I was never under the illusion that 25600 or even anything beyond 6400 would ever be of any practical use! My point was that the tech reviews (which for some reason I cant link to?) compared noise with different cameras at the same high ISOs and gave the 650D a commendable praise. Trust me, I’m under no illusion in what my mid range 650D can achieve compared to a high end camera like yours and Sumitra’s 🙂
Anyway, great comparison tests you guys are doing with ISO levels/stacking etc. I am with Mike on the blurred foreground being distracting but its still art and art is obviously subjective to personal inclinations and I much prefer to appreciate a work capturing the moment of origin in its entirety (albeit with blurry foreground) than different moments strung together as a drastic composite in post process that is made to look like a complete origin moment of capture. Mind you, I have nothing against the latter (in fact I love the latter) as long as the astrophotgrapher makes it clear the work is a composite because art is about a freedom to manipulate and express in the artist’s voice. But I dont appreciate the deception that a composite is made to look like a single moment of capture and declared as such. Btw when I say moment, I do include consecutive exposures stacked as I do not consider that as a blatant compostioning. I have to say that because most of my astrophotography was planetary so I depend on stacking 😉
Edit: my last paragraph appears to go off tangent but I think it was subconsciously in response to Sumitra, when you mentioned composite of foreground and background could be considered as cheating 🙂
Edit: my last paragraph appears to go off tangent but I think it was subconsciously in response to Sumitra, when you mentioned composite of foreground and background could be considered as cheating
Well, just to clarify, I think nothing is Black or White, so I don’t go screaming (like alas some shamelessly do), that such and such picture is fake.
I have a problem with such people. I don’t know if they have a name in photography, but to me they are like those referred to as “Grammar Nazis” or “Language Nazis”. You know, those who proof read speeches or articles on the internet and humiliate the authors in the comments pointing out all the flaws. But most likely couldn’t write a speech of their own themselves?
Anyhow, enough of the rant, I think that for instance, a composite picture of the meteor like I did the other day is not cheating or taking a short-cut. It is trying to show something for the purpose of understanding something that you couldn’t otherwise see. Because then everything could be considered as cheating (the use of long exposure and the use of a tripod included???)
Stacking photos of the Moon, or the Milky Way is also similar… You couldn’t see all the detail if you were not stacking it. And it’s not taking a short cut, it requires skill, effort and understanding of the object.
Now, Stacking a foreground object onto a Milky Way background… Well I think it’s more in the grey area. Personally, I’d rather either show a stacked photo with a blurry foreground, or a ETTR photo with a sharper foreground than do a composite to have both sharp. I think there isn’t any ‘learning’ benefit in doing that, so in my humble opinion there is no point, is there? But perhaps not so misleading if both foreground and background was done at the same time with the camera in the same place etc. It’s not really taking a short-cut.
I think that doing a composite of a landscape photo to make it ‘more attractive in terms of colours of the sky etc. (and stating it is – so that it is like a painting) is also in the grey area. It requires skill, time and effort to do a composite photo (so it’s not quite taking a short-cut for the sake of it, is it?), and perhaps the purpose of a landscape photo is to show something beautiful and not so much accurate? So if clearly stated that it is a composite, then I do not have a problem with that.
On the other hand, and especially in the context of Astrophotography, I think those who will do a composite of a silhouette in front of the Moon or some other object to show a big/sharp person by a big moon/other object is not quite right because it IS taking a short-cut! And worse, it twists a person’s understanding of geometry and how to take photos. Because it’s possible to have a silhouette, it just requires a lot of planning and also knowing how to use F numbers etc.
But anyway, under all my photos, I have put links to the different versions (ETTR, Stacked, Non Stacked) just to show the different views.
But in short, I talk too much. :p
Sumitra I agree that the blurred foreground is not very nice and I find it distracting. I prefer the ETTR one.
Sumitra I agree with your position on Photography. In of itself photography can be a manipulation as the image rendered is not necessarily a true representation of what is observed but that is what is good about photography. I see nothing wrong with manipulation in astrophotography. The only time I am against manipulation is when it is represented as real. That is why your practice of indicating where a photo has been manipulated and how is the correct way.
The manipulation does not detract from the beauty and impact of the image. As I said before I think your photos are really good and your experimentation is very useful for the rest of us. I look forward to more images from you.
Brian – Thanks for your thoughtful comments! I’m glad we agree.
The camera is having a nap at the moment, because of the weather, mostly but also because I have a long to-do list at work and the sleepless nights last week didn’t help! 🙂
But as soon as the weather returns… Well, I could always make a timelapse of clouds! Perhaps I will 😉
don’t go beyond ISO 1600
Suddenly I feel a whole lot better about my seven-year-old Canon 400D that wasn’t even bought for astrophotography purposes! Max ISO 1600. Lowest ISO is 100 but as a former Kodachrome 25 user I wish I could get my camera to go that low without having to get an ND filter (not for astro use, though!). And my camera is too old for Magic Lantern, I think.
I took a couple of shots up in Scotland last week – certainly nothing to brag about especially as I didn’t have a working tripod so I was limited to lying the camera on the flat top of a fence post and shooting straight up – or leaning it against the roof rails of the Volvo. But it was certainly very pleasing to get the Milky Way flowing through Cygnus and past Vega. I noticed a small smudge in my photo of Cassiopeia and was delighted to discover it was the Andromeda galaxy! A rubbish photo – but very motivational!
Don’t you want to share it with us?? 🙂
Certainly do – but laptop and camera are both in Scotland at the moment, and I’m not. I’ll be back there at the weekend, though!
Suddenly I feel a whole lot better about my seven-year-old Canon 400D
Nothing wrong with the 400D… it was an excellent camera when first released, and can still do a decent job today.
Incidentally, did you know that there is a firmware hack for the 400D which enables ISO 3200 and spot metering? This isn’t Magic Lantern, but something similar. See here.
I’d never even heard of firmware hacks until I read the link posted by Sumitra the other day! So – thanks for that, Mike. I’ll read all that and let you know what I decide to do. ISO 3200 would indeed be nice, especially as I don’t have the fastest lenses in the Canon canon…
First Astrophotography for Beginners lesson last night, with Tom Kerss tutoring. One of the first things he did was refer to Magic Lantern (though of course he couldn’t officially ‘recommend’ it). It was interesting to learn that these hacks actually just unlock functionality that’s already in the camera – which has been ‘dumbed down’ to put it at a lower price point.
It’s tempting – but the queries and issues make it all look a bit intimidating, I have to admit! More thought required…
Wow he covered Magic Lantern!? Now I do wish I enrolled even though I did the course last year but it seems Tom might get more technically gritty than Darren Baskill who emphasised more on the “art” of astrophotography which was invaluable knowledge in itself. Enjoy the course Andy!
He mentioned Magic Lantern – will be providing more detail in coming weeks. Tom seems like he’s going to be majoring on technicalities, rather than art.
I’ve got a thought to share with you offline – want to send me a reply to my email yesterday?
Sure Andy…actually did you not get my reply email to all the committee, yesterday? It may have gone into your junk folder, my email address has that junk aura to it 🙂 I’ll send another one anyway