Astrophotography: Sagittarius and the Galaxy

The challenge of learning astrophotography, and photography in general, is two-fold.  There’s the work you do at the eyepiece, requiring you to choose the right settings for the right shot.  Then there’s the work you do at the computer screen, the post-processing and adjustments.  Ultimately the more important one is the camera work.  If you take a bad photograph, no amount of post-processing will help you, even if you are an expert at it.  It’s like the image is the cake, and the processing is the icing.  No matter how much icing you cover it with, a bad cake is a bad cake.  So I’m doing my best to make a good cake, so to speak.

The hardest part I’ve found with taking images has been making the most of the equipment I have.  I have a Canon 600D (Rebel t3i) with a stock lens, which is a fine camera and can get decent star shots, but there are much better options, most of which cost a lot more.  I have a lightweight tripod that is easy to transport and set up, but it is less stable.  Right now I am happy to have equipment that can get decent shots, and learning to use what I have will teach me skills that will make new equipment much more valuable down the road.

I did a quick touch up of some shots that I took on the weekend.  I have a few time lapses on the go that I will share down the road, but for now this is all I had time to work on.

The Milky Way toward Sagittarius - Lake Kinesis, Ontario, July 24th, 2016
The Milky Way toward Sagittarius – Lake Kinesis, Ontario, July 23rd, 2016

This was taken at f/3.5, ISO 6400, 15 second exposure.  Cleaned up in Lightroom.  It shows the view to the South, the constellation Sagittarius and the core of the Milky Way Galaxy.  I was really happy with it considering it was just above the horizon, where the atmosphere can cause a lot of issues.

As I learn more about lightroom and about photo-editing, I’ll come back and try to work with this image in a different way to get more out of it.  Still, this is the best I’ve done so far, and I can’t wait to show off each improvement I make!

Quick Edit: You can also see Saturn in the image above, near the right side of the frame.  The lower bright object is the star Antares in Scorpius, while the higher one is Saturn.

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