Saturday, February 02, 2013

Orion in the trees (Toronto)

Did a short (but full) imaging run. Much better results.

After the second or third peek outside from the porch, and seeing stars, I thought, I might as well conduct another experiment...

Did as much prep inside as I could. Camera on tripod. Charged battery installed. Lens cap removed. Y-mask installed. USB cable connected. Laptop with power brick readied. Extension cord. If the power brick wasn't wobbly, I could have fired up the computer and been logged in.

Grabbed some socks, the winter coat, toque, leather gloves. Suited up. And out the air lock...

Set up the camera and tripod on the porch. Spotted Jupiter in the west, getting down in the trees. Put the computer on the BBQ. Plugged it in and booted. Went through all the log-in hoops. And then kicked the power supply. Down it went. Crap! Started it up again. A gust of wind blew the focusing mask off the lens. It fell under the railing. Eiee. Don't fall over the edge! I wriggled it beside the laptop.

While waiting, I tried to spot Sirius on the back panel of the camera. No luck. Tried to brighten the display by increasing the exposure and ISO. No joy. Then I had a good idea. Use the built-in view finder ya dolt! Duh. Thar she blows. Centred Sirius. Turned on the display. Viola. Zoomed in with the lens.

Finally plugged in the USB cable to the laptop and returned to the kitchen to warm up. The EOS Utility camera started at last but incorrectly. Turned off and on the camera. Looped the cable around a post of the railing to keep it out of the way. EU started correctly. I jumped into Live View. Nothing.

11:45 PM. Fired a long exposure test shot. Where was Sirius? Turned off Live View. Looked through the finder again. Gone. Drifted. I moved the camera left, acquired Sirius. Returned to the computer and checked Live View. There it is!

Installed the focusing mask on the lens. Huh. Hadn't considered that: it doesn't need to be on until the moment of focusing. Zoomed in on the computer. Changed the focus on the lens remotely. But never saw diffraction spikes. Damn. Too dim. Didn't even bother with the Bahtinov Grabber tool. Fine tuned the focus by eye. When it looked good, I removed the mask, turned off the autofocus, and zoomed out the lens.

OK. Let's capture Orion. I moved the tripod back to reveal the hunter from behind the tree and promptly unplugged the USB. Crikey. Start again. Tried not to touch the lens as I reconnected the cable.

Suddenly remembered the old laptop has a nib for pointer control! Between G and H. Which I normally never use. I left my right glove on and was able to move the mouse pointer. I hate nibs. But suddenly it was the cat's meow. The alert came on in the EOS camera control: low battery. Ha. It didn't like the cold either.

11:52 PM. Did a test shot. 1 second at f/5.0 and ISO 1600 with the cloudy white balance. Hey, hey, the lens can still see Jupiter! But it was too dark overall. Doubled the exposure time. Noisy. Dropped the ISO to 800. Went to 4 seconds. Too orangey. Tried daylight white balance. A little better. Dropped to ISO 500. Lengthened to 5 seconds. Sent the white balance to tungsten. Oooh. Deep blue. Bumped to 6 seconds to coax out more detail. Very nice.

11:56 PM. Switched to RAW mode. Shot 3 exposures. Meant to do more but tapped the touchpad, out of habit, a couple of times.

11:58 PM. Put the lens cap on and shot 7 darks. On examining the Info panel in the Digital Photo Professional, I noticed the lens moved. Went from 18mm to 22. Huh.

Hey? Where'd the mask go? Did the wind get it again? Did it fall off the deck? I found it behind the 'cue.

Brought the camera and tripod indoors as the computer spun down into hiberation.

That went much better tonight! And, overall, was pretty quick.

Checked the Environment Canada weather page for Toronto.

The forecast? Cold. Tonight: Partly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries early this evening. Wind west 20 km/h. Low minus 12.

The current conditions as observed at Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport. Mainly Clear. 102.2 kPa and rising. Temperature: -8.4°C. Dewpoint: -13.4°C. Humidity: 67 %. Wind: WSW 18 km/h. Wind Chill: -15.


Image is a single light frame with a dark master (of 6 or 7 subs) subtracted, levels and curves, some saturation adjustments, in Ps CS2. But it looks a little too aggressive. And there's a lot of noise. 

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