Is there a cure for this Astrophotography Disease?

Having recently gotten back into my photography hobby addiction, I seem to have developed a bad case of the infamous Astrophotography bug. Symptoms include insomnia, hyper-caffeination, mumbling to oneself about cloudy skies, cursing the dawn, and chasing the Milky Way. If you see someone with this condition, give them a dose of PhotoPills and run away fast. You don’t want to get trampled as they find the perfect place to shoot that night ๐Ÿ™‚

In all seriousness, I have been interested in astronomy since I was a child. I didn’t go through the ‘dinosaur‘ phase, I went through the space phase. As I got older, that turned into aerospace and eventually my career in computer security … while gaining more and more interest in photography as an art – and science. It only makes sense that these two areas of interest have finally converged into this new astrophotography obsession I have.

About a week or so ago, I picked up a Laowa 15mm f/2 Zero-Distortion lens for my Sony A7Rii – initially to use for architectural and landscape photography, but it also turns out it is quite amazing for astrophotography as well. So having decent gear, I started reading and researching how best to approach this, and as luck had it, one of my local photo stores, Dan’s Camera City in Allentown Pennsylvania, was holding a workshop on astrophotography with a night shoot on a local farm. While unfortunately the shoot was cancelled due to weather, the class was amazing and provided a metric crap-ton of information and ideas to try out.

The first set of pictures

I took a couple of hundred images over two nights. As I am learning, the majority were complete garbage and have gone into the pixel wastebin of hell (a.k.a. /dev/null or the trash bin). One thing I’ve learned is that is typical, a photographer may take dozens of photos, just to get that one keeper, so I don’t feel too bad. On the up-side, I learned a ton from my mistakes, so they were well worth it. Of the ones that survived the initial digital culling, these four I decided to try processing.

These images were edited primarily in On1 Photo RAW, although some did go through a bit of Lightroom tweaking while learning the post processing needs of astrophotography.  While I do not think there is a cure for this disease, I do think that as long as it is regularly fed, it is one that is not quite terminal. The only caution I will mention is that this time of year the mosquitos attack in swarms and up here in the mountains, the bear may chase you into your car in the dark – not that I would know about that … Nope not at all – Not Me ๐Ÿ™‚

I have a few posts planned for the next week or so which will cover the gear I am using, how I am approaching the post processing using On1 Photo RAW, as well as tips that may not be photography related, but are important nonetheless. For example – bring bug spray!

I’m looking forward to getting out more this fall – if the weather decides to cooperate of course. Mother Nature can really be a Mother!

John P. Hoke

John P. Hoke headshot

Cyber Security Professional, Photographer, Coffee Junkie, Mac Addict, Craft Beer & Whiskey connoisseur, all around curmudgeon and generally sarcastic SOB – Not necessarily in that order.

The opinions expressed on this blog are mine alone and not those of my employer, family, pets, the voices in my head, or anyone else for that matter โ€ฆ hell in an hour they may not be mine either ๐Ÿ™‚

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