Bitten by the Astrophotography Bug!

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 🙂

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 🙂

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!

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