Blog Posts

Milky Way - Craters of the Moon
Posted: August 29, 2019
I went to Craters of the Moon National Monument yesterday with the primary objective of taking Milky Way photos. Craters is designated as a "dark sky" area and I thought a change of venue from the Swan Valley old schoolhouse was in order as well. This was very much a learning experience for me.

One objective I had was to try to achieve better focus in my astrophotography photos. For those of you who have been following my blog, you have heard this before.

Another objective was to discover what the difference might be in shooting in a "dark sky" location.

This wasn't an objective going in but I really learned how MUCH you cannot trust your eyes to determine the beauty of the Milky Way. I didn't even think the galactic core was in the sky all night long! I shot from around 10 pm until 1 pm hoping that the galactic core would magically appear. As far as I knew at the time, it hadn't and I finally gave up and drove my car to my tent and warm sleeping bag.

The statement I often make when someone asks me if I got a good picture (I won't know until I get home and look at them on my computer) is true in spades when it come to Milky Way photography!

To demonstrate this last point, the slide show above will display eight of the best ones from last night. The photos are presented in pairs (sixteen total slides). The first of the pair is the photo as it came out of the camera (i.e., no post processing). The second of the pair is the post processed version.

For those of you who are photographers and may be interested in how I took these photos:

Equipment: Canon 5D Mk IV, Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens, Manfrotto tripod

Focus was achieved by setting the lens to Manual focus. I then pointed the camera at the brightest star I could see in the sky. I set the camera to Live view, set the camera to magnify that view by 10 times and manually adjusted to achieve the sharpest focus I could discern on the camera screen. I left the lens at this manual setting for the remainder of the evening's shoot. If you would happen to change the focal length, you would have to go through the focus process once again.

I readjusted the camera on the ball head to achieve the composition I wanted... in this case with the lava formations included to provide some interest and perspective.

My camera settings were: ISO 3200, f/2.8, 24 mm focal length, 10 second exposure, 2 second delay on the shutter button

Note: After I posted these photos, I noticed that all of them will need to be reprocessed with some noise reduction!
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Blood Moon
Posted: January 25, 2019
I had planned to go to Forest Park in order to get some foreground interest in the shot. As I came out of my front door and looked up in the sky, I realized that the moon was too high in the sky to get a shot with any foreground interest so I set up my tripod in my driveway. It was quite cold out but I was dressed for that. I was out there for about 45 minutes taking photos.

As you can see from the photo above, I am not very skilled at obtaining a sharp focus on celestial objects. If you follow this blog, last summer's Milky Way photos also highlighted this weakness as well.
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Milky Way
Posted: July 12, 2018
Went down to Swan Valley again for the Milky Way. This time I was the only photographer there. I used my light to illuminate the schoolhouse from my shooting location. I seemed to have the best luck with the light on its lowest setting lit for about 2/3 of the time the shutter was open.

I once again slept in my car and got some more photos as the sun was coming up.The sunrise conditions weren't all that great but it was a nice opportunity to get to know some other folks from the group.
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Milky Way
Posted: June 24, 2018
I drove down to Swan Valley for my first ever Milky Way shoot. As I was getting setup, another photographer (Bob Seidel from Idaho Falls) arrived. Bob is an experienced Milky Way photographer so it was nice to have a knowledgeable person on hand.

Bob's plan was to create some images that featured the schoolhouse along with others to feature the Milky Way and then composite them in Photoshop. Since I am not a Photoshop user, my plan was to take a single photo to process in Lightroom.

Bob setup some lights for the evening inside the old schoolhouse. They were a bit too bright for my single image as you can see with the photo above.

My resultant photos are pretty crude in my opinion. Other than the lighting problem mentioned above, the stars are not in focus. Clouds, at times covering the Milky Way, were a bit of a problem as well.

We finished up around 2:30 AM. I wound up spending the night in my gasoline powered tent (my car) with the intention of taking some more photos the next morning.

I also went to Fall Creek Falls and had breakfast at the South Fork Lodge before returning to Casa Budde West.
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How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse
Posted: April 15, 2017
On August 21 of this year, we will experience a total solar eclipse. Driggs Idaho is on the prime path of this celestial event and I have some friends who will be visiting during that time to view the event.

I ran across this informative article that covers the topic of photographing this event.
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Photographing the Milky Way
Posted: March 15, 2015
I found a link to a very detailed and well written article on the topic of Photographing the Milky Way. I hope you benefit from it as much as I have.
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