Heaven's Above

Photo of the Week by mcrtchly

The Milky Way arches over the abandoned church in Dunlewy, Co. Donegal during an exceptionally clear night sky in late September 2020. This is a composite of 46 individual frames of the night sky and one single image for the church. A 35mm lens was used for the night sky frames with a 1 minute exposure at F2.0 and ISO 800. The astrotracer function on the Pentax K1 proved essential for these captures; although I have only just discovered that the astrotracer isn't working correctly on one of my K1 bodies.

The final mosaic of the 46 frames is about 30,728 by 21,189 pixels in dimensions; equivalent to a single 651 million pixel image! I had to lower the resolution for the Pentax User website.

To the left of the church spire is Mars. The bright feature above Mars is the Andromeda galaxy, one of our nearest neighbour galaxies and is about 3 million light years away. To the left of Mars, in area of orange light pollution, is the cluster of stars called Pleiades in the constellation of Taurus, which are also known as the Seven Sisters, although there are more than seven stars! The Pleiades cluster is relatively close to us at 390 light years distance. The two bright dots above Pleiades and to the left of Andromeda are the double cluster of stars in Perseus; each cluster contains about 300 individual stars. The purple area roughly in centre left of the Milky Way is the North America Nebula in Cygnus (2,500 light years away). The pink-red spot in the lower right part of the Milky Way is the Lagoon nebula in Sagittarius which is 6,000 light years away.
Uploaded24/09/2020 - 12:13
CategoryLandscape / Travel
BodyN/A
Shutter SpeedN/A
ApertureN/A
ISON/A
Focal LengthN/A
Views/Likes83/12
TagsN/A

go4IT
Posted 24/09/2020 - 13:19 Link
"Superb effort" would be an understatement. And what a brilliant result. Your patience and meticulous attention to detail is most commendable. POTW or POTMonth territory.

May I ask what "rig" you used to take the individual images? Can you please share some of your process with us? (I purchased a rig to take composite images, but haven't used it yet on my "target" subjects---which are reflections in glass windows.
mcrtchly
Posted 24/09/2020 - 13:52 Link
go4IT wrote:
"Superb effort" would be an understatement. And what a brilliant result. Your patience and meticulous attention to detail is most commendable. POTW or POTMonth territory.

May I ask what "rig" you used to take the individual images? Can you please share some of your process with us? (I purchased a rig to take composite images, but haven't used it yet on my "target" subjects---which are reflections in glass windows.

Thanks for the kind comment. The frames were all composed manually. 5 or 6 vertical rows and 7 columns with about 50% overlap on adjacent frames . I judged the overlap by looking at the stars in the previous photo on the camera screen. In the past I have used the angle markings on the tripod to judge overlap. I do have a Syrp mini genie rotating head but this can only do 1 or 2 rows. Two of the newer Mini Genies II joined together can do multiple rows and columns automatically. Camera set to B mode with astrotracer and GPS on, ISO 800, fixed WB, f /2.0, manual focus (on a star using Live View). It took over an hour to take all the frames.

Photos were initially loaded into Lightroom to adjust lens distortion, chromatic aberration, exposure and colour etc. Exported to TIFF files and imported into PTGui to make the mosaic. PTGui can automatically find match points between images but a bit of manual help was need for some frames by selecting control points. PTGui automatically selects appropriate seams between overlapping frames and blends any brightness differences (again these can be controlled manually if needed). A stereographic projection was chosen to show the full Milky Way. There is a bit of blur in the background from the astrotracer rotation but this is mostly masked by mist on the hills. I could have added a series of second frames for the land without using the astrotracer. I added the single frame of the church, taken without the astrotracer, using Photoshop.
GIULIO57
Posted 24/09/2020 - 17:44 Link
LIKEd
PPG
go4IT
Posted 24/09/2020 - 21:29 Link
Mcrtchly: Thank you very much for your detailed explanations, which I will definitely keep in mind in my future attempts to "comb back and forth" with my Manfrotto rig rip-off---that is, a "Photofans" rig, aka "Photomate" rig, which is pretty solidly made, and doesn't wobble in use. (My fantasy is to someday afford a Really Right Stuff rig---which impresses me as the ultimate in gear.

I hope you receive both POTW and POTMonth!!
tommyt
Posted 25/09/2020 - 23:57 Link
Very impressive..Liked
davidwozhere
Posted 27/09/2020 - 01:08 Link
Good Heavens indeed. That is stunning!
Both the *istDS and the K5 are incurably addicted to old glass

My page on Photocrowd
GIULIO57
Posted 28/09/2020 - 11:20 Link
GREAT POTW
PPG
alfpics
Posted 28/09/2020 - 13:58 Link
Absouletly stunning - a lot of hard work paid off handsomely!
Andy
1stEverPentax
Posted 29/09/2020 - 00:14 Link
Brilliant image...well worth the time and effort you had to put in.

Thanks for the detailed explanation of the process you followed.

The final image is about as far from 'point and shoot' as it's possible to get and well worthy of POTW.
Pentax should be using images of this quality in their product advertising to show what is achievable with their cameras and a skilled creative behind the viewfinder.

Regards

Karlo
mcrtchly
Posted 29/09/2020 - 17:10 Link
I'm honoured by the award of Photo of the Week. It is much appreciated.
mcrtchly
Posted 29/09/2020 - 17:10 Link
I'm honoured by the award of Photo of the Week. It is much appreciated. Martin
Posted 29/09/2020 - 18:28 Link
Oh, my, what a well deserved POTW.
Be well, stay safe, but most of all, invest in memories

Add Comment

To leave a comment - Log in to Pentax User or create a new account.