Thursday, August 20, 2009

So your a Photographer But Not an Astro-Photographer??

Well, this is a question I get a lot when people find out I own a photography business. Yes, I'm a photographer...but I really haven't made the jump into calling myself an astrophotographer. I've dabbled in it a little and I'll post some of those images on this blog (see below), but there is a huge difference between wedding/portrait photography and astrophotography.

The main reason I don't do astrophotographer is I classify myself as a "starhopper" my telescope arsenal is mostly dobsonian telescopes ranging in size from 3 inches to 16 inches. (One of them is signed by John Dobson himself) None of my dobsonian telescope have the ability to track/go-to or even digital setting circles or a "push to" locator.

In astrophotography you need a the ability to track objects accurately over time. When people tell me what is keeping me out of doing astrophotography there are two things that come to mind: 1. My light polluted skies I live in and 2. my wallet. The most important thing in astrophotography is your mount it can make or break an image. If you can't can't photograph! A starting mount for astrophotography such as a Losmandy G?? cost well my DSLR camera is worth. Then you add the telescope, CCD camera, Guidescope, Guidescope's Camera, laptop and power tank. It all adds up. To take a serious start into astrophotography I image one needs to shell out about $6,000. My house is located near a football stadium on the northside of San Antonio. On nights there isn't a game we don't have much light pollution... but FORGET observing on a game night.

So I realistically look at what is needed to do some astrophotography and realize I'm just not ready to take that step. I do however have 3 Digital SLR's and I do wide field astrophotography and I have a modified webcam I use to image with my DSX90AT telescope (essentially it is a EXT Mak-Cas on the cheaper/less accurate Meade DS mount.) At this point in my life I haven't completely dismissed the idea of getting more serious about Astrophotography but at this point I feel that I'm a "Star-hopper" or "Dobonain-ian" Astronomer. I like simplicity and no-frills astronomy.

Some of my images:
Star Trails in at my Observing site taken with a Canon 20D.
Pioneer Skies Sight

Photographed with 90mm Mak-Cas Telescope on Meade DS go-to mount with Autostar 497 handbox, Modified Logitec Webcam and stitched using PhotoStitch software.

Done at Fort McKavett, Texas During the Thanksgiving Star Party Put on by the San Antonio Astronomical Association. This was taken with my Canon 20D.
Fort McKavett Stars

Iridium Flare over McDonald Observatory.
Iridium Flare over McDonald Observatory