After more than a week of mostly cloud cover, Tuesday afternoon the clouds blew out and left the evening sky quite clear. Tired of being in the house, I sat in my back yard and noticed how clearly I could see Orion and decided to try to get better a better image of the Orion nebula than I previously had with image stacking.
This time I used a 200mm lens instead of the 150mm. I was worried how stable the camera would be and how short the exposure would have to be at such a long focal length. I finally settled on a 1 second exposure with ISO400. This seemed like it would give me enough light and color without the stars running too much.
Below is the uncropped stack of 79 images. I actually took 100 images, but the software takes the best 80%, I think. You can see the nebula just right of center. The stars have run a little, but not much.
Below is a crop of the same image. Most of the stars can’t be seen with the un-aided eye.
These are much better results than I got before. There is actually some color in this image and I think that is because I wasn’t exposing as much with each individual image. There is also very little noise in the photo.
The image processing does take a while. I followed these steps:
- Import the camera’s RAW images into LightRoom (a couple of minutes)
- Apply lens mask to all images, mainly to remove any vignette (a couple of minutes)
- Export all images to TIFF for the stacking program (about 8 minutes)
- Import all of the TIFFs into DeepSkyStacker software (a few seconds)
- Align and stack images (about 10 minutes)
- Export a final TIFF and import into LightRoom for final editing.
My main editing goal was to bring out as much of the nebula as possible without ruining the rest of the sky.
That was my project for the evening. I hope you like me result. There is supposed to be a comet getting brighter in the evening sky that will peak in May. I will try to do something with that from my yard.
Thanks for reading and please leave a comment below.