$50 – $65

Shooting the Stars! Astrophotography Workshop

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Rothney Astrophysical Observatory

Foothills No. 31, AB T0L 1W0


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Refunds up to 7 days before event

Event description


May 2018 RAO Workshop – 4 hours

Shooting Stars!

Getting Started in Night Sky Photography

Friday, May 25

7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Fee: $65.00, early bird rate $50.00 if booked before May 1, 2018

In this 4-hour workshop Alan reviews:

• Recommended cameras, lenses, accessories, and telescope gear

• Best practices in the field for getting great astro-images

• Then … the basic steps to processing those images in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom, and Photoshop.

Who is This For?

This workshop is for beginners who own good DSLR cameras and who wish to learn how to use them to shoot the Moon and stars. However, while the workshop is aimed at beginners, established astrophotographers might also learn handy tips and techniques.

People getting into astrophotography and who have yet to purchase gear will also find Alan’s recommendations on the best equipment invaluable.

What’s the Workshop About?

Alan steps you through the essential techniques, from what gear to buy, then how to use it to shoot simple “nightscapes” with a camera on a tripod (including the Northern Lights and the Milky Way). Alan then covers how to take long exposures of the Milky Way using low-cost tracking units, and how to capture close-ups of the Moon and deep-sky objects through telephoto lenses and telescopes.

Alan will then demonstrate how to process night sky images using Adobe Photoshop. However, most of the steps shown will be applicable to other up-and-coming programs such as Affinity Photo, Luminar, and ON1 Photo Raw.

Following the 2.5-hour classroom session, we’ll adjourn outside for a 1.5-hour hands-on practical session where you’ll have a chance to shoot the Moon through a supplied telescope, try your hand at shooting nightscapes, or place your camera on a tracking mount for some long exposures of the night sky.

NOTE: The telescope shooting will be for Canon, Nikon and Sony E-mount camera bodies. To fit on our telescope your camera must have an interchangeable lens, i.e. be a DSLR or Mirrorless camera. Point-and-shoot cameras with fixed lenses are not suitable.

In the event of inclement weather, we’ll remain in the Observatory’s classroom for an extended tutorial on more advanced image processing techniques.

Coffee, hot chocolate, and other refreshments will be supplied.

What’s the Content?

We’ll go through choosing, using, processing, then actually doing!

Part 1 – Choosing Gear

• What’s the best camera? • The all-important lens • What accessories do you need? • What does a sky tracker do and how do you use one? • What telescope is best for astrophotography? • What are some recommended telescope mounts? • What adapters and accessories do you need?

Part 2 – Best Practices

• How to set your camera • What’s the best exposure? • How to minimize noise • Typical settings for aurora, star trails, and the Milky Way • How to focus! • How to shoot a time-lapse movie of the night sky • How to polar align tracking mounts • How to guide telescope mounts • What can go wrong!

Part 3 – Processing Images

• Developing Raw files • Layering in Photoshop • Masking in Photoshop • Stacking for noise reduction • Processing tracked and stacked Milky Way images in Photoshop

Part 4 – Hands-On Practicum with Real Gear!

• Shooting the Moon through a telescope (telescope and adapters supplied for your Canon, Nikon or Sony E-mount camera) • Shooting wide-field nightscapes with camera on tripod (we will have a waxing Moon lighting the Rockies to the west) • Shooting wide-field tracked images using a supplied tracker or telescope mount (using your camera and lens – bring a fast wide-angle lens) • We will not be attempting deep-sky images through a telescope, nor will the bright Moon allow us to capture the Milky Way well this night

Part 4 (Cloudy Night Alternative) – Advanced Processing

• Stitching night sky panoramas • Processing a star trail or time-lapse set • Stacking star trails • Assembling a time-lapse movie • Processing demanding deep-sky close-ups

Special Notes

What you should know before arriving:

• While we will cover fundamentals such as setting manual exposures and focus, workshop participants should be familiar with the basic operation of their DSLR cameras, and the meaning of terms such as ISO, f-ratio, and shutter speed.

What we will NOT be covering:

• We won’t be dealing with shooting the planets and deep-sky objects using specialized “planet cams” or CCD astro-cameras. The focus is on using off-the-shelf DSLR and Mirrorless cameras. • We will not be processing images together (no need to bring a computer to work on images)

What you should bring:

• You should bring whatever you wish to make notes with. However, outlets for powering laptops will be limited. • All registrants will receive a take-home copy of the presentation’s slides in PDF format via a digital download. • Participants should bring their DSLR or Mirrorless camera, wide-angle lens, and sturdy tripod for the practicum session and chance to use it on the real sky! • Also bring: warm clothing for the outside session, and a red LED flashlight (check Canadian Tire or any camping/outdoor supply shop)

About the Instructor

Alan Dyer is co-author, with Terence Dickinson, of the popular guidebook The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide, and the ebook, How to Photograph and Process Nightscapes and Time-Lapses, available at the Apple iBooks Store. He also wrote and presented a series of video tutorials on nightscape and time-lapse photography available through Alberta-based All-Star Telescope (www.all-startelescope.com).

Alan is a contributing editor to SkyNews and Sky & Telescope magazines. His images have appeared in many books and calendars, on websites such as SpaceWeather.com, Astronomy Picture of the Day, and in publications such as National Geographic magazine. He is a member of the exclusive The World At Night group of astrophotographers (See TWANight.org).

His main website is www.amazingsky.com. See his photo blog at www.amazingsky.net and his photo galleries at www.amazingsky.photoshelter.com for examples of his work. Visit his video channel at https://vimeo.com/channels/amazingsky for examples of his time-lapse movies and free video tutorials.

Asteroid #78434 is named for him.

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Rothney Astrophysical Observatory

Foothills No. 31, AB T0L 1W0


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Refund Policy

Refunds up to 7 days before event

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