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the scientist, the poet, the primitive seer, the watcher of fire and shooting stars
June 14, 2012 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Expedition 31 Flight Engineer Don Pettit relayed some information about photographic techniques used to achieve the images: “My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, then ‘stack’ them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure.”
posted by xod (16 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Cool!
posted by ph00dz at 10:21 AM on June 14, 2012


Ah yes, but what software?
posted by nevercalm at 10:30 AM on June 14, 2012


However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image.

What does this mean? What is wrong with "bulb" and a 15 minute exposure?
posted by Keith Talent at 10:31 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Keith, from the link comments: "Don tested various combinations of settings to get to the 30 second limit. What he's fighting onboard the ISS is a barrage of radiation that can quickly wreak havoc on a sensor. A brand new camera delivered to the ISS can start showing effects within a few days."
posted by xod at 10:50 AM on June 14, 2012


So this is a being in space problem, not a modern camera problem.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:52 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a modern camera in space problem.
posted by xod at 10:57 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is that an extremely-first-world problem?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:03 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pretty sure it's an out-of-this-world problem.
posted by zjacreman at 11:04 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's worse in space, I guess, but it's also a modern camera on earth problem. Some sensors on the CCD read brighter than others, and the problem gets magnified in long exposures. It varies by camera model and by the age of the camera and by the temperature while the photo is taken (hotter = more noise) and by any "hot pixels" or manufacturing irregularities you may get in your CCD but it's always there.

Good quality long exposure photography is the one and only thing I miss about shooting on film.
posted by ook at 11:09 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


If the radiation is wreaking havoc on the sensor, perhaps the solution is to move back to film. I would love to see how these would look if shot on 4x5 Velvia. I'm sure somewhere in a closet NASA has a dusty old Speed Graphic from the Mercury or Gemini days.

Also, amazing.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:17 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Stacking can be accomplished with freeware, namely Registax. Also, noise will build on a sensor on earth as well, just not as dramatically as the (relatively) unshielded ISS.
posted by defcom1 at 11:20 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Donald Pettit, previously with the nittin needles. Here he is making a Van de Graaf generator from legos, a rubber band, and a drill. Inventor of the zero-gravity coffee cup.
posted by Killick at 12:33 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stacking can be accomplished with freeware, namely Registax.

If you don't run Windows, there's also:
Astrostack $39 (Java: Win/OXS/Linux)
Regim Free (Java: Win/OSX/Linux)

There are probably others as well.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 1:24 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


My god, it's full of stars...
posted by cirrostratus at 1:24 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


So brutal and alive it seemed to comprehend us back.
posted by xod at 1:59 PM on June 14, 2012


Holy cow, xod's name is my name backwards!
posted by box at 3:07 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


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