Astronomical Observing and Photography


Panorama Nightscape Photography
Capture and Processing Methods

My first visit to this location was in mid-May  2018.   This location, though scouted during a daytime scout on that trip in early May, revealed the Milky Way was in the wrong place for this landscape at that time. My camera records location and viewing direction so I took some daytime images and then used a planetarium program to work out a better date and time for the shot. Then went back in September and captured it. On a 6 day 5 night trip, this was the only clear night in this area. We spent the other 4 nights farther west where it was clear or partly clear while this area was clagged in with cloud.

Yes the horizon (or sky) shifts but the shift for adjacent frames is small so it goes unnoticed. I started in the South at the Magellanic Clouds and rotated west through north finishing in the south East. By the time I reached the east, it would have shifted about 20 degrees from where it was at the beginning but that comes out in the wash.

As stated in the original post, 24 panels 60s each 14mm f2.8 ISO 2000. The in camera high ISO and long exposure noise reduction were on. I used an intervalometer set to press the shutter for 1 min, then wait 2 minutes then press shutter for one min and so on. 60s ISO2000 f2.8 was determined by some testexposures as a compromise to get sufficient light on the foreground. The area is very dark - Bortle 1 so ground is lit by starlight only. If you look carefully, you can see that because of the 60s exposures, stars are actually short streaks. The option was to drop to 30s & up the ISO and have more noise to deal with. It's always a compromise.

In the field, the 3 minute capture cycle goes :

•    Minute 1 Exposure 60s ISO2000 14mm f2.8
•    Minute 2 in camera high ISO and long exposure noise reduction darks
•    Minute 3 camera processes darks, writes file, I check the image preview decide if it needs to be re-captured, if not I reposition camera approx. 10-15 degrees for next image. Capture time approximately 24 exp x 3 mins so more like ~ 96mins.

I mostly processed images in Lightroom to : -

•    further reduce noise and adjust luminosity and colour balance.
•    apply lens profile
•    remove vignetting
•    do the panorama stitch as raw images to produce a stitched pano that is also a raw image. Did not use ICE.
•    Apply final global raw adjustments

Then I moved the file to Photoshop
Process stitched pano image to tidy up any necessary pixel editing. I removed some magenta patches caused by the fixed pattern noise.

The friend I was traveling with was having problems with his 6D than me with the K1. He couldn't get a decent result using Lightroom to stitch. We were talking a few days ago and he told me he has since bought PT GUI and it has solved his stitching problems. He didn't go into details about the exact nature of the problem.

I captured this in September. I did a quick preliminary stitch but have been sitting on it and only put some time into finishing it in the last week.

If you want any more detailed info just ask. I don't mind sharing, just don't want to bore you with too much detail.