My first digital photo of the moon was taken in 2006, but I actually started many, many years earlier.
In 1957, comet Arrend-Roland
was bright in the sky. A friend of mine had a decent camera......can't remember exactly what it was. But we set it on a tripod and started clicking away with B&W film. Both of our dad's had darkrooms. We develped the film ourselves and made some prints.....and were amazed that they looked pretty darn good. Neither of us have a clue where those prints are today, but we still look back at that time with fondness.
I repeated the process (this time with color film in an Olympus OM-1) when comet Hale-Bopp
appeared in 1997. That one I kept....scanned it and it's posted in my Solar System album. Now, THAT was a comet.........no wimpy wisp that required a telescope or even binoculars. It was big as life and bright to the naked eye.
My first ever deep sky photo
was M13, taken May of 2007
, with an original Meade DSI
on a NexStar 4se
(Alt-AZ) with 25 eleven second exposures. Pretty grim, but I was thrilled.
After that I progressed slowly, struggling with the NexStar mount and short exposure times. Finally in May of 2009
I acquired a Celestron CG5 mount, an Orion ST80mm refractor, and I replaced the DSI with a StarShoot II color ccd. The StarShoot was a modest improvement over the DSI, but the EQ CG5 made a huge difference. I could now take 60 second exposures. The results were better, but still relatively poor.
Now my problem was bloated stars and inept processing skills.
Then in Novemeber 2009
, I bought a used Canon 350D
, and things began to improve.....although slowly at first. My first image 11/25/09 with the Canon mounted on the ST80.
At this point I got a tremendous amount of help from a friend (Neil Heacock)......with processing, polar aligning, focusing, etc etc, Not to mention going from 8 bit Photo Shop Elements, to 16 bit Photo Shop CS1. My final acquisition was the 6" Orion imaging Newtonian. I am very pleased with it.....and it fit in with my "imaging on a budget" plan.
Finally about a year ago, I gave in and mounted the ST80 on top of the 6" Newt, and began guiding....using the StarShoot as my autoguider and the ST80 as my guide scope....using PHD Guiding
. Now I am normally shooting 3 minute exposures.....but the setup is a bit heavy for the CG5 to handle. I can see an Atlas or CGEM mount in my future......but neither of them are in the budget right now.
I am generally happy with my pictures......just want to be more consistent. I still have too many mistakes due to impatience. It is still difficult to get everything right on the same night.....alignment, focusing, sufficient data, etc.