After a well deserved summer break, we are back at it again. September kicks off strongly and promises great news and events. Don't miss them:
September's events promises great experiences!
# Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 contest Sept. 14-15 2017
Early 2017 I entered 10 pictures at Greenwich Royal Observatory's Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 contest, sponsored by BBC Sky at Night Magazine. You don't hear from the judging panel till several months later, and it was a true excitement when they wrote to me saying that one of my pictures had been shortlisted in this year's competition. I had to hold my joy back to help build excitement about the shortlist and the event. The picture that you see above 'Noctilucent lines of perspective' has been shortlisted among the thousands of applicants. It was taken on Ordrupnæs on Næsvej. In the background you can easily see Sjællands Odde with Oddevej seperated by Sejerø Bugten. In this image I wanted to show the intricate structure of noctilucent clouds making sort of an X shape in the mesosphere. The picture is all about lines and layers that seem to converge at the center of the image, hence the title.
I am very proud about the shortlist as it is my very first nomination since I began astrophotography as few years back, and it's a good reward that will surely encourage me to continue!
I will be heading to London on Sept. 14-15 and will be attending the award ceremony. You can follow it live on twitter (#AstroPhoto2017) and on Facebook. You can also make your way to http://www.rmg.co.uk/royal-observatory/insight-astronomy-photographer-year?kji
I will of course be live from Greenwich on social media! It promises to be exciting... See you there.
See a selection of the shortlist entries for media distribution:
# 13th international workshop on layered phenomena in Sept. 18-22 2017
the mesopause region (LPMR) at the Leibniz Institut für
atmosfären Physik (IAP)
As part of Project PoSSUM's research, Dr. Jason Reimuller and I will participate in the 2017 LPMR workshop near Rostock in Germany from Sept. 18th to 22nd 2017 (https://www.iap-kborn.de/en/current-issues/events/lpmr/). The purpose of the workshop is to present our research as a novel method of noctilucent cloud study using airplanes. Jason will be presenting two abstract and I will be lending him a hand. I will also cover live at the event and I will be posting on project PoSSUM's social media platform (www.projectpossum.org). There are tons of presentations on the latest peer-reviewed discoveries of our mesosphere we are attending, so the thrill is at its maximum! Jason will also show my NLC footage, and it is the occasion for me to network! Stay tuned.
# Week in Iceland: The Aurora borealis quest Sept. 23 - 30 2017
Iceland is officially amongst the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. While I was there last February, I discovered a very elemental country, made of fire and ice. I had a successful 3-hour window to see the well-renowned northern lights and it was a great show, but the constant rain left me sort of wanting more. In this matter, I will be returning there from Sept. 23rd to 30th in the hope of catching okay weather and most importantly Lady aurora. This time I will come prepared, I know where to look, and where not to go! I have great ideas in mind for my next movie, including ice, water, fire and aurora! I will be joining my friends photographer Colin Abot to try and get some great footage. However if you are in Iceland at that time, we can arrange for a one-night aurora tour and on-location course. If you would like to join, please let me know asap by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org for fees. We can arrange for a course trip together if the weather permits.
I will also be covering live as much as possible on my platforms! In the meantime, here is something to keep you waiting for more exciting pictures:
# PoSSUM 'Vizor-down' Zero-G Spacesuit Program in Ottawa Oct. 2-5 2017
On October 2nd 2017, the PoSSUM team and myself will be attending the PoSSUM 'Vizor-down' Zero-G Spacesuit testing event at Ottawa McDonald-Cartier International Airport. It will be an event where several scientist-astronaut candidates and graduates will be evaluating commercial spacesuits in partnership with NRC/CNRC, Final Frontier Design, and CinemaRaven, as practice for their webinar-based instruction on spacesuit qualification, scientific payload integration, and flight test. I will be covering the even as communication and public outreach coordinator, filming live and making Vlogs for project PoSSUM. Follow live on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube!
On the news this week: A tutorial and a review to help you get the best out of your astrophotos
# What is noise, how to control it, what is ISO, how to work with it, how to chose your astro-camera?
In this new tutorial of AMP&F from the ‘Astrophotography 101’ series, I focus on three main points as a consequence of going further in improving the quality of untracked single astrophotos as seen in my previous tutorials. In a first part, I spend some necessary time talking about NOISE, the major element destroying the quality of astrophotographs. Noise basically comes from three main sources. Environmental noise (5:23) comes from all the obstacles that block the trajectory of needed photons on their path from the light source to the sensor. It can generally be avoided by increasing the SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO (SNR) by swamping the potential noise with loads of light. Being aware of shooting conditions can also help in by-passing this type of noise, especially by choosing cloud-free, haze-free and low-humidity places/times. The second source is the on-chip read noise (9:16) and happens inside the sensor. While some noise is intrinsic to the camera and comes with it, others like heat noise can be avoided by shooting in cooler conditions or decreasing the exposure time (and/or by using calibration frames). The third type of noise, the off-chip read noise (12:29), is inherent to the circuit of the camera and can be avoided by shooting with a high SNR, or by choosing an ISO-invariant camera. In a second part, I talk about the misconceptions of what ISO is and does. While it is NOT the sensitivity of the camera, it is merely an amplifier that amplifies the signal AND the noise that comes after the sensor. The ISO increases the environmental and on-chip read noise, but in the same proportion as that of the light, so it is only the SNR that determines if the noise will be visible or not (till a high threshold). The off-chip read noise adds to the available noise after amplification, showing why getting loads of light is primordial. One should look into finding the camera’s optimal ISO to get the best dynamic range and the least effect of read noise. You can do the ISO test yourself (18:42). Choosing your camera can mean a lot in astrophotography with respect to noise. You need to pick one that has the best light effectivity and sensitivity, the best dynamic range and the best read noise performances. I establish an un comprehensive and biased top 5 cameras for astrophotography (21:48). In a last part, I explain the different methods of post-process noise reduction, whether it is stacking, making astropanos, tracking or using calibration frames. I hope these basics about noise, ISO and sensors were useful and will enable more and more people to get out at night and shoot.
# New Sigma 14mm f/1.8: Should I consider it for astrophotography and astrolapse?
Welcome to this new series of Vlogs dedicated to reviewing lenses for the sole purpose of astrophotography as the discipline becomes more and more popular. I am very excited to be reviewing the new lens I just bought, the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG Art, which promises to be a top performer for astrophotography, and the first of its kind to get such a low native minimum f-stop. In the video, I give my general first impressions about the lens, and they’re all rather positive! Secondly, I spend the rest of the video in what interests us the most: real-life RAW shot tests at night to assess the lens’:
-General ability to do astro time-lapse
As a conclusion, Sigma has just produced a monster for astrophotography and a major improvement to the other 14mm f/2.8. It will enable you to get shorter but cleaner and sharper exposures. The only worry one could have is the coma, but it is really insignificant wide open, almost invisible at f2.2 at removed at f2.8, enabling astropanoramas previously impossible at 2.8. I would not hesitate recommending this lens for any amateur or professional astrophotographer to replace their old 14mm and get even higher quality shots. However some people might be scare off by its price, a mere 1600 bucks, so I would advise waiting a little bit for its price to fall, but I would definitely consider buying this astromonster of a lens in the future! I hope this review was useful and will enable you to make up your mind about buying for your next astrophotography adventures.