Downtown Knoxville in Fall Colors
Downtown Knoxville in Fall Colors

This week’s Picture of the Week features a couple firsts, which I’m excited to share about.  First and foremost is simply the Andromeda galaxy picture itself.  When I first started doing night sky photography, I honestly never dreamed I’d ever be able capture a picture of Andromeda.  I was so intimidated by it, actually, that I’ve been avoiding it for years.  Well after experimenting with other deep space objects I finally asked myself, “how hard can it actually be!?”.  Well, in some sense it’s no harder to capture than any other object.  It is – for whatever reason – more challenging to process.  The above image is my first ever attempt, and I have to say, I’m quite pleased with the outcome.

As with last week’s Picture of the Week, I wanted to use light painting to somehow mimic the object in the sky.  For the foreground of this image, I tied a light on a rope and had Holly spin it around in the air above her head.  The spinning light illuminated the tree next to her nicely (after multiple attempts, of course), to help fill in the dark foreground.  The real challenge of the shot was finding a tree on a hill, that I could get back from far enough to shoot it with a 300mm lens, while looking in the right direction for Andromeda rising.  As with all my other night scape images, the sky was shot separately from the foreground because camera tech just doesn’t exist currently to capture it all in a single click.  The sky actually represents 3.25 hours of total integration time to be able to pull that much detail from it.  It is, however, astronomically accurate.  For comparison, at this focal length, the moon would fit nicely in the center of the oval of the galaxy!  It’s that big in our night sky!  If only our eyes could see it.

Now, on to the picture below.  As with the first image in this series, I have partnered with another friend of mine to bring you a more detailed view.  For the image below, my good friend Steve Zigler actually captured the images – I say images, because the image below is actually a two panel panorama.  His imaging system shoots in monochrome (black and white) and leverages special filters to capture the luminosity values of red, green, and blue.  Then using special software you combine all the channels for the final color image.  For this example, as I mention Steve captured the images, but I then edited them and assembled them into the final image you see below.  That whole process was SUPER tedious, but man do I love the results!!

More next week!

–Dan Thompson

Title Address Description
Doughton Park
CRF9+W8 Whitehead, NC, USA

Alternate Perspective

ˈȯl-tər-nət pər-ˈspek-tiv
  1. A substitute or different visible scene.
  2. Another view or angle.

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