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Old 08-11-2012, 12:50 PM   #1
budmonster
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Photographing the Perseid meteor shower.

I just wanted to remind everyone that the Perseid meteor shower is tonight and tomorrow night all across North America.

Does anyone else plan on trying to capture some meteor shots and interested in sharing them afterwards? This is my first try so I'm not guaranteeing anything good.

Also for those of you on here that take all of those amazing pictures...do you have any tips for meteor shots?
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Old 08-11-2012, 01:46 PM   #2
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The good thing about the Perseid shower is that it happens every year. So if you don't get what you want this time, you can always try again.
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Old 08-11-2012, 05:53 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by budmonster View Post
any tips for meteor shots?
I haven't tried meteor photos myself, but I'd guess it would be done similar to a regular night sky shot. A tripod is a must. You'll want a wide-angle lens — the wider, the better (for a couple of reasons). ISO must be set according to your aperture/shutter combo. The wider the lens, the longer exposures you can use — with a UWA of between 10-20 mm, your maximum exposure time is going to be around 30 seconds if you want to avoid having the stars turn to streaks. If you don't care about that, feel free to go to the bulb setting if you have a remote release. You'll want to get the longest exposure you can get. If you don't have a UWA, you might have to go with a shorter exposure than 30 seconds. It's been awhile since I tried it, but I'd start with ISO at a low setting and adjust from there. If you want to have the Milky Way visible, you'll likely have to go to ISO 800 or higher. You'll want to preset focus on infinity and then switch to manual focus so you can keep it there. You can use AF to focus on something far enough away to get it to infinity first, then put the camera on the tripod. In the eastern sky, you might get Venus in the frame early in the evening. I think shots such as this are generally more interesting if you get some trees or something in the frame if possible, but I wouldn't obsess over that. You won't be able to see jack in the sky through the viewfinder, except maybe the moon — but I'd keep that out of the frame if possible. A longer exposure not only gives you more light from the stars, it also increases the chances of catching a meteor in the shot. I would expect that you'll want to do most of your shots blind; what I mean is fire the shutter and hope a meteor obliges you by being in the shot. The average during the height of the Perseid shower is between 50-60 meteors an hour, so that's close to one per minute — so your odds are good. A 300-second exposure increases the odds. A wide angle lens covers more of the sky, which also increases the odds. If you have a fisheye lens, you'll cover even more sky and might be able to go with an exposure longer than 30 seconds (which will require the Bulb setting and a remote). The farther out in the country you can get, away from lights, the better off you'll be. After you try shooting blind for a while, you can try waiting until you see a meteor before you fire the shutter; such long exposures will mean you don't need to use mirror-up or exposure delay. I'd also suggest shooting RAW and turning off your camera's long-exposure noise reduction feature — otherwise you might miss shots waiting for the camera. The best times are going to be after midnight and into the wee hours of the morning.

Hope for clear skies!

Maybe that will help you get started —anyone else have anything to add?

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Old 08-11-2012, 06:16 PM   #4
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Bud and 626 i see that you are from Florida, not sure where but if you are in the south you won't see anything like me. It has been raining most of the day. I just picked up a Nikkor 10 -24 so i was looking forward to this but just might have to wait for next year or the Leonids in November.
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Old 08-11-2012, 06:16 PM   #5
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A couple of things I forgot to mention … set white balance to Daylight, ironically enough. If you're shooting RAW, you can always fix it later, but it never hurts to have it right at capture — and if you insist on shooting JPEG (again, I recommend RAW), you need to have it right.

In addition to not being able to see anything useful through the viewfinder, you won't be able to see much on your LCD either, most likely. I'd suggest that after it gets good and dark, shoot some trial images at various ISOs and shutter speeds (with the latter depending on the lens you use). make sure you take a set varying apertures and then another with varied shutter speeds. There's no reason to shoot anything shorter than about 20 seconds at any aperture setting, in my opinion. Take those trial images and download them immediately, presuming you haven't trekked into the wilderness for this and don't have a laptop, and check the visibility of the stars in the images that way. Find what gives results for the stars that you like, and make that your baseline setting when you go for broke. You probably won't vary from that setting after you find the right one.

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Old 08-11-2012, 06:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SunDial View Post
Bud and 626 i see that you are from Florida, not sure where but if you are in the south you won't see anything like me. It has been raining most of the day. I just picked up a Nikkor 10 -24 so i was looking forward to this but just might have to wait for next year or the Leonids in November.
I'm in north Florida near Tallahassee; right now we have partly cloudy conditions. If I'm up after midnight and into the wee hours, there's no telling what we'll get at that time of night. Still worth a shot unless it is actually raining, as long as cloud cover isn't an all-encompassing blanket.

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Old 08-11-2012, 07:34 PM   #7
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Here in NE Ohio after having nights of clear skies, we are totally socked in totally overcast due to an upper level low. Earlier this week we had absolutely clear skies. I should have gone out then because even though the tonight is the peak they can be viewed for several days in advance and after.

I am going to monitor the clouds all night and see if I get a break. Thought the moon comes up at 1am so at that point many will be washed out by the moonlight.

Last edited by Shutterbug; 08-11-2012 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 08-12-2012, 08:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SunDial View Post
Bud and 626 i see that you are from Florida, not sure where but if you are in the south you won't see anything like me. It has been raining most of the day. I just picked up a Nikkor 10 -24 so i was looking forward to this but just might have to wait for next year or the Leonids in November.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Experiment_626 View Post
I'm in north Florida near Tallahassee; right now we have partly cloudy conditions. If I'm up after midnight and into the wee hours, there's no telling what we'll get at that time of night. Still worth a shot unless it is actually raining, as long as cloud cover isn't an all-encompassing blanket.

SSB

I'm in North Central Florida near Gainesville. We had a crystal clear night where you could see the stars, the milkyway and lots of meteors. But sadly I had family surprise me with a visit and was to busy entertaining them to get my camera out to get some shots. So hopefully I can try tonight...as long as the weather cooperates again.
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:53 AM   #9
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I went out shooting some landscapes early yesterday evening, so I was pretty well wiped out and in the mood to relax the rest of the night and didn't touch the camera again. My wife and I did turn off most of the lights and go outside about 3 am. Skies were clear, if a bit hazy (typical for a Florida summer due to the humidity) — saw numerous meteors in the 20 minutes or so we watched. I saw one instance of four very close together in the sky in fewer than 10 seconds. We're in the country, about 20 miles or so from Tallahassee, so we did have the lights of the city in the eastern sky, but overhead is pretty clear (the west is blocked by trees). Most of the streaks we saw passed from the north to the south, roughly speaking.

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Old 08-12-2012, 04:57 PM   #10
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I was hoping to try some meteor shower pictures this year (I've been watching for MANY years now), but the Weather Gods are unkind to me this year. We had rain last night and more rain tonight, along with low clouds and fog. Hoping next year is better weather for me. (Either that, or maybe one of the lesser showers will give me more luck.)
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