Chasing Orion

I’ve been on a quest to take tracked Orion pictures to get longer exposures so that I can bring out Barnard’s Loop. Stacking in DSS doesn’t work for me (don’t know what I am doing, really, but I was able to bring out some of the red stuff by just using Lightroom). By the way, I am using an astro converted Sony a6300. And since I have so many shots, I put together this time-lapse movie:

So this is how my adventure shoot went. I wanted to go to the end of Denning Road in the Catskills, an hour and forty-five minutes from my house. The forecast called for good-to-great conditions. The skies had cleared up on schedule while I was still at home, so I got my gear together and drove off.

Now I’m driving north and I see clouds in the distance. Hmm. I stop at the Neversink Reservoir and there are no stars to be seen. Bummer— but who knows how the situation can change? So I continue. Finally, I arrive at my destination around 8 p.m. Still no stars.

Using a lens warmer proved to be useful. Photo by George Preoteasa.

I was hungry and I brought some supper, so I decided to eat before returning. I took my time, and just as I finish eating, I peek out and see a really bright object. A plane? I lower the window and, incredibly, the sky is completely clear. Orion is high up already. I have to hurry.

The parking lot was plowed but icy, so I had to put on the microspikes for traction. I set up, fist on the tripod to take a few test shots for framing, then polar aligned, then started shooting. It was already 9:00. I retreated to the car at some distance, making sure I didn’t trigger any lights. The sky was gorgeous, you could see the Milky Way so well.

Later on I checked and felt some dew on the tripod. I was sorry I didn’t use the lens heater, so I took it out and carefully put it on to avoid messing up the setting, especially the focus. But I had to wipe the lens and mess up a shot. So basically, for a time-lapse movie, I have to start over. It was just before 10:00.

Now I have to wait. I get back to the car (running non-stop), read from my tablet, listen to some CDs, take a nap, go out and walk around a bit, look at the sky. It’s so quiet and beautiful. Finally, around midnight, I figured I had enough frames for a time-lapse, so I stopped the shooting and dismantled the setup. Most of it was frosted, only the camera and lens were clear. The intervalometer on top of the camera was frosted.

I got back home safely after 2:00. So that’s my adventure in nighttime photography. The moral is this: you have to go even if the conditions don’t look good at the moment. If you’re not there, you don’t get anything. If you are there, you still have a chance.