At first glance, the challenge of astrophotography may appear daunting. But not only are spectacular results possible, they are easy to learn with the step-by-step instructions provided in Stephan Seip's Digital Astrophotography: A Guide to Capturing the Cosmos. Today, amateurs can produce images that only twenty years ago a large professional observatory would have been proud of; and this book shows you how.
Learn how to:
Set up your camera for optimum results
Focus your camera for razor-sharp images
Take beautiful night shots with a simple compact digital camera, a tripod, and a telescope
Use a DSLR camera to shoot the Sun, Moon, stars, star clusters, and nebulae through your telescope
Get brilliant images of planets with a Webcam
Capture remote galaxies with a charge-coupled device (CCD) camera just like a pro
Also included are lessons on the processing that is done in the "studio" after your shoot, including how to:
Shoot RAW format images and improve them with calibration frames
Take short exposures of faint deep-sky objects and combine them into a longer exposure
Perform brightness, contrast, and color correction
Make corrections to correct for vignetting and uneven field illumination
Process your images for stunning results
Equipment requirements for astrophotography range from nothing but a simple camera and tripod to a multi-thousand dollar computer controlled telescope equipped with a CCD auto-guider and separate guide-scope. Researching the best equipment for your needs is a task in itself. Seip helps you to sort out which cameras are best for the various celestial objects, what to look for when buying a camera, and what accessories you really need.
The rewards of this fascinating hobby, as the author says, "Grants you unforgettable hours under the night sky; it allows you to produce aesthetically rewarding and lasting results. Astrophotography is a love-match between physics, photography, art, and digital image processing. It is exciting!"
This book is a small but information packed introduction to the revolution in digital astro-photography. The book contains chapters on digital compact cameras, webcams, digital single lens reflex cameras, and astronomical CCD cameras. Each chapter contains copious illustrations, photos, and computer screen shots illustrating each topic. Although many other books are available on this topic, most of them are longer, more involved, and more expensive. If you want a quick, simple, and inexpensive introduction to the topic, this is the book for you. The author takes you on a step-by-step and well illustrated trip through each type of astrophotography. You can get up-and-running quickly. He also introduces and explains the software needed to adjust the images you obtain. In short, it's an excellent introduction to astrophotography.
I have a good experience in astronomy but I am quite a beginner in astrophotography. Looking around at my favourite bookstore for a good introductory book in astrophotography, I came to browse Stefan Seip's book Digital Astrophotography, A Guide to Capturing the Cosmos.
My first impression of Seip's book was that it looked concise, readable and informative on many aspects of astrophotography. I bought that book thinking that it may be a good starting point for this hobby.
I am happy to have chosen Digital Astrophotography. The book is clear and well written. It is exactly what I needed to get me in this hobby. Clearly, it is an excellent book.
If you are starting up with astrophotography, this book is for you. It covers the basics on what to expect from your telescope, how to use different types of camera, from digital compact, webcam, DSLR to CCD camera dedicated to astronomy, how to focus your camera.
Seip clearly explains the kind of photography you can expect to make with each type of camera, the pros and cons of each type. He also covers the basics on how to take the pictures and how to process them. For the more advanced astrophotographer, Seip writes about RAW format, how to make pictures of deepsky objects and many more topics of interest.
Digital Astrophotography is a must if you are considering taking photos of the night sky. What you'll need after is a good night sky to experiment and enjoy.
Many of us have been impressed by the images made by Stefan Seip, an astro-photographer based in Stuttgart Germany. His shots of Comet Machholz against the Pleiades and Venus at inferior conjunction framed by wispy clouds are stunning examples of what digital imaging technology can produce when directed by a discerning eye.
(View his work at: http://www.photomeeting.de/astromeeting/_index.htm)
So, even though I'm a committed visual observer, when Seip's "Digital Astrophotography: A Guide to Capturing the Universe" became available (It was first published in German under the title "Astrofotografie digital") I thought what better photographer to acquaint me with what's become such a huge part of the astronomy hobby. And I was right. As an intro, it's superb.
His book is an attractive soft cover volume, profusely illustrated in color and printed on a heavy weight glossy paper with lots of open margins for notes. It enjoys two clear advantages over some other digital astrophotography texts. First, it does not limit itself to one particular type of digital tool/photography and two, being published this year, its camera and software references should be up to date. A short introductory chapter, "Before You Start" addresses some basics and presents some terms and concepts which will figure in later discussions. Then comes the heart of the book: four chapters, each treating a type of camera available to today's digital astro-imager:
- Compact Digital Cameras
- Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras (DSLR)
- Charged Coupled Device Cameras (CCD)
Within each chapter, Seip
- explains the characteristics of the specific camera type and mentions its advantages and disadvantages
- mentions the types of photographs suited to it, e.g., only webcams are recommended for planetary imaging while CCD cameras are unsurpassed for deep sky objects.
- gives tips on purchasing, e.g., webcams with a CCD sensor are better than those with a CMOS sensor for astrophotography
- recommends accessories, e.g., his chapter on CCD cameras mentions software, autoguider connections, filter wheels, focal reducers, portable power supplies, etc.
- takes the reader, step by step, through the process of capturing an image and processing it. Understandably, to do this, Seip necessarily uses specific equipment and software in his explanations, e.g., his webcam chapter is geared to the Celestron NexImage camera and Registax software. The CCD chapter utilizes MSB's Astroart software. Adobe Photoshop is used throughout the book.
As Seip progresses from simpler to more complex cameras, the discussion of digital imaging itself becomes more sophisticated and the reader's grasp of the whole topic becomes deeper. Later chapters discuss topics that definitely would be of concern to intermediate level imagers, e.g., thermal noise, spectral sensitivity, format conversion, field flatteners, coma correctors, etc. I was impressed that the book was able to educate me about a seemingly complicated subject in a painless way. Plus, I kept thinking should I ever decide to take the plunge into digital imaging, I'll have what amounts to a "cookbook" reference. The book has an internet tie-in to Stefan Seip's web site. The actual images used to illustrate software photo processing techniques can be downloaded, so the reader can duplicate the steps shown in the book. Also three documents, one on how to treat dust and pixel defects, another telling how to remove a satellite trail from an image and the last listing selection criteria for a CCD camera are available as PDF's. There is an appendix containing some useful information, a glossary (which comes in handy for a visual observer when a term such as "resolution", for example, takes on a definition which differs from the one that applies to telescope optics alone), a list of resources and reading suggestions and last, but not least, entries giving the exposure info and equipment used for each of the images used to illustrate the book.
Great starting point for anyone interested in starting up with astrophotography. This book starts off (as you'd expect) with the basics - what to look for in a telescope, then moves onto sections on how to take photos with everything from a digital compact, a webcam(!), a dSLR then finally an astronomical CCD camera.
Each section is further broken down into the same subsections: what kind of photos you can take with the particular type of camera, pros and cons of using it, buying tips, how to take the photos and finally how to process them.
This book is packed with excellent reference photos, and covers the basics of astrophotography in a lot of detail, and finishes off with an extensive list of links to appropriate software, astronomy links, camera and telescope manufacturers, and books. A must-buy for anyone considering taking photos of the night sky. Be warned though, once you've read it, you'll be outside on many a cold night!