Meteor Night with Pentax DA 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 Fisheye

All trailing lights come from plane
flying over my camera view in
30 second shutter exposure

mateor night attempt with Pentax da 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 fisheye and Pentax K20D

mateor night attempt with Pentax da 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 fisheye and Pentax K20D

mateor night attempt with Pentax da 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 fisheye and Pentax K20D

mateor night attempt with Pentax da 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 fisheye and Pentax K20D

I was up early around 2 to 3 am for two nights around the time for Perseid Meteor Night on August 11 and 12 in 2009. I fell really silly to hike up in the Mission Hill of Fremont in two different locations for each night trying to shoot the falling stars with Perseid Meteor. I did see the inactive Meteor happening around 2 to 3 times in an hour but my setting along with gaps between shots fail to catch the Meteor light that went pass me in a split of a second.

My settings:
  • Focal length set for 10mm to get the widest angle
  • Point to North East direction
  • Use M mode for metering and MF
  • Adjust MF to infinity
  • Adjust shutter to be maximum at 30 second shutter
  • Adjust aperture in f/4.0 and some in f/4.5
  • Use sturdy tripod
  • Use wireless remote, SR is off in using wireless remote

My mistakes:
  • I used jpg due to absence of Lightroom for the post processing
  • I have instant display on which results in gaps like 10 to 15 second for instant display of last picture. I should have turned that off completely onec a manual preview ensures good quality of shot
  • I attempted Bulb mode but I find it very cumbersome to hold the button release the whole time until the desired shutter time as in 5 minute a bulb shot, there must be a way to use bulb mode without the need to depress the shutter the whole time.
  • I have the wrong location where I am not shooting in a hill tall enough to stay away from city lights. As a result, the faint star lights are not as evident unless I darken the background in post processing
  • I should have prepared a dark frame, a lighted frame and perhaps other referencing frames so that I can provide the software tool to make a better stacking reference

Software for stacking images

Without a copy of photoshop, I look for tools that help in stacking time series pictures of star to show the star trails along with the Meteor traces. I end up trying few tools and I am still in the process of stacking 100 pictures in two nights

  • Keith Image Stacker -- this runs in Mac OS-X, for some unknown reason, I can't seem to get any meaningful results in the stacking. It looks very promising and yet it is not intuitive to align the stars from the stacked images

  • -- this is a Windows only software that is free to download, I used the Import Layers from the images in a time series of 60 minute of 30 second exposure shots. In the blending mode, I tried 'additive' and leave opacity to half of 0 to 255 -- rougly 125. The results are not great but somewhat recognizable as I can see results of three plane flying paths in layering around 20 images in the series

  • DeepSkyStacker -- this is also another free tool in Windows only, it looks just as promising as the but so far, I need to fine tune the proper stacking parameters to see the star trails. Layering Attempt

I mainly used import layers from files and I merge the layers with additive blend and a half opacity value of 128 out of the range from 0 to 255. Though not as distinctive as the original pictures, I can see three plane flying paths in the stacked images. I will post question in forum to seek the right parameters for yet another stacking attempt.

mateor night attempt with Pentax da 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 fisheye and Pentax K20D


Along the process of failed attempts to stack images or to get a good shot of Meteor, the most valuable experience is finding the resources needed for future attempts:



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