Appreciation through Understanding
Do stars move in circles around Polaris in your camera? As the lawyers say, it depends. If you have the usual rectilinear lens (anything other than a fisheye lens); and your camera is not pointed directly at Polaris, the answer is no. With a slight tilt away from Polaris, the star trails become ellipses and more extreme tilts produce parabolic or hyperbolic paths. Of course, all the star trails are beautiful, so why does one care about mathematical descriptions of their shapes? The answer is that photographers need to calculate maximum exposure times that will still avoid noticeable star trails resulting from motion. The rate of growth of trails for stars with various declinations and positions on the sensor is the subject of this study. It has been prompted by the approximate equations1 and inaccurate calculators2 that have been posted online. Here I will display exact calculations of star trails that can serve as bench marks for approximations and rules of thumb for photographers. For the complete article see below:
Exact Star Trails (1,419 KB)
On March 2, 2013, I posted a Blog entry entitled “Landscape Astrophotography without Star Trails.” The calculations and accompanying graphs of exposure times were based on the assumption that images of the night sky were captured with a rectilinear lens. That is to say, a “regular” lens rather than a fisheye lens. Recently, another calculation of star trails has been published in lonelyspeck.com apparently with different assumptions about the type of projection employed. Therefore, I am explaining my work on star trail calculation in more detail and extending it to cover fisheye as well as rectangular lenses.
My complete article can be found here:
I am happy to report that Science for the Curious Photographer, 2nd Edition has just been published by Routledge/Focal Press. I have received paperback copies, but I have not yet seen the hardback edition. The eBook edition is listed on the Routledge web site and a Kindle edition is also available.
The second edition has been extensively updated and new material has been added on digital cameras, panoramic and infrared photography, new technologies, anomalous color vision, and the operation of the eye/mind system. This edition has 286 pages compared to 185 pages in the first edition. The extra space allows for full page width to be allocated to almost every figure and photograph and for expanded table of contents and index.
An announcement about publication of Science for the Curious Photographer, 2nd Ed, appears on the Routledge/Focal Press web site:
I have no information yet about an eBook version.
To read more about my experience with the Canon M5 check out the pdf file posted below:
TIME FOR A MIRRORLESS CAMERA (1,613KB)
We are fortunate to have great photography courses online that are completely free. I strongly recommend Marc Levoys course, Digital Photography. It is available here:
This course was offered at Stanford and more recently at Google.
Also, Dan Armendarizs course, Digital Media E-10: Exposing Digital Photography, is now available at:
This 2015 course was offered by Harvard Universitys Extension School.The book Science for the Curious Photographer, heads the list of recommended books for the Harvard course. Unfortunately, the book is out of print and is not available at the previously listed retail price. A draft of the second edition was delivered to Routledge Press on November, 2016. I hope the book will be available for sale by the next academic year.
Over and over again I find myself in situations where the lighting is poor; but tripods are not allowed. When only snapshots are needed, the camera's ISO setting can be increased to compensate for the inadequate lighting; however, the image quality always suffers to some extent. One way around the problem is go ahead and select high ISO to permit appropriate shutter and aperture settings, but to compensate by blending multiple exposures of the scene. In this way random noise can be partially averaged out.
Recently I photographed Art Deco Cars from the 1930's at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC. My experience with blending images and my recommendations are described below:
The Museum Rule (600 KB)
This is an updated list of corrections for first edition of "Science for the Curious Photographer" first and second printings.
Click here for the pdf file. (401 KB)
I have signed a contract to deliver the second edition of SCP to Routledge Press in November. Routledge Press and Focal Press are now one company, and they are part of Taylor and Francis Group. The first edition was published by A K Peters, Ltd., which was acquired by CRC Press. CRC Press is still another part of Taylor and Francis Group.
I think that Routledge Press will do a good job and will provide the best route to the education market. Publication takes several months. Hopefully, the second edition will become available in the spring.
Last year I converted my Canon SL1 (100D) to IR, and I have been experimenting with IR photography for nature and art. It is easy to do IR photography in the digital world, and it can be rewarding. IR conversion, picture taking, and post processing all involve choices and, of course, compromises. I have described my experience in an article that you can access below:
Give IR a Try (1,678 KB)
I was not able to reach a satisfactory agreement about a second edition of SCP with CRC Press. I had hoped for an updated and expanded second edition with improved images and a lower price. In discussions with CRC and Focal Press, also a part of Taylor and Francis Group; I was told that, given the type of market this book is designed for, the price would have to be increased and my royalty would have to be cut. Publishing rights have now been returned to me for both printed and electronic editions while CRC retains nonexclusive rights for the pdf eBook version of the first edition.
I am currently working on a second edition of SCP that I will make available through photophys.com as I did with the first edition prior to selling the publication rights to A.K. Peters, Ltd. in 2010. The science has, of course, not changed; but I am updating all the chapters and adding new material where appropriate. There have been incremental changes in the world of photography each year, but in five years the impact has been considerable.
In the electronic edition I will be able to display larger images and will have space for more detailed discussions. I understand the need for more emphasis on post processing, image storage, and database management. I also to plan add new appendices and perhaps remove some old material. Expect more discussion of the eye/mind system and perceptions of reality including illusions.
Is it time to remove material about film photography since most film production has been discontinued? What about the science of film photography and the history of Kodachrome? I enjoy the historic material, but perhaps it gets in the way for some people. What do you think?
Update: It now appears that I will have a publisher for the second edition. There are advantages to having paper copies and a good distribution system. Unfortunately, the price will be higher. Stay tuned.
It is sad that so many people in the metropolitan areas of the world have never seen a truly dark night sky. About my only opportunity on the east coast comes during our annual trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. Of course, there are many opportunities in the Rocky Mountains and the desert southwest. Unfortunately, the few nightscapes I have captured featuring the glorious Milky Way are often mysteries to my friends who wonder what that cloudy thing in the sky is.
Successful nightscape photography requires an interest in the night sky as well as some photographic expertise. As with landscape photography in general, this requires preparation and planning. My first exposure to night sky photography was a spur-of-the-moment thing when I aimed my f/2.8 15mm fisheye lens at the night sky in southern Utah and took a 30s exposure. The Milky Way in full color was enough to get me hooked. Now I avidly read everything about nightscapes that I can get my hands on.
There is a wealth of excellent books on nightscape photography. Here I will report on four recent eBooks. To read more click