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    • So the Perseids meteor shower is coming up this weekend. Perfect conditions: it peaks on a new moon and no storms are forecasted here in California. The trick will be avoiding the smoke from the fires.

      I'm not that well versed in the logistics of astrophotography. Does anyone have any tips for shooting a meteor shower? Who else will shoot it this weekend?

    • I'm curious how you'll fare. I haven't had much luck over the years, probably because I only try for shots of convenience, and I'm all of four miles from the city, so...even if air quality was awesome (never, in the humid eastern seaboard summer), light pollution still fails me. Out of curiosity, I did research how, way back then...

      If you make the effort to isolate yourself from those two deal breakers, then you might have a shot...take your brightest wide-angle lens, and a rock-solid tripod and go bonkers w/ your remote trigger. If you want to avoid startrails, it's 500/focal-length to derive the longest shutterspeed you can use.

      If you are savvy with post processing & have Lightroom/PS, you might want to try stacking your images, because shooting at high ISOs obviously introduces noise, and they have tools that help you take out the rotation.

      Good luck!

    • Kevin Harrington

      So I'm planning to shoot it on my A7RII with a Voigtlander 21mm f/1.8. I'm planning to shoot wide open at ISO ~3,000. I'm guessing exposures will need to be 15-30 seconds. At 21mm, star trails shouldn't be too visible, even in a 42MP image.

      I really really want to shoot a pano of the entire milky way during the shower. And I've never pulled off a single night sky pano, so doing it during a meteor shower might be a stretch.

      But most importantly, I want an interesting natural feature for my foreground -- like a prominent tree, epic mountains, the ocean, or something else. I fell that a creative foreground is critical to make it my own shot. I'm open to all ideas.

      I shot this at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains of California. 2 frames, stitched together. Maybe I could iterate on this scene👇

    • Kevin Harrington

      Does anyone know where to find data for smoke altitude? It's easy for news outlets to state smoke is near the height at which planes fly. But that's anecdotal at best.

      This is an iPhone image I shot out of a plane at cruising altitude above Reno, NV in September of last year. Numerous fires were burning across all the western states. It's amazing that my iPhone could capture Mt. Shasta 180 miles line of sight. From the photo, I reason that the smoke ceiling is at 12,000 ft. I'm betting similar conditions exist now.

      I'm wondering where I can drive here in California that will get me within a short hiking distance of 12,000ft.

    • Kevin Harrington

      Death Valley would be great, except I'm a wimp when it comes to heat. It would be high on my list if it were winter time.

      I have two high mountain roads in mind.

      1. White Mountain Peak road. It goes all the way up to 14,252ft, however, there's a gate at 12,000ft.
      2. An obscure old mining road that goes near the top Mount Morgan in the Eastern Sierra. It also ends at 12,000ft.

      Mount Morgan would be an expedition as it's an old mining road to somewhere I've never been off the beaten tracks. I have no idea what's at/near the top that would make for a unique foreground.

      Patriarch Grove, an Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest, off of White Mountain Peak road at 11,300ft has some beautiful trees that would make a good foreground. But it might be below the smoke line.

    • Kevin Harrington

      IMHO A7RII is a better value. What draws people is the 42MP sensor, the same that's in the RIII. Why pay an extra $1000+ for some bells and whistles? 😉

      I'm stoked I have the A7RII for this astro expedition. Trying to figure out how I'll control the capture now. I'm thinking I'll use the Sony in-camera timelapse app.

    • I'm thinking I'll use the Sony in-camera timelapse app.

      Even though I shoot RAW/jpeg, I do take advantage of several of Sony's apps and I understand none of the apps work with the RIII.

    • Kevin Harrington

      You saved me by reminding me: I've shot plenty of timelapses and other photos via the apps on the Sony A7 line, but not a single image shot in the apps was RAW. Like these uncut time lapses from Iceland.

      I will not use their apps for astrophotography this weekend, because I will rely on the RAW to produce a nice final product. I need RAW alone to correct for vignetting on my Voightlander 21mm. Since it's a Leica M mount lens with an adaptor, I loose almost 3 stops in the corners when I shoot wide open.

      Thanks for jogging my memory, Robert. I would cry if I came home with JPEGs.

    • white mountain, have someone drop you off, jump the gate and bike the rest! Young fit guys can do these things.

      altitude and heat though is a horrible thing to deal with. winter and spring in death valley are my happy times.

      Looking forward to the epic pics!

      I will sleep for you.

    • Kevin Harrington

      Oh wow, this is really useful. Thanks for sharing.

      I'll add it to my arsenal of apps/tech to use for executing the shot. I'm planning to use a couple iOS apps: TPE (The Photographers Ephemeris) to calculate moon / light conditions and Star Guide to predict position of the milky way in orientation to whatever foreground I choose.

      👇Star Guide and TPE views I'm using now to plan out my shot.

    • I didn't realize when I first posted that I was replying to you, Kevin...the guy who just posted a bunch of kick-ass photos from iceclimbing. I think you already know a thing or two about shutterspeed and aperture settings. ;)

      Btw, those bristlecones were just about my first subjects on my journey through photography! Back then, I was sporting a Canon SLR, shooting with film, and my skills were maybe half a notch above hack level. your shot with that milky way backdrop...waaaaay better than mine! :)

    • Thank you for the wonderful compliments 🙏 I appreciate the advice. I may take some good photos but sometimes far and few in between :)

    • I started this new conversation. It's a dedicated live trip report. All of you can follow along, comment, and give your opinions as I journey out to the mountains to photograph the meteor shower.

    You've been invited!