The Olympus E-M1II and backyard astrophotography

A lot of people are still waiting for their pre-ordered Olympus OM-D E-M1II cameras to arrive — in the meantime, a number of them asked to see some high-ISO photographs to judge the camera’s abilities in the realm of astrophotography.  After days of waiting, I finally got clear night skies where I live, so took some shots of the constellation Orion.  Please bear in mind that I live in the south Denver metro area, so have to deal with light pollution — here’s the view looking south toward Orion from my house (enough sky glow to silhouette bits of a telephone pole and two trees):

Orion at ISO 1600

For the above image, the EXIF is E-M1II,  12-40mm Pro lens @ 17mm, f/5.6, ISO 1600, 8.0 seconds.  This is a SOOC image, by the way — all I’ve done to it is RAW conversion and scaling (to fit my blog’s template) in Lightroom.

But I didn’t only take this one image — I took a series of them, all unguided (i.e., on a still tripod): Continue reading

Local color — E-M1II experimentation in real life

In our neck of the woods, we’ve had cloudy night skies recently (at least, since my E-M1II arrived).  So I’ve lacked a clear view of stars to test the beast on, but fortunately there are plenty of Christmas lights to work with.  Here’s a quick shot from one of the more-colorful nearby houses:

Local color

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Lighthouse

A long exposure of the Eiffel Tower’s sweeping light beams at night:

Lighthouse

It’s likely not obvious, but I took this shot using Olympus’ “Live Composite” function — I love how it lets me make images like this without having to use a neutral density filter, or (diffraction-blurring) small apertures.  The full settings with an Olympus OM-D E-M5II and M.Zuiko 40-150mm lens were f/3.5, 60mm, ISO 200, exposures of 0.8 seconds each.

Diamonds and Rubies

A look down Paris’ Champs Elysées at night:

Diamonds and rubies

This is just one frame out of many in a time lapse video I’m putting together — just as soon as a replacement for my now-defunct main computer arrives (!?!).  If you were curious, there are little sheltered “islands” for pedestrians at the center of crosswalks on this street — perfect locations for a little night photography.

Star trails and Perseids

The Perseid meteor shower had its peak a few days ago (late August 12 / early August 13 in North America), and since I both live in an urban area (bright night skies) and had cloudy weather that night, missed out on what must have been a good show.

But as luck would have it, we own a small bit of land in southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains — a dark sky sort of place — and I’d already planned on traveling down for the weekend to do some maintenance work.  So, I thought I should try to capture some lagging Perseids the night of the 13th / 14th — here’s my first shot from the series:

Crowded skies

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