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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Holiday colors

One of the privileges of photographic life near Denver, Colorado is that you get some uniquely colorful holiday lights to play with.  In particular, the Denver City and County building traditionally is bathed in a very… unrestrained choice of colored lights at night for the season.  Call it gaudy, call it exuberant, call it tacky, the bottom line is that it’s a photographer magnet (we just can’t help ourselves).

Best of all, the folks running the building now turn off the street lights on Bannock Street in front of it every Sunday night when the building’s lit up — this makes it so much easier to capture the building in all its highly-saturated glory.  So last Sunday, I got bundled up to handle our recent frigid night temperatures (clear sky, 17 degrees Fahrenheit) and went to town on the place.

Festive colors

The above photo was taken from near the end of the building’s south wing, if you were curious.  This is definitely my favorite photo of the set, I really like how the snow in the foreground brings some of the chill to the viewer. Continue reading