Modified Z7 milkyway photos of 2021

Joined
Apr 24, 2020
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Got one of my Nikon Z7 modified with Kolari vision in NJ
H Alpha mod
Equipment used: Nikon Z7 + Sigma 14mm f1.8 & Sigma 18-35mm f1.8
I don't own a tracker or filters just the camera and lenses.


There are some frames I stacked in post and got some nice results. I am still a beginner but I wanted to share some of these on here.

Barnegat Light NJ
Barnegat 1.0.1 PS2 V1-2.jpg
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Beach Haven NJ
Milkyway rising 1.0.1-2 PS2 V1.jpg
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Beach Haven NJ
Milkyway rising 1.0.2 PS2 V1.jpg
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Beach Haven NJ
milkyway seascpae 1.2.0.1.jpg
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Tannersville NY
nebulav2-2ps.jpg
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Kerhonkson NY
DSC_0870-ps1.00.jpg
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Minnewaska State Park NY
4.0.0-ps-2.jpg
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Minnewaska State Park NY
DSC_5514-HDR-2-ps-2.jpg
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Roscoe NY
2.0.2-v2.1-ps2.0.0.jpg
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Catskills NY
DSC_5568-HDR-3.jpg
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Catskill NY
DSC_5595-HDR.jpg
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Pepacton Reservoir NY
4.2.1-3-ps.jpg
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Catskills NY
6.0.0.jpg
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Beach Haven NJ
7.0.0-ps1.01.jpg
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Beach Haven NJ
beach haven milkyway 1.0.0 ps.jpg
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Joined
Jan 22, 2019
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Jupiter, FL
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Andy
Thanks for sharing this set. It looks like your stacking software outputs metadata to reflect the total exposure time (or perhaps you have modified it with EXIFTool). In any case, I think you have done a great job making interesting compositions and capturing tremendous detail in the stars. Nice work.
 
Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
59
Thanks for sharing this set. It looks like your stacking software outputs metadata to reflect the total exposure time (or perhaps you have modified it with EXIFTool). In any case, I think you have done a great job making interesting compositions and capturing tremendous detail in the stars. Nice work.
Thanks, I don't exactly know what any of that means tbh. I use Sequator to stack files and photoshop to denoise as well as Lightroom but I'm kind of learning as I go. Does the metadata make the files larger?
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
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Jupiter, FL
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Andy
Does the metadata make the files larger?
No. EXIF (camera, lens, and shooting data) is included in the metadata, which is text only, so it's insignificant in size.

Since you mentioned that you are stacking in post (and not tracking at the time of capture), your individual exposures would not be as long as the tags on most of your jpgs.

For example, your first image (which I really like BTW) shows an exposure time of 864 seconds. Any untracked exposure longer than 35 seconds would exhibit star trailing, so I was speculating that somewhere in your post processing workflow the exposure time of the final image was modified to reflect the sum of all the exposure times of the frames that were stacked.

Now that I think about it some more, I suspect that the 864-second exposure was probably the frame you captured to represent the foreground in your final image, which you composited with the stacked sky frames.

I see that some of your other images have exposures that are well with the "500 Rule" guidelines, such as Kerhonkson and the second Minnewaska photo.

Not that any of this really matters - it's just me being curious about the process you follow. Like you, I'm trying to improve by learning the craft.
 
Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
59
No. EXIF (camera, lens, and shooting data) is included in the metadata, which is text only, so it's insignificant in size.

Since you mentioned that you are stacking in post (and not tracking at the time of capture), your individual exposures would not be as long as the tags on most of your jpgs.

For example, your first image (which I really like BTW) shows an exposure time of 864 seconds. Any untracked exposure longer than 35 seconds would exhibit star trailing, so I was speculating that somewhere in your post processing workflow the exposure time of the final image was modified to reflect the sum of all the exposure times of the frames that were stacked.

Now that I think about it some more, I suspect that the 864-second exposure was probably the frame you captured to represent the foreground in your final image, which you composited with the stacked sky frames.

I see that some of your other images have exposures that are well with the "500 Rule" guidelines, such as Kerhonkson and the second Minnewaska photo.

Not that any of this really matters - it's just me being curious about the process you follow. Like you, I'm trying to improve by learning the craft.
Thanks, it is probably happening with Sequator because I see that information you mentioned after they're stacked. I still have a hard time with foregrounds and backgrounds, cant even do it tbh, so I use the feature on Sequator to freeze the ground and only stack the sky.

The way I'm working at the moment is as follow:
  • Import images into Lightroom and remove CA and enable lens corrections.
  • If the image is dark or a bit under exposed I tweak very very slightly and copy the settings to all the images.
  • If I am using dark frames (half the time yes and half no) I fix CA but no editing them.
  • I then import everything into Sequator and fiddle with settings until it looks right me.
  • I take a break and come back a few hours later and see if the image still looks good or if I was over processing too much.
  • If the file looks good I import into Photoshop for noise editing.
  • Create several duplicates. Two for Heavy and Light noise reduction as well as levels on the highlighted area.
  • One for Levels and Curves. One for sharpening of the foreground and the last is kept as original.
  • I use quick selection tool to grab the sky area and minimize noise. one layer for heavy Noise reduction and another for light noise reduction to get rid of the high ISO grain.
  • I edit the other duplicates to my liking and adjust the opacity and fill on all duplicates as needed and merge them all.
  • Save as Tiff again and bring into Lightroom.
  • Here I can play with brushes and gradient tools and get the details and light and shadows further tweaked.
  • At this point either the image looks clean and ready to save as JPEG or needs to go back to Photoshop to clean up Noise.
  • Generally I open them on my computer screen and my phone since they will look bad on phones sometimes so you need to edit more.
Sorry for the long write up, and there may be a simpler way but I am making due with the few programs I have at the moment. I'm sure if I used a tracker it'd be much quicker.
 
Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
59
No. EXIF (camera, lens, and shooting data) is included in the metadata, which is text only, so it's insignificant in size.

Since you mentioned that you are stacking in post (and not tracking at the time of capture), your individual exposures would not be as long as the tags on most of your jpgs.

For example, your first image (which I really like BTW) shows an exposure time of 864 seconds. Any untracked exposure longer than 35 seconds would exhibit star trailing, so I was speculating that somewhere in your post processing workflow the exposure time of the final image was modified to reflect the sum of all the exposure times of the frames that were stacked.

Now that I think about it some more, I suspect that the 864-second exposure was probably the frame you captured to represent the foreground in your final image, which you composited with the stacked sky frames.

I see that some of your other images have exposures that are well with the "500 Rule" guidelines, such as Kerhonkson and the second Minnewaska photo.

Not that any of this really matters - it's just me being curious about the process you follow. Like you, I'm trying to improve by learning the craft.
Settings normally on both the 14mm and the APSC 18-35mm are:
8-10 seconds and anywhere between 20 and 120 shots.
ISO 2500-8000
F2.8 but I will open up to F1.8 if I really need to, tend to stay away from anything under f2.8 lately just sharper at f2.8
generally custom white balance since my camera is modded.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
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Sorry for the long write up, and there may be a simpler way but I am making due with the few programs I have at the moment. I'm sure if I used a tracker it'd be much quicker.
It sure sounds like you are working quite a bit more than I do on each image. I only recently obtained an equatorial mount for tracking and have used it just twice for the MW. Prior to that, I would occasionally stack, but never more than a handful of images. For post processing, I've tried a couple different stacking applications (Sequator is not one of them since it is Windows-only and I use a Mac). The end result is that I have never achieved a MW image that I consider a "wall hanger." I have posted some from time to time here on the Cafe, if you're interested.
 
Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
59
It sure sounds like you are working quite a bit more than I do on each image. I only recently obtained an equatorial mount for tracking and have used it just twice for the MW. Prior to that, I would occasionally stack, but never more than a handful of images. For post processing, I've tried a couple different stacking applications (Sequator is not one of them since it is Windows-only and I use a Mac). The end result is that I have never achieved a MW image that I consider a "wall hanger." I have posted some from time to time here on the Cafe, if you're interested.
nice will check those out!
 
Joined
Oct 25, 2007
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Location
Potomac Falls, VA
Wow, really well done! I really like the first few of the shoreline foregrounds but all are very inspiring. I was listening to a vlog from Hudson Henry who recommended to keep ISO down on the Z7 but you images don't show a lot of noise.
 
Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
59
Wow, really well done! I really like the first few of the shoreline foregrounds but all are very inspiring. I was listening to a vlog from Hudson Henry who recommended to keep ISO down on the Z7 but you images don't show a lot of noise.
Hey! thanks. Well yes the Noise is kind of high on a single exposure but once you stack and de-noise it gets more acceptable. I also ready and saw videos saying this about the Z7. Could be that when the sensor is very hot its very noise for sure, Not sure if the astro mod and change of the glass in the sensor has anything to do with maybe helping out with better noise control. Thanks for checking out my post!!!
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
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Jupiter, FL
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Andy
Not sure if the astro mod and change of the glass in the sensor has anything to do with maybe helping out with better noise control.
I believe the H-alpha astro mod is primarily for improving sensitivity to reds. Cameras designed for astrophotography sometimes have cooled sensors, but ordinary DSLR and mirrorless cameras do not, so they suffer from sensor noise, particularly with long exposures. As you pointed out, stacking really helps mitigate noise, and as we can all see, the H-alpha mod really brings out the color in the Milky Way core in your photographs.

I was also under the impression that the H-alpha mod was particularly beneficial for photographing deep sky objects such as nebulae. Are you doing that sort of thing?
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
59
I believe the H-alpha astro mod is primarily for improving sensitivity to reds. Cameras designed for astrophotography sometimes have cooled sensors, but ordinary DSLR and mirrorless cameras do not, so they suffer from sensor noise, particularly with long exposures. As you pointed out, stacking really helps mitigate noise, and as we can all see, the H-alpha mod really brings out the color in the Milky Way core in your photographs.

I was also under the impression that the H-alpha mod was particularly beneficial for photographing deep sky objects such as nebulae. Are you doing that sort of thing?
yes I actually capture this a few months ago in the winter with my 180mm f2.8 AIS lens. For the bottom ones it was 560 something images stacked with darks vignetting frames on Sequator. f2.8 1.6 seconds ISO 10,000 and the top was about 40 images if I recall same ISO and exposure time.

Taken outside hunter mountain NY
hunter mountain.jpg
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Minnewaska state Park NY
Orion and Horse head panorama.jpg
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Orion and horsehead widefield.jpg
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Joined
Apr 24, 2020
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59
Impressive images. I don't remember the night ever being that clear in NJ . . . :)
lol for sure, its clouds almost every single day, a lot of trips down the shore only to be met with clouds. Obviously I've edited to bring out the sky so it looks a bit fake on some photos. Still need to figure out a sweet spot between real and fantasy
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
Messages
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Location
Jupiter, FL
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Andy
yes I actually capture this a few months ago in the winter
I like the amount of color appearing your Orion and Horsehead Nebulae image. Capturing them with the terrain in the foreground (as you did in the first image) is particularly pleasing to my eye.
 

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