Photography - creative & technical
This page is an introduction to the whole site
The Dark Skies of the North Pennines
An amateur photographer's delight
Helping digital camera owners every-
where to discover for themselves the
wonders of the night sky.
2015 March 20
Nearly total in northern UK
Canon EOS 5D 100-400mm @ 400mm
1/1000s f/11 ISO400 2007:04:27 17:56:17
This web site is about both creative and technical aspects of photography.
It may be of interest to anyone with a camera. Find out how to take interesting photos of all kinds of things.
Have a go at photographing the night sky. It's surprising what simple cameras can reveal, even from our light-polluted towns and cities. There is a real chance you could spot something new - a nova or a comet.
There are more advanced techniques on these pages for those who are already hooked on astrophotography. Measure your images and do some real science.
This site is continually evolving. A principal message is: take a look at what I have managed to photograph using readily available equipment (not vastly expensive) and go out there, try it for yourself and be amazed. Today's cameras make it possible to capture things that only very determined professionals could do a decade or two ago. I provide some pointers in these pages about how to go about it.
Canon EOS 5D MkII
[ISO6400 51x32s] + [ISO800 35x16s]
254mm Newtonian f=1200mm f/4.8
HEQ5 equatorial mount, not guided
2012 Jan 16 21:51:25-22:40:11 UT
GR's Image Processor (GRIP) is free to download from here and will run on just about any computer. It's not limited to Windows and it can do many things that standard digital photo applications cannot.
And if you are a programmer you can find here all the information needed to extend GRIP to do whatever you want. It's a comprehensive starting basis for very creative or highly technical image processing and analysis.
Along the way GRIP has grown into a flexible general-purpose tool that I use in various ways to assist my own photography. Not only is the complete working software of GRIP available in these pages but also its workings are discussed, along with many aspects of digital photography. This is not a commercial venture. I am simply making it available for others to use.
Scientific uses of the software are possible because GRIP includes many facilities for measuring photographs. There is a printable scale for calibrating photographs when they are taken.
Canon EOS5D 24-105mm lens @ 47mm 3 x 1/20s f/22 ISO800 2006:06:27 17:49:37
Creative, fun and artistic uses abound too and examples will be shown in these pages. Further possibilities in that direction are limited only by your imagination. Here is an example created with GRIP from 3 successive images:
- How to show motion in colour, as in these red, green and blue waves.
Canon EOS10D Sigma 70-300mm @ 300mm
2 x 1/750s f/9.5 ISO200 2004:08:28
The photo of heron and curlews shown here is another example, created by subtracting 2 photos. Both of those examples required the camera to be on a tripod to provide a fixed background in successive shots of some moving subjects.
GRIP is written in Java. Some will be quite surprised at the idea of processing photographic-sized images with Java. So one aim of this site is to demonstrate that in fact this is very feasible with today's readily available computing power. Only quite ordinary PC's are required. However, these pages delve into certain quirks of the Java programming environment and how they have to be dealt with in order to achieve satisfactory performance.
I have been using Canon EOS digital SLR cameras since the beginning of 2001, starting with the 3 megapixel D30. I have traded up 4 times since then so I am now using a 5D MkII. That has over 21 megapixels. One of its RAW images loaded into memory occupies 124 megabytes. I almost always photograph in raw mode and the significance of that is also explained in these pages. I will show how such images can be processed in only a second or two by GRIP running on a typical PC under Windows.
The third-party library jrawio, used by GRIP for reading raw images, is not yet fully working for the 5D MkII camera, so I first have to convert my raw images to TIFF format. I am hoping that will only be a temporary problem.
I have received user feedback that GRIP does also work fine under Linux, MacOS and even the latest incarnation of OS/2. It should work on any platform for which Java (Standard Edition) is available.
I give a talk entitled "Photographing the Night Sky". It is aimed at photographers, so I assume no knowledge of astronomy but a basic familiarity with digital cameras (not necessarily of the SLR type). The talk lasts for 1 to 2 hours, adjustable for the needs of the audience. I cover 3 stages for beginning astrophotography:
- Camera only on a fixed tripod
- Camera only on a motorised (equatorial) mount
- Camera looking through a telescope
|2014 Jul 17||(done)||Bowsden Photography Club, Northumberland|
|2014 Oct 9||(done)||Blyth Photographic Society, Northumberland|
|2014 Nov 4||(done)||Masham Photographic Club, N. Yorkshire|
|2014 Nov 21||(done)||Amble Photographic Group, Northumberland|
|2015 Jan 13||(done)||Rainton Meadows Photography Group, Durham|
|2015 Feb 5||(done)||Tynemouth Photographic Society, Tyne & Wear *|
|2015 Feb 17||(done)||Berwick and District Camera Club, Northumberland|
|2015 Mar 10||(done)||Ryton Camera Club, Tyne & Wear|
|2015 Mar 11||(done)||Riding Mill Photographic Society, Northumberland|
|2015 Sep 16||7:30pm||Penrith & District Camera Club, Cumbria|
|2015 Oct 22||7:30pm||Stokesley Photographic Society, N. Yorkshire|
|2015 Nov 10||7:30pm||Carlisle Camera Club, Cumbria|
* The Tynemouth talk was a more general one. As it is my own club they had already heard about Night Photography.
Links related to my talks
Stellarium - free planetarium program
Photo ephemeris - Sun, Moon, twilight details for photographers
APT - AstroPhotography Tool - camera control
PicturesToExe - create audiovisual sequences easily
About the author
Graham Relf is a keen amateur photographer who has dabbled in astrophotography for many years. So long in fact that during that time he has progressed from a Kodak Brownie box camera (which he now wishes he had not dismantled) to a Canon EOS digital SLR. He has worked in software design and development for almost as long. He started programming in FORTRAN using punched cards but was until recently a technical architect for a major commercial web site. He has now retired. In the 1980s and 90s he worked for a pioneering company in the field of image analysis, mainly for biological and medical applications. He has a degree in physics (from Imperial College) and is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.
His image processor, GRIP, was primarily written for his own astrophotography, in the programming language Java. It was used in making all of the astrophotographs shown on this site. It is available for others to use and to extend for their own purposes.