Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Planning and shooting a sunset

I never get tired of watching a sunrise, sunset, moonrise or moonset. All these events are always beautiful to watch and it's also very exciting because you never know what might happen regarding light and atmospheric phenomena.

Last Sunday the weather was looking good for the evening and I had looked up a location that would give me a nice foreground, in this case a large building. I think planning your shot is half the fun and that's something I really enjoy doing. When planning my shot I usually use Google Maps and tools like The Photographer's Ephemeris. Other useful tools are planetarium software like Stellarium 

Always be careful when shooting the Sun since its so bright, you could damage your eyes. Never look straight into the Sun through your camera. Regarding filters, this sunset was quite cloudy so I didn't need any filters, otherwise you could use a ND-filter to dim the Sun.

As soon as I arrive on the location I've planned, I start by checking the surroundings to see what I can work with regarding foregrounds etc. I also double check that I'm in a spot where the Sun or the Moon will pass behind the planed distant object. Then I usually start off by taking some wide angle shots while the Sun is above the horizon and I got some really nice a warm light.

Here's a shot showing lake Storsjön and you can see the building to the right of the Sun. Above the Sun you can see a faint Sun pillar.

Nikon D810A, 1/250 sec. ISO 200, 70 mm f/8

As the Sun gets closer to the horizon I switch to a longer focal length to really get up close with the Sun. In this case I was shooting at a focal length of 1,200 mm. Quite extreme but in that way you get a much more dramatic scene. The building was located 13 km away from me at the time.

Nikon D810A, 1/2000 sec. ISO 400, 1200 mm f/11

In the shot above you can see two sunspots on the solar disc. Both these sunspots are about the same size as the Earth's diameter. As you can see the clouds can sometimes work with you adding a lot of drama to the scene. The sky above the Sun looks much better with this thin layer of clouds that it would have done without them. But I would have preferred not having the lower thicker clouds to get a cleaner solar disc, but they also adds a bit of drama.

Later on the Sun passed behind the building as planned.

Nikon D810A, 1/500 sec. ISO 400, 1200 mm f/11

The image above is a panoramic image of three shots. I did that to get the reflections of the Sun in the water. You should always be alert to whats happening in the scene regarding light, reflections or shadows. For just a brief moment there could be something that you don't want to miss.

So, how close will you get with a focal length of 1,200 mm? Here's a 100% crop from a photo I took later on.

Nikon D810A, 1/500 sec. ISO 400, 1200 mm f/8

As you can see a really long focal length can create some dramatic shots but it's also really hard to get sharp shots. When you enlarge a scene using a longer focal length, you also enlarge all the errors. So if you have lots of turbulence in the air you will have a hard time getting a sharp image. In this case I was shooting over water and that usually gives a much sharper image due to stable air.

So, keep shooting those sunsets, it's not cliche, it's so much fun and excitement.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Back in northern Sweden

I've been traveling in the south of Sweden for almost 4 weeks and now I'm finally back in Östersund. I had a great time and got to see some starry night skies again. Here in the north we still can't see any stars but it won't be long now. Here are a couple of images from my trip.


Sunset in Blekinge
Night in the forest in Småland
Sunset in Malmö
Moonset in Malmö
Jupiter and Venus conjunction in Denmark
Moonrise over Gothenburg

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Star Wars X-Wing miniatures game

This weekend it's time for the Northern Sweden X-Wing Regional Championship in the Star Wars X-Wing miniatures game. My contribution to this contest was to deliver background images for the game boards, a mix of photos I've taken over the years. As a boardgamer and space geek my selves it was a perfect match to deliver these background images to this contest.

May the force be with you!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Nikon D810A Review

Nikon just got star struck with the new D810A. As a long time Nikon photographer working as a professional photographer with a passion for astrophotography, I was really excited when this new camera was announced in February this year. Could it be the answer to all my dreams?


Recently I’ve been testing the new Nikon D810A camera, Nikon's first DSLR dedicated to long-exposure deep-sky astrophotography. I was contacted by Nikon Nordic and asked if I could test the new camera and give my thoughts on it.

The new D810A has a specialized image sensor that is four times more sensitive to H-alpha red tones than an ordinary DSLR. Due to this sensitivity in red light, Nikon says it’s not suitable for general photography since this could give you some reddish looking photos. When doing astrophotography you want this sensitivity in H-alpha so you can capture more data/colors in nebula.

Nikon D810A

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Backlit photos

I just delivered 15 photos to the new Quality Hotel in Östersund, Sweden. The images are mounted on 1.5 x 1 meters large backlit frames. Really cool to see the night sky lit up.

Are you interested in similar solutions, please contact me at info@astrofotografen.se





Monday, April 27, 2015

Earth to Moon solar filament

Here's a photo I took of the Sun today showing one huge filament stretching over the surface of the Sun. I've included a scale sized Earth and Moon and the distance between them and as you can see, the filament is just about the same length as the distance from Earth to the Moon. Otherwise the Sun was quite calm but this filament was very impressive through my solar telescope.

Edit: Today April 30, this photo is featured as Astronomy Picture of the Day at NASA.

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Beautiful solar halo

This is a solar halo I captured a couple of weeks ago. Above the circular 22° halo you can see a wave like halo that's called a upper tangent arc. Running through the center of the Sun is a thin line called a Parhelic circle. That circle is always on the same height as the Sun and can be visible in a complete 360° circle in the sky. Just outside the 22° halo you can see two Parhelic sundogs.

It's tiny ice crystals in the atmosphere that create halos by refracting and reflecting light.



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Friday, April 17, 2015

Pink Aurora and the Milky Way

Lets celebrate the weekend with some pink and green aurora together with our galaxy the Milky Way, our neighboring galaxy Andromeda (Disc shaped object close to center), planet Venus (Bright dot to the left) and a satellite (Bright streak).

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