Tuesday, June 7, 2011

D7000 captures ISS hand held …

Wow. I became inspired this evening by a magnificent image form Jason Ware on the consumer dSLR forum at dpreview.com and thought I’d see what I could do with the D7000 (higher pixel density than D700 and thus much more appropriate for planet and satellite hunting) and the longest lens that I own, the 70-300VR and since I had to track the ISS in the sky for the 30 seconds or so that it was visible, I could not use a tripod.

Well, the adventure got off to a bad start when I went outside 20 minutes before the ISS was due. I knew from the Heavens Above page that ISS would be over Ottawa three times over night. Once at 1:43 at magnitude –2 (very bright) and the again at 3:17:17 at magnitude –1.5 (less bright) and finally at 4:53:04 at magnitude –1.3.

So I decided to make the attempt at 1:43 and as I started to discuss, there was some cloud. But I persevered and looked over the charts to see where it would emerge. I am not well practiced, but I knew that it would emerge from shadow at 31 degree altitude just to the right of Cassiopeia.


So all I had to do was to find the constellation and then stalk the sky to the right of it … easier said than done in cloud.

But as the time approached, I noticed the sky clearing in that area, which is pretty spooky if you ask me. I had set an alarm with one minute to go and I had the camera set to the exposure I wanted – 1600 ISO at f/11 at 1/800s. The f/11 was necessary to try to get this lens to resolve like a telescope. Which it did not :-)

As I watched, it emerged as bright as day just to the right of the area I was watching. So fricken cool!!!

Of the dozen shots I rattled off as it fell straight down, the only ones that even came close to looking like the ISS were the last few. And because I was using a very low magnification (450mm effective) I was able to get blurry renditions that were very small. So what you see here are two rendition a couple of seconds apart at perhaps 400% magnification or more. So each pixel has been blown up quiote a bit here, hence the total lack of detail.

But … the cool thing is that I saw the ISS and I got shots of it hand held. So what the heck …

And the next image, really really magnified …

That was a very cool adventure … short, but very sweet …

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