All about Hoofbeats & Footprints

The Stars are Out with the Olympus


The older person’s lament..I can’t sleep ! Well, that’s what happened to me today. I woke up at 1:00 a.m. wide eyed and tossed and turned for a while. Since I had already planned on driving to the sunflower fields at McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville around 4:30 a.m. I decided to forego sleep and got up and headed out way before o-dark-thirty.

I was hoping when I arrived that it might be dark enough at the fields that I could see some night stars and when I arrived it was good enough to play with the stars a bit.

Since I have just sent in my Canon 5D Mark IV camera body for service this week, I decided to pack in the Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II with an inexpensive Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye lens to see what I can do to capture the night sky. It is a manual focus lens at f/3.5 so it would be a little bit of challenge to get focus on my foreground which in this case was the field of sunflowers.

Setting the camera 10-second timer and using a sturdy tripod I used a flashlight to shine on the flower to help to manually fine-tune focus. The exposure settings were wide open at f/3.5 at 20 seconds with ISO 3200 with a white balance of Kelvin 3600. I knew it was certain that any ISO settings above 640 will introduce significant noise into the image.

Here is the image with some basic Lightroom adjustments before I brought it into Topaz Studio for fine-tuning.


You can see with a 20 second exposure that there is some slight star movement. But I wasn’t willing to use a higher ISO than what I was already using and decided to work with what I had.

Bringing the image into Topaz Studio I first applied AI Clear to the unsharpened and no noise reduction applied in Lightroom image prior to import. I then worked with the Precision detail adjustment to bring back some star detail that is reduced when noise reduction is applied. Not happy with the faintness and scarcity of the stars I decided to add an Image Layer of another night sky that I have in my archives to help boost the star population.
I then returned the image to Lightroom and worked with the Dehaze sliders along with the Vibrance slider. With the adjustment brush I tweaked the tones on the flowers as a final touch.

I’m okay with the final image, not in love with it as I’d prefer to have a darker sky and a higher quality image. But this exercise showed me that it is possible to do a fairly decent job doing Astrophotography with the Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II camera.

If you’re interested in learning more about Topaz Studio, I will be offering a half-day workshop through Capital Photography Center in Washington D.C. in September. Click Here for More Details.

For tomorrow – birds and sunflowers. What’s not to love?

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