Friday, September 17, 2010

Romancing with the high altitude skies…..

Twinkle twinkle so many stars
I was perplexed which one to look for* * * * * *

This was my state of mind for a very short duration when clouds gave a way to the Stars to glitter n show their presence in the sky in Sky Photo Trip at Ranikhet. This all was an awesome experience which will dwell for long time in my mind. Actually writing this all after returning home today so some things, incidents might skip.

This all excitement started when Ajay Talwar announced this Sky Photo Trip few months back. This is the first ever astrophotography workshop organized in India. There were only 11 astro-enthusiast participated from all over India including 1 from Dubai. Let me write their names first here, Ashit & Alka Gupta, Himanshu Rastogi, Dipanshu Gupta, Vineet Tuli, Pratik Raghav, Raghu kalra, Sneh Kesari, Vikrant Narang, Amol Mane(Dubai) & me. Reaching Woodsvilla, Ranikhet was an exhilarating journey. Lot of clouds, high mountains, pines all around perfect landscape for any photographer. All participants were new to me, but all were ‘astronomers’ from the pale blue dot; that’s the only fevicol bonding for all of us to gather at 6233 feet leaving everything behind.

Day 1: I am sure that all participants will be agree with me that arrangement, management, literature, instruments at Sky Photo Trip were beyond everyone’s expectations. When we all arrived at Ranikhet; weather was not looking in favor of us. But clouds can only take away photography possibilities, not our patience & zeal from us that we all believed. Ajay told astrophotography has 2 important parts a) Photography b) Image processing & each one is important than other . Along with Ajay(Nandadevi), Vikrant-Raghu-Sneh(Trishul) were helping us to understand some very important things of astrophotography in informal discussions. After finishing some theory, we all started juggling with camera, tripod and telescopes. Alas !!!! our practical session started with mighty CLOUDS. Even then Vineet, Amol & me started taking images with intervalometer for time lapse movie. But in a hurry we all forgot to hang sturdy bag to the tripod, thanks to Ajay pointing out this. This all was trial & error efforts, so also forgot to take flat images also. Overall this first day & night sessions taught me a lot many new things regarding astrophotography.

Day 2: Woodvilla hotel, really we all were on cloud 9. Second day started with a stunning view from room window as clouds settled down & somebody shouted “look at the Trishul”. Wooow!!!!!!! Himalayan Glaciers were peeping through white clouds, firstly it was a bit hard for me to spot out them but once I recognized them, it was
awe-inspiring moment. Then after only one sound was there click-click-click.
Ajay,Vikrant & Pratik managed to keep conference room atmosphere on HOT pixels. Noise discussion is still echoing in my mind. Clouds decided to stay ON. By the evening I determined to join Vikrant on Atlas mount & not to even glance at LX200 8” & 12”. Later I understood how fruitful this decision was. At least for 3 times we aligned Atlas mount. Polar scope, 3 star alignment, drift alignment, connecting scope-camera on starrynight everything was great along with Sneh & Vikrant. This all exercise we did under clouds. Finally all is set to capture M45 & M31, we clicked first image & again clouds came. But I learned a lot on Atlas mount, thanks to Vikrant. We all enjoyed a lot under clouds, fun, dance, long exposure group photo.

Day 3: Image processing is really a soul of the astrophotography & Ajay is the MASTER of it. Ajay showed us some excellent techniques to process an image. To be honest with you all I think in the image processing session I understood a little bit & I am sure to make command on image processing practice is MUST. Ajay has experience of more than 15 years in astrophotography & he tried to pour all his practices in these 3 day workshop. Now I am very much energized, geared & waiting for dark, clear skies.
Accommodation, food was at its best. Overall this Sky Photo Trip was a grand success in spite of bad weather.

Aperture-Exposure-ISO-Histogram......& most important "RAW" say no to Jpeg..
Soon will post some images as they are waiting for processing :)

And the last but not the least vote of thanks to Neelam for encouraging Ajay.

Clear Skies !Dinesh Nisang


  1. Guruji leha la mi yayacha prayatana karel kay nenar na mal

  2. Nice description Dinesh!!! welcome to the amazing world of astrophotography

  3. Thanks for the wonderful writing Dinesh !

    Yes would also say that the workshop was EXCELLENT in every way. Weather did not favor us but still managed to learn a lot from all the people there.

    Waiting for clear skies to try and apply what we learnt.