Friday, January 16, 2015

Venus Mercury Conjunction January 9, 2015

The two inner planets, Venus and Mercury, put on a dance that lasted several days in the evening sky. I was able to photograph them in a close conjunction just before they disappeared behind the roofline of my neighbor's house.

venus mercury conjunction january 2015
Venus and Mercury just above the roofline - composite image
I tried something a little different this time, and used two different exposures to create a composite image that shows a more true-to-life view of what they scene looked like. The foreground shot of the house is at ISO 800, 75mm, f/11, 1 sec. The background sky is the same settings with shorter exposure time of 1/20 sec. 

I combined them using Photoshop and the refine edge feature in the Selection tool. I noticed that you can preview the edge on top of a background layer to see if the blending looks natural and if the edge of the selection is too sharp or too feathery. The photo on the left is the foreground shot, and then I remove the sky to reveal the layer behind it which is the longer exposure for the sky. 

photoshop refine edge house sky
Refine edge tool in Photoshop to blend the two exposures
I think it turned out pretty good! It looks natural, which is what I was going for. I don't like to over-process my photos but this one I think is a mild alteration. 

venus mercury conjunction january 2015
Venus and Mercury, Single frame, Canon T5i, ISO 800, 300mm, f/11, 1/25 sec
Here is the kind of shot I normally take, a close up of the conjunction at 300mm with the roofline visible. I used a higher f-stop number to keep the roof line in focus as much as I could - it also cleans up the shape of the planets keeping them round.

I took these photos out my kitchen sliding door. I don't recommend it usually, because heat from inside escaping outside will cause atmospheric distortion in front of your target. However, it was cold and I was lazy, and this was a good quick setup for me.

tripod in kitchen looking out
 

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