Photography WITHOUT a telescope

ANOTHER great reason to buy a Watch House Equatorial Platform .......
You may have noticed in the slideshow of "what is an Equatorial Platform" we show a camera and tripod on a platform.
This is a great use of the tracking ability of the platforms, which opens up a new area of astrophotography for you, wide field long exposure views,  if you buy a Watch House Equatorial Platform.
So if you have any sort of digital camera and a cheap £10+ tripod and want to take amazing images of the stars meteors, etc, then read on ...........
There is a great basic introduction to star shooting with a digital SLR on the web here :
Follow this basic start up guide and you will get good images immediately .
Of course you will be limited to exposure times of about 30 seconds or less, or you will see the stars trailing into little lines because of the Earth's rotation..........
But not if you set your tripod on an Equatorial Platform !
Placing the tripod on a platform in place of the Dobsonian telescope allows you to take MUCH longer exposures as the camera tracks the stars.
Longer exposures mean much more detail, much fainter objects captured, you can capture meteors, satellites, the ISS  etc, etc.
OK how about some concrete examples.
Simple normal tripod mounted shot first
 This image of Casseopiea was taken at f5.6, ISO 1600 ( ie maximum light gathering settings for my camera as in the video tutorial ) 18mm lens and 25 second exposure, using a tripod and remote release with my Canon EOS1000D.
Managed to capture some stars !
Upping the exposure time to 60 seconds gives the image below :
More stars , and the beginnings of deep sky detail, but also  beginning to look out of focus as stars trail
Increasing the exposure time to 1 min 30 sec shows lots more detail , below, but now the stars are clearly streaking into lines due to trailing.
( For each of the following images, click on the image to open a somewhat higher resolution version in a new window, then  to return to this page use the BACK button.
Unfortunately all of these files had to be seriously compressed to mount on the web. The original 10Mega Pixel images are much better, but you get the idea of why using a platform is a great advantage ! )
Oh,  the images are best viewed in a darkened room too.
OK you are limited to less than 60 sec exposure, BUT now , enter the Equatorial Platform...........
Place the tripod and camera on an Equatorial Platform, do a basic  alignment with a compass and try again.
That's better ! This is a 1min 30 sec exposure  and shows more stars visible, more detail and now no star trails !
OK so lets really go for it, and do a 5 minute exposure !
Lots of stars lots of detail, even galaxies visible  and no star trails ! !
Now we can clearly see the Milky Way and even the Andromeda galaxy peeking over the trees at bottom left ( the diagonal bottom left- to - top right oriented  nebulous blob, at the end of a pointy tree branch) and the double cluster, above and left of Cassiopea.
Rendering the image as black and white, below,  with HP digital photography professional gives an even better appreciation of the detail.
The original is a10M pixels shot and a blow up of this original to A3 shows a host of  point stars in the Milky Way.
A real WOW image, with just a normal Digital SLR and a of course a Watch House Equatorial Platform, shot by an amateur in Cornwall !
All the above images were shot in my garden, on the night of 29th January 2011 at about 22:30 - 23:00, and at -4degC looking North West
 Looking forward to having a go at meteors, eg by taking a sequence of 1 min exposures over an hour period say, with the camera mounted on the platform and to building up photos showing deep sky objects in their background of stars. Also hoping to plug a telephoto on, to give more magnification than the standard 18 -  55mm canon lens...............