OMSI Beginner Astrophotography Workshop 2009 Summary

Saturday, April 18, 2009, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)
Classroom 1
1945 SE Water Avenue
Portland, OR 97214-3354, USA

Updated on May 3, 2009

Neil Heacock

Astrophotography using electronic cameras provides many benefits such as observing fainter details, making scientific measurements and producing stunning images that are shared with others. A key part of astrophotography is using image processing software to remove camera defects and optics defects. Also, image processing seems to have a magical ability to reduce sky glow and to enhance hidden details in the image.

The OMSI Beginner Astrophotography Conference covered the various aspects of astrophotography and image processing starting from the basics. This conference was for attendees with no astrophotography or image processing experience. Lab image files was provided at the workshop.

This hands-on beginner astrophotography workshop focused on using commercial DSLR cameras and had an introduction to astronomy CCD cameras.

This OMSI Astrophotography workshop was sponsored and hosted by Jim Todd.

Feedback what the Attendees Liked Best About the Workshop

  • DSS labs
  • Hands on stuff
  • Excellent workshop
  • Right level for beginner
  • Seeing what works for the experienced.
  • Processing tutorials; equipment discussion
  • Combination of best practice and hands on
  • So much information and DVD to learn form, thank you!
  • Labs helpful to have tutors there, also homework was good.
  • Good job on everything, Best – Dave’s instruction on using software.
  • The hands-on work, the DVD that was available was an excellent idea.
  • Learning DeepSkyStacker and some of the details for taking flats, biases and etc.
  • Great workshop! (I am not new to astrophotography, but I still got a lot of info out of the day.)
  • The class began at a very basic level which was a good review for me who has done some LPI planetary work and some DSLR piggyback work.
  • Great class, the hands-on labs were the most valuable – getting help from the experts while fiddling with the software was a great thing to have.


  • 8:00 am Registration
  • 8:15 am Astrophotography Introduction,
    David Haworth
    • Electronic camera types
      • Digital camera
      • DSLR camera
      • Astronomy CCD camera
    • Electronic camera basics
      • Pixel arrays
      • Bayer filters
      • Noise
    • Optics basics
      • Focal length
      • focal ratio
    • Tripod astrophotography
    • Tracking the sky astrophotography


Moon Rise  by David Haworth

  • 9:30 am Image Processing Introduction,
    David Haworth
    • Types of image processing software
    • Pixel values
    • Color
    • Histogram
    • Dynamic range
    • White and black points
    • Nonlinear image stretch
    • Reducing camera defects
    • Image calibration with dark frames
    • Noise reduction by stacking images
    • Reducing optics defects

  • 10:30 am Break


IC5070 Pelican Nebula by David Haworth

  • 10:45 pm Image Processing Lab,
    David Haworth
    • Lab is designed for attendees with their laptops to follow along with the presenter
    • DeepSkyStacker Image Processing Lab
      • Download DeepSkyStacker for Windows
      • Dark frames
      • Light frames
      • Stacking
      • Curves
      • Output file types
    • GIMP Image Processing Lab
      • Download GIMP for Windows
      • Layers
      • Sharpening techniques
      • Curves

  • 12:00 am Lunch on your own at the OMSI cafeteria

Milky Way Dark Horse by David Haworth

  • How Beginners Get Advanced Results,
    Neil Heacock
    • An inexpensive approach to starting DSLR astrophotography
    • Hardware/software purchasing/setup and how it all works together
    • Poor man's autoguiding

M8 by Neil Heacock

  • Simplified Astrophotography,
    Pat Hanrahan
  • An overview of various methods for doing astrophotography with advantages & disadvantages of each:
    • Using a hand-held point & shoot camera through a telescope
    • 35 mm Camera on a fixed tripod (wide field photography)
    • 35 mm Camera on a tracking tripod (wide field photography)
    • 35 mm Camera on a tracking telescope
    • 35 mm Camera and/or CCD Camera on a guided tracking telescope.
  • How to identify objects in your wide field pictures.

Sagittarius constellation by Pat Hanrahan

  • Respect Your Data,
    Greg Marshall
    • Why deep pixel data is important
    • How to capture deep data with inexpensive cameras
    • Preserving data integrity during processing

Orion Nebula by Greg Marshall


Neil Heacock

Neil Heacock

Neil Heacock is an IT professional who moved out of the city for the first time in 2003. After living in LA, Seattle and Portland, he moved to somewhat more rural area of Clark County and really saw the stars. This birthed a strong interest in astronomy which has continued to grow and develop over the past 6 years. In 2006 Neil began to dabble in astrophotography and after attending the 2007 Northwest Astrophotography Conference his imaging stared to mature. Neil primarily considers himself a visual observer but with such amazing and easy to use imaging systems available he now images with one setup while observing with another. Neil uses a Canon 20D DSLR camera and the images he produces are excellent.

Greg Marshall

Greg Marshall

Greg Marshall is a relative newcomer to astronomy and went directly into astro-photography beginning in 2005. But he has many years of experience in conventional photography and much of his professional career as an electronics engineer has been involved with image capture, processing and printing. Currently, he is employed by Xerox Corporation, where he designs specialized computers for image processing in printers and copiers.

Pat Hanrahan

Pat Hanrahan

Pat Hanrahan began his interest in astronomy as a child when he unsuccessfully tried to spot Sputnik back in 1957. While observational astronomy is his main interest, Pat has experimented with various simple astrophotography methods. One of his favorite techniques involves wide field astronomy (astrophotography using camera lenses instead of telescopes). His early work was with film and he currently uses a Canon Rebel Xti DSLR camera.

David Haworth

David Haworth

David Haworth enjoys astronomy imaging and processing those images to bring out details that cannot be seen easily by visual observing with the same size optics. David Haworth started astroimaging with a Cookbook CCD camera he built in 1996 and since then has used many types of cameras to image the sky. David wrote Chapter 2: "Afocal Photography with Digital Cameras" in the second edition of "The Art and Science of CCD Astronomy" which was published in December 2005. David's images have appeared in magazine front covers, articles, books, catalogs, videos, music CD covers, T-shirts, other web sites, etc.