Patience – It’s a word we learn early in life but it has not played out for me quite like it has when I took up this hobby. It’s like an old friend that you don’t see enough of but you cherish the time you do spend together. I thought I quit this hobby on several occasions but realize now that I never really did. The spans of time where I didn’t even get out visually were just respites. Time to recharge and invigorate my interest. It is usually a celestial event or jump in technology that gets me back on the horse and thankfully that happens quite often.
I was just looking back at some of my older images and noticed the oldest was taken over 16 years ago. It is hard to believe that I have been into Astrophotography for that long. The one thing I have always tried to keep in mind is that the stars aren’t going anywhere (at least not far enough for me to notice). If I start to get frustrated with the string of new moon nights with clouds, I tell myself – they will still be there next time (even if the next time is going to be next year). Try not to be discouraged by lost time. I once over cooked my film (hypering debacle) and spent two nights shooting on ruined film. All the images were lost but the time out imaging wasn’t.
Over the last year I have started doing longer imaging runs. I found that I really like the look of my images if I stack 10-20 images from the same filter. If you factor in 10-15 minute imaging length each and multiply that by 3 (one for each RGB color band) you can get the feel for how long it may take to get a complete image. For that reason, I have started accumulating images for projects that are not complete. I am realizing that it may take years of accumulating to get the final results I am looking for.
Helpful hint – I found that organization is key here. I structure my folders by subject then date and my image file names contain date, filter, imaging length, and CCD temperature.
I also am very paranoid about losing images so I have redundant strategies for backup. I use two striped drives for local work that is backed up using Carbonite and sync’d with SkyDrive.
Sorry, drifted a bit there… back on subject now.
I remember back when I started out. I would look at images from other web sites and wonder why my images didn’t look as good. It was because most astrophotographers don’t leave up their early work. I do leave mine up because I think it is important to show that this hobby is a journey. It can take years to learn how to image and even more to learn how to process the images. The span of images from my first to my latest actually makes me proud. I have not only improved but it shows – patience.