What began as a childhood passion for stargazing, has developed into a healthy obsession with astro-imaging. Just ask Jamie B. of Chesnee, South Carolina, who's been peering up at the night sky since he was about 12 years old. Now, some 22 years later, Jamie has put together an Orion imaging solution that has helped him capture one of his childhood dreams, not to mention some truly amazing astro-images.
Since Jamie started imaging in November 2007, he has come to appreciate that taking professional-quality astrophotos doesn't require years of experience or a bottomless bank account. "The new digital cameras have made that a reality. We are in the 'Golden Age' of astrophotography." In fact, Jamie purchased his camera and other equipment from Orion for the same reasons as many of our other loyal customers. "The price was what first drew me to Orion", he says. "The quality and the customer service has kept me coming back."
While some astro-imagers have a favorite subject, anything is fair game for Jamie. "The list of objects I want to capture is a mile long ... If [it's] in space, I like it and want to take a picture of it", he says. "I have just always wanted to take pictures of the night sky. The StarShoot Pro really makes it easy ..."
Jamie credits the beauty of the universe and the reaction of friends and family as the main sources of inspiration for the images he captures. "It's really cool when someone comes to you and says, 'When are you going to send me some new pictures?'"
During a typical imaging session, Jamie starts an hour before dark. "Setup takes about 30 minutes ... I use the StarShoot Pro for my alignment procedure; taking 2-3 second exposures in focus mode keeps me from 'dancing' around the scope. After that, I slew to my DSO for that session. I try to take at least 5-minute exposures and get at least 3 hours of data ... Processing a good image is all about calibration. Good darks and flats can save hours of work in the digital darkroom ... With Orion's equipment and software packages, imaging sessions are worry-free."
When it comes to a preferred shooting location, Jamie is more fortunate than most. He lives in a rural area so he doesn't have to travel any further than his own backyard. "I'm very lucky. I only need to use a light pollution filter when the Moon is out."
Jamie fondly recalls one of his most memorable imaging experiences: "After I got the 6" Imaging OTA, one of the first DSOs I wanted to get was the Horsehead Nebula ... It took very little effort to get the desired results. I remember thinking 'this is what it's all about!'"
For those who may be looking to explore the world of astrophotography, Jamie offers some practical advice: "An Orion catalog is a good place to start. Join a forums group ... there are a lot of knowledgeable [people] there that can answer [almost] any question. Read a lot of articles and books ... there's no such thing as too much information." Finally, Jamie says: "Don't give up. For every good picture, there are ten in the recycle bin." You took the words right out of our mouth. Nice work, Jamie!