Working with previews in PixInsight

When working in PixInsight you probably make use of Previews a lot. And I really mean a lot! Most processes can take quite a bit of trial and error to get the right settings and fine tune them for the optimal result. We run these processes on previews so that it is much faster to see the effects compared to running it on the complete picture. Furthermore, we can use multiple copies of the same preview and apply the process with different settings so we can really compare the results of our fine tuning in great detail.
In this post I want to give you some quick tips for working with previews in PixInsight so that you may use them more efficient and convenient.

Name your previews
I must admit I don’t always do this myself, but I ran into problems because of it more than once. Nothing more annoying than to select the wrong preview for a process. Happens to me quite frequently in ColorCalibration for instance. It helps to consistently adjust the identifiers of your images and previews. Just double click the preview tab in the image side bar or right click and choose ‘Identifier’ and give the preview a descriptive name.

Cloning previews
In order to compare different operations on the same preview we need to create copies of the same preview. There are a two ways of doing this;
– right click the preview and choose ‘clone preview’
– drag the preview tab within the same sidebar

Please note that if you copied a preview which had some process applied to it, the new preview won’t have this process applied. So this way you can compare the ‘before’ and ‘after’ by simply comparing these two previews. Apply another process with different settings to compare the effect of the changed settings.

Copying zoom level
Note that the zoom will not be cloned and will be reset in the new preview.
In order to copy the zoom level, simply drag the preview tab from the preview with the zoom level you want to copy on top of the other preview tab.

Reset preview
If I ran a process on a preview which didn’t give good results I used to copy the preview to get a new one without a process applied and deleted the old one. This is quite inconvenient and actually there is a much simpler way to deal with this; you can simply reset the preview; hit Ctrl + R (or Cmd + R on mac) or right click on the preview tab and choose ‘reset’.

Cycle through previews quickly
In order to compare 2 or more previews you probably click the preview tabs and try to spot and judge the differences. When you do this by clicking the preview tab you (subconsciously) are looking away from the preview image itself for a short while to make sure you click the in the right spot on the preview tab. To prevent this and make it more easy to ‘blink’ the previews, simply use the keyboard short cut: Ctrl -> and Ctrl and Cmd Create new image from preview
Simply drag the preview tab outside the sidebar of the image you are working on. A new image will be created with just the preview. A very easy way to make different crops of the same image for instance!

Duplicate preview on another image
Sometimes you want to compare the same preview on different images. I use this to compare stacking results sometimes or maybe you want to compare the results of different settings on a preview by looking at them side by side at the same time instead of ‘blinking’ through the previews. It can be really annoying to get exactly the same preview on the other image. But again, there is a really easy way to do this; simply drag the preview tab from the sidebar of one image to the sidebar of the other image.

Duplicate multiple previews on another image
You might want to copy all previews on one image to one or more other images. For instance if you want to compare the previews of luminance with R, G and B versions of the image. You can drag an drop the previews like explained before, but this is tedious.Luckily there is a script that can do this for you in 1 go; PropagatePreviews. You can find it under Script -> Utilities -> PropagatePreviews.

Make sure you have selected the image that contains the previews you want to copy when opening the script. Simply check the previews you want to copy and select the images you want them to copy to. Unfortunately it doesn’t copy the Identifier you used on the previews.


Aggregate previews in one image
When you want to show the comparison of different previews or want to check the effects of different settings side-by-side you can aggregate multiple previews in one new image. Go to Script -> Utilities -> PreviewAggregator.

In the script window you can simply select the previews you want to aggregate in the new image.

I hope you found these tips on working with previews in PixInsight helpful. Please let me know in the comments below if I forget some useful preview tips or if you have any questions.

20 Fake Viral Photoshopped Images That People Believed Were Real

Here are the 20 fake viral photoshopped images that people believed were real. Viral Photoshop images are known to circulate and deceive everyone, because the flawless way the picture is manipulated tricks people into thinking whatever’s in the photo is real. Here in this post you can find few fake images.

Scroll down and enjoy yourself. All photos are linked and lead to the sources from which they were taken. Please feel free to explore further works of these photographers on their collections or their personal sites.

#1 Woman Squatting Like A Frog

One of the most recent viral sensations was a woman weirdly squatting on a tiny shelf. Turns out she only lifted one leg, which, to be honest, is still kinda weird.

Image Source: Imgur

#2 Astronaut Smoking Marijuana In Space

It’s safe to say that Chris Hadfield is one of the most beloved Astronauts there is. His incredible vlogs from space answered so many questions about life in zero gravity, from cleaning your teeth to sleeping, everything is different in space. Although this form of vlogging is very one-of-a-kind, you shouldn’t think that this incredible guy would use any type of drugs while literally flying in space. In the real photo, Chris was actually just trying to surprise his co-workers with some Easter eggs!

Image Source: Imgur

#3 A Guy Creating An Amazing Fried Rice Wave

One of the recent viral sensations was the ‘fried rice meme’ that showed a man making an incredible rice wave in his pan. This interesting photo quickly received a lot of attention online and people from all around the world started to send in their own photoshopped images of the rice wave. Unfortunately, the original itself is already a fake photo since the rice wave is a sculpture that is sold in a fake food shop in Tokyo.

Image Source: Imgur

#4 Dangerous Pilot Selfie

This iconic selfie of a pilot photographing himself in the air was actually a photo of him when he was safely landed, but it’s important to mention, that even on the land, it’s a pretty cool selfie!

Image Source: Imgur

#5 Bear Chasing A Cycler

Even though a photo of a bear chasing a cyclist will have a far bigger effect on you than a photo of a bear running through an empty street, luckily, nobody was harmed in the making of this photo. Although there’s not much information about the original photo, it is believed the photo was taken Yellowstone National Park.

Image Source: Imgur

#6 Giant Skeleton Found

The internet is filled with photoshopped images of archaeologists finding huge skeletons that might belong to giants. If this was the reality, a new chapter in history would be open and we could consider some myths to be true. Unfortunately, no science or history museum has ever accepted these findings for one simple reason: the photos that show these skeletons are completely fake.

Image Source: Imgur

#7 Picture Of A Dwarf Giraffe

A photo of a giraffe with dwarfism has been used online multiple times, although giraffes, like other animals, can have dwarfism, this photo is actually fake.

Image Source: Imgur

#8 First Dab In The History

Although all of us would hope that the first dab was captured back in the 20th century, meaning this iconic movement will never age, unfortunately, this photo is actually a behind-the-scenes photo from the movie Dunkirk, shot in 2017.

Image Source: Imgur

#9 10yearschallenge Against Deforestation

Recently the hashtag #10yearchallenge went viral with people from all around the world sharing their changes throughout the years. Some people decided to use the hashtag to warn people about the terrible impact we are having on this earth. One of the biggest environmental problems in 21st century is deforestation, and that’s exactly what people tried to warn us about. Unfortunately, the image that was used to spread the message was fake – the before and after photos of a rainforest cut down completely was actually the same photo.

Image Source: Imgur

#10 A Photo Of Marilyn Monroe And Elizabeth Taylor

Oh how cool would it be to have two beauty icons chilling in one photo. Unfortunately, Elizabeth Taylor was photoshopped into a picture of Marilyn Monroe. In fact, this is not the first time Marilyn Monroe’s photos were photoshopped to seem that she is spending time with iconic celebrities such as Elvis Presley, James Dean, and even John F. Kennedy.

Image Source: Imgur

#11 The Mustache Wasn’t Enough, They Had To Add Those Angry Eyebrows

The internet just loves animals, especially if they look weird or cute, or both at the same time. So there is no surprise that a photo of a cat with adorable mustache and eyebrows would go viral. Well, there is a silver lining to this story, the cat does in fact have that incredible mustache, but the eyebrows are a result of clever photo manipulation.

Image Source: Imgur

#12 Frozen Venice

Venice is definitely one of the most beautiful places to visit around the world so there is no need to photoshop a photo of frozen Lake Baikal in Russia to make the place look even more stunning.

Image Source: Imgur

#13 Magical Castle

This magical castle that probably most of us would love to visit or even stay in is unfortunately a combination of a photo of a rock in Thailand and a castle in Germany.

Image Source: Imgur

#14 Cow Chilling On A Car

The internet is full of photoshopped pictures that just don’t make any sense and somehow we still manage to believe them. One of those fake viral photos was a picture of a cow chilling on a BMW. Well turns out, no car was damaged in the making of this photo since the cow was chilling on the grass like it was supposed to.

Image Source: Imgur

#15 Not-So-Planned College Name Sign

Some time ago this famous image was an absolute representation of internet humor, the ironic mistake was something that people constantly shared online. Unfortunately, the photo was photoshopped so well, it wasn’t so easy to understand it was actually fake.

Image Source: Imgur

#16 An Island That Looks Like A Star

Photos like this will definitely in spark you a great desire to travel. Imagine yourself sipping on a delicious cocktail while chilling on an island in the middle of the ocean that is a shape of a star. Well, unfortunately, such an island doesn’t exist, but what you can do is visit the moon-shaped island Molokini, located between the islands of Maui and Kahoolawein Hawaii.

Image Source: Imgur

#17 Bear Chasing National Geographic Photographers

A photo showing a bear chasing a group of National Geographic photographers would send shivers down anyone’s spine. Just imagining being in such a dangerous situation is terrifying. But since we have already proved there’s no point in believing everything you see online, you can stop feeling bad about these photographer,s since the bear in the photo is actually captured in a stock photo that can be easily found online.

Image Source: Imgur

#18 Einstein Riding A Bicycle As A-Bomb Explodes

This photo of an explosion was actually taken 7 years after Einstein’s death, so even if cool guys don’t look at explosions, this was definitely not the case.

Image Source: Imgur

#19 Unique Black Lion

If we could make a list of the internet’s most beloved topics, weird animals would definitely have their place in the top 10. It seems that finding weird and unique species is something everyone thrives in, and although it is a cool thing to come across a unique animal, there is no need to create one with photoshop, or if you’re doing so, please do not try to trick people into thinking it actually exists.

Image Source: Imgur

#20 A Kid Sleeping Near His Deceased Parents’ Graves In Syria

A photo of a kid sleeping near his deceased parents’ grave in Syria turned out to a piece of staged photography since the kid knew the photographer and the graves did not belong to his parents. Although this type of photojournalism is still completely heartbreaking it proves once again you can’t trust everything you see online.

Image Source: Imgur

Related Articles:

Art In Nature : Home means Nevada!

At the beginning of this year I started my new position as assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. The last few months have been quite busy with starting up my lab, getting settled into our home, making new friends, etc. So, adventures have been a little infrequent. That said, Aubrey and I are really enjoying our new home and jumping off point. We’ve already had more great backcountry ski days than most other years, and it’s only February!

Last weekend some friends from Seattle came for a visit, hoping to escape snowmageddon. Of course, Reno welcomed them with larger than normal snow and unusually cold weather. We headed south to find a pocket of good (but cold) weather, enjoy some desert hot springs, and explore Nevada’s geology.

PS – the post title is a reference to our state song.

Sunrise over the fish lake hot springs with a view of the snowy white mountains.

Colorful mounds of volanic tuff are scattered across the mountain ranges of Nevada.

Our camp for the night. It was cozy and wind free in our red “hot hut”.

Modern desert truck art.

Tags: desert, hot springs, nevada

¿Qué es un eclipse lunar?

Esquema de un eclipse lunar. Fuente Wikipedia.

El eclipse lunar es un fenómeno astronómico que se produce cuando la Tierra se sitúa entre el Sol y la Luna, proyectando su sombra sobre ésta y oscureciéndola.

El eclipse de Luna es uno de los eventos astronómicos más hermosos y se puede observar a simple vista sin necesidad de telescopios. Durante el eclipse podemos apreciar como la sombra de la Tierra avanza sobre la superficie lunar, primero reduciendo el brillo de esta a medida que se sumerge en la zona de penumbra y luego adquiriendo una tonalidad rojiza cuando se adentra en la sombra.

La Luna gira alrededor de la Tierra en un ciclo de 27,5 días que denominamos periodo sidéreo pero durante este tiempo la Tierra se ha movido también alrededor del Sol por lo que para que volvamos a ver a la Luna en la misma fase tienen que pasar los 29,5 días del periodo sinódico.

Los eclipses de Luna se pueden ver desde cualquier parte de nuestro planeta si es de noche y suelen tener una duración de varias horas.

¿Por qué no se produce un eclipse Lunar cada Luna llena?

La Luna gira alrededor de la Tierra en una órbita con una inclinación de unos 5º con respecto al plano orbital de la Tierra alrededor del Sol, por este motivo la Luna no siempre pasa por detrás del cono de sombra de la Tierra, a veces pasa un poco por arriba y otras por debajo de ésta. Para que se produzca el eclipse lunar nuestro satélite debe encontrarse en el nodo o punto de intersección entre su órbita y el plano orbital terrestre.

Solo se producen entre dos y cinco eclipses lunares al año de los cuales los eclipses totales se producen dos veces cada 3 años. También es interesante saber que cuando se produce un eclipse de Sol, 15 días después se puede observar también un eclipse de Luna.

Las estrellas se vuelven visibles durante el eclipse de Luna.

¿Qué tipos de eclipse de Luna hay?

Dependiendo de la cómo la sombra de la Tierra se proyecta sobre la Luna podemos hablar de 3 tipos diferentes de eclipse:

Eclipse total de Luna

Un eclipse total lunar se produce cuando la sombra de la Tierra oculta toda la superficie de la Luna. Es el eclipse lunar más vistoso en el que la Luna se oscurece totalmente adquiriendo tonalidades rojizas, marrones o incluso más oscuras.

Eclipse parcial

Hablamos de eclipse parcial de Luna cuando solo una parte de de la Luna se ve ocultada por la sombra de la Tierra. Hay que tener en cuenta que durante los eclipses totales también se produce una fase de parcialidad antes y después del eclipse total.

Eclipse penumbral

El eclipse penumbral es tan solo un leve oscurecimiento de la Luna debido a que la sombra de la Tierra no oculta a nuestro satélite y esta solo atraviesa la zona de penumbra que rodea a la sombra. Dentro de los eclipses penumbrales podemos encontrar la circunstancia de que toda la superficie de la Luna quede bajo la penumbra o que solo una parte de nuestro satélite se vea afectado en una parte. Estos últimos son los eclipses más difíciles de apreciar ya que la luna solo ve reducida una parte muy poco significativa de su brillo.

Fase de parcialidad de un eclipse lunar en 2019.

Se suele utilizar la escala de Danjon para medir la oscuridad de los eclipses lunares. Esta escala fue propuesta por André-Louis Danjon en 1921 y va desde el valor L=0 para indicar mayor oscuridad a L=4 para menor oscuridad.

  • L=0: Eclipse muy oscuro, la Luna es casi invisible en la semitotalidad.
  • L=1: La Luna adquiere tonalidad gris oscura o pardusca, hay pocos detalles visibles.
  • L=2: Eclipse rojizo o rojo pardusco con área central más oscura, regiones externas muy brillantes.
  • L=3: La Luna adquiere una tonalidad roja brillante, habitualmente con un borde amarillento.
  • L=4: Eclipse anaranjado o cobrizo, muy brillante, a veces con un margen azulado.

Estas diferencias de tonalidad pueden ser producidas por el grado de inmersión de la Luna en el cono de sombra pero también por la presencia de partículas en la atmósfera de nuestro planeta. Por ejemplo, las erupciones volcánicas o grandes incendios forestales pueden producir eclipses más oscuros.

¿Qué podemos ver durante un eclipse de Luna?

Hay algunos fenómenos ópticos muy interesantes que podemos observar durante un eclipse lunar. En primer lugar el paulatino oscurecimiento de nuestro satélite pero también los diversos cambios de tonalidad a media que la Luna se adentra en la sombra de la Tierra.

En ocasiones es posible ver un borde azulado junto a la umbra. Esa tonalidad azul es producida por la capa de ozono de nuestra atmósfera que absorbe la luz roja.

También podemos apreciar que la Luna adquiere cierta profundidad o sensación de 3D a medida que avanza el eclipse. Durante la fase de Luna llena ésta se muestra plana ya que no hay sombras sobre su superficie. Durante el eclipse la Luna si que muestra perspectiva de profundidad debido a las diferencias sutiles de iluminación. Su observación con prismáticos es una experiencia única que no te dejará indiferente.

También es posible observar el impacto de meteoros en la superficie de la Luna durante los eclipses. Estos se muestran como pequeños destellos luminosos en la superficie. No es habitual pero nosotros lo vimos personalmente en una ocasión y son varios los registros fotográficos de estos eventos.

Otro fenómeno muy llamativo es la paulatina aparición de estrellas en el cielo a medida que la Luna va perdiendo su brillo. Es fácil observar incluso ocultaciones de estrellas por nuestro satélite durante la fase de totalidad.

¿Cuánto dura un eclipse lunar?

Los eclipses lunares duran varias horas y las diferentes fases se determinan por sus sucesivos contactos con la sombra o penumbra. Un eclipse total puede durar hasta 6 horas. Las fases de un eclipse total son las siguientes:

  • P1 (Primer contacto): Inicio del eclipse penumbral. La Luna alcanza el límite exterior de la penumbra.
  • U1 (Segundo contacto): Inicio del eclipse parcial. La Luna alcanza el límite exterior de la umbra.
  • U2 (Tercer contacto): Inicio del eclipse total. La Luna se adentra completamente en la umbra.
  • Máximo del eclipse: Fase central del eclipse y de mayor ocultación de la Luna. La Luna está en su punto más próximo al centro de la umbra.
  • U3 (Cuarto contacto): Fin de la fase de totalidad. El punto más externo de la Luna sale de la umbra.
  • U4 (Quinto contacto): Fin de la parcialidad. La Luna sale de la umbra terrestre.
  • P2 o P4 (Sexto contacto): Fin del eclipse penumbral. La Luna sale completamente de la penumbra terrestre.

En un eclipse parcial no se producen las fases U2 y U3 y en un eclipse penumbral no hay fases U1, U2, U3 ni U4.

La duración de las diferentes fases es muy variable y depende de la distancia de la Tierra a la Luna que no es constante debido a la excentricidad de la órbita. El eclipse será más largo cuanto más cerca del apogeo se encuentre la Luna.

Final de la fase de parcialidad del eclipse de 2022

¿Cuando se podrán ver los próximos eclipses totales de Luna?

Aquí puedes consultar algunos eclipses totales pasados que hemos vivido personalmente y las fechas de los próximos eclipses de Luna:

Eclipse total de Luna del 28 de septiembre de 2015 y crónica de observación desde Cubas.

31 de enero de 2018: Visible solo en Australia y Asia.

Eclipse total lunar del 27 de julio de 2018 y crónica de observación desde Corral de Almaguer.

Eclipse total de Luna del 21 de enero de 2019 y crónica de observación desde Madrid.

26 de mayo de 2021: Visible en América, Australia y Asia.

Eclipse total de Luna del 16 de mayo de 2022 y crónica de observación desde Carranque.

8 de noviembre de 2022: Visible en América del norte, Australia y Asia.

14 de marzo de 2025: Visible en América, Australia y Asia.

7 de septiembre de 2025: Visible en Asia, África y Europa.

3 de marzo de 2026: Visible en Nueva Zelanda, Australia y Asia.

31 de diciembre de 2028: Visible en Europa, África, Asia, Australia y Pacífico.

26 de enero de 2029: Visible en América, Europa, África y Asia.

20 de diciembre de 2029: Visible en América, Europa, África y Asia.

A comprehensive guide to photography business in recession:

Photography is one of our crucial parts of life, whether it is wedding photography, corporate photography, event photography, community event photography and a few others. There are numerous types of photography have been used for various purposes for years. As of now, after the pandemic that really affected the globe. People’s income was disturbed, and they fell into a financial crisis. Every individual suffered from that. Likewise, the Photography industry also heavily suffered, since every type of event was abandoned and due to that abundance photography business hasn’t been sustained yet. This was the first reason why the photography business is in recession. Another reason is that mobile cameras have lessened the usage of photography as was used to be in its early times, but times have changed. People like to photograph with their mobile and their camera output is outstanding. In this article, you will get to know how you can sustain a photography business in a recession which will really help you throughout the period. Let’s get started.

What is a photography business?

Photography has its own numerous types but in layman’s terms, it is described as “hiring a person for an event equipped with a camera and other essential equipment to capture pictures and videos of the event. You can pay the photographer per hour or event basis. It’s up to you and the photographer.

Is photography over during the recession?

Everybody knows that this is a time of anxiety and fear regarding the industry’s economic downfall, but it’s just temporary. Photography is one of the important industries and it can’t be shut down anyhow. So you should not be worried about this temporary economic effect. Although the scale of photography has lessened little a bit. But this is confirmed that AI and mobiles cannot entirely supersede commercial photography. There are some precautions that you need to take in this declining period which will help you to retain while this time and Hiring A Photographer In A Recession. Once the industry will rise again, then all the people who are employed by individuals or brands will see the difference.

Strategies to adopt in the recession of the photography business:

These measures or strategies should be taken seriously when you are going through hard times which will enable you little a bit to sustain for a while.

Reshape the payment plan:

In this world, money is the prime concern for all people. Whether it’s buyer or seller. All want money more and more. As this is a recession period, we will look into this, that how can we sustain the adjustment of our payment schedule. In this period, one of the top priorities should be, to facilitate the client by every means. People usually charge 75% advance and the rest of the money on the main day which doesn’t work out in all situations. The ideal payment should be that you charge 50% advance, 25% on the main day and the rest of the payment at the end of the event. This will help you to sign the deal whenever you get a client.

You should analyse your pricing. This didn’t mean that you offer services at an extremely low price, rather than offering services at a low price. You offer some new photography packages and suggest them ideas according to their event. This will playa pivotal role in signing the deal.

Be optimistic and work on your period:

Whether you are employed or unemployed, but this is a time to rise again, but how will you rise? You need to work on your portfolio. We know that you are a professional photographer, but there is always room for improvement. You have free time or if you don’t have, try to spare time and learn new photography tricks and when you complete the process of learningthe remaining things. Go online,there are thousands of portfolio websites, make your portfolio and publish your art on social media platforms. You need to be consistent in this process and surely you will get a job. There is a community sitting online, they see whatever you share. This may be a turning point for you.

Follow the people with similar interests:

This is a famous English proverb “Birds of a feather flock together” what does it mean? It means that if you join the company of people who are just like you, they think like you, and they love their work as you love. So, you are basically going to a company where all around you is just discussing photography or whatever you do. This will potentially grow and creates more opportunities. No matter if it is a recession period. When all of you sit together, talk together. You will have vast exposure towards the technicalities and opportunities. Go online and start following the groups of your interest and additionally start going to photography exhibitions and try to exhibit yourself much more professionally. Do all of this and see the difference.

Manage your revenue:

It doesn’t matter how much you earn, but it matters how you spend that money. Track your revenue record and begin to manage it. When you will get to know where you are spending money the most. Is it worth spending or not? Your complications will start to disappear.

What is the future of the photography industry?

The future of photography will be improved as compared to its today’s financial position. But it will take time to reach at that position. No worries things change as time passes. In the future, only those photographers will be successful who will fulfil the advance and improved technological requirements. The rest of the photography techniques will be considered crap.

Will photographers be replaced?

It might be safe to say that all the photographers will not be losing their jobs. But there will be a huge ratio of photographers who might be jobless because of not transforming their techniques and equipment at the right time.

If you don’t want to be one of them, then start learning new things which will pay you off in the longer run.

Marsel van Oosten: why scale is important

June 29, 2022

In his latest column for AP, top nature photographer Marsel van Oosten explains the importance of scale in pictures

When I was in art school, back in the late ’80s, I came into contact with the work of Caspar David Friedrich. He was a 19th-century German Romantic landscape painter who was known for placing contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees or gothic ruins. His primary interest was the contemplation of nature.

This approach made such an impression on me that I started to introduce human elements into my landscape photography. At the time, very few landscape photographers did this, but it turns out that I was ahead of my time – scroll through Instagram and you’ll see that this has become the norm. Including a human or a wildlife element gives scale to the landscape.

The Grand Tsingys of Bemaraha National Park, Madagascar. Nikon Z 7, AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8, 1sec at f/11, ISO 100, FTZ mount adapter

Photographers often forget that viewers may not always know the location they have photographed, and may be unfamiliar with the scale of the rocks, trees or mountains.

I first became aware of this when I visited Arches National Park in Utah, USA. I love rock arches, so the park had been on my list for a long time and I had done extensive research. Near the top of my list was Turret Arch framed by North Window. I had seen a couple of photographs of this scene and decided I was going to try it differently and shoot it in winter, with snow.

In winter the park is more quiet and the light is much better. When I finally stood in front of North Window, I was blown away – what I thought was a small opening in a rock wall turned out to be massive. The reason for my misconception was that none of the images I had seen included a reference for scale. Seeing how big the window actually was in real life, I knew I had to include a human element to give a sense of scale.

Marsel van Oosten at work in the Tsingys of Madagascar

Doing this instantly made the image much more impressive, and more original. Not only that, it made it easier for the viewer to connect to the image, and it added a sense of adventure – all improvements on what I had seen before.

A few years ago, I was contacted by Nikon to take some prototypes of the Z 7 to a destination of my choice in order to discover and show how sharp their new mirrorless camera system was. I decided to test the camera in the sharpest landscape I knew… the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in Madagascar. Tsingy is Malagasy for ‘where one cannot walk barefoot’ – that’s how sharp these unique forests of razor-sharp limestone pinnacles are.

Turret Arch framed by North Window, Arches National Park, Utah, USA. Nikon D3S, AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8, 1/320sec at f/11, ISO 200

I was aware that most people would not fully appreciate the size of this rugged landscape, so I decided to add a reference for scale: a climber. Not only did this result
in original images of this location but, without it, it would have been impossible to appreciate the grandeur of the landscape, and the image would have lacked the sense of adventure it has. During one of the CES trade shows in Las Vegas, Nikon used a 30ft wide enlargement of this image. Although I didn’t get to see it in person, Nikon sent me pictures that gave me a sense of how large they’d reproduced it.

As told to Steve Fairclough

Marsel van Oosten

Marsel van Oosten was born in The Netherlands and worked as an art director for 15 years. He switched careers to become a photographer and has since won Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Travel Photographer of the Year. He’s a regular contributor to National Geographic and runs nature photography tours around the world. Visit

Further reading

Marsel van Oosten: how to pre-visualise a photograph

Marsel van Oosten: making the most of bad weather

Marsel van Oosten: why planning is important in photography

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Control Your Consumption – Astroniklas

When you’re planning to head out for astrophotography, one of the things in your check lists it to figure out your power consumption (or it should if you haven’t figured that out yet!). Some people rely on batteries, others again have a steady power supply from a plug in their homes/outdoor observatory sites, and finally some would rely on a power generator.

To figure out how much power your equipment consumes per hour, there’s a simply calculation method. If you know your Watt-hours and Volts (most astronomy equipment is powered by 12 Volts) to Ampere-hours you can use a simple formula to discover the amount. Supposedly your Watt-hours is 240 then we get;

\[Ah = \frac{Wh}{Volts} => \frac{240}{12} = 20Ah\]

Now, to convert how much time would that give us, create a simple list of all your equipment and how many Amperes each one of them consumes. In my case,

  • Mount (NEQ6 Pro): 4 Amp
  • Cooling Camera (ASI1600GT): 2 Amp
  • RCA Dew Heaters (1 Amp each): 2 Amp
  • Lakeside Focuser: 1 Amp
  • EAGLE Pro (Mini-PC + Power Management Unit): 1 Amp

That would give us a total of 10Ah. Supposedly I’m using a Duracell battery of 20Ah, then my power consumption would end up discharging my battery source after 2 hours (20 Ah / 10 Ah).

Instead, in my case I would then need a steady powersource for much longer than that. In average my observing sessions are no less than 3 hours (on mediocre nights) or even up to 4 or 5 hours when there are really beautiful night skies making it worthwhile to stay up longer.

A battery would be enough to just observe visually, but definetely wouldn’t take me a long way for astrophotography. And to make matters worse with batteries, they shouldn’t go below 20% of their total capacity if you want them to be long lived, or say goodbye to an expensive battery after just a few sessions!

I’ve decided that, for my own personal gain to buy a power generator that would provide me a reliable power source for many hours at end, without risking killing any expensive batteries, damage my equipment or to abandon a beautiful night sky. Additionally it gives me great independence from anything when it comes to sudden power outages, people around, or ending up running out on battery sources.

The downside is of course a solid power generator would become heavy to carry around (the one I’m looking at is 48 lbs) and the other downside is of course its loudness (~50 dB which corresponds to light rainfall) when its operating. You’ll also need a long cable to avoid having it too close to cause vibrations during your astrophotography session.

Ultimately nothing beats a steady power source offered by a wall outlet… But you can’t ask to have everything right?

Photographer Cindy Sherman Joins International Center of Photography Board of Trustees

The International Center of Photography (ICP) has announced the appointment of five new members to its board of trustees, including renowned photographer Cindy Sherman. Sherman will act as creative advisor for the center’s upcoming 50th anniversary in 2024.

Joining the board alongside Sherman are Uzodinma Iweala, chief executive of the Africa Center in Harlem; Toronto-based gallerist Jane Corkin; real estate developer and philanthropist Robert Fribourg, of New York; and Wall Street veteran Jonathan R. Furer.

In an email to the New York Times, Sherman said, “I sensed that the organization, in asking me to participate, wanted to branch out from its more traditional roots and be seen in a broader sense of how photography is being used today,” she said.

“Everyone with a smartphone can relate to photography,” she said, “much more so than even 25 years ago, and that is why it’s more relevant than ever and why more people should discover I.C.P.”

ICP’s new Executive Director (as of 2021) David E. Little told the NY Times, in an interview, that partnering with artists like Sherman and executives like Iweala (who is also a writer and filmmaker) would help the center extend its reach beyond documentary photography and into the fine art world. 

The Benefits of Nature Photography In Your Home

Benefits of Nature Photography in Your Home

Sure, a long hike or a weekend camping trip are great ways to unwind and escape reality for a little bit, but why bother with all the bugs or the blisters or the sunburn when you could bring nature to you? Imagine it — all that majesty and mystery and sunlight and water contained in your own personal portal hanging on your wall. All without ever leaving your home.

The driving rain on your windows can’t dampen the sunshine inside. Do you live in Arizona? Well, THIS is called snow. Imagine it falling gently in your living room. Whatever escape you’re looking for, you can have it — all it takes is the right hook to hang it on the wall. Of course there is no true replacement to being immersed in nature, but why limit yourself when you can have the best of both worlds?

Whether you’re looking for an excuse to bail on your next camping trip or not, displaying nature photography in your home can have a real impact on your overall health and mood. Nature photography has even been scientifically proven to have mental and physical health benefits. No more camping and an anxiety cure? Sounds like a dream come true.

You can almost hear the hush of the cool morning fog enveloping this tree lined driveway near Snoqualmie, Washington. Fine Art Limited Edition of 100.

Fun Fact: Your Brain Doesn’t Know What’s Real

Apparently, your brain has the same reaction to looking at nature as it does to actually being in nature. While I feel a little guilty about playing this trick on my brain, what a cool shortcut to health and happiness, you know?

The fact of the matter is that people who live in cities and urban areas are 17% more likely to suffer psychological distress of some kind — anxiety, depression, the usual. You might be thinking you’re perfectly fine living your big city life, fulfilling your big city dreams. I’m sure you’re right. But like it or not, nature is absolutely mandatory in some capacity in order for our brains to function properly. We need it every once in a while to stay sane. Let’s face it, even New Yorkers — the definitive city-dwellers, if you will — live in a city that’s centerpiece is a huge park, meant to give them a much needed break from the high energy, high intensity lifestyle of the city.

There’s a reason why nature-based therapy is a real thing. Studies find that those who live in close proximity to nature have higher life satisfaction and a more positive outlook on life. Simply observing nature can improve productivity, concentration, and even limit the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression. Nature scenes nourish our brains in ways that the city can’t; real or photograph simply doesn’t matter — our brains respond to these stimuli in the same rejuvenating way.

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 by Aaron Reed

Study after study show that nature lowers our stress levels and helps us feel happier. Why do you think we try to take so many activities that could be enjoyed indoors and move them outdoors? Most of us would much rather walk through a park than walk on a treadmill. I can shop at a big grocery store, but I’m much happier at a weekend farmers market in the square on an autumn afternoon.

The point is, your brain thrives when it gets a regular dose of nature. And when you can’t get out into nature as much as you might like, you might as well do the next best thing and surround yourself with it inside. Filling your home with nature photography will remind your brain of all the things it finds calming, rejuvenating, and healing about the outside world and trigger the same mental boost you might get from a tree-lined jog through the park — your attitude, your focus, and even your overall mental health will dramatically improve.

A beautiful autumn morning blanketed by fog inside the Kubota garden in Seattle, Washington. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Nature Literally Heals

Quick story time. In the early 1980s, a researcher visited a hospital in a small town in Pennsylvania. The patients in the wing he visited were all recovering from gallbladder surgery in identical rooms. The surgery was simple and most patients recovered in a week or two. However, the researcher started to wonder about what caused the “or two” part of the equation. What small differences made the recovery time vary from patient to patient?

The difference was this: some rooms on one side of the hospital faced a brick wall, while others had a view of a small stand of trees. Do you see where this is going? On average, the patients with the view of the lovely wall needed an extra day to recover before getting to go home. They were also more likely to be depressed during their stay and experienced more pain than their lucky, tree-viewing counterparts. Apart from the views, the rooms were identical. Their treatment was identical. The patients were all very similar. There was no explanation other than the differing views. The bottom line: the patients who had a view of nature literally recovered faster than those stuck looking at the brick wall.

A small patch of aspen trees displaying beautiful autumn foliage with red undergrowth located near Tumwater Canyon in Leavenworth, Washington. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Continued studies have found that natural environments routinely speed up the body’s ability to heal; even adding houseplants to your life can speed up the process. As pretty as that Spider Plant on your coffee table is, a houseplant can’t make you feel like you live at the base of a picturesque mountain or remind you of the babble of a tumbling waterfall every morning when you wake up. Nature photography can.

If you still need further convincing, the International Journal of Health Geographics released a study that showed that nature images even provided viewers with protection from having a stroke. Similarly, in areas with fewer trees, residents had a higher risk of stroke mortality. So, looking at nature images can literally save your life. And who doesn’t want to live longer and healthier? You might even say that investing in nature photography is an important investment in your health. Who needs health insurance or a low sodium diet when you’ve got some nicely framed trees? I really have your best interests at heart, here.

Fine Art Limited Edition of 50 by Aaron Reed

All Jokes Aside

While I’m no scientist, I do experience the powerful impact of nature every single day when I head out to capture my next photograph. I know how nature makes me feel and I want to bring that to your home. I also believe in the long history of studies that have shown us the lasting impact of regularly viewing nature images and am proud to contribute to whatever benefits — health or otherwise — you might reap from owning my work.

More than anything, my goal is to show you views of our natural world in ways you’ve never seen them before. After all, displaying nature photography in your home gives you the opportunity to make believe you live anywhere in the world. And as we previously established, your brain can’t actually tell what’s real. So, if you fill your home with dramatic images of Iceland or the majestic mountains of Colorado… in a way, don’t you actually live there?

Elevate your home with Aaron Reed’s limited edition photography print, Wild Beauty, from his Amazing Tree Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Elevate your home with Aaron Reed’s limited edition photography print, Skyfire, from his Newest Work Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Transform your space with Aaron Reed’s limited edition photography print, Colorblast, from his Abstract Nature Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Best star trackers for astrophotography 2022

© Future

The best star trackers for astrophotography have changed the scene forever by counteracting the rotation of our planet. Until only a few years ago a long exposure of over about 10 seconds caused stars to blur. That made it very difficult to extract much data from deep-sky objects such as nebulae, but also from the Milky Way. Cue the invention of the star-tracker, which is basically a shrunken equatorial mount, but designed for cameras instead of telescopes.

Like an equatorial mount, a star tracker needs to be aligned (often with the help of a smartphone app) with the north celestial pole (the star Polaris) in the northern hemisphere or the south celestial pole in the southern hemisphere. It then keeps your camera in sync with Earth’s rotation. That way it counteracts the rotation of the Earth and keeps the target object still in a composition, thus allowing blur-free long exposures.

The best star trackers for astrophotography 2022

While most star trackers are a compromise between their own weight and their payload, the Benro Polaris is both super lightweight (at 3.3lbs / 1.5kg) and super-supportive, taking a mighty 15lbs/7kg of gear (the highest carrying capacity of any star tracker mount so far). It achieves that by using precise high torque motors and a waterproof IPX6 rating. That helps explain the very high price. It’s the first star tracker to offer built-in DSLR control and a built-in micro SD card slot. Remarkably, the Benro Polaris can even be controlled via the cellphone network. Its huge 2500 mAh battery can be recharged via USB-C while alignment is via any objects from a choice presented on a smartphone app. However advanced the best star trackers appear, there’s evidence from this electric tripod head that their days are numbered. 

The incessant creep of light pollution means it’s now almost inevitable that you’ll need to travel to find the darkest night skies possible. Even if you don’t travel internationally, finding dark skies often means hiking into backcountry areas away from other humans. That necessitates a star tracker that strikes the right balance between its own weight and what it can support. 

Cue the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini, affectionately known as SAM, which can take a payload of 3kg yet it is relatively easy to squeeze into a camera bag. It’s not the sleekest device ever, and nor is its SA Console app up to much. However, as we found during our Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini review, once you get used to its foibles SAM is reliable and relatively easy to use. It’s possible to get accurate long-exposure images of up to about four minutes, which makes SAM a great compromise product. Accessories include a counterweight and declination bracket to increase the payload.

The priciest and one of the best star trackers around for astrophotographers is the iOptron SkyGuider Pro. Many star trackers are made for landscape photographers wanting to save on weight when out in the field searching for wide-angle compositions that include the night sky. But there are plenty of astrophotographers that only want to use telephoto lenses to capture light from distant deep sky objects. That means bigger payloads and longer exposures, which is what the iOptron SkyGuider Pro is designed for. 

Able to take about 11lbs / 5kg, it can support long lenses or even a small telescope, making this a product that in some ways behaves more like a motorized equatorial mount, though its wedge lacks a little precision. Another downside is its use of a counterweight to reach that higher capacity than average, which adds a further 3lbs/1.35kg to the product. Aligning using its electronic polar finderscope and iOptron Polar Scope app, like most of its rivals this star trackers also tracks the Sun, Moon and allows 1/2-speed motion time lapses at night.

Even smaller and more nimble than the SAM is the great value Move Shoot Move, a star tracker that’s suitable only for wide-angle lenses. That’s partly because of its limited payload of 6.6lbs / 3kg and partly, as we discovered in our Move Shoot Move star tracker review, because it’s just not the most accurate star tracker around. 

While that might sound like a deal-breaker, it’s actually a plus if you intend only to take wide-angle images of the Milky Way and starfields. For such photos a rough alignment with Polaris is all you need, something that can be done easily and quickly using an included green laser pointer. 

The Move Shoot Move isn’t going to accurately track Polaris for more than about two or three minutes (though the wider and lighter your lens the longer it will remain accurate enough). But if you have a reasonably fast wide-angle lens none of that is going to matter much. If you have a telephoto lens though, look elsewhere.

While iOptron’s SkyGuider Pro is aimed at deep sky photography, the pared-down and more compact iOptron SkyTracker Pro is aimed more at wide-angle nightscapes. Its payload capacity, at 6.6lbs/3kg, is a lot less than its stablemate and at 2.5lbs/1.1kg it also weighs less. As such it’s more suitable for those wanting to carry a star tracker in their camera bag during trips and travel. 

It has a wider appeal than just nightscapes since in addition to tracking objects in the night sky it can also follow the Sun, Moon and has a half speed for motion timelapses. As a bonus, its internal battery can run for 24 hours. Accessories include a counterweight and declination bracket to increase the payload.  

The Vixen Polarie isn’t for deep-sky astrophotography. In the world of star trackers, it’s always a trade-off between size and versatility, and the Polaris compact size means it can support a payload of just 2kg. Therefore, it is best used with not only wide-angle lenses but fairly lightweight models, though using a mirrorless camera body will give you more flexibility. Alignment is via a supplied compass, a built-in latitude meter and a polar sight hole, so you will have to know how to find Polaris and/or the south celestial pole. 

On hand to help are both red light illumination and the Vixen PF-L Assist app for smartphones. As well as long exposure astrophotography the Polaris can track the Moon and the Sun (the latter useful for solar eclipses) and its half-speed allows motion time-lapses at night. Its short two-hour battery life can be augmented by instead attaching a portable battery to its micro USB slot. Optional accessories include a counterweight to boost the payload to 6.5kg, a polar axis scope and a time-lapse adapter.

Best star trackers for astrophotography 2022: What to look for

However, star trackers — which sit between a tripod and a camera — are not all the same. They have varying weights and designs but also manage different payloads. While some are ideal for telephoto lenses pointed at specific targets, others can only handle wide-angle lenses for capturing the Milky Way. Both the maximum payload and the accuracy of star trackers vary. They are often fiddly and time-consuming, but at their best star trackers can deliver addictively good images.

As well as weighing your camera body and lens before making a purchase do remember to take into account the added weight of a couple of ball-head mounts and the load-bearing ability of your tripod. If in doubt, go for bigger capacity mounts because as a rule of thumb it’s best to have your rig’s total weight about half the capacity of the mount.

Here’s everything you need to know about the best star trackers available for astrophotography and night-scape photography.

How we test the best star trackers for astrophotography

In order to guarantee you’re getting honest, up-to-date recommendations on the best star trackers for astrophotography to buy here at we make sure to put every star tracker through a rigorous review to fully test each instrument. Each star tracker is reviewed based on a multitude of aspects, from its construction and design, to how well it functions as an imaging instrument and its performance in the field.

Each star tracker is carefully tested by either our expert staff or knowledgeable freelance contributors who know their subject areas in depth. This ensures fair reviewing is backed by personal, hands-on experience with each star tracker and is judged based on its price point, class and destined use.

We look at how easy it is to set up, whether the star tracker mounts are reliable and quiet if a star tracker comes with appropriate accessories and also make suggestions if a particular star tracker would benefit from any additional kit to give you the best astrophotography experience possible.

With complete editorial independence, are here to ensure you get the best buying advice on telescopes, whether you should purchase an instrument or not, making our buying guides and reviews reliable and transparent.

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