18 years old Vijay Suddala created a stunning composite image of the moon from his home in south India using just a $150 telescope and his smartphone.
The teenager used a Orion Skyscanner 100mm telescopeSvbony Barlow lens, 10mm eyepiece and a smartphone adapter along with his Samsung Galaxy M21 to capture the celestial image.
Speak with PetaPixelSuddala explains step by step how he created his impressive HDR image using four images.
“Lay out your telescope with the camera lens of the smartphone using a smartphone adapter. You see a perfect circle in the camera image of the smartphone and you can use a distant object to check your focus,” explains Suddala.
“Point to the moon and take pictures and make sure it’s not overexposed. you can use ProCam X mobile application to change your phone’s ISO and shutter speed. Find a setting that best suits your smartphone.”
Suddala then captures the upper, middle and lower parts of the moon to sharpen the entire image, leaving a common area between all moon shots. Finally, he takes an overexposed photo of the moon.
“Once you’ve taken three or five single images of the different parts of the moon, you put them in a software called ‘Microsoft ICE’. What it does is sew them according to the common areas and get a full view of the moon,” Suddala says.
“I get the sting in Photoshop and the first thing I do is auto-color, noise reduction by a factor of 8, unsharp mask until you feel the sharpness is sufficient or looks good. You can adjust the black areas of the moon with curves adjustment.
The smartphone astrophotographer then adds another full moon image for the HDR look, using Photoshop guides to align the two images.
“Use the elliptical marquee to intersect the moon in a perfect circle. The bad edges with chromatic aberration can be removed by applying Gaussian Blur,” Suddala adds.
“You have to perfectly align the overexposed photo of the moon layer with that of the layer above. This gives a nice glow to the moon,” he continues.
“For the clouds, I capture them during the day and convert them to black and white by removing the saturation. Then I load the moon layer with the glow and the black and white clouds in Photoshop and change the blending mode to ‘lighter’. That is it.”
everyone can do it
Suddala, who does all of his astrophotography work on a smartphone, believes anyone can take exceptional photos of the moon, even on a budget, and thanks YouTuber Alyn Wallace for teaching me the technique.
“As a child I had binoculars that I bought in a store. I used to look at the moon and also used it to look at the earth.
“When I was 12, I bought a Celestron 50mm refractor and looked at Saturn’s rings for the first time. I also used it for moon watching, but after a year or so I got bored because the views weren’t that pleasant.
“Later, when I was 15, I bought the Orion Skyscanner 100mm table-top reflector telescope. That’s the same telescope I used to make the composite.”
More of Suddala’s work can be seen at his Instagram†
Image Credits: All photos by Vijay Suddala.