Complete Guide to Photograph the 2013 Perseids Meteor Shower
The 2013 Perseids meteor shower is approaching fast, I want to share with you my methods to capture an image like this from the 2012 Perseids
The 2013 Perseids will peak on the night of August 11th into the morning of August 12th but is very active on the night before or after as well. The moon will be illuminated at 25% which will only slightly interfere early in the evening, but the moon sets around 10:20pm. The peak of the shower is after midnight so there will be a perfectly dark sky for the main show.
The radiant of the Perseids (where the meteors originate from) travels through the Northeast sky as you can see in the video below. This does not mean you should point your camera directly Northeast though. My recommendation is to face directly North if you're shooting in portrait orientation (recommended) this way the radiant lands on the right edge of the frame. Why do you want this? The meteors come from the radiant, but the meteors appear away from the radiant, so you need some breathing room to capture as many meteors as possible. You could face East to capture the meteors coming from the other side of the radiant, but the way the radiant moves through the sky doesn't lend itself to travel through the frame well.
This video shows a representation of how the radiant will travel through the sky through the entire night, the yellow line represents what will be captured with a 14mm lens on a full frame camera in portrait orientation. You can see in this configuration the radiant stays in the frame for the entire night. Created in Starry Night
Find a Dark Sky:
Produces an average of 60-80 meteors per hour
After you have captured a night of meteors you will want to merge them into a composite, which I explain the video below
This method is best explained in the video above, but if you can't view on YouTube for some reason, here is the written description.
To start with I had to identify each image that had a meteor from the hundreds taken over the entire night. I did this in Lightroom using the color flags to identify each shot with a meteor.
Once I had them all identified I selected all 23 shots, right clicked, Edit in > Layers in Photoshop. Once opened in Photoshop I changed the blend mode of the layers to lighten to easily identify where Polaris/North Star was located. This is the point we need to rotate around to correct the meteors to their radiant.
I mark this point using the custom shape tool and placing a target symbol. Then I turn off all but the base layer and 1 additional layer. With the correct layer selected I activate the Free Transform tool, I then change the rotation point to the previously placed target.
Now I rotate the layer until the stars align and finish the transform. Then I apply a reverse layer mask by Alt+Clicking on the new layer mask button.
Then I zoom into the meteor, brush on the layer mask using white as my foreground color to show the portion of the layer with the meteor. Clean up any additional stars by switching your foreground color to black and painting them out on the layer mask. Repeat for each layer, delete the target when finished and flatten the image.
Keywords: 2013, meteor shower, night photography, night tutorials, nightscapes, perseids, snowy range
Great tutorial. One thing I learned; depending on where you live, you have a high chance of lens fogging due to the humidity. Some type of lens heating or fog prevention will help. Lens heaters and anti-fog tubes are best found at astronomy/telescope stores.
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