Olympus Live Composite and Perseids Meteors

Last night was the annual peak of the Perseids meteor shower. I have never tried to capture a meteor with a camera but the word was that with the moon close to the “new” phase and mostly clear skies, the conditions would be ideal for this year’s event.

It was also a chance to try out the “live composite” mode on my Olympus EM5 MKII. It turns out that this amazing technology really makes this kind of thing easy. Live composite originally came in a bit under the radar as a firmware update for the Olympus EM-1 and then was included as a standard feature on the EM5 II. Basically, it records a series of exposures of a duration you specify as if you had taken them one right after another. Then it blends them into a single image. But the amazing thing is that once you make the first exposure, it only increases the exposure when a new source of light appears in the scene. The means that you can record for about as long as you want without overexposing the original scene.

Of course, if you’re capturing a series of images of the night sky, the stars are moving (in relation to the camera) as the earth rotates so the stars will be rendered as star trails. But in the process, if a meteor (or an aircraft) goes through the scene, it will be recorded over top of the star trails.

Well, that was a long introduction to the one good shot that I got last night after fighting to stay awake and sitting out on the deck until after 2:00 am.

I you look carefully you can see four meteor trails. The bright curved streak is an aircraft that flew through the shot.

This was a series of 20 second exposures at f/2.8 over about 15 minutes. ISO was set to 1600. The lens was the Olympus 12mm f/2 prime (equivalent to 24mm on a 35mm camera) and the raw file was processed with Adobe Lightroom. The image above was also cropped from the full image.

To give you an idea of what kind of light pollution we have around here, this is the image straight out of the camera.

~ by Rsmith on August 13, 2015.

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