One of the perks of going to visit the observatory with an astronomer is that I got access inside the telescopes, and also to the walkway outside the dome (which is about three stories up, and an excellent place to take sunrise/sunset pictures). I put a few shots from inside the telescope dome up on flickr, with notes about the equipment. The third photo in that series shows the little tiny holes in the mirror of the Harlan J. Smith telescope from when one of the telescope operators got disgruntled and shot the mirror with his gun.
Also over at the flickr set are a couple shots of the outsides of the telescopes during the day, and some sunset shots:
I mentioned in my first post that I took several series of photos with varied exposures in hopes of creating some High Dynamic Range (HDR) images, but what I didn’t realize was how incredibly windy it was. Wind is not good for HDR shots because the clouds move across the sky from one shot to the next, so there’s no good way to stack all the images and combine them. (Unless someone more photoshop savvy than me knows a trick for this?)
But I did get to do a bit of photoshopping with my night images. Sadly, I wasn’t able to make images of star trails, but with a ton of post processing I was able to generate this image that simulates what the observatory looked like at night (once my eyes were dark adapted):
Edited to add: I meant to talk about the photoshop process for the night shot, but didn’t — basically I made the photo above by stacking two long exposures of the stars in the background, and then on top of that I added a (mostly desaturated) image of the telescope during the day (at 15% opacity). The raw images out of my camera looked like faint white dots on a black background and were entirely unimpressive.