By Robert Bernstein
Huge thanks to Merritt Adams for reaching out to me to show me his Comet NEOWISE photos and to explain in great detail where he took his photos and the camera settings that he used.
I had planned to go to the top of the mountains near La Cumbre Peak. But my favorite photos that he took were from closer in town because they included views of the mountains. Notably, they included Arlington and Cathedral Peak. Merritt reached out in part because I had recently hiked Arlington Peak with my music teacher Nancy and shared our experience here on Edhat.
Here are my own photos from Sunday night when my wife and I ventured out to see the comet.
Just as we arrived in the area another car pulled up right where I planned to stop. I was concerned there might be problems with light and also with finding a good spot in a limited space. But it turned out to be a wonderful bonus: The other person was professional photographer Bill Zeldis who makes an annual Santa Barbara Calendar.
It was a treat to share strategies and tactics for getting the best photos. He had a professional grade SLR whereas I use a Sony RX10 which is basically a high end point and shoot camera.
What seemed to work best with my camera was to take exposures in the range of 10-20 seconds with an ISO setting of about 800. For some strange reason if I lowered the ISO the image seemed to get more noisy, just as if I had raised it.
It also seemed that fancy techniques like HDR (High Dynamic Range) or multiple-image merging for noise reduction did not help. They just increased the motion blur.
What did help a lot? Using a two-second self timer for the shutter. That allowed me to start the shutter and step away. Even the slightest footstep near the tripod caused motion blur.
OK… Here are some of my photos:
These show the broad view while there was still a glow in the sky:
This was taken later as the comet appeared closer to the mountains, as the Earth rotated it down near the horizon around 10PM.
I liked this one because it caught a meteor crossing the comet's tail!
And this was the last one of the evening around 10:20PM