- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Focal Press; Pap/Psc edition (July 17, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 113877684X
- ISBN-13: 978-1138776845
- Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 7.9 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Astrophotography Manual: A Practical and Scientific Approach to Deep Space Imaging Pap/Psc Edition
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"If your ambitions are in this direction and you are enthused to put the work in, this is a book that would save its cover price simply by preventing the newcomer from making basic purchasing mistakes." - Professional Imagemaker
"[I]f you're super keen, scientifically inclined and dedicated, Woodhouse's detailed guide will show you everything you need to know, and quite possibly a bit more." - Professional Photography
About the Author
Chris Woodhouse was born in England, and during his teenage years was a keen amateur photographer. After receiving an M.Eng. in Electronics at Bath University, he designed communication and optical gauging equipment before joining an automotive company. As a member of the Royal Photographic Society, he gained an Associate distinction in 2002. During the last thirty years, he has pursued his passion for all forms of photography, mostly in monochrome. This, coupled with his design experience, led him to invent and patent several unique darkroom timers and meters, which are sold throughout the world. After the success of his first book, Way Beyond Monochrome, he turned his attention to digital monochrome and astrophotography. He quickly found the technical challenges of astrophotography responded well to methodical and scientific methods; together with his photographic eye and experience, he produces beautiful and fascinating images.
Top Customer Reviews
But if you get the bug, there's no going back and you just learn to deal with the very disorganized information you find. There is ultimately no better teacher than experience (i.e. trial and error). Hopefully you won't break anything along the way! My information breakthrough for me came on visiting Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff. The biggest treat was seeing Orion's sword -- the clearest I've ever seen including nebulosity directly without any scope-- but they also carry an excellent selection of books for beginner thru advanced astronomers. I first came upon the Firefly series there. Highly recommended for Newbies! Finally- structured direction including learning the night sky!
The "best" astrophotography books out there include MAKING EVERY PHOTON COUNT (Steve Richards), Allan Hall's LONG EXPOSURE ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY, and ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY (Thierry Legault). The COMPLETE GUIDE TO STARGAZING by Robin Scagell (and the smaller Firefly binocular and telescope series are perfect for commuting) is a more general encyclopedic overview of astronomy that's well illustrated and written. The available books are not ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY for dummies books. All of them can be quite dense, even when covering topics in a general sense. They all give a necessary overview that is indispensable, and more fruitful than scattered forum bites for me. Legault's book is the outstanding technical primer but doesn't really cover image processing specifics and the others which do deal mainly with PC ASCOM, the powerful Maxim DL software package, and Photoshop when they venture into processing specifics. The vendor Starizona has a series of online tutorials on image processing which are Photoshop oriented which I found quite informative.
I think Chris Woodhouse's new entry is the most modern entry. He covers hardware and accessories as well if not better than the others, and has included an entire section on Image Processing that, unlike previous books, focuses on PixInsight. Very little structured PixInsight teaching material is available despite the many video tutorials that can be found online. There's a dedicated Patrick Moore series volume due out by Warren Keller. Ultimately there are two groups it seems, the "haters" and the "lovers". The best online tutorial resource is Kayron Mercieca's Light Vortex Astronomy as well as the PixInsight website material (ADDENDUM: I forgot to mention Harry's ASTROSHED!). The PixInsight material in this volume is the best available right now in book form, and frankly sets the standard. It places the wealth of video online tutorial material I've gone through in context.
The editing quibbles mentioned in a separate post are not horrible and I believe this book will only get better on future editions.
Kudos to Mr Woodhouse and thanks for sharing!
One minor quibble, the editing could have been tighter.
The content of the book is augmented by useful tables and charts. Early on there is an Astronomy Primer, and the nice aspect of it is that it is written from the perspective of astrophotography. The heart of the author is clearly with the deep sky, however. Imaging of planets does not seem to hold his interest, but for completeness, he does include an example of imaging Jupiter among the seven worked out “First Light Assignments” at the end of the book. However, the word planet does not even appear in the book’s index. The few sentences describing planetary imaging in the book are also covered in the aforementioned Jupiter First Light Assignment. Even a picture, Figure 28 on page 110, is duplicated in the Jupiter assignment (and larger to boot) as Figure 2 on page 244. By the way, this is not the only figure that is duplicated in the book. The FocusMax dialog box screen shot, Figure 10 on page 47, is also shown as Figure 2 on page 127.
Nits aside, I learned a lot from this book. There is a great amount of useful information on all aspects of astrophotography, from mounts, to optics, to cameras (both DSLRs and CCDs), filters, focusers, field flatteners, mount calibration, autoguiding, control software, and of course, post processing software and techniques.
However, no book is going to turn you into an accomplished astrophotographer, just as no book will transform you into a competent pilot or surgeon. It takes practice. And although there is an extensive table in the Appendixes on Diagnostics and Problem Solving, you are probably going to have to follow the path the author took to become accomplished in the field - practice, and go to the forums to get help.
It is a very expensive book. The hardcover version costs close to $150, and the paperback version, $50. Yet some of the charts, pictures and tables are printed small and therefore hard to read. On the other hand, the physical execution is excellent. The quality of the materials, the printing and the images, at least in the hardcover edition (I have not seen the soft cover edition), is excellent. The Kindle edition is just as nice (some people complain that other books do not fare well when brought over to Kindle). The only disappointment is that there is no way to enlarge the too small figures or tables even on a large 27 inch Macintosh monitor. This is not an issue with Kindle - as I mentioned earlier, these figures and tables are also too small in the print edition.
I deducted one star from my rating because of the number of editing issues in the book. Given the quality of content and execution, and the price point, I had hoped the writing would also be top notch. Perhaps the author should have availed himself of an Editor. Maybe it is churlish of me to criticize typos, but they do distract from the reading of the book. I will not list every instance of a typo, but in just a few pages I found the following (hard cover and Kindle editions):
Page 93: “,like DeeepSkyStacker that calibrates, aligns and stack exposures.”
(should be “,like DeeepSkyStacker that calibrates, aligns and stacks exposures.”)
Page 93: “One reason is that many editing functions are limited to 16-bit processing and the initial severe manipulations required in astrophotography are more effective in a 32 bit.”
(perhaps the sentence should end “are more effective in 32 bits.”)
Page 95: A fork-mounted telescope needs to be accurately leveled and aligned with true north.
(not true for all fork mounted telescopes - this is a quote from the Celestron CPC manual: “Remember SkyAlign does not care where the optical tube is pointed at the beginning of the alignment. So to make the alignment process even faster it is acceptable to move the telescope to the first alignment star manually by loosening both clutches.” All current Celestron fork-mounted telescopes use the SkyAlign procedure, so none of them need to be aligned to true north)
Page 96: “Some use a method that compare the position of two or …”
(should be compares.)
Page 100: “Rotate the dovetail plate so that it horizontal and open up the jaws,”
(should be “Rotate the dovetail plate so that it is horizontal and open up the jaws,”
I checked the book’s Errata at [...] on March 31, 2016, the date I wrote this review. The Errata page was blank.
In summary, this is an excellent but advanced book, and you should probably not let yourself get too annoyed by the lack of editing.
If you are not quite ready to dive into the deep end of the pool, you could consider “Astrophotography” by Thierry Legault, and “The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer” by Charles Bracken. Both are available on Amazon, and the first one is also available on Kindle. Both are excellent - you can read the reviews. I will just mention that “Astrophotography” starts out with a simple chapter of photographing the sky without a telescope, and “The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer” does not cover planetary photography; its subject matter is, as the title implies, deep sky objects.