【User Interview】Justin P‘s Astrophotography Story

QHYCCD: Hi Justin! It is a great honor to invite you for this interview. Please give us a brief introduction of yourself.

Justin: Thank you very much, I am very grateful for this interview. My name is Justin and I am an amateur photographer. I have been taking pictures as a hobby for the past 20 years, although I just recently started deep-sky imaging.
QHYCCD: When did you like astrophotography and why?
Justin: I’ve always been fascinated by the night sky. I begged my mom as a little kid to have these glow-in-the-dark stickers of stars to put on the ceiling in my bedroom, so I could stare at the night sky as I fell asleep. I picked up daytime photography as a hobby when I was a teenager, and I took hundreds of thousands of pictures trying to figure out how to take good ones. Astrophotography, specifically, really started for me when I began traveling for work. I always packed a camera, as I would often be stuck in very rural areas, far from anything to do (when I wasn’t working). I would wander the area trying to find interesting things to take pictures of. One night I finished working very late, and I stepped out to go back to the hotel. I looked up and realized I could see so much more of the night sky than I could from home! From that moment on, I made sure to take my camera and capture pictures of the night sky when I traveled. This past year, I haven’t been able to travel very much, so I decided to challenge myself to take pictures of the night sky from home. This has led to the astrophotography I do now.
QHYCCD: Astrophotography has high requirements on the weather. How is the weather on your side?
Justin: It is very finicky. I live near a city, so there is a lot of light pollution. There are also a lot of clouds and rain. It takes dedication and good luck to get a clear night to take pictures.
QHYCCD: Share a few photos you shot with QHY294M.
Justin:                                                                                                             【Rosette Nebula】                                                                                                            【Moon Mosaic】                                                                                                         【The Fish Nebula】                                                                                                      【The Jellyfish Nebula】 
QHYCCD: I really like that Fish Head Nebula. Talk about its shooting and post-processing process, is there anything interesting or difficult?
 Justin: Thank you! This is one that I’m very proud of. Because of the light pollution in my area, it is easiest for me to shoot narrowband images (like nebulae) with filters that only let in very narrow bands of color. It does make things a little challenging in post-processing, as you have three completely separate images that you have to put together and try and balance. There are a lot more steps than you would have with a normal color camera. It does make for some absolutely gorgeous images though, and the reward when you are finished is totally worth the extra effort. For this image specifically, I drove about 3.5 hours and camped in sub-freezing temperatures to get clear skies so I could try and do it justice.
QHYCCD: How do you feel about QHY294M? And what do you think is the biggest advantage of this camera?
 Justin: This is my first dedicated astronomy camera, and I’m so glad I have it. I think the biggest reason I chose this camera is its unlocked chip binning. The ability to switch between 14bit 11.7mp and 12bit 47mp mode really frees me to capture a lot of unique and amazing images with the most detail possible.
QHYCCD: What kind of astronomical camera do you prefer, such as full-frame or APS-C, mono and color?
Justin: I definitely prefer mono over color. It is a little extra work, but you get so much more detail and color information that way. Sensor size really depends on what I’m trying to image. Micro 4/3s is great for getting really close to smaller objects, but APS-C and Full Frame definitely let you capture a bigger scene.
QHYCCD: I find that you have used the QHY294M camera to photograph the moon and some nebulae. Is there any difference on the shooting of these celestial bodies?
Justin: Imaging planets and the moon is very different from imaging deep-sky objects like nebulae. The moon and planets are very bright, and only require every short exposure to capture. Because of the atmosphere, you have to capture a lot of them to reduce distortion. Nebulae and other deep sky objects require very long exposures, as they are usually very dim. This requires a lot more from the mount and camera to capture well.
QHYCCD: Where do you usually shoot and what equipment do you usually use?
Justin: I capture mostly from my home in North Carolina,but occasionally I will travel to Deerlick Astronomy Village in Georgia, as they have very dark skies there. Right now, I use a Celestron AVX mount with a Zenithstar 81 refractor telescope. I have a small autoguider mounted on top, as well as a motorized filter wheel and an auto-focuser. These help me automate a lot of the tedious tasks and get on with imaging. I built a small computer and enclosure that I use to house most of the cabling, and control everything from SGP (Sequence Generator Pro).
QHYCCD: Have you participated in some groups or activities for astronomy enthusiasts?
Justin: I haven’t had a chance yet, although I have met many amazing people online and at Deerlick.
QHYCCD: In addition to QHY294M, what other QHY products do you have, or which QHY products you are also interested in?
Justin: Right now, I just have the QHY294M, although I definitely want to expand my collection. I think if I can, I’d like to get the QHY268M, as it has an even greater bit depth than the QHY294M and a wider field of view.
QHYCCD: Do you have any comments or suggestions for QHY products?
Justin: Thank you so much for all you do for the astrophotography community, and keep making amazing products!

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