Comets, Night Sky, and More - TDS Photography Podcast

This is The Digital Story Podcast #747, July 14, 2020. Today's theme is "Comets, Night Sky, and More." I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

What a great time to be outside, under the stars. If you're in North America, Jupiter and Saturn are both visible, the Milky Way is out, and as a bonus, Comet Neowise is now hanging out in the North right after sunset. So grab your binoculars, pack your camera, and let's have some fun. You don't even have to wear a mask.

Comets, Night Sky, and More

So I'm heading out first on Tuesday night, and again on Wednesday if weather conditions remain clear. I'll need a good view of the North because Comet Neowise will only be between 5 and 10 degrees above the horizon at that time. But I'll also take a look at the Milky Way, and of course enjoy the visible planets as well.

Thank goodness for this opportunity. The timing couldn't be better. Between the nice summer weather and the stir-craziness that comes with Shelter in Place, a little night photography to shake things up sounds perfect.

If you want to head out as well, here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare.


Don't Forget Your Night Sky Binoculars

Even if your main objective is to take pictures, a pair of night sky binoculars is handy for surveying the sky and enjoying the show.

Get a Good Astronomy App

Loading an app such as Stellarium on your iPhone or iPad will make it easy to locate the comet in the night sky. You can plan ahead of time with it by entering location and time to figure out the best viewing of Neowise, or anything else for that matter, then use it in the field in realtime.

Pack Your Camera Kit

I'm using my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II with the Olympus PRO 40-150mm f/2.8 zoom. I'm going to bring my tripod as well.

As for exposure, I don't want star trails, so I'm going to use the 500 Rule to help me determine the maximum shutter speed (500 divided by the true focal length of the lens). So, for example, with my lens set at 40 mm, the math would work like this; 500 / 80 = 6.25 seconds. Therefore the maximum shutter speed I can use before the stars start to blur is 6 seconds. As for ISO, I'm going to start with 1600 and adjust as necessary. My aperture will be set to f/2.8. I'm going to test with noise reduction on and off. (It does double the amount of processing.)

Bring Flashlight with a Red Filter

A flashlight with a red filter will help you keep your night vision and make it easier to see objects in the sky.

Finding a Good Location

For comet shots in particular, I like a good scene to complement the night sky. This is probably the hardest part of the assignment for me.

Once you find the location, make sure you can be comfortable while you're there. I always bring my camp chairs and a blanket.

Sony a7S III, Canon R5 and R6

There is so much happening in the full frame world right now with the formal announcement of the Canon R5 and R6, and the anticipated unveiling of the Sony a7S III.

It's a pretty high stakes game. The Canon R5 with RF 24-105mm f/4L lens will cost $4,999. That gets you 45MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor, 8K30 Raw and 4K120 10-Bit Internal Video, and Sensor-Shift 5-Axis Image Stabilization.

The Canon R6 with RF 24-105mm f/4L lens will cost $3,599. That gets you 20MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor, 4K60 and FHD 120 10-Bit Internal Video, and Sensor-Shift 5-Axis Image Stabilization.

The RF line of lenses has really been impressing reviewers, so this package looks very strong on paper. Preorders have been brisk to say the least.

We'll see how the Sony stacks up once it is officially announced. But there's a lot of heat in the kitchen right now for full frame cameras.

Review the TDS Show on Apple Podcasts

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Ripping and Cataloging Audio CDs Now Available for Inner Circle Members

In this 40-minute video, I show you an easy way to incorporate audio compact discs into your current digital music library using iTunes/Apple Music for Mac or Windows.

You'll learn how to choose the best codec for your music, how to easily incorporate album artwork, and tips to keeping everything organized along the way.

It's available right now, for free, to TDS Inner Circle Members. And if you're not part of the Circle yet, you can sign up today and watch the movie right away. Just click on the Patreon tile that's on all the pages of The Digital Story.

The New Donation Kit for Carefree Shipping of Found Film Cameras

We have more time around the house than ever. And you finally dove into that bedroom closet that's been begging for some organization.

If you found a film camera that you're no longer using, our new Donation Kit makes it easy to pack and ship. Just visit the Contact Form on, click the box next to Donating a Film Camera, and let me know what you have. In your note, be sure to include your shipping address.

If it's a camera we can use for the shop, I'll send you a Donation Kit that includes a USPS Priority Mail shipping box and prepaid label. All you have to do is tape it up, insert the camera, and add the label. USPS will pick up your shipment from the front door of your house during their regular mail delivery. It's that simple!

Your donation help get analog gear in the hands of aspiring fine art photographers, and the proceeds help support this podcast.

Just Released! Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos

It's a concern that lingers in the mind of just about every digital photographer: "How do I preserve my digital images and make them accessible while doing so?"

If you've had those thoughts, then help is available now. My latest LinkedIn Learning/ title, Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos is a complete course that shows you a variety of options and techniques to take control of protecting your image collection.

As your photo library grows, it becomes more important to back up your work. In this course, I teach the concepts and techniques behind efficient photo management for the long haul. First, I compare a few selected photo storage philosophies and techniques. I then show you how to create an ultralight backup system for travel, also back up photos stored on a laptop (or desktop), and finally, review archiving strategies for storing photos for decades.

Here are just a few of the talking points that I cover in the training.

  • Creating an ultralight backup system for travel.
  • Sending images from cameras to mobile devices.
  • Internal vs. external hard drives (both have their roles).
  • Organizing photos in managed vs. referenced catalogs vs. Finder-based.
  • Re-archiving images from older hard drives (do this before they fail!).
  • Integrating cloud services into your overall strategy.
  • Including a few tips you might not have considered, such as making archival prints of your best images.

You can start fine-tuning your workflow today by watching Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos on LinkedIn Learning and on It's a great way to begin the process of protecting your digital media for years to come.

The Essential Steps to Impressive Video Conferencing

If you want to learn more about looking and sounding great for your next online interaction, then I think you'll very much enjoy my latest online workshop, The Essential Steps to Impressive Video Conferencing.

This 1-hour deep dive focuses on the 3 major areas of successful online interaction: Audio, Video, and Environment. During the course, I walk you through a variety of techniques that range from simple using gear that you already have, to improving your chops through a few inexpensive purchases.

The course is currently available for free to our Inner Circle Members on Patreon. Members, just go to our Patreon site, and all the information will be there. If you're not already an Inner Circle Member, you can join us for $5 a month.

The course is also available on our Nimble Photographer Workshop Page for $14.95.

I have tons of great tips and techniques waiting for you there. If you want to get serious about how you come across during online meetings, classes, interviews, and family interactions, then you definitely will want to watch this course.

Digitizing Family Memories Course Now Available Online

Each of the four classes will outline a specific set of steps for you to accomplish. By the end of the course, you will have an organized digital archive of your most valuable family images.

You can sign up for the course by visiting the Workshops page on The Nimble Photographer. The course fee is a reasonable $39 (on sale right now). It includes the 4 class videos, class notes, and access to the class forums that are a part of each movie.

Updates and Such

Inner Circle Members: A big thanks to those who support our podcast and our efforts!

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we've had to postpone our July photography workshop at Lassen Volcanic Park. We so still have on the schedule, however, our Eastern Sierra event in October.

How to Watch Photos for macOS Catalina and iPadOS - Learn everything you need to know about Photos for the Mac and iPad by checking out my latest course on LinkedIn Learning and on This course is perfect for Mac and iPad based photographers who shoot with iPhone, Mirrorless, and DSLR cameras. It covers both photography and movies. And if I say so myself, it's a lot of fun.

B&H and Amazon tiles on www.thedigitalstory. If you click on them first, you're helping to support this podcast. (The Digital Story is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.) And speaking of supporting this show, and big thanks to our Patreon Inner Circle members:

Affiliate Links - The links to some products in this podcast contain an affiliate code that credits The Digital Story for any purchases made from B&H Photo and Amazon via that click-through. Depending on the purchase, we may receive some financial compensation.

And finally, be sure to visit our friends at Red River Paper for all of your inkjet supply needs.

See you next week!

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

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