18-year-old Vijay Suddala created a stunning composite image of the moon from his home in southern India with just a $150 telescope and his smartphone.
The teenager used an Orion Skyscanner 100mm telescope, Svbony Barlow lens, 10mm eyepiece, and a smartphone adapter along with his Samsung Galaxy M21 to capture the celestial image.
Speaking to PetaPixel, Suddala explains through step-by-step how he created his impressive HDR image using four images.
“Get your telescope aligned with the smartphone’s camera lens using a smartphone adapter. Suddala explains that you’ll be able to see the perfect circle in your smartphone’s camera view. You can also use distant objects to verify your focus.
Take pictures of the moon, making sure that it isn’t overexposed. ProCam X can be used to adjust the ISO or shutter speed on your smartphone. Find a setting that best suits your smartphone.”
Suddala then captures the upper, middle, and lower parts of the moon to make the whole image sharp, and leaves a common area between all of the moon shots. He then captures an overexposed photograph of the moon.
Once you have taken three to five photos of different parts of the moon, you can import them into a program called ‘Microsoft ICE. It stitches them together according to common areas. This creates a complete moon image.” Suddala says.
“I get the stitch into Photoshop and the first thing I do is apply auto-color, noise reduction of a factor of 8, unsharp mask until you feel the sharpness is sufficient or good looking. You can adjust the black areas of the moon with curves adjustment.”
The smartphone astrophotographer then adds another image of a full moon for the HDR look using guides in Photoshop to align the two images.
” Use the elliptical marquee tool to make the moon a perfect circle. Suddala says that you can smoothen out the edges using chromatic aberration and gaussian blur.
You should perfectly align the photo of the moon with the layer above. He continues, “This will give the moon a lovely glow.”
“For the clouds, I capture them in the daytime and convert them into black and white by removing the saturation. Then I load the layer of the Moon with the glow and the black and white clouds in Photoshop and change the blending mode to ‘lighten.’ That’s it.”
Anyone Can Do It
Suddala, who does all his astrophotography work on a smartphone, believes anyone can take exceptional images of the moon, even on a budget, and credits YouTuber Alyn Wallace for learning the technique.
“I used to have a pair of binoculars when I was a kid which I bought from a store. I bought it from a store and used it to view the moon.
“When I was 12, I bought a Celestron 50mm refractor and watched the rings of Saturn for the first time with it. I also used it for lunar observing, but I got bored with it after a year or so because the views were not that pleasing.
“Later, when I was 15, I bought the Orion Skyscanner 100mm tabletop reflector telescope. That’s the same telescope I used for making the composite.”
More of Suddala’s work can be seen on his Instagram.
Image credits: All photos by Vijay Suddala.