More Oh-dark-thirty antics

Managed to get down to the shore at Seacliff State Beach at 0330 on Saturday morning and got a sequence of 18 shots of the Milky Way, with better focus than last time.  With some improved stacking in Photoshop I got better stars in the corners of the images.  Selecting the “Geometric Distortion” lens correction radio button in the Auto-align Layers dialogue produced a much better overall stack, as the extremely wide corners on the 14mm lens have stars moving slightly faster than in the center, leading to good alignment in the middle but drift at the edges.  Of course nothing comes for free, since with that lens correction option enabled, the resulting stack is somewhat fisheyed, with a curved horizon at the bottom.

After a bit more tinkering, I was finally able to figure out how to get the Adaptive Wide Angle filter to work properly, and I rescued the horizon.  Important in this shot because I had placed the S.S. Palo Alto, a concrete ship built as a tanker for WWI, and now sunk and broken into pieces at the end of the Seacliff State Beach pier, right along the bottom of the image.  Since I also had fully-charged batteries this time, I was able to spend the time and focus more accurately, meaning I could run the lens wide-open at f/2.8 instead of f/4.  So twice the light, more than twice the sub-exposures, and better stacking afterword produced a much cleaner image, despite the extra light pollution present near Santa Cruz vs being out at Morro Bay.  I was back in bed less than an hour after the alarm went off, so I’d consider this effort a roaring success:

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