Morning Of The Comet Neowise

I finally got that comet NEOWISE shot.

Nine days of up at 3:30 AM, rolling to the beach to get that shot. Lost or forgotten memory cards, dead batteries at the worst time. Did I mention nine days up at 3:30 AM, after working until midnight?
When someone tells you that Nikon battery knock off fails at the wrong time they are not kidding. All that being said I finally got that shot.

Everything mentioned above that could go wrong and then some happened in one morning. Luckily it was at the house on the porch. The country setting I live in is perfect for astrophotography. It is as little light pollution as you can get here without going to the beach. After a friend in Virginia beach nailed a shot inland. I decided going to the beach was a waste of time, well aside from the surf fishing before, during, and after. Of course the day I didn’t go conditions were perfect but they were as well at the house. I merely had to roll out of bed and put the camera on the tripod set up already, or so I thought.

comet neowise, delaware, sussexconty, astrophotography, nikon d 3400,
Comet NEOWISE in the morning sky over Sussex county

The day before I got these NEOWISE comet shots. I wasn’t set up early enough and was clueless for those settings. I’m still learning. I had to use binoculars to find the comet NEOWISE. I eventually did, right in front of me above a tree, so I had the perfect marker. I messed with settings etc and just couldn’t get that shot. My buddy Clete in Maryland was doing the same and gave me some tips on settings. I was ready for the next day, and day nine.

The next day, Saturday, which was Sunday at 3:45 AM I get the gear ready. At this point my days have blended due to lack of sleep. I’m excited as all get out. I have the settings, this is going to work, right?
I look for the comet over the tree, not there. I remember earth moves, so I look lower, boom right between a stand of trees, a killer frame. I take the shots, and rip off about twenty. They look awesome except for one small problem. I notice “DEMO” in the corner of the screen in red, that means no memory card. AARGGHHHHH!!!
Pretty sure the neighbors across the field thought an animal was dying in the field. I get the extra memory cards out of the truck, luckily I am at my house. Reset and take the shot, dead battery. That I charged the night before.
At this point the words coming out of my mouth are not appropriate for this site. Dogs across the way are now barking, the deer have scattered out of the corn field into the woods, and turkeys are flying for cover. Even my dog is looking at me like, Bruh! Get it together and feed me already!
I grab the half charged battery I have on hand. I haven’t made coffee yet is my excuse, and I am sticking with it.

comet neowise, delaware, sussexconty, astrophotography, nikon d 3400,
Comet NEOWISE in the morning sky over Sussex county

I reset the camera, take a shot. BOOOM! Nailed it on the first one. I have to check to make sure I am not hallucinating from lack of sleep. At this point the comet is up farther and the sun is going to start that predawn light that kills night sky pictures.
I take the small wide lens off and grab the 300 MM. If I am going to blow this I am going out in fashion. I have no idea what I am doing at this point. I just remembered what Clete said. “Open as wide as you can and do three to five seconds, set your ISO at 800 and play around with it.”
In other words wing it with some guidance, my kind of project. I get a message from Clete with a dope shot of the comet NEOWISE over The Chesapeake Bay.
“How is it going over there, I got this shot a minute ago!”
“Dude I am getting shots, hoping this works, don’t ask you don’t want to know. Making all the mistakes at once. Good times!! That looks amazing, I only have trees for a foreground.”

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comet neowise,  chesapeake bay , astrophotography, cannon camera
Clete’s shot of Comet NEOWISE over the Chesapeake Bay wide angle shot.

I start popping off shots, they look good in the viewer on the camera, but that can change on a computer. I let out a cry of victory, now I am pretty sure at this point the neighbors are awake wondering what the hell is going on over there. Glad they are a half mile away. Me in my boxers, shouting for joy, on my porch is probably a site no one wants to see.
I have about ten minutes before this won’t work anymore. I start pushing buttons and changing settings. I don’t even pay attention to the shots on the viewer. I just keep pushing the remote shutter control. A few second shot has to process, for a few more seconds, it feels like hours. I have to wait for that to finish, I don’t want to mess up anything. This is nerve wracking being on a time line.

I’m also shooting in RAW for the first time and jpg. I have no idea how to edit. I get to tackle that beast later this week.
Make sure you shoot in RAW so you can edit any good ones later.”
This takes more processing time and power, the battery is dying, the dead one isn’t charging. I go for broke and just start hammering the remote button. Long story short I took over 200 pictures in under ten minutes. Wide angle on the 300 MM zoom lens, zoomed in … the whole nine. I have only looked at the better ones in jpg and will edit later.

comet neowise, evening sky, delaware, sussex county
Comet NEOWISE position in the evening sky starting July 14th, Star map by Sky and Telescope

I hope you enjoy the success of nine days of my misery comet hunting. Now we can shoot comet NEOWISE in the evenings starting as early as yesterday evening. Look five degrees off the horizon to the Northwest, ninety minutes after full sunset, but starting the 14th will be easier. Now I need to go find some cool foregrounds and make this even harder. “You can do the cool foreground shots, but you are going to need to learn editing.”
New hobbies are supposed to be fun, and they are for sure, as well as challenging.
Evening shots will be easier as far as my sleep schedule, which is literally shot all to hell.
I need a nap for a week.

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