CCD Camp - New Mexico Skies
April, 2003
In April 2003, I was able to attend a Image Processing seminar hosted by Ron Wodaski, author of The New CCD Astronomy.  The four-day meeting was held at the New Mexico Skies guest observatory in Cloudcroft, NM and focused on PhotoShop techniques for astronomical image processing.  There were eight student from places as wide spread as California, the Carolinas and Germany.  It was a great group with everyone working at an advanced level of imaging.  It was interesting that most of the group were entrepreneurs in their professional life. 

Topics for the class included subjects such as:
Zone processing to work with different parts of the image with different tools
Histogram techniques working with levels and curves
Proper filter usage and settings
Color combining
Advanced topics such as gradient removal, channel offsetting, Ha imaging
We covered many other imaging and processing topics as well.  It was great to have one-on-one time with Ron to discuss our individual imaging issues as well as to spend time with the other students.  The classes were very interactive and the conversations were lively.

The plan was to do imaging at night with the rental scopes at New Mexico Skies.  They have four domes equipped with top-of-the line telescopes and CCD cameras.  Ron's internet-based telescope is located here as well.  But alas, as these things often go, we had clear skies but amazing high winds during the entire time.  Winds were gusting over 25mph and were high enough to cause problems with most of the scopes.  We tried but I think most of it was a waste in terms of high-end imaging.  It was great to work in the domes with the scopes and everyone cooperated so it was a learning experience at the minimum.

The New Mexico Skies facilities were great!  Sleeping and kitchen accommodations were basic but fine.  You're in the middle of nowhere so it's best to bring groceries rather than driving somewhere to eat.  As I said, the astronomical equipment was top notch.  I was able to work with a 16"SCT and a 7" Apo refractor.  You can control the telescopes from within the observatory dome or remotely from the library of the main house.  Mike and Lynn Rice are wonderful hosts.  The library has full high-speed internet access and there's even an nice expresso drink in it for you!  It was a great experience and I hope to go back in the future!

The Group
Tom Harrison    Asheville, NC

Bill Perry

Wayne Hensche   Grand Marais, MN

Frank S. Barnes III (Sandy)  Rock Hill, SC

Adam F. Block   San Francisco, CA   

Mike Mayda    Sacramento, CA 

Johannes Huwe   Hannover, Germany

Bill Patterson    Los Angeles, CA       

Ron Wodaski   Duvall, WA              

New Mexico Skies                           
M51 taken with 16" Meade SCT at New Mwxico Skies