David Jenkins is the winner of ASIWEEK #34 and #38. Over the past years, he has produced so many great astrophotos, including the ones we displayed here. You may see his gallery on his website if you get interested – Believe us, those gorgeous images are really worthwhile to watch!
Q: First of all, could you please give us a self-introduction so that we can know more about you?
My name is David Jenkins and I live in Southwestern Ontario, Canada where I love to spend clear nights in my backyard under the stars collecting thought provoking images of deep space. For as long as I can remember I have had an enthusiastic interest in astronomy and anything space related. I feel fortunate to live under Bortle 5 skies. Someday, I hope to find some even darker skies for this wonderful hobby.
Q: What makes you become an astrophotographer and how long have you been?
As a teenager, I attempted to photograph the moon through my wobbly Tasco telescope using my Pentax 35mm film camera pointed at the telescope’s diagonal prism. Not surprisingly, none of the photos turned out. Years later, in 2007, now married with three children, I purchased a 12-inch Meade RCX-400 telescope, which was very large and very heavy.
Since I had nowhere to store it, my telescope sat in our living room. A few months later, construction began on my backyard SkyShed so that I could have a permanent home for my new telescope. Being a fork mounted telescope, it was very challenging for me to take any long exposure photos. Instead, for many years, I spent my time imaging the moon and planets.
In 2020, I purchased a German Equatorial Mount and a SkyWatcher Refractor. My journey into long exposure, deep sky imaging began.
Old Versus New:
My backyard SkyShed:
Q: Is there anyone who inspired you at the very beginning?
My parents were always supportive of my interest in Astronomy. Also, I have fond memories of my Grandmother talking to me about the night sky. She knew many of the constellations and asterisms, which amazed me.
Brocchi’s Cluster. Equipment: Esprit 100ED + EQ6-R Pro + ASI2600MC Pro + ASIAIR PRO. Integration: 20min
Q: What gear do you use, any photos of them?
I currently have several Sky-Watcher and William Optics refractors, two Sky-Watcher German Equatorial Mounts, and a Celestron EdgeHD 8”. I power all of my equipment with the ASIAIR (I own two of them) from inside my house using my iPad. I use the both the ASI2600MC Pro and MM Pro cameras to take my images.
Q: Where do you normally take astrophotos, in your backyard or somewhere darker but also remoter from home?
I almost always take my astrophotos from my backyard. That way, I don’t have to spend time setting up and tearing down my equipment. It also saves me time that would otherwise be spent traveling to and from another site. I love my backyard!
Q: Do you still remember your first astrophotography experience? What feelings did you have when you saw your first astrophoto?
Here is my first astrophoto of the Orion Nebula from January 2008. It’s fun to look back at my old images. I’m amazed at how far technology has advanced in the past 14 years.
Q: What do you think astrophotography has brought to your life? Does it change you in any sort?
As many have come to realize, this is a very complex yet rewarding hobby. I enjoy building telescope rigs, taking images, as well as processing my data using both PixInsight and Photoshop. The learning never ends, which I love!
Jellyfish Nebula in combined SHO and HOO. Equipment: Esprit 80ED + EQ6-R Pro + ASI2600MM Pro + ASIAIR PRO. Integration: 19h
Q: When the frustrations come, how do you normally act and how do you overcome them?
I enjoy problem solving as it engages the mind. I try to take a calm, logical approach to solving technical challenges, which has served me well.
The Eastern Veil Nebula. Equipment: Esprit 150ED + EQ8-Rh Pro + ASI2600MM Pro+ ASIAIR PRO. Integration: 21.5h. Bortle 5 skies.
Q: What do you think is your biggest achievement in astrophotography so far?
Narrowband image processing has been my biggest achievement. I’m still working to further develop my processing skills with broadband imaging. There are a lot of talented people out there who provide me with inspiration.
Eagle Nebula. Equipment: Esprit 150ED + EQ8-Rh Pro + ASI2600MM Pro + ASIAIR PRO. Integration: 12h. Bortle 5 skies.
Q: Do you have a favorite celestial target or region in the night sky?
My favorite celestial target is the one that I am currently working on. The night sky is full of wondrous targets.
M27. Equipment: Esprit 150ED + EQ8-Rh Pro + ASI2600MM Pro + ASIAIR PRO. Integration: 6h. Bortle 5 skies.
Q: What kind of unique style do you think your photos have?
I spend a great deal of time framing my targets in a way to provide a unique perspective not typically seen by other astrophotographers. This often involves moving the key subject matter away from the centre of the image in order to draw your eye to some of the other intricate and complimentary details. This requires me to spend many hours (and nights) imaging the same target in order to bring out the faint nebulosity. To achieve some depth within my photos, I carefully balance the colours using the histogram tool. With narrowband imaging, I strive to pull out the deep blues, subtle yellows, and deep reds and orange to make a dramatic looking image without oversaturating the target.
Elephant’s Trunk Nebula. Equipment: EQ6-R Pro + Esprit 100ED + ASI2600MM Pro + ASIAIR PRO. Integration: 20h. Bortle 5 skies.
Q: Would you like to share with us your project plans in the future?
I’m now running two telescopes simultaneously, which presents some fun challenges. I soon hope to have both telescopes pointed at the same target where one image in RGB data using the ASI2600MC Pro while the other images in Luminance and/or Hydrogen Alpha using the ASI2600MM Pro.
This should be a good combination for galaxies with the added benefit of reducing the number of nights required to image each target.
Needle Galaxy. Equipment: EQ6-R Pro + Celestron EdgeHD 8″ + ASI2600MC Pro + ASIAIR PRO. Integration: 3h 42min. Bortle 5 skies.
Q: Can you give the ZWO team some suggestions, or share your thoughts on ZWO products?
I would love to see a ZWO field rotator that can be controlled with the ASIAIR. I currently use the Pegasus Rotator, but it is heavy and needs to be controlled separately. Another suggestion would be for ZWO to produce mounts that automatically polar align themselves instead of relying on manual intervention to adjust the RA and DEC knobs. That would be a real competitive advantage!