Friday, May 26, 2017

Astrophotography Tips for Beginners

So today I'm going to give you all the knowledge I have on shooting stars in the night sky. 
I actually find it both frustrating and fun. Frustrating because if my settings are off just a slight bit, the sky is blurry. Fun because, well... how awesome is it to photograph the Big Dipper Constellation?  

Or, when you catch a shooting star?

Tip #1: The Moon
    We all know the moon plays a big, bright role in the night sky. So, I would highly recommend giving astrophotography a try during a new moon. Another thing we know is that a new moon happens once a month, and the weather doesn't always play fairly.  So I would use this website (Moon Rise & Set Times) to determine the time of day that the moon is actually out. I prefer to use the days that have the moonrise in the early morning and set in the early evening. Then I head out about 10-20 minutes after the sun sets. (To capture the Milky Way, it's been suggesting to try in the wee early morning, 2:30 am - 4:30 am).

Tip #2:  Gear
     I have tried numerous times with a point and shoot camera, and all times I have failed. I highly recommend a camera that has the option to set your ISO at a higher number  (1600-3200) and has the ability to change the shutter speed to 5-25 seconds, even BULB.
     I also recommend a wide angle lens (12-24mm).  I shoot with a 19mm 2.8 lens. Now, some people are going to tell you that you need an f-stop between 1.4-2.8. While that is helpful, I have shot the night sky with a kit lens at f/3.5.
     The last 2 things you are going to want to have handy are a tripod and wired/wireless shutter. If you do not have a wired/wireless shutter, that's ok. You can always set your timer. Anything to help reduce unnecessary movement from the camera. 

Tip #3: Exposure
     I found a website that is extremely helpful to determine the magic scenario for your camera. 
MilkyWay Exposure Calculator. This calculator takes everything into its calculation; Sensor Size, your camera's max ISO, the lowest focal length on your lens, etc.  

Tip #4: Post Production
     I was able to find a website offering free presets for Astrophotography. Film Speck One: 102 Free Lightroom Presets for Earthlings. These enhance your photos in very different ways. They're pretty awesome and they're free! Who doesn't like free?!
The photos on the right are SOOC, the left are a preset from the above set.

Tip #5
     H A V E  F U N! Don't worry about your photos not turning out. The worst case scenario is you went outside and saw an amazing sky! 

Here are a few more of my attempts :) 

Sometimes you even get a planet. The bright light in the sky is actually Jupiter!
Here is another planet, Mars, next to Oriens Belt


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