Astrophotography Guide For Beginners

Starting astrophotography

Starting astrophotography doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, many novice photographers may find it easier than previously thought. So, shooting that photo of the Milky Way isn’t so tricky. Before you go out and start snapping pictures of the stars, let’s learn some basics.

Did you know? The photography of areas of the night sky and celestial events is astrophotography. This kind of photography has been around for a while now. The first capture of an astronomical object, in this case, was the moon. This first happened in 1840. Until the introduction of modern technology in the 19th century, it was the best type. Technology brought a paradigm shift in the field of astrophotography. Astrophotography can not only image objects extended like the moon, sun, and planets. But also has rare ability to take images of objects that are not visible to the human eye. This is because of their dimness. In astrophotography, nebulae, stars, and galaxies have a long exposure time. Digital cameras and films can gather photons over these long exposure periods.

How do you take photos of the stars?

You want to avoid disappointments that may come with astrophotography. There are some fundamentals of astrophotography that you will need to follow. Once you get the basics, you can later advance to more complicated images. For now, let’s follow some steps towards getting our desired photo of the stars.

Equipment for starting astrophotography

The following are some of the equipment you will need:

Camera

Of course, your budget will determine the type of camera you will use. If you want to buy one, then you can consider any DSLR. It will do such an incredible job. The DSLR type often holds its value well. There is no significant difference in the specifications of the DSLR. So consider taking the cheaper one. You can upgrade later. Consider checking out our Best entry DSLR list.

Lenses

As you may know or have heard, a camera is not any better without lenses. You need excellent lenses to do an incredible job. By enabling you to increase your camera’s focal length, which is something significant in astrophotography. A basic kit lens in 18 to 55 can do the job. The rule of thumb is that you start with the widest lens. This is where you want to begin.

Telescope

You may need it later, but it is wise for you to know something about it. Not all telescopes are useful for astrophotography. There are specific ones for astrophotography. For a beginner, you can search out for Dobsonians. It is good as a starter before you become a pro.

Mount

You will need a mount to use a telescope on. The mount might be the most expensive item you will buy. The similar type is often the best. The others like the Alt/az will cause your pictures to undergo rotations of the field. To cut down your expenses, you can consider building a mount for your project. You can check up on Google or YouTube for straightforward guides on similar ones.

Tripod

Additions in the list apart from the camera are important but not necessary to begin. A camera is enough for you set out for astrophotography. You can consider purchasing a second-hand tripod to reduce your expenses. You will need a tripod to cut the shake during long exposures. These can cause blur. You should need a tripod and a cable release for shooting the photos.

Remote time shutter

You will need this to help you to operate the shutter of your camera without touching it at all. Vibrations may result from your hand taking the photo. You risk getting a blurry image. To use it, use the timer mode in the Camera settings. Set it at 5 seconds. It doesn’t cause any shakes.

Camera settings for astrophotography

To nail a beautiful shot, you want to use the widest aperture. And when you’re setting your shutter speed, set it anywhere between 15 and 25 seconds. This is depending on where you’re shooting.

Don’t go past 25 seconds. Anything longer than that, the earth is turning and the stars start to blur.

For the ISO, set it anywhere between 3,200 and 6,400. This will also depend on the lens you are using. When using an f/4, it may not be high as if you are using f/5.6. You may need to bump that ISO up higher. Remember, the wider the f stop, the easier it is going to be to get photos of the stars. Trying to zoom in with your lens is going to be much harder.

Selecting a location

Go to https://www.lightpollutionmap.info to see light pollution. You’ll want to be far from light pollution.

Your location will influence the quality of your photo. There are some factors you need to consider as you scout for the best site to take a picture of the stars. You should not be in the city because you’re gonna have too much light pollution. And you won’t be able to see the stars. Go to a dark place outside, anywhere where you can see a ton of stars. Look up, and set your camera up.

Consider the place from where you will take the photo of the stars. Ensure it will support the setting up of your various equipment. You also need a place where you can have a clear view of the sky.

Permits

Check if they are any permits needed to use the area. If there are any permits involved, get them.

Be sure to be away from distractors. For example, light pollution is a big distraction.

Consider if there are any distractors around. Of course, you do not want to a distraction as you take the photo so consider without distractors.

Safety

You do not want to choose a place where someone will come and steal your equipment. So consider how secure is the location. If it is, then it is worth your consideration.

Accessibility

Now we are speaking of you taking a photo in the night. You do not look forward to travel far distance to get to the location. So choose a site that is accessible to you minus big hassles in cost or distance.

Availability

Ensure the location is available at the time you want to use it. You do not want a situation where a site is not available, and you have to scout for an alternative.

If all the above factors are in place, then you can consider the location.

Editing your photos

It takes more work to get an incredible photograph. That is the editing of the images. You will need first to have your pictures stacked. Stacking is the process of combining all your photos into one. When in the field ensure you take as many images as possible and after that stack them. There is software that can help you in image stacking. Some of this is Starry landscape stacker and Sequator. You can use Adobe Photoshop in the final editing stages.

Then you will need to go through the following process

– Using the software, you will need to deal with the issue of light pollution in the images.

– Stack your images using especially the Starry Landscape Stacker. It will enable one to get a picture that’s void of light pollution.

-Do final touches by importing the image to Photoshop and or Lightroom. Here, set your target to deal with any issue that was not corrected in process one and two. The resulting image will have better color, less noise, and more details.

Conclusion

Now you are good to go and take a photograph of the stars. Consider the discussed points and you will not only do a good shot but also get an incredible picture. Happy stargazing!