Astrophotography Tips & Tricks!

Photographing stars is definitely something you should try out if you can, it's fun and just plain cool. Really anything night photography related is super fun and I love it! I did a lot of astrophotography this past summer and thought I'd share some things I've learned.

Some of the things you will need:

A tripod! Your tripod is your new best friend, always have it if you're doing long exposure stuff. 

A flashlight! Flashlights are fantastic, they can help you light paint, find something you dropped (Lol...totally have never done that.), and in general super handy to have.

A remote shutter release! This one isn't a must but it definitely helps eliminate blur. 

Basic Guidelines:

Have your aperture as wide as it can go, say F/2.8 or whatever your lowest is.

Have your shutter speed really slow, try a couple seconds and if the photo is too dark go longer!

On your ISO try starting out at 3200 and go from there! Depending on your situation you may need to lower it or bump it up. Keep in mind that the higher you go on ISO the more noise/grain you'll have!

Don't be afraid to try out different settings even if you like what you're currently getting, who knows, you might like it better!

Long exposure is the coolest thing ever!

When you're taking photos at night you're using long exposure, which is where your lens stays open for longer periods of time and in turn it soaks up light from everywhere. In example: the photo below was taken at a shutter speed of 15 seconds (long exposure), the longer I leave the lens open the brighter the photo will be. You really just have to experiment with it, too long of an exposure and your stars will begin to blur and become little dashes! When that happens they call it Star Trails, I've seen some really amazing photos using that technique! I haven't tried it out yet, but I'm hoping to this year.

Light pollution.

Light pollution is huge. Depending on what you're going for you can do all sorts of things with or without it. Ideally you want a place with no light pollution, light pollution meaning light coming from towns, cities, yard lights, the moon, etc. I'm not saying you can't shoot near light pollution, because you can definitely manipulate it to your advantage. It all depends on what you want the end photo to look like.

Why avoid light pollution you ask? Well if you have a lot of light pollution you run the risk that it will wash out your stars. Because your lens is staying open for longer amounts of time it draws in a ton of light from all light sources, the longer it's open the brighter the light source gets, that means if the moon is out and you're on a long exposure more than likely the moon will be blown out and you won't have any stars. Try to shoot when the moon isn't full when doing astrophotography.

The photo below was taken facing a town, creating a glow on the horizon, it turned out great and the light pollution was faint enough that it didn't wash out the stars.

Patience is the name of the game.

Night photography is very time consuming, you have to have patience to get the shot you want. You might have to wait for the milky way to get to that particular spot you need it at, you might have to wait for it to get completely dark out, you'll be waiting on your lens to finish it's exposure, let's face it, you'll be waiting on a ton of things! But when you enjoy doing it, it's not bad at all. The time flies and before you know it, it's time to pack up and go home.

Experiment, experiment, experiment!

I can't stress this enough, experiment all the time! Try out a different ISO setting, try different aperture (the F/number), try different shutter speeds (long exposure), try light painting, try anything. Half the fun is playing with the light and trying out all the different possibilities!

That's all for now! 

Thank you so much for reading! I love night photography and hope you try it out!

-Penny 

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