Astrophotography Tutorial

One of my favorite things to do is take pictures of the stars, otherwise known as Astrophotography. It’s been something I’ve been working on for about a year now. There’s a certain way to go about capturing these shots. This post will take you through my process from setting up to the final edits.

The equipment I use is my DSLR camera, either a 35-55mm lens with a wide angle attachment or a 50mm lens, and a tripod. Having a tripod is imperative to capturing a shot in low-light situation. Any movement of the camera will ruin the shot.

Once I get everything set up, depending on the lens, I’ll adjust the settings on my camera. In the image to the left, I was using a 50mm lens. With whatever lens you use, the lower aperture setting the better. Some lenses have a wider aperture than others. My 35-55mm lens only opens to an F3.5.

When you set your aperture, that will help you determine what shutter speed you need to use. The wider your aperture, the slower the shutter speed can be. Since this lens allows me to have a wider aperture, I can have a slower shutter speed. However, when I use the bigger lens, I have to have a slower shutter speed. With the 35.55mm lens I usually have the shutter speed set at 30 seconds. But, with the 50mm lens, I can set it at 5 seconds and still have a decent looking shot.

After I’ve determined the shutter speed, I can set the ISO. This is just how sensitive the light sensor in the camera is to light. The higher the number, the more sensitive the sensor is. When shooting in low-light situations, you generally use a higher ISO. However, the higher the ISO setting, the more you run the risk of having a “noisy” image. This is just the amount of grain you see in a photo. Depending on the lens I’m using, I usually will have it set at a number between 800 and 1600. The faster the shutter speed and the wider the aperture, the lower the ISO can be.

Once my settings are set to capture the scene I want, I can shoot. The first few shots I usually take to determine if I need to change the scene I’m capturing, or the settings on my camera. It’s best to turn off the auto-focus setting on your lens as most lenses can’t auto-focus in low-light situations. I usually set my lens to focus at infinity or I’ll go somewhere with more light to focus my camera before I leave. Trying to get the lens to focus while you’re shooting at night is very time consuming and tedious, so it’s better to get that set before hand.

After I shoot a number of pictures, I’ll call it quits and head back to edit. In the video below, I show my editing process from start to finish.

 

When it comes to photography, the best thing you can do is just play around and see what you like. The very first shots you take and edit won’t be the best. It takes some time to learn how your camera works and what you, personally, want to see in an image. Once you’re familiar with your camera and know what you want to shoot, the possibilities are endless!

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