Ever since I was a child, I was fascinated by the night sky. But it was not until 2011, Tom Lowe’s movie ‘timescapes’ blew my mind. That's when I realized that it is possible to capture the beautiful night sky illuminated with thousands of stars using a DSLR. This is where it all started for me. Timescapes is probably the best timelapse film ever made and is a must watch for anybody with a slight interest in astrophotography.
It’s now 2019, eight years later I have made several trips across the globe shooting the night sky and its time to write about it.
Lets start with the basics.
A dslr/ mirrorless camera that can shoot in manual mode.
A fast lens with minimum f2.8 aperture, if possible a wide angle lens.
A sturdy tripod.
Head torch( not necessary but will make the shooting experience much better)
Choose a location far away from all the light pollution from the cities, a high elevation is a good idea as there will be less moisture which will make the skies looks much clearer.
Time of the year
In the northern hemisphere, the core of the milky way is visible between April and October.
So ideally you should choose a clear sky night and shoot on a new moon day or closer to new moon day to get the sky as dark as possible to avoid any light pollution from the moon. Even though moon may seem like a small object in the night sky, it is actually quite bright and makes the stars less visible.
Put the camera on manual mode or m mode,
Aperture or f stop 2.8 or higher like 2 or 1.4,
Shutter speed from 10 sec to 30 seconds,
and put the camera on 2 or 10 sec timer.
dont use the autofous on ur lens, use manual focusing and if you have a lens with focus markings align the focus ring to the infinity mark on your lens.
White balance / I usually find 3800 kelvin to be accurate, but since you are shooting in raw it doesnt matter. Saying that always shoot in raw format for maximum flexibility when editing.
As any photograph compostion is key, ideally find a subject to give a scale like a rock, a tree or even a house or a car, or find a foreground element to give the night sky a little bit of depth.
What I like to do is add another light source in the photo like a campfire, a lit tent, a selfie with a torch on, you can get creative with this, after all photography is all about experimenting.
If you are planning to do some astrophotography during winter in the northern hemisphere, you wont be able to see the galactic core of the milky way.
You can still get interesting photos especially if you happened to be near the artic circle , the aurora boreals are truly one of my favourite natural wonders to photograph. But will talk about it in a different blog.
So there you have it, everything you need for a prefect start to astrophotography.
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