NIGHT ASTRO/STAR/star-trail photography – whatever you want to call
it – is a genre which has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years
(partly connected with the increase in sensitivity of reasonably-priced camera sensors over the same period).
The irony is that it’s also one of the easiest forms of photography, and it yields some of the most impressive results if you get it right.
Given the chance for some downtime while travelling around the New Zealand wilderness in our “Jucy Casa” campervan, ลาวสามัคคี วีไอพี
I reflected on the sheer volume of exactly the same questions which were asked by the people around us while shooting at Lake Tekapo.
So, with that in mind, here’s “Paul’s Guide to Star Photography” – in bite-sized chunks that are as easy to digest as a Jimmy’s Pie!
The image below is a single frame from the camera, with no “photoshop tricks” or playing about,
and here’s the funny thing – with the right tools, it was also really easy to capture. So, let’s get started.
From the above, you’ll see that some “point-and-shoot” cameras simply won’t cut it for this sort of photography.
Also, don’t fall into the trap of thinking the more expensive equipment is better.
For example, this isn’t a shot that my Phase One camera can actually take, so I switched back to my full-frame Canon with L lens instead.
Some of the most popular lenses for this type of photography are also some of the cheapest; Samyang manufactures one of those,
where the preferred lens for many astro-photographers is actually around 1/3 of the price of Canon’s L series equivalent, and arguably better suited!
We’ll go into more detail about the above shortly, but I’m also going to add three “tools” to your phone as necessities for night (or sunrise/sunset!) shooting.
“TPE”, a good weather app (not Apple’s!) and “SkyGuide”. Of course,
there are loads of others out there which do similar things, but I’ve found these are the best for what I need.
Together, they can give you information on exactly where the Milky Way is located at what time, and also when the moon is going to make an appearance.
When you’re heading into the middle of the night to capture a lone church, a good weather forecast
and GPS along with these tools can be the difference between a successful mission and failure.
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