Thanks to science, social networks, and digital media, it feels like there is a new miracle/spectacle in the night sky every day. Just as east we humans try to photograph and document them. I’ll show you how you too can take brilliant pictures of the sky tent and the celestial body to be seen there.
Photographing stars made easy
The right equipment
Before you start, you should first think about what exactly you want to photograph. Do you want to photograph a large celestial body, like the moon? Then you should pack a telephoto lens. This brings distant motifs closer.
For example, I photographed my blood moon with a 300mm lens.
Do you want to photograph the night sky as a “whole”? Then you should use a wide-angle lens. As a result, much more environment is included in the photo.
For the picture with the zodiac sign, I used my kit lens.
In addition, a tripod and a remote shutter release are indispensable! A flashlight is also important, as you are out and about in the dark at night.
The weather & the right place
You can only photograph stars and other celestial bodies in clear view. You should therefore observe the weather throughout the day. The best are rain radar videos. These show you when and where clouds can rise. Also, keep in mind that it likes to cool down at night. Dress warm enough. You have to wait a long time in one of the same places for the perfect picture.
A clear view also includes the right point of view. You need a clear view of the sky and as little ambient light as possible. A city with its lights is absolutely unsuitable for images of the night sky. Unfortunately, the light of the city can usually still be seen for miles. It is best to scout your shooting location exactly and take a few test shots before it goes to the right subject.
The ultimate help in finding a motif
I don’t know how well you know astrology and constellations, but I only recognize the “big car.” Thank God there are apps for all sorts of things. To see constellations and zodiac signs like for the people with the Gemini Midheaven, I downloaded the app “SkyView Free”. If you hold it in the direction of the sky, it will show you zodiac signs, space stations, and individual celestial bodies. In addition, there is a search function with which you can search for zodiac signs. The app uses a pointer to guide you to the corresponding zodiac sign.
Of course, you can also simply photograph “the whole” Milky Way.
The right camera settings
If you have the right place, caught in good weather, and equipped your camera with a tripod and remote shutter release, you can go. If you have an SLR camera, the first problem now occurs. You will only see black if there is no light source. You have no clues to focus.
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Step number 1 – Swap the autofocus for the manual focus
Now you align your camera and set the focus to “infinite”. On some lenses, an infinity symbol is noted. For all other lenses, you may want to check the manual.
Step number 2 – Moon & Other Celestial Bodies
As you surely know, our earth rotates. This movement is not visible to our eyes. The closer you get to your subject with your lens, the faster your subject can draw light strips. This means that your exposure time must be long enough for you to see the moon in the image, but it won’t shake.
I would suggest you an aperture 8 and start with 1 second exposure time. It’s best to take a test shot and see if the moon is sharp. After that, you can extend your exposure time again and again until you reach the “blur limit”. Once you have reached this limit, you can make the moon brighter or darker via ISO. Basically, I would start with ISO 400.
Step number 3 – Zodiac sign and night sky
If you don’t want to get your subject close, you are a bit freer about the exposure time. Again, I would work with an aperture 8 and start with ISO 400. As an exposure time, you can try 30 seconds. After a test shot, it is then time to adjust the exposure time or ISO again.
Step number 4 – Make some edits
After the first test shots, it may be that your images are not yet sharp enough in terms of focus or are even blurred. Then it’s time to readjust with feeling. I also had to readjust again and again. But the great thing is: once you have found the right setting, you can carefully move the camera to a new place and continue taking pictures with it. You just can’t go against the lens.