Astrophotography opens a window to another world. The results are so powerful that they make us feel our insignificance. Professional astrophotographer Stan Moniz along with Chris Hau share camera settings, gear, and secret tricks to help you get started with photographing the stars:
Gear for Astrophotography
Moniz recommends that you have the following essential gear for astrophotography:
- head lamp for your safety
- a fast wide angle lens
The 500 Rule
Use the 500 rule to calculate the longest exposure you can take without introducing star trails into your images. The application is simple. Divide the number 500 by the focal length you’re using. For instance, if you use a 24mm lens, the longest exposure you can use is 500/24 = 20.833 seconds—or simply 20 seconds.
Camera Settings for Astrophotography
When photographing stars, be sure to have everything in manual mode, including focus mode.
To set your focus, turn the focus mode to manual, and focus manually on the brightest star. Once you’re happy with the sharpness, use tape on the focus ring to fix it there. This way you don’t have to worry about focusing for the entire night.
As the light is really low, Moniz suggests staying between ISO 800 and 6400.
If you shoot RAW (which you should), you can always change the white balance later. Otherwise, the cool look from incandescent white balance works great when shooting stars.
When pressing the shutter release button, there is a high chance of camera shake being introduced. To keep camera shake from ruining your shot, make sure to activate the two-second delay timer.
Post Processing Tips for Astrophotography
When it comes to processing his images in Lightroom, Moniz gets away with just using the Dehaze and Clarity tools.
Shooting in RAW gives you the flexibility to change the white balance and recover tons of shadow and highlight details if required.
Give these simple tips a try, and you’ll definitely start taking better night sky photos.
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