Today we’re going to be talking about the art of astrophotography. If you thought getting that perfect shot was difficult enough during the day, it gets ten times harder at night!
It’s likely that many of you won’t be experts in this field - indeed, some of you won’t even heard of it. That too is completely ok - by reading this short guide we’ll prepare you with some practical tips and tricks to help you master this form of photography. Enjoy!
So what is astrophotography?
Astrophotography, put simply, is photography of astronomical objects such as stars, galaxies and the moon using both telescopes and “normal cameras”.
Dr J W Draper, was the first person to take a detailed daguerreotype of the full moon in 1840 (see below).
What do I need to know to try it?
Astrophotography poses unique challenges to both beginner and experienced photographers - yet it can still be achieved by using any type of camera.
The three main things you need to excel in this area are the correct amounts of exposure, shutter speed and ISO. High ISO image capture is vital, but it may require some “fine-tuning” to get the right amount as too much can lead to unwanted “noise” in the imagery. Similarly astrophotography requires a slower shutter speed to ensure there’s enough light on your camera’s sensor.
A telescope can be your best friend when it comes to astrophotography - it functions as a “light collector” - the light particles captured by the telescope are condensed and focused into the telescope’s viewer using lenses which, in turn, produce better light sensitivity and quality photos.
There is nothing more frustrating than viewing a beautiful scene or object and not being able to really recreate the beauty of what you have seen on your camera. However when done properly, astrophotography can help you to produce much better and more detailed imagery than we can even see by using our eyes to view the night sky. For example, there are things the human eye can’t see, such as dull stars and galaxies, that can be picked up by cameras through astrophotography.
How should I plan for it?
There’s certain things you should take into account when it comes to planning for astrophotography. One of these is location - try doing a quick Google search of your area to find out where the best spots are. If in doubt, go exploring during the day as by night this will be almost impossible.
Take into account where the stars are to really give your photos the best chance of success - the app Star Walk will tell you the position of the milky way and stars at any time, perfect if you’re searching for a beautiful shot of the milky way. Similarly, there’s an app called Photopills which does the same for the moon. Technology’s great, hey!
Astrophotography, as with any kind of photography, takes a lot of patience. Don’t be disheartened if your first set of photos look like distant, blurry messes rather than the clear galactic view you had in mind - practice makes perfect after all! Good luck and be sure to show us your astrophotography shots in due course.