When I saw this week’s theme, I immediately knew what I wanted to shoot. The Night Sky. In fact astrophotography is one of the 52 challenges I have set out to accomplish this year. So on reading this week’s theme I was thrilled that I would be able to finally have the motivation needed to check that off my list.
I had read up on the basic steps and preparations that are required for the camera settings to capture a starry sky. Since we need to capture the stars, the focus needs to be set manually to infinity. Also since these stars are several hundred to thousand light years away it is critical to capture as much of their light as possible when photographing them. Hence the aperture needs to be as large as possible with an acceptable level of high ISO. I say acceptable because in some cameras a very high ISO leads to noise which is highly undesirable.
Finally since we need to let in as much light as possible for however long as possible, it is essential that the shutter be left open for long exposures. Now the duration of the long exposure isn’t a random guess. In fact there is a little bit of math involved. The shutter speed depends on the focal length of the lens you plan on using. To be precise,
(Shutter Speed) = 600/(Focal Length)
This is done to avoid the inevitable star trails that emerge due to the rotation and revolution of the earth and the relative change in position of the stars when observed from the same spot. And of course the most important of all, always shoot in RAW. JPEGS are a strict no-no!
Apart from the camera settings, the other basic requirements are a tripod and a spot that has minimal ambient light. I was able to find one spot in the neighbourhood that relatively low levels of ambient light. And instead of a regular tripod, I took my gorilla pod with me which provided to be a wise decision since I ended up fastening the camera on a railing with the flexible pod to shoot the sky.
I took a series of images with the setup I had studied. Importing them to Adobe Lightroom and playing around with the curves and lines and mid tones I was able to get a few decent looking shots of the sky and picked this one as the submission for this week’s theme.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to replicate the ‘wow’ factor I had seen in so many astrophotography pictures I had seen online. Hopefully that will change with future photography sessions.
The one rookie mistake I made was to not avoid the cloudy portion of the sky. Ideally for astrophotography, the skies should be clear so that you are only dealing with the stars and no other objects in the frame during post processing. Ah well, better luck next time. Also the spot I chose did have some ambient light that got picked up in the frames and caused me to either discard certain shots or crop them in unwanted proportions.
Well this IS my maiden attempt at astrophotography. So personally I think it’s not too bad. But I hope to learn and perfect my technique and approach in the coming months.
Till next time, Ciao!