Tag: Astrophotography

How To Photograph Comet Neowise

Stargazers take note: A comet from the outer reaches of the Solar System, nicknamed Neowise, is providing a spectacular show. It’s definitely a special heavenly spectacle, because it passes by Earth so closely, it’s visible to the naked eye. Neowise (aka C/2020 F3 NEOWISE) won’t be back for another 6,800 years. It will reach its closest point to Earth on 23 July, at a distance of just over 100 million km. The comet can be spotted across the northern hemisphere, approximately one hour after sunset and before sunrise.
Neowise is visible when the sky is dark enough to show it’s bright tail and makes for a special treat for astrophotographers.
So, here are a few basic tips for photographing the comet successfully.

Photo by Bin Zhang

Planning

First of all, you have to ask yourself when and where to set up the shooting location.
Your chances of spotting it are better, the closer the comet is to earth – which is the case between 15 – 25 July. You can easily track where the comet is for your location by using star-tracking and night sky apps. The chance of seeing it in the early evening improves – so long as the weather co-operates and the sky is nice and clear. That’s why checking the weather before heading out is crucial to a good photograph of the comet.
After checking the right timing, and where to see Neowise, pick an elevated spot, away from light sources. The further away from city lights the better.

Photo by Eugen Kamenew

Equipment

As essential as the camera itself, is a tripod sturdy enough to take the weight of your gear and hold it still for up to 30 seconds. 

Beyond that, you really just need a lens with a focal length of at least 100mm, though obviously the longer your lens, the more the movement of night sky objects will be magnified and the better your shot will be. Because you will be shooting in the dark (obviously!), you should shoot with a fast lens. 

Photo by Eugen Kamenew | X-T1 | XF10-24mmF4 R OIS | F4 | 30.00 sec. | ISO 6400

Settings

For focusing at night, you will want to switch your camera over to manual focus. Manually adjust the focus ring until you have a sharp pinpoint of light. In manual mode, we’ll need three things: a wide aperture; long shutter speed; and high ISO. This maximises brightness when shooting in the dark. Set your aperture to maximum because you want to let in as much light as possible.
Then, you need to use a suitable exposure time to ensure you get a sharp picture of Neowise. If you’re not sure how long to expose for, check the ‘500 Rule’ which suggests you take 500 and divide it by the focal length (in full frame terms) of your lens to give you the longest exposure you can use before stars begin to trail.
Because we are limited to relatively short exposure times, we need to bump up the ISO considerably. Expect to shoot at ISO 1,000 or more depending on how dark the sky is and the maximum aperture value of your lens.
Images of the night sky need to be edited slightly differently from daytime images, so make sure you shoot RAW so you can pull out more detail and colour in your final image.

Now, you may also want to use an external shutter release remote, turn on exposure delay mode, or use a self-timer mode to avoid camera vibration during the exposure.

Astrophotography takes patience and technical skill, but the results are worth the effort. We hope this article helps you to capture Neowise, this rare and incredible spectacle in the coming days.
So for now, we wish you clear skies!

11 Ways to Shoot Stunning Astrophotography

If you want a new challenge in your photography, take shots that are out of this world. Astrophotography, the art of recording objects beyond Earth, seems much like other time-lapse photography styles, but its dark skies and distant, moving lights present unique challenges to push you creatively.

Take stunning astrophotography shots by getting your physical setup and camera settings right for this genre.

 

Before you shoot, know your stars.

 

Study what you are capturing. By learning about star constellations, you can decide which stars you want to include and where in your composition you want them displayed.

Stake your spot to study the sky.

 

Determine where you want to shoot your astrophotography images. Get away from big cities and their light pollution. Go toward less-settled regions and their visible skies.

Photo by Bryan Minear

 

Fine-tune your whitest whites.

 

Astrophotography relies on stars’ luminosity, so make sure their whiteness is stark. Adjust your white balance, either through one of your camera’s preset or by manual alteration.

 

Increase your ISO.

 

Your camera’s ISO setting determines the light sensitivity of your camera’s image sensor, and astrophotography requires high sensitivity. Expect to shoot at ISO 400 or more.

Rely on manual settings.

 

Your camera’s autofocus mode is unlikely to stay locked onto a moving star. Use manual focus and if your camera enables focus peaking ensure it is turned on.

Photo by Photo Rangers

Stay steady for an unwavering shot.

 

Everything you know about camera sturdiness applies to astrophotography. Set up your most trusted tripod and, if you have one, use your remote shutter release. If you don’t have a remote turn on your camera’s self timer for two or ten seconds.

 

Place your focus on a single star.

 

With your manual settings, select a star or moon to test and improve your focus. For larger stars or the moon, locate their very edge and make sure it is optimally clear.

 

Embrace star trails.

 

As you shoot from the rotating Earth, your long-exposure photos show the path of stars in the sky. To highlight star trails, choose a wide-angle lens, which keeps a broader range of the paths in your focal region.

 

Or, alternately, eliminate star trails.

 

If you want to focus on the sky’s stillness, you can reduce star trails, though you may want to stash a calculator in your camera bag. Astro photographers follow the Rule of 600, or the Rule of 500, depending on whom you ask, to determine their maximum exposure before star trail becomes visible. Divide the rule’s number by the focal length of your lens. If you have a 28mm lens, divide 500 by 28 to get 17.85. This means you can shoot at an exposure of 17 or 18 seconds before star trail appears.

 

Do not forsake the foreground.

 

Astrophotography shots can still have earthly elements. Frame your shots with trees or hilltops to give your composition added dimension.

 

Utilise editing software for finishing touches.

 

Astrophotography benefits greatly from post-production edits. Alter your contrast, exposure and white balance until the sky tells the story you want.

 

Consider yourself an astrophotography expert, or at least more than a novice. Minding these principles of camera settings and general composition, you are ready to stun with your space shots.

Photo by Josselin Cornou

 

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