I Failed At Astrophotography, So I Decided To Learn More About It
If you’re a night owl like me, you might enjoy looking at the stars. But if you’re also an avid photographer, you might be interested in learning more about astrophotography.
Astrophotography is a niche form of photography that requires unique equipment and preparation — allowing you to spend time outdoors taking beautiful photographs of our stars and galaxy!
However, I found out quite early how difficult this area of photography could be. During my first attempt to learn this incredible skill, I failed to understand what I needed to create this stunning imagery. Why was exposure important? And what the heck did my lens have to do with anything?
I decided it was time to revisit my failure and find out what I would need to succeed in this type of photography.
Here’s a quick rundown of what I learned:
A Camera With Long Exposure Capabilities
When shooting astrophotography, exposure length is one of the most important factors to consider. The sensor needs to handle light for longer than a few seconds, which some consumer cameras are not equipped for. Preferably, you need a camera that can handle up to 30 seconds of exposure — maybe even up to 60 seconds or more.
Hmm. No wonder my first photo came out looking like this:
Another thing that is essential to astrophotography is a tripod. Due to the duration of those long exposures, it is necessary to have a device that can remain still. Make sure to use something robust and reliable.
A Cable Release To Trigger The Shutter
If you want your astrophotography to truly succeed, consider getting a cable release. A cable release allows you to take a photo without touching the camera and can help produce longer exposures and more advanced astrophotography. Personally, when I take photos, I use a remote app on my phone. This enables me to stand far away from my device and prevents me from ruining my composition by bumping the camera or clicking the shutter.
(I do this more often than I’d like to)
Many apps can be found online to help you avoid blurry, grainy photos. Venture out and see what’s available on the market!
Wide-Angle Lens Optimized For Night Photography
A wide-angle lens is ideal for astrophotography. It allows you to capture a large field of view, which is useful when trying to capture many stars in a single photograph. A wider angle also makes it easier to zoom out and show the entire night sky in your image, rather than just one star or constellation by itself.
A few lenses that work well for astrophotography are:
- The Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Wide Angle Lens ($350)
- Rokinon FE14M-C 14mm F2.8 Ultra Wide Lens for Canon (Black) ($273)
- 1. Samyang XP 14mm f/2.4 ($250)
(I found these options online, but of course, there are a variety of great lenses to choose from.)
A Good Backpack
A good backpack is essential for astrophotographers seeking to explore different locations while learning their niche. A photography backpack will hold all your gear securely and make sure nothing rattles or breaks while you’re hiking up a mountain or setting up on a beach.
If your bag doesn’t have any padding or compartments built-in, there are ways you can protect your equipment from bumps and scrapes:
- Use bubble wrap or foam padding between each piece of gear (this is useful for preventing scratches)
- Wrap each lens individually in bubble wrap before placing it into its own compartment ( this can prevent damage from impact)
- Use trash bags (yes, trash bags) to keep your most important investment secure and safe.
Take Your Photography Further
Astrophotography is an exciting way to take your photography further! By photographing the night sky, you can capture captivating images while experimenting with f/stops, shutter speeds, and ISO settings and find what works best.
Something I wish I told myself is: Don’t worry about getting everything perfect right away; having fun and finding your secret sauce is also a part of being an amateur photographer!
I hope that this post has brought a little excitement to your day, as well as some knowledge about the world above us.
If you liked to read more photography topics by me, check this post out below!
Until next time!