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A complete guide to astrophotography for beginners

American cartoonist Bill Waterson wrote a famous sentence for one of his fictional characters: "If people sat outside the house every night and looked at the stars. They did, I bet they lived very differently. "When you look at infinity, you realize that there are more important things than what people do during the day." If you have experience watching the clear sky and the starry night, you will surely understand the above sentence better. The first time you stare at the Milky Way, you will have an indescribable feeling. This beauty and grandeur has created a special style of photography called astrophotography and many people are interested in it. Capture this beauty in the picture? Everyday and daytime photography techniques are by no means used to photograph the night sky. Therefore, if you are also interested in astrophotography, in this article we will teach you the basics of astrophotography. By following these tips and techniques, you can take amazing photos of the starry sky.

What is astrophotography?

Astronomical photography has been discussed before. But you have to keep in mind that this style of photography is very different from other styles of photography. for example, street photography requires high speed of action, but astrophotography requires patient people; Waiting is one of the most important principles in astrophotography. Capturing star images may seem simple. But in reality, many of the famous and special astronomical photographs you see were programmed weeks, months, and even years ago.

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    There are different styles of night sky photography. Here are some of them:

    - Deep Space Photography: In this style, we try to photograph objects beyond the solar system using a telescope.

    - Solar System (Solar System): In this style, it is usually tried to photograph the shadows, faces and the sun using a telescope.

    - Wide view: Wide photos are taken using digital cameras

    - Time-lapse: Occasional or time-lapse shooting It is an imaging that uses that time to pass faster. In this style, by combining several wide images at different times, videos are made that, for example, depict the rotation of the stars during the night to the morning.

    Each of these sections has its own expertise and requirements. . In this article, we will focus only on wide-angle photography using digital cameras. Among the mentioned styles, this type of photography can be considered the simplest and most accessible style of astrophotography.

    Get ready for photography

    We always recommend that you plan everything before shooting do. This is especially true of astrophotography. Identify the location in advance. Knowing the location, you will find out what other equipment and supplies you need. It is absolutely necessary to anticipate and have the necessary equipment for night photography. Because you have to choose dark places outside the city. Therefore, you will no longer be able to access forgotten devices.

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    Find the right place

    Finding the right place will be one of your most difficult tasks. for this style of photography, you need a place that is completely free from light pollution, which covers only 20% of the Earth's space! The further away from urban centers you are, the better your choice will be. In fact, the darker the environment, the better photo you can take. If you pass through the desert parts of Iran at night, you will notice that the sky in these areas is starry.

    Fortunately, there are online sites that publish light pollution maps. Using these sites, you can choose the right spot for photography. for example, Light Pollution Map and Dark Site Finder can help you with this. We recommend that you visit these areas during daylight hours and thoroughly inspect them. If all goes well, come here for photography in the dark of night.

    Finding the right time

    Remember our talk about the need to be patient in astrophotography? One of these materials involves waiting to find the right time for photography. You may be very excited about photography, but the weather will have an irreversible effect on your night photography experience. Even if you find the best place, you can not shoot in the cloud. These are even more important when it comes to scheduling astrophotography:

    • Climate: The most important thing is that the sky is not cloudy. On the other hand, pay attention to the air temperature. To take this photo you will probably need to stay outdoors all night. So be careful not to get too cold.
    • Moon Status: On days when the moon is full in the sky, it can act as a large light bulb to prevent some faint stars from being seen. Therefore, it is better to choose days for photography when the moon is not in the sky. The first days of the lunar month can be a good choice.
    • Season: Finding the best time to photograph the night sky depends largely on the season. Here we mean the clock. Depending on the geographical location and the different seasons, this time may be after sunset or a few hours before sunrise. This option may not be important for beginner photographers, but professionals should consider it.
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    Use the right tools

    for your astrophotography you need a camera, lens and tripod You will have. But that is not the whole story. When choosing any of these devices, there are a few things to keep in mind:

    • Since we intend to shoot in low-light environments, your camera must be able to capture images in low-light environments. Be. We recommend using a camera with a full-frame sensor. But since these cameras are more expensive, you can also use crop-sensor cameras. Note, however, that this camera must be able to shoot at high ISO values without compromising image quality.
    • Since we are going to take wide and wide shots, wide lenses are naturally needed. will have. Of course, what we know as a wide-angle lens will depend on the type of camera. If you use a full-frame camera, a 35mm (or smaller) lens may be appropriate. If you use a lens crop camera, your lens should be a maximum of 24mm. Mirrorless cameras, on the other hand, require 16mm and even smaller lenses. for astrophotography, on the other hand, the lens must be able to receive and store as much light as possible. Therefore, the aperture diameter of your lens should be at least F/2.8. However, with an aperture of F/4, even acceptable results can be recorded.
    • The last discussion is about the tripod. It may seem that the tripod is nothing special and has nothing special. But since you shoot at long exposures (very slow shutter speeds), your camera should not move at all for several minutes. Any small shake can damage your photo. Keep in mind that outdoors, you may also be struggling with factors such as wind or rough terrain.

    In addition, You may need some other equipment as well. The stillness of the camera is so important for astrophotography that some people recommend using a remote control or timer for photography, as touching the shutter button may cause the camera to vibrate. We also recommend that you have a flashlight with you so that the darkness of the environment does not harm you. Have taken. The composition of your photo depends largely on your search for your photography environment, weather and season. The location and angle of sunrise and sunset and the moon, the position of the Milky Way galaxy, the location of some stars and constellations, are all things to consider before shooting. Nowadays, this is much easier thanks to apps like Star Walk, and you can easily track different stars in the sky.

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    Photo Framing

    Photo framing is very difficult. In fact, it's even harder than you might think. When you visit an area during daylight hours, you may have some ideas for framing. But when daylight gives way to darkness, everything changes! Choosing the right and creative staffing will be very difficult. Of course, if all your frames are dedicated to the sky, your work might not be so hard. But professional photographers frame the sky and nature together. In other words, they place the intersection of the sky and the earth in their frame.

    Finding the best point and balance will be very important as a result of the work. So make sure you spend enough time doing this. Our recommendation is to allocate more of the frame to the sky and a small percentage to the mountains and trees or any other scenery.

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    Focus Adjustment

    High focus does not need to be warned, and all photographers know what it takes. But since your camera is not able to autofocus well in the dark of night, it is best to use these two methods for manual focus and photography:

    • Focus on manual mode and its value Put it in infinity. Before starting night photography, test this during daylight and make sure the farthest objects are perfectly clear in the photo.
    • Use autofocus before dark Focus on an object in outer space, then lock it in the same position and change it to manual. If your lens does not have the option to lock the focus, you can use an adhesive to make sure the lens ring does not rotate.
    • After you have done each of the above methods. Take a test photo. Zoom in on the captured image as much as you can. Make sure the farthest objects are well and clearly in the picture. At this point we are actually going to test the focus of our camera.

    Finding the right exposure

    When it's finally time for astrophotography, your biggest challenge is to record This photo begins: Find the right exposure! Since there is not enough light in the environment, the camera's automatic settings cannot be used for exposure. In addition, we want all of our photos to have the same and consistent function, so it 's best to make the settings ourselves.

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    The amount of exposure is determined by two main factors: aperture and shutter speed. But before we get into these two issues in more detail, be sure to consider two other very important points.

    Shoot in RAW format. Use RAW format Makes all information remain in the recorded image file and no information is deleted. JPEG images are smaller, but much of the image information is deleted when converted to this format. Therefore, the use of RAW format gives the photographer and the editor much better opportunities to edit images.

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    Do not overdo the ISO value. Take this advice seriously. You might think that raising the ISO value makes the photo brighter and there is nothing wrong with that. However, over-adjusting the ISO creates noise in your photos, and this problem can not be properly corrected with photo editing software. The choice of ISO value will largely depend on the quality of your camera. Today's newer cameras also capture good photos with high ISO values.

    Don't worry too much about White Balance . Since we shoot in RAW format, you can easily adjust the white balance (or white balance) later. If you are planning to shoot in JPEG format, we recommend that you choose between 3200k and 4800k depending on the lighting conditions in the area.="https://bingmag.com/picsbody/2201/32/15933-5.jpg" alt="BingMag.com A complete guide to astrophotography for beginners" loading="lazy">

    The earth is moving at a speed of about 1600 km per hour. Therefore, you should not think that the shutter speed can be slowed down too much for the camera to collect light for a long time. If long exposure modes are used, the stars fade and stretch. In fact, there are several limitations to setting the shutter speed. The longest exposure time you can choose depends on the type of camera and its focal length. We recommend using Rule 500. According to this rule, divide the focal length of your camera by 500. for example, if you use an 11mm lens, 500 divided by 11=45. Therefore, set the shutter speed to 45 seconds. The wider your lens is; Exposure time can be longer.

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    If you use crop sensor cameras, the result is Divide by the crop factor of your camera. This figure is usually 1.5.


    The aperture is very easy to adjust. Use the largest aperture size of your lens! But as mentioned earlier, your lens aperture should be f/2.8 or less. However, using an F/4 aperture can also have acceptable results to get you started.

    Image Processing

    Everything that has been said so far has been about the photo capture process . After shooting, it's time to process the images. Image processing is a very complex topic and requires a separate article. But keep in mind that when editing images with software such as Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop, be careful not to over-edit the images to make them look artificial. Try to keep everything as natural as possible. In short, to edit photos, pay attention to the following: Adjust the white balance, adjust the exposure of the photo if necessary, increase the contrast of the photo a little, reduce the Noise value of the photo and be careful in all these steps. Do not make the sky too black and unnatural.

Source: Wix

Tags: complete, guide, astrophotography, beginners

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