It's the new moon today and I'm always excited to photograph our beautiful skies, until I remember that I reside in Los Angeles, and this requires a short field trip. For those of you who are venturing out in the first few days of the new moon, here are 7 great tips to ease your process and get you a better astro photograph.
- GET A TRIPOD. You WILL fail without one, don't care how still you can stand while holding your breath. You will fail without a tripod.
- One trick to getting a great image is to focus on an object in the foreground. This could be a tree, fence, rock, or anything you wish to include in the picture. If you do a time-lapse, you'll need to keep the focus on the foreground the entire time otherwise your final time-lapse will go in/out of focus.
- For the actual stars, your exposure should be between :15-:30 ... And ideally you should stay under 3200 ISO. The newer cameras can handle grain better, but this is a general rule and not everyone buys the newest gear upon release.
- How do you make sure the object in the foreground is super sharp? Use the flashlight of your smart phone. If someone's with you, have them hold it until autofocus finds focus. If they're not there, put your phone on the ground and have the light project onto your subject in the foreground. Then walk back to the camera to find focus, walk back to retrieve your phone and walk back to the camera to press the shutter. In other words, take a friend with you.
- When you see the gorgeous images of the milky way galaxy and something beautifully lit in the foreground, remember that is not one frame. Those are multiple frames blended in to create one perfect shot. Layers & masks!
- DO shrink your image to a thumbnail size. That allows you to view it the way it'd appear on Instagram. When you shrink your image, you'll know if you have to play with the curves more on Photoshop to make adjust anything like the highlight of the stars, or anything else.
- What you see with your eye will NOT appear on your raw file. You'll need to adjust settings, color temperatures, highlights and shadows, contrast and everything else in between to get the perfect image.
See! It's a lot of work and I hope the few tips on this post helps you create a better astro-photograph. Like it? Please click share ... (use the social media menu on the left side).