(BPT) - Astrophotography - or photographing the night sky - can take some time to perfect, but with a number of exciting meteor showers, lunar eclipses and other celestial events happening in 2022, now is the perfect time to practice. Here are five tips to help you capture vibrant photos of the cosmos.
To get the best photos, you'll want a dark sky as far away from light pollution as possible. Pick your favorite hiking or camping spot, pack your gear and make it an adventure. Be sure to check the weather forecast before you leave to avoid cloudy skies.
Picking the right lens is essential to astrophotography. A wide-angle lens with a short focal length will serve you well since it can capture more light, which will increase the quality of your images.
As you get more experience and depending on what you plan to photograph, you can also add a telephoto lens into your tool kit to get up-close shots of the heavenly bodies.
Stabilizing the camera is key to capturing the sharpest image. Use a firmly planted tripod to ensure the camera won't move and check that the baseplate and camera are secure.
Ideally, you'll want to avoid high winds and block any breezes from interfering with the camera by standing next to the tripod. To minimize vibration, trigger the shutter remotely or with a self-timer.
Night sky photography is all about taking in as much starlight as possible. Putting your camera into manual mode will allow you to adjust your settings independently for the best results. Here are three key settings to work with:
- ISO refers to the camera sensor's sensitivity to light. Higher ISO settings will result in brighter images but can also increase graininess. For astrophotography, you want to keep the ISO as low as possible to get crisp and clear shots.
- Shutter speed determines how long the shutter on your camera remains open (and, in turn, how long you allow light to hit the digital sensor in your camera). This is when your tripod comes in handy since night photography requires slow shutter speeds. Try exposures of 5-10 seconds and experiment to see what looks best.
- Aperture, also called f-stop, is the adjustable lens opening that controls the amount of light allowed into the camera. You'll want to use a wide aperture to maximize the amount of light you're letting in.
While it may seem elementary, double-check your flash is off, or you'll ruin what might have been the perfect shot.
If you're planning to edit your photos later, remember to shoot in RAW, not JPEG, as it captures your camera sensor's uncompressed data and gives you the most options for post-process editing.
Now to make what you shot look like what you saw! Use a non-destructive photo editing program like Adobe Lightroom to experiment with editing techniques.
Once you've selected a photo, here are a few places you can start the editing process:
- Crop and place your subject where it makes the most sense. With Lightroom's Super Resolution feature, you can easily crop your image and enlarge it without losing resolution.
- Play around with the highlights and shadows of the photo to introduce contrast and place focus on your subject.
- Adjust the color temperature and tint. Temperature will warm or cool your photo, and tint will establish or counter a color cast, changing the look and feel.
Lightroom also offers a wide selection of presets that instantly elevate your raw image and showcase its best features. You can adjust and customize the presets as necessary or create your own to use with future astrophotography projects.
Whether you're photographing a starry night or a full moon, keeping these tips in mind will give you the tools and knowledge to capture and edit some extraordinary celestial events this year.