How Do You Shoot Stars?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Buszaj, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. Buszaj

    Buszaj TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I'm often up north and have an excellent view of the stars and milky way. I've tried taking pictures of it but no luck. Any advice on how to take pictures of this would be great. (I have a tripod by the way if that helps).
     
  2. WDodd

    WDodd TPF Noob!

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    Reeeeeeeeeeeally long exposure?
     
  3. Buszaj

    Buszaj TPF Noob!

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    The longest exposure I have on my camera (P&S) is 8 seconds. What about aperture?
     
  4. WDodd

    WDodd TPF Noob!

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    Hmm...no bulb setting? That makes it pretty tough.

    Use the widest aperture (lowest f-number) and the highest ISO you can and hope that it will be exposed.

    You could try and shoot closer to sunset so that there is more remaining light in the sky.
     
  5. carusoswi

    carusoswi TPF Noob!

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    I have spent a lifetime with cameras, but do not consider myself an expert. On the matter of stars, however, I would offer the following comments:

    Although they my look brilliant in nighttime sky, stars are actually very faint. In order to capture them, you will need long exposures - very long exposures. This gets further complicated because, owing to their relatively long distance and the earths rotation coupled with the long exposures required, capturing other than a bunch of circular lines will require some means of moving your camera in sync with the earth's rotation to counter its affect on your photograph.

    To see this effect for yourself without the need for a camera, view the stars or the moon through even a modest telescope and take note of the rate at which the features you view through the telescope move through and out of the view through that telescope.

    The rate at which your view through the telescope changes will amaze you.

    There are telescopes that include motor drives designed and programed to counter act the rotation of the earth so that objects viewed through the scope appear stationary with respect to the earth's rotation.

    I haven't shopped this equipment in years, but, when last I did, it was out of my budget.

    I would love to do some astronomical photography, but have always ultimately been put off by having to choose between capturing very mediocre photos or investing a large sum in equipment that is of value to me only in shooting the heavens.

    Good luck.

    Let us know how you ultimately tackle this project.

    Caruso
     
  6. These are not my images, so here are some links

    Streaked stars

    Or this one from Weekly Shot:

    Streaked sky

    I believe this is what you're trying to avoid...
     
  7. Tha Bizness

    Tha Bizness TPF Noob!

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    Buszaj,

    I mainly do astrophotography (been doing it for a year or so now) and have just recently got into DSLR astro work. As other posters say there are a few issues you have to over come first reguardless if you want to shoot deep space objects, solar system objects, or constellations/star trail photos.

    1. You will need a mount that you can polar align - what this just means is you have to align the mount to the earths axis which just happens to be right around the star polaris. A good mount it one of the most important pieces - and most expensive.

    2. Light pollution - it kills astrophotos. The way around this is to take a lot of short subexposures (30-90secs for example) and then "stack" them. If you take a 30min exposure by itself and your in a city or suburb you will most likely loose most of the details to "sky glow"

    3. Telescope and other adapters and rings. These can get pricey but allows you to take pictures of object you cant see like nebulas, clusters, etc. Avoid almost all telescopes from ebay and department stores.

    Im saying this in its most simplistic form - its really quite difficult to get something that looks good. I have been doing this for a little while and I am just getting to the point where I feel ok about showing people my work. Whole forums are dedicated to the topic. If your interested I can point you in the right direction but a couple of things to remember. It ain't cheap, or easy and there is a learning curve.

    I have a few of my most recent photos on flickr if you want to check them out... Im not the best astrophotographer by far but I feel I'm ok.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/thabizness/
     
  8. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    One problem not touched on is noise. The P&S camera you are using will not fair well in low-noise at best of times. Assuming you can keep the shutter open long enough at a high enough ISO setting to actually resolve the stars I find it unlikely that the resulting image will look pleasing.

    I have been playing with DSLR photography on and off for ages and I have myself come to the conclusion that I will simply leave this to my film camera.
     
  9. amateursnapper

    amateursnapper TPF Noob!

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    I think you'll have a hard time getting much with an 8 second exposure time - unfortunately star photos really need a digital (or film) SLR. As mentioned above, you can increase your ISO but that will most likely give you a lot of noise.

    You could try a program like NeatImage (www.neatimage.com) to reduce the noise. It would probably do a very good job on the black sky but you might also find it takes out the stars!

    As for the rotation of the earth, this only really becomes a problem on exposures of more than about 30 seconds. Also, I think streaky shots look superb, so personally I don't even try to counteract the rotation of the earth.

    I've written a bit more about this on my website: Long Exposure Star Trail Photography.

    Pete
     

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