Photographing the Stars as Points of Light

 

First: Read this blog post on Tips for Photographing the Stars as Points of Light for more description then follow these steps. 

http://blog.jenniferwu.com/blog/quick-tips-to-photograph-the-stars

• Wide Angle Lens. 14-35 full frame, 10-22 for crop sensor cameras.

• Shutter Speed 15-30 Seconds. Example settings no faster than listed:

o Full frame: 14mm at 30 seconds, 16mm at 25 seconds, 24mm at 20 seconds, 30mm at 35mm at 15 seconds.

o Crop sensor: figure out the actual focal length for you lens and use the shutter speed  numbers above. For example if you have a Canon Rebel camera and you are using the 16-35mm at 16mm. Multiply 16mm x 1.6 = 25.6mm. Use the number of seconds for a 24mm lens. If you are using a lens that tells you the actual focal length, you do not need to apply the multiplication factor. 

• Wide open aperture. F/2.8 or faster.

• Set ISO. At f2.8 on a dark night ISO 6400. f/1.4 at ISO 3200.

• Set White Balance to Kelvin temperature 3400 to 4400.

• Set the lens to the focusing point or just backed off from infinity

• Focusing on the stars

• Tape the lens

• Turn off auto focus on the lens

• No filters

• Use the lens hood

• Take Photo and review on LCD screen

• Check histogram and sharpeness

• Check the white balance. Change Kelvin temperature to what you want

• Turn off Long Exposure Noise Reduction

 

Focusing Method 1

• Focus on the moon with auto focus. I use the center focusing point for focusing on the moon or star. Then turn the lens to manual focus.

Focusing Method 2

• Focus on a distant subject, such as a mountain, or say 100 feet away. Look at your lens and check to see where it focuses at for that focal length. Remember that or mark your lens. Turn lens to manual focus.

Focusing Method 3

• Focusing – place a bright star in the center of the frame (use the center focusing point to find it). Use the magnify button to zoom in to the star. Manually focus on the star using a loupe. The star should look small.

 

Check Out the Book

Photography Night Sky: A Field Guide for Shooting After Dark.

Print edition and  Kindle or More Info

My Favorite Photography Resources

Photography Resources

Here are some of my favorite apps, sun and moon information, space weather and more! 

I hope you find this useful! 

Happy Star Trails, 

Jennifer

 

Sun and Moon

Apps: Sun Seeker, Sky Safari, LightTrac, Photographer’s Ephemeris, LightTrac, Clinometer

Sunrise and Sunset Times: www.thetimenow.com or  www.timeanddate.com

Golden Hour: www.golden-hour.com

The Photographer's Ephemeris as an app or computer: stephentrainor.com/tools  

Date Services: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data

The Old Farmer's Almanac - Click on Sun or Phases of the Moon:

http://www.almanac.com/

 

Weather

7 Timer: http://ftp.astron.ac.cn/index.php?lang=en and click on Cloud Cover: http://ftp.astron.ac.cn/wchart.php?lang=en

Clear Sky Chart: cleardarksky.com/csk/

Space Weather: www.spaceweather.com

 

Auroras

App: Aurora Forecast

NOAA: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov 

Aurora Forecast: www.gedds.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/

Astronomy North: http://astronomynorth.com

Spaceweather solar flare activity: www.spaceweather.com

Ovation Auroral Forcast NOAA: http://helios.swpc.noaa.gov/ovation/

 

Eclipses & Space & Moonbows:

Astronomy Picture of the Day http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html 

Eclipses: eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/lunar.html 

Yosemite Moonbow: https://sites.google.com/site/olsontxstate/workshops

 

Camera Operations

Canon Digital Learning Center: http://www.usa.canon.com/dlc/controller?act=HomePageAct 

Crop Sensor Calculator: http://www.sweeting.org/mark/lenses/canon.php 

 

Dark Skies:

Light Pollution Photographs: http://www.lightpollution.it/dmsp/ 

International Dark-Sky Association IDA: http://www.darksky.org 

 

Stars and Milky Way

Starry Nights is what I use and showed in class: www.starrynights.com   

Apps: Star Walk II- I showed this in class, Heavens Above, PhotoPills, Sky Guide: View Stars Night or Day

Free software for viewing the location of the stars for both windows and Mac. www.stellarium.org 

 

Meteors

Stardate: stardate.org/nightsky/meteors

Apps: Meteor Shower Calendar

 

Star Trail Stacking Software

Startails free software: www.startrails.de/html/software.html take a dark frame with the same exposure, put lens cap on the camera, and it can use that to reduce noise. 

http://www.schursastrophotography.com/software/photoshop/startrails.html www.tawbaware.com/imgstack.htm

StarStaX free software http://www.markus-enzweiler.de/StarStaX/StarStaX.html  

 

Long Exposure Calculator Apps: there are a number of free apps, as well as others for a fee. PhotoPills

 

Depth of Field Calculator

DOFMaster.com and app

PhotoPills App

 

Focus Stacking Software:

Helicon Focus: Can use RAW files and saves as DNG file. http://www.heliconsoft.com 

Zerene Systems: Very precise with macro fine details. 

 

Check Out the Book

Photography Night Sky: A Field Guide for Shooting After Dark.

Print edition and  Kindle or More Info

Book Updates for Photography Night Sky


I just finished up some book revisions for Photography Night Sky and want to share it with you. If you have a version prior to January 2014 you will have the first or second printing and here are the changes. It is now in the third printing in less than a year from being released! Check out #2 and #12 for flashlight recommendations. 

Happy Star Trails, Jennifer

 Patagonia, f/s.8, 25 seconds, ISO 6400, EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM at 24mm, Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Patagonia, f/s.8, 25 seconds, ISO 6400, EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM at 24mm, Canon EOS 5D Mark III


1. Page 42
OLD: “ The smaller the f-stop number, the wider the depth of field (the depth of sharpness), and the larger the f-stop number, the shallower the depth of field.” To”
NEW: The smaller the f-stop number, the shallower the depth of field (the depth of sharpness), and the larger the f-stop number, the greater the depth of field.


2. Page 22
OLD: “temperature—yellowish for a normal flashlight.” 
NEW: temperature—
Tungsten lights are very warm toned, yellow in color, creating an appealing color when light painting. For a yellow, warm tone, look for Krypton, Xennon and Halogen light bulbs. Xennon and Halogen light bulbs are not as warm tone but still good. Led lights,  such as headlamps and many flashlights, are very cool tone and blue in color. Some LED photographic lights (such as Lowel light panels), have dimmer switches to change the color temperature of the light from cool to warm. 


3. Page 56
OLD: “In the Northern Hemisphere, in the summer months around July, you may notice the Milky Way move across the sky clockwise as an arch over the sky. In the Southern Hemisphere, the Milky Way moves counterclockwise from the south to southwest.” 
NEW: As the Earth rotates, we see the Milky Way move across the sky, overhead. The direction and movement of it depends on your location. Check software or apps for where the Milky Way will be given your location, see resources. (Stars and Milky Way Apps: Star Walk, Heavens Above, PhotoPills. Software: Starry Nights,  Starry Nights Software: www.starrynighteducation.com. Stellarium: www.stellarium.org. Free desktop planetarium software, shows the path of the Milky Way.)
For example, in June, at 8 pm in Namibia in the Southern Hemisphere, the gaseous, denser part of the Milky Way is seen traveling from the southeast to the east when looking toward the horizon, moving overhead throughout the night. In June in California, at 11pm in the Northern Hemisphere, the dense part is seen traveling from the south to southwest when looking toward the horizon.


4. Page 163
OVATION Auroral Forecast (NOAA): Replace link with updated link: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov


5. Page 163: 
Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES): Replace link with updated link: http://poes.gsfc.nasa.gov 


6. Page 164:
StarStaX Replace link with updated link:http://www.markus-enzweiler.de/StarStaX/StarStaX.html 


7. Page 164
Stars and Milky Way, Apps: Star Walk, Heavens Above, PhotoPills

Long Exposure Calculator Apps: there are a number of free apps, as well as others for a fee. 
LEXP  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/long-exposure-calculators/id547000247?mt=8

8. Page 38
OLD: Currently, DSLRs and a few rangefinders are the smallest cameras with the ability to capture excellent images of the stars, but the advent of the first full-frame sensor, mirror-less cameras with fast lenses suggests that they will soon join the larger cameras in the night photography game”
NEW:  Currently, DSLRs and a few rangefinders are the smallest cameras with the ability to capture excellent images of the stars, but the advent of the first full-frame sensor, some mirror-less cameras with fast lenses (delete suggests that they will soon join) have joined the DSLR cameras in the night photography game”. 
Medium format cameras with CMOS sensors produce acceptable quality with a f/2.8 lens. The older models with CCD sensors do not work well because they produced excessive noise at high ISOs or do not go to a high enough ISO. For rangefinders, the Leica 40 is good for stars. For mirror less, the Sony A7S and A7II are good too. 


8. Page 57
OLD: “The best months to see the bright center of the Milky Way are June, July,
and August.” 
NEW: The best months to see the bright center of the Milky Way are May, June, July, and August.


9. Page 166:
NEW: Image Stabilization: This reduces the vibration of the lens or camera to get sharper images at slower shutter speeds when hand-holding the camera, especially used with long focal length lenses. It is also called Vibration Reduction (VR), Optical Image Stabilizer or Stabilization (OS or OIS) (Tamron), Optical SteadyShot, SR (Shake Reduction), SSS (Super Steady Shot) or VC (Vibration Compensation), Mega OIS. 
Image Stabilization is either lens based or camera based. Canon and most Nikon are lens based and Sony, Minolta, Pentax, Olympus and Nikon Zoom have camera based models. Most lenses or cameras do not do well with stabilization turned on when using a tripod or with long exposures (the exception being long lenses such as 500mm). Turn off for night photography. Some newer lenses claim it is ok to use it on a tripod as it detects it but I still don’t recommend it unless you test out your lens to find out if it causes any blurriness. This is because the lens/camera picks up on its own vibrations, causing more movement and a blurry image.


10. Add Flashlights:
I got a cheap off-brand tungsten flashlight when on the road. It died after the first use! Here are a few I now use but the options are endless. 


Warm toned Household Flashlight. My main flashlight for painting trees and rocks.
http://amzn.to/1zbeIpj
Brinkmann Dual Rechargeable Halogen LED Spotlight (I have the previous model with Xennon light bulb but this one should work well. My second most used flashlight). 
http://amzn.to/1osJi8c

Brinkmann Q-Beam Max Million III Spotlight- For buildings and mountains.
http://amzn.to/1oezkWr

Other options for typical household flashlight with warm light:

Brinkmann Krypton 2 D Cell Flashlight
http://amzn.to/1zbeSgp

Brinkmann MaxFire Small Flashlight, AAA Batteries
http://amzn.to/1xo024s
Dual Color LED Flashlight with Red and White Light
http://amzn.to/VXSY19
Petzl Tikka XP Headlamp (2014) for red and white light
http://amzn.to/1nCo6KN
 

11. Page 83 & 99
 
Add to Checklist:
Remove all filters: polarizer, solid and graduated neutral density and UV.

 

Check Out the Book

Photography Night Sky: A Field Guide for Shooting After Dark.

Print edition and  Kindle or More Info