Astrophotography

Astrophotography, a new way of experiencing the night sky. From sunrise to sunset there is so much to see and photograph, but don’t forget about the night and what it has to offer the photographer. There are trillions and trillions of objects out there waiting for you to find them, from the moon and planets to galaxies and nebula, the night sky will provide amazing images if you only take the time to find them.

We all start in photography for different reasons and end up finding that certain genre that fascinates us, for me I have found astrophotography. I am just starting out into the amazing field and in no way am I an expert in it, I just want to share my journey and hope that you will join me in learning. As we go along I will share my thoughts on techniques, celestial objects, equipment and general tips.

For my first post I’m starting with the biggest object we can find, the moon. The moon can be photographed at any one of its phases, from a full moon to the new moon. For best results try shooting it while It’s in either the waxing (increasing illumination towards a full moon) or waning (decreasing illumination towards a new moon) phase, as this will produce a dramatic image.
The next full moon is June 5th. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Strawberry Moon because it signaled the time of year to gather ripening fruit. It also coincides with the peak of the strawberry harvesting season. This moon has also been known as the Rose Moon and the Honey Moon.

Photographing the Moon:
The camera should be on manual focus (MF) mode, although auto focus (AF) can be used.
Turn on live view mode to make it easier to focus.
Any lens can be used. The faster the lens the sharper the image. A wide angle can be used and cropped, while a longer zoom will produce more detail.
Use a moon phase app so that you can determine what phase it is in and the rise and set times to plan your shoot. I personally use Moon Phase Calendar.

Settings:
The moon will be extremely bright so typical night time settings will cause it to be overexposed.
Use a slower aperture F/11 – F/16 for greater detail.
ISO should be set to your cameras lowest setting 100 – 200.
White balance to daylight or auto. You can also try other setting for creative results.
Set shutter speed between 1/60 – 1/200 to start and adjust until proper exposure is achieved
Utilize a tripod for sharper images. Be sure to turn off image stabilization.
Use manual mode and shoot in RAW image format.
Consult your camera specs for procedures on settings and their adjustments.

Focus
For best results use manual focus. While in live view, zoom in until the moon fills the frame, slowly zoom in until the image is sharp, zoom back out and take the picture.
Auto focus can be used, place the focus point on the edge of the moon and half press the
shutter to achieve focus as you would normally to take an image.

Creative images To achieve a cloud covered moon image you will need to expose for the different elements, clouds / moon / foreground items ect., separately. Stack the images in post processing.
Use bracketing for more dynamic range in your image. Expose +/- ½ up to a full stop.

Nikon D7500 ~ 200mm ~ F/5.6 ~ ISO 100 ~ 1/500sec.

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