Home Travel Guide - Travel Guide 201 Book Me - Bryson Strupp - A River Runs Through It Photography Contact - A River Runs Through It Photography Instagram - A River Runs Through It Photography Guide and tips to photography Weddings - Geneva - A River Runs Through It Photography Event photography - Geneva - A River Runs Through It Photography Portrait & Travel photography - A River Runs Through It Photography - Geneva Real Estate photography - A River Runs Through It Photography France & Switzerland - A River Runs Through It Photography Cesky A River Runs Through It Photography Francais A River Runs Through It Photography


Astrophotography - Do you have what it takes?

Big Bend National Park, Astrophotography
Shot out at Big Bend National Park

You've probably seen some amazing shots of the Milky Way or of the Northern Lights, and you may wonder how people managed to get such color and vibrance in their photos.  Truth be told, Astrophotography is an art in itself and a patient one at that, and one that doesn't yield nearly as many results as people wish it did, but if you love the stars and being outside at night, this is your guide to seeing if you have what it takes to photograph the stars.

This may go without saying, but for some reason people expect that they can just buy an expensive camera, and all of a sudden their photos will turn out great.  The truth is, however, that great photos take work, and astrophotography is definitely not an exception to the rule.  If you want good photos, be prepared to drive far away from city lights (You need to avoid light pollution).  Before you drive all the way out there you also need to figure out what time the moon will be up and what time the main part of the Milky Way, what's known as the Archer constellation will appear in the sky.  Usually in the northern hemisphere the Archer appears at all times near the edge of the horizon at night, but it disappears come Fall and Spring.  Then you have to check forecasts and be prepared for your plans to be completely spoiled by some low hanging clouds on the horizon.  Finally, if all of those things are ok, you've got a clear night (preferably right after a big storm comes through, this clears the air out), and you're far from any lights you can start waiting for the next part - getting good pictures.

Joshua Tree National Park, Astrophotography
Shot at Joshua Tree, notice the light pollution at the bottom right

This is one of the hardest parts of astrophotography because the majority of the time, if everything goes according to plan, you'll be tired by the time you start photographing, and astrophotography takes hours, yes I said it, hours!  In order to get the right shots you'll need to do a lot of experimenting with exposure times and settings, and then these long-exposures take time to process and reshoot and then you'll have to compose your shot and make sure you get the focus right.  Yes, it can be pretty bothersome.  So prepare yourself for a long night.

Next, it's important to remember that you need a tripod.  This is almost a non-negotiable element with astrophotography, and if you have one of the moving telescopes you can mount your camera for even longer exposures, but either way you need a steady platform to capture the stars.

3.External Shutter Release
Maybe this isn't a necessity unless you are doing a time lapse, but external remotes make all the difference in playing with exposures and the settings on a camera, and makes it so your time management works much more effectively.

4.Low Aperture
This is another important detail.  If you really want to get into astrophotography, get a lens that opens to low apertures like 2.8 or lower, and even better get wide angle lenses that won't show as much movement in the stars.  Basically the further zoomed in you are, the faster the stars move, so the further back you can zoom out, the slower they'll move, the longer your exposures can be.  Sometimes you will want things like star trails, and in order to do this you will shoot longer exposures.  In these cases use your best judgement as to length, although usually anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute is great and take consecutive shots and stack them together later.  Also a good iso of around 1600-3200 is usually good.  If you have a nice camera, however, you can go higher.

Yosemite National Park, Astrophotography
A little bit of small star trails.  This shutter was open for 10 minutes

5.Post-process again and again
Finally, the most important part of astrophotography is post-processing.  You will not get the vibrant Milky Way without post processing.  The reason for this is that you will be shooting a foreground, which if lit at all, will quickly overexpose, or if not lit at all will exhibit a high amount of noise.  The same is true for the stars, the higher you bring out the light, the more noise will be evident from the darks, but if you simple up the brightness and contrast of the image you are going to ruin your image except for the Milky Way, so you have to make sure to do targeted adjustments and in many cases paint the dark and white areas of the Milky Way to really make it shine without ruining the rest of your image.  There are a lot of tutorials online in doing this, but the important thing to note is if you want that cool picture, this is almost a must.

If you are a business or individual that would like to work together on a project send me an email.

Additionally, follow me on InstagramFacebook, or check out my travel guide website @ Travel Guide 201.