While traveling in Arizona it’s easy to get caught up in most of the sights, but don’t forget to look up and take a few shots of the beautiful stars while venturing through.If you’re going to try your hand at Astrophotography there are a few things you should pick up and check out before you start. Aside from a few things that Photoshop or any editing software can provide, a very powerful tool will be your trusty tripod (this is essential in most situations in photography, especially during the night) If you don’t have one while travelling don’t fret too much there are plenty of places to pick a fairly cheap one that will do the job and if you don’t have the funds for one right now (this instant while reading this). There is a very anchante technique that most of the highly skilled photographers will still use today:
SET YOUR CAMERA ON THE GROUND FACING UP!
I know, it’s pretty ingenious… but hold your applause till the end, please.
Okay so your camera is on the ground… now what? let’s step back a bit and look around at the gear.
The standard kit lense isn’t really going to cut it. For best results you’ll want to go wide but if you’re poor like me, you’ll also want to go cheap… (wide and cheap– What are nicknames of ex girlfriends, Mr. Trebek). This is where that ol’ nifty fifty comes into play… I shoot with canon and their 50mm 1:1.8 sells for around 150.00 USD probably could find it cheaper elsewhere too (ebay). But if you got something wider with an infinity focus then you’re doing pretty great out the gate.
Now that we have our tripod (ground), a decent lens, and hopefully a camera to mount said lens on. It’s time to find a very dark area which is why I believe Arizona is the best place to watch the stars because it’s so rural.
Not in Arizona? Not a big deal, www.lightpollutionmap.info is a great tool to see how bad the light pollution can be in any area throughout the globe. Even the a few street lights can offset your picture of the stars by leaving an orange hue on what you capture.
The rest is trial and error. Set the camera to manual and turn the ISO up to about 1600 and open the shutter up as wide as you can (in my case 1.8). If you brought a tripod (browny points) get it as low to the ground as you can. Keep the shutter speed pretty low anywhere between 3″ and 8″ to start. Manual focus must be on and if the moon isn’t out it’s a matter of taking a shot, looking at the shot, turning the focus ring (if needed). The main points are to adjust between the shutter speed and ISO to get your perfect shots. It takes time but the end results are great.