astrophotography tips: First Photos

November 10, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

First Photos

Preparations:

  • Make sure the battery is fully charged and the memory card offers enough space.
  • Reduce the brightness of the camera display to minimum. This helps to keep / maintain the night vision.
  • Mount the camera on the tripod.

 Shooting:

  • Choose your object
  • If possible set your camera to the highest ISO speed.
  • Manually focus to infinity.
  • Set exposure delay to 2 (or more) seconds.
  • Set exposure time (Tv) to 5 sec.
  • Take your first test shot. You can see if the object is framed right and the image is in focus.
  • You might need to play with ISO speed and exposure time to optimize image exposure.
  • Once done and you are satisfied, take a series of at least 10 images of your object (recommended 30-50). 

Note: photos of stars look always quite dark in the camera monitor. It is often advised to increase the brightness of the image later during post processing.  

Post processing (very basic):

This following description is for images with stars (not applicable for moon shots).

  • Load your images to your computer and inspect every single image
  • Sort out wiggly images, and such that have unwanted artifacts like plane or satellite trails
  • Stack the remaining images with DeepSkyStacker (DSS) – setting: average
  • Once DSS has created an image, optimize it with the build-in post processing tool

The advantage of stacking a series of astro-images (rather than using just one image), is that the noise portion will be significantly reduced, and the lunimance and saturation of the actual objects (stars) are emphasized. Since we are working usually with high ISO speeds, noise is much more present in astro-images than it is in daylight images.  

Further reading

  • Catching the Light - Great site on Astrophotography with a DLSR by Jerry Lodriguss. Noise reduction in astronomy images

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