10 simple tips for budding astro imagers

Follow these essential steps and start astro imaging today

M42crop_main

The Orion Nebula is just one of the objects you can capture with a simple DSLR. Credit: Will Gater

Advertisement

1

Manual

Switch your camera to M mode. This will give you full control over your camera’s settings.

2

Location

Find a dark spot open to the stars and away from streetlights. Use a wall to shield your camera from them if required.

3

Exposure

A slow shutter speed of around 20 seconds allows plenty of starlight to be collected.

For speeds slower than 30 seconds switch to the B (Bulb) function and use a cable release.

4

Sensitivity

The ISO controls the sensitivity.

Higher ISOs are more sensitive, revealing more stars but at the expense of picture quality – giving you a more grainy image.

5

Noise

Switch on noise reduction, which can be found in the menu, to improve image quality.

6

Lenses

Use a wide-angle lens to start with and you’ll capture a surprising array of objects like planets, star clusters, dust lanes and nebulae.

7

Aperture (f-number)

The iris controls the amount of light that passes through the camera lens.

The lower the f-number, the more dilated the iris is, meaning more light enters your camera. Aim for f/4 or lower if your lens allows it.

8

Focus

Because it’s dark focusing is often a case of trial and error.

Switch to manual focus and set it to infinity.

Take a test shot and slowly adjust the focus ring till you’re image is sharp.

9

Bad vibrations

The slightest movement has a significant effect on a photo.

A steady tripod and cable release help alleviate movement caused by wind or your finger clicking off a shot.

10

Composure

Use the rule of thirds to compose your image.

Advertisement

Add something in the foreground to provide impact and perspective.