For two nights last month I was in northern Victoria, at the in-laws’ farm, standing around in the dark with my camera and my friend Gary, learning from him how to photograph the night sky.
It was bloody cold. But there’s little or no light pollution up there, and despite some cloud around, mostly the sky was clear.
Gary’s got a proper set up for this stuff, but even with my DSLR and a humble cheapie tripod, with the right settings, and I got some pretty good photos. (You can click through to view them larger at Flickr)
To my surprise, a 18-55mm standard lens kit is better for this stuff than a zoom lens.
The settings include a long exposure time (10+ seconds, requiring a tripod and preferably using the timer to avoid any vibration from pressing buttons), a high ISO setting, and F4 seems to work.
I can’t say I understand what most of this stuff means, but here it is so I can try it again another time. (Different settings are recommended for photographing the moon.)
The really tricky bit is getting focus, because the stars are so tiny that it’s very difficult to tell if they are in focus or not.
One strategy is to focus on something on the horizon (or the moon) before it gets dark, and be sure not to adjust the focus again after that.
Anyway, with Gary’s help, I got some pretty good photos.
Not a patch on his though.
Check out his Instagram feed for some more great photos.