I have always enjoyed looking up at the stars and moon on a clear night but didn’t know anything about taking photos of it.
I stumbled on a video about Landscape Astrophotography and straight away knew that it was what I wanted to do.
As I had a holiday to the Big Island of Hawaii planned, I thought this would be the perfect time to try astrophotography. I watched a few videos on YouTube looking for tips on what to do. The four main things I remember were; long shutter speed, increase the ISO and use manual focus and a fast lens. I thought it sounded straight forward so it would be easy.
One late afternoon, I headed off to the Visitor Information Station on Mauna Kea and once there I found a place to set up my Nikon D5300 with my new Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8, which I got for the trip to Hawaii. When night fell and the stars were coming out I could already see so much with the naked eye, stars were everywhere.
As I took focus and remembered the tips I saw on the videos – I set the shutter to 30 seconds and upped my ISO all the way, which was 12800 for the Nikon D5300, and took my shot and all I can say was I was disappointed (see the image below). I tried a few different settings but still nothing was coming out like I saw on the videos.
Now a couple of years later I can share some tips, and this is just the basics.
- Using live view focus on a star by using the zoom on live view and focus until the star is a sharp dot
- Set your ISO somewhere between 2500 to 6400 but you will need to try different ISO settings depending on your location
- Shutter speed, as the Earth is always moving if you have your shutter too long you will start having trails and not sharp stars. The rule of 500 comes into play, you divide 500 by your focus length, for example 500 / 20mm = 25 secs or if your focus length is 14 then 500 / 14 = 35 secs
- Aperture, you need to have your lens as wide open as you can BUT the wider you have the Aperture the less depth of field you have and anything in the foreground might not look that sharp. Try stepping down a couple of stops to make things sharper.
A couple of years later