Astrophotography – How to Photograph and Process Star Images

In this extensive video our colleague Patrick Hall from Fstoppers takes a look at shooting some stars at night and combining them with ambient light and doing some pretty extensive post processing.

Most of us live in cities where light pollution is a big problem which prevent us (at least most of the time) from taking good night/star photographs. If you want good pictures of stars, the milky way etc. you would need to get away from the city and from artificial lights – a great place can be a far off mountain, desert and basically any place with good clear air at night and as little light as possible.

Now, although Hall is not Astrophotography expert, it seems that he did get some good tips from his fellow photographer Elia Locardi who knows a thing or two about the subject. For instance, exposure is key – too short and you will probably get an under exposed image (unless you have a very fast lens and set the ISO real high), too long and there is a good chance that the stars in your image will look like comets instead of spherical balls of light because of the movement of the earth. So you need to experiment – a good place to start is around 15-20 second exposure. Also try to have a fast lens – a wide or even ultra wide can be very good – depending on what you need to shoot. As for ISO – it really depends on your camera and the amount of light you have where you shoot – but between 800-3200 ISO is usually O.K.

Try focusing on a close object (a tree for example) beforehand – you can use a flash-light to light it and than turn your focus ring to manual mode and make sure you don’t move it any more. Use either a timer or a remote and of course you must use a tripod (no chance to shoot these images hand held of course).

The video also includes lots of tips for post production – take what you want out of it but try and get different exposure if you are planing on heavy post processing.

Astrophotography is nothing new of course and we have covered the topic in the past including How To Photograph The Milky Way (or Die TryingPBS: The Beauty of Space Photography and Beginners Guide to Star Trails Photography amongst others.

You can check out many more helpful photography tips on our Photography tips section here on LensVid.