Shooting the stars

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by squeeks, Nov 12, 2007.

  1. squeeks macrumors 68040

    squeeks

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    Jun 19, 2007
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    Florida
    #1
    as you may or may not know i just got a Canon XTi, and i was interested in trying to photograph the stars, its been very clear here lately and i know its imposible with a regular digital camera, but is it possible with a DSLR? and how you go about it, other than get a tripod,i got that part covered

    thanks!
     
  2. bloogersnigen macrumors regular

    bloogersnigen

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    #2
    I would say slow shutter speed and small aperture but don't qoute me on it. Just play around with the settings until you get what you like.
     
  3. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

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    #3
    That depends on what you mean by shooting the stars. Technically, you don't need an SLR to get a decent shot of a starry night. Here is a picture I took with my 5D, but could have easily taken with a point and shoot that has a manual mode. The idea is to shoot at low ISO (100-400), long exposure (20-30s), and focus to infinity (don't worry too much about aperture values). You will obviously need a tripod, but nothing fancy.

    [​IMG]

    Now, if you're worried about being able to capture the skies properly (as in astronomy stuff), you will need a telescope that allows for an EF mount camera attachment (you're talking about $600), and a tripod that can track the motion of the stars (called an equatorial mount).
     
  4. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    #4
    Do you want to photograph the night skies (wide-angle), or photograph deep sky objects? If it's the former, your camera, with a tripod should work fine. Just experiment with different shutter speeds (and other settings) until your get the results you desire.

    If you want to get serious and get into real astrophotography, you'll need a cable to remotely control the shutter, and software that allows the shutter to be open for 5 or so minutes at a time. ...As well as a telescope, adapter for your camera, and tracking equatorial mount. ...Then you'll need photo processing and editing programs like Photoshop and Maxim DL (others will work, but those are the only ones I can think of).
     
  5. Kamera RAWr macrumors 65816

    Kamera RAWr

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    #5
    If you're talking about doing star trails, perhaps I can give you a few ideas.

    When I've done night photography, mainly star trail pictures, I'm doing exposures for tens of minutes. A few things to think about first would be to go somewhere very dark, so you get a little light pollution as possible. Its also not a bad idea to get some ideas about how you want to compose your shots in the daylight, once you have a location chosen. For example you may want a building, trees, or some other bit of nature in the shot.

    For the technical aspects... first you'll want to mount your camera to a sturdy tripod. Set the camera to full manual and adjust the shutter speed to "bulb" mode, which on my Nikon (and I'm sure many other digitals) is just after the slowest shutter speed. I personally use a narrow aperture (somtimes f/22), but thats really up to you. Focus to infinity or just short of it. Its great to have a cable release where you can lock the shutter open. I don't, so what I do is once I have the camera, settings and composition all set up, I place a dark cloth gently over the lens so I don't move anything. Then I tape the shutter button down. Usually you can't just tape it down, but need a small object to "push" on the shutter. I've used a round aspirin tablet with one side hallowed a little to form the the shutter button. Once the shutter button is down, gently remove the cloth from the lens and you already starting your exposure. A tiny bit of camera shake removing the cloth probably won't hurt in an exposure of tens of minutes, but its best to avoid it at all costs. When I want to end the exposure, I simply place the cloth back over the lens (gently, of course) and then remove the tape.

    Whew... I think thats it :eek:
     
  6. squeeks thread starter macrumors 68040

    squeeks

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    Jun 19, 2007
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    Florida
    #6
    so, im really going for simple, kinda like the shot that lovesong posted, so ill take all advice into consideration and give it a try tonight, Thanks!
     
  7. redrabbit macrumors 6502

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    Aug 8, 2006
    #7
    [​IMG]

    my attempt at a star shot in Mongolia last summer. 60 second exposure if i remember correctly
     
  8. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #8
    Just need to experiment

    Here's my (final version - "no longer too blue") of my night sky shot in Tanzania from last summer:

    [​IMG]


    This was 30 seconds at ISO 1600 with a WA lens at 19mm (30mm equivalent) at f/3.5 (wide open), manual focus, in a Canon 20D dSLR.

    For minimizing shake, I used the camera's options for flopping the mirror up early and then the (IIRC 30 second) shutter delay. If I recall how this worked, when I pressed the shutter release, it wobbled and made noise as the mirror flipped up, then several seconds later, it tripped open, then closed the shutter (minimal shake).

    Post-processing, I increased the effective exposure by another +1 stop to brighten it up, plus added some sharpening and color balance work. Given that the 30 sec exposure used here was long enough to cause all the stars to streak, I don't think that I'd want to go with any longer exposure times (shorter would be better). Similarly, I didn't want to use ISO 1600, but I really wanted to pull up the very faint stars in the milky way to really get the desired impact.

    FYI, I had also tried some "deep sky" shots with a telephoto, but the relatively long exposure times with the narrower viewing angle made the streaking of stars much more pronounced. You can check out an example at 100% pixels from a 70mm lens by clicking on this link.


    I'd say that the main thing is to just go grab your tripod, figure out how to set the camera up with mirror lockup and delayed shutter release, then try some shots at different settings. Then, don't give up on them if they look a little "blah" at first glance...give them a little bit of post-processing too.


    -hh
     
  9. redrabbit macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2006
    #9
    cool shot, hh. what kind of light is inside the house? if it was a normal light, wouldn't that be way overexposed? Is it a candle? I'm thinking a candle would look different at 60 seconds, and I'm really trying to figure out what the source of light is in that house.
     
  10. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #10

    Yes, the lighting was from ONE candle.

    Also, the funny green on the right side of front of the cabin is light from a spotlight around 200m away that appeared (when I took the shot) to had been fully shaded by an interposing tree. It turns out that it wasn't completely blocked: the green leaves on the tree effectively acted as a green filter, which produced this green-tinted light. The high ISO and long exposure time did the rest, as this scene is otherwise around EV -5 or -6.


    -hh
     
  11. squeeks thread starter macrumors 68040

    squeeks

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    Florida
    #11
    heres my first attempt

    [​IMG]

    not so good, shutter at 30 seconds iso 1600, going back out to try iso 100 now

    unfortunately theres not many good stars out tonight, theres a cold front coming through friday that will be good star gazing weather, it always clears out the atmosphere
     
  12. squeeks thread starter macrumors 68040

    squeeks

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    Jun 19, 2007
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    #12
    ISO 100t didnt work out so well, guess im going to have to read up on it more, and find a better night
     
  13. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    #13
    What's the light pollution like in your area? ...Are you in/near a big city?
     
  14. squeeks thread starter macrumors 68040

    squeeks

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    Florida
    #14
    eh, not a real big city, we're sorta out in the country but there still is a bit of light pollution

    but like i said, once the next cold front comes through itll clear out the air and we'll be able to see a lot more stars
     
  15. bocomo macrumors 6502

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    Jun 29, 2007
    Location:
    New York
    #15
    the clear night will be your best friend

    there has been some good advice and pictures posted so i'll just put one up too

    this was taken at f5, 30s @ISO 400, pointed nearly directly overhead and zoomed in a bit
     

    Attached Files:

  16. macgfxdesigner macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2004
    #16
    Stars

    [​IMG]

    Camera: Canon EOS 40D
    Exposure: 641 sec (641)
    Aperture: f/10
    Focal Length: 105 mm
    ISO Speed: 200

    [​IMG]

    Camera: Canon EOS 40D
    Exposure: 639 sec (639)
    Aperture: f/5.6
    Focal Length: 16 mm
    ISO Speed: 200
     
  17. seenew macrumors 68000

    seenew

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    Dec 1, 2005
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    #17
    flashlight tag on the beach :D

    Model: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
    Shutter Speed: 20.5mins
    F Number: F/9.0
    Focal Length: 10 mm
    ISO Speed: 100
    Date Picture Taken: Oct 29, 2006, 3:25:45 AM
    [​IMG]
     
  18. pcuser2 macrumors member

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    Aug 29, 2007
    #18
    Good job man ,your photo and the whole view is good indeed .
     
  19. colorspace macrumors 6502

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    Jul 5, 2005
    #19
    I'll add one

    From Here

    [​IMG]

    1,521 seconds at ISO200 f7.1

    A quarter moon was peeking out just at the end of the shot --hence the well lit barn, it was pitch dark before.

    Cheers
     
  20. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #20


    Eric,

    I have a coworker who's thinking about going to Mac from Windows, and he's also thinking about dropping the bucks to upgrade to Maxim DL at the same time.

    Do you know if Maxim DL is Mac-compatible, either through Boot Camp, Parallels, etc?

    Ditto for his current astronomy application, "AIP4WIN"


    Thanks,



    -hh
     
  21. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    Location:
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    #21
    No, I'm sorry, I cannot verify this, as I've never used Maxim DL in BootCamp. However, these two FAQs are provided on the software's website:
    "Q: Will MaxIm DL work on a Macintosh?

    A: MaxIm DL is designed for Microsoft Windows. It will, however, run on a Macintosh under Virtual PC or SoftWindows.

    Q: Can I use MaxIm DL/CCD to control a CCD camera on a Macintosh?

    A: In most cases no, only the image processing functions will work; but there are exceptions. Most cameras will not work on a Macintosh since the interface hardware is not compatible. Parallel port, plug-in card, and SCSI interfaces will not work. A number of customers have reported that serial and USB interfaces work under Virtual PC; however, this has not been tested by our staff and we cannot guarantee correct operation."​

    I would suggest that compatibility should be even better through BootCamp, assuming the macintosh of your choice has the correct ports (or can support them through a hardware upgrade). ...If you just want Maxim DL for image processing (and don't need the camera control functions), then you should definitely be fine.

    You can also download a free 30 day trial to ensure compatibility.
     
  22. scotthayes macrumors 68000

    scotthayes

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    Jun 6, 2007
    Location:
    Birmingham, England
    #22
    sort of related to taking pictures of stars. I've read the manual. but can't find how to set the shutter speed on my Canon 400d (XTi) to more than 30 seconds. Any tips?
     
  23. Kamera RAWr macrumors 65816

    Kamera RAWr

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    #23
    Set your camera to full manual mode and rotate the command dial or whatever its called past 30s to "bulb". I think its the same as Nikon... if I remember correctly from playing around with my aunt's dRebel. If not, probably have to go through the menu.
     
  24. scotthayes macrumors 68000

    scotthayes

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    Birmingham, England
    #24
    Excellent, thank you very much.
     
  25. squeeks thread starter macrumors 68040

    squeeks

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