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Thread: Shooting Stars

  1. #1

    Default Shooting Stars

    In a few days I'm going to a place also known as "city of the stars".. as expected, there will be a large number of stars in a rural, mountainous setting.

    I think I might like to take some photos of the sky, but as I have never tried it before, I thought you old hands might have some tips!

    I am bringing a 350D, a Gitzo monopod, 17-40L, and 50mm.. can also bring 28-105 or 75-300 but don't want too many lenses on the trip.

    Can anyone shed some light on the proper technique for 'shooting stars' or moon? I'm talking more landscape shots with the nightscape, less of the 'full details of the moon' kind of shot.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    Think that you can forget the 75-300 for shooting stars. U need a remote control (so no handshake).

    Suggest that you learn more about your camera right now, eg how to do bulb exposure (for long star trails), now to use your Tv, Av and M modes etc.

    I have tried 20s and 30s exposures at ISO 100 (for sharper images, vs 800 more grainy) at diff Avs. Think that you can experiment your own. 20s and 30s shots are good that you can catch constellations eg. southern cross, orion etc etc w/o discernable trails (light star points). One problem I faced was trying to find the stars in the view finder. Until I got so fed-up that I get a finder scope from a telescope and mount it on a flash hotshoe so that I can see what I am pointing at.

    You may want to select a foreground (landscape) that has no light source (eg passing cars or house etc). Then you can try 20-30s exposures and blub exposures etc ... do feel free to PM me if you want to know more ... I dun mind lending you my finderscope ... just share your photos w me the next time you get back

  3. #3

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    I suggest bringing a tripod instead of a monopod for your trip. This will allow you to take photograph of star trails using very long exposures. If weight and space allows, also bring the 75-300. It will be surprisingly useful in a rural mountainous setting, not for stars, but for landscapes and other shots.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    May I know where is this place? Sounds good...

    For star trails, you'll need a tripod rather than a monopod. A cable release is necessary. It has to be pretty dark for long star trails, so less light pollution, the better. Manual focus, most nothing to AF on. Being digital, you can do test shots for composition and that is very useful. But not sure how the 350D fare in long exposure noise. My 10D can get pretty noisy...

    And very important for shooting star trails, not your photo equipment but adequate protection for yourself! (warm clothings, mosquito repellent, torch etc)

    Quote Originally Posted by skinnylatte
    In a few days I'm going to a place also known as "city of the stars".. as expected, there will be a large number of stars in a rural, mountainous setting.

    I think I might like to take some photos of the sky, but as I have never tried it before, I thought you old hands might have some tips!

    I am bringing a 350D, a Gitzo monopod, 17-40L, and 50mm.. can also bring 28-105 or 75-300 but don't want too many lenses on the trip.

    Can anyone shed some light on the proper technique for 'shooting stars' or moon? I'm talking more landscape shots with the nightscape, less of the 'full details of the moon' kind of shot.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    Thanks everyone for the input!

    nuts, this place is in.. a neighbouring country. It's supposed to be one of its "best kept secrets", the kind that people who love it refuse to tell anyone about for fear that it might overrun with tourists.. well, when I get there, I'll find out if it's really as good, and I'll let you know.. in a PM. =)

  6. #6

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    Hi Guys,
    My post may be a bit OT but it is also related to star/astrology photography.

    Some time back I posted a thread about stars photography because I happened to visit some websites and these people took gorgeous photos of star trails, which I wanted to try it out.

    However, some of the more experienced photographers told me that it is impossible to get such photos if taken in Singapore because we are located near the equator and therefore, will be unable to get such effects such as star trails.

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Peace,
    -Michelle-

  7. #7

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    Hi skinnylatte...

    I was taught to use:
    a. bulb mode (shutter speed as long as u wish... but muz USE A CABLE!!! & remember to turn on the noise reduction function),
    b. select bigger apertures like F2.8-5.6,
    c. set lowest ISO (100 & below),
    c. manual focus to infinity, & point to the north (look out for the Big Dipper constellation)...
    d. use wide angle (eg. 18mm) to capture a bigger part of the sky with more stars trailing...

    & like wat the others said, a stable tripod is a more preferred choice to shoot star trails... u wldn't want to hold on to ur monopod stationary for 15 mins & at the same time try to slap off hungry mozzies & then end up with zig-zag trails, do ya?

    Oh, & take extra care not to shine any stray torchlight into / near ur cam... Sometimes u'll tend to forget tt ur cam's still recording exposure after awhile...
    Last edited by limkopi; 13th February 2006 at 02:36 PM.
    ~ 迷失的我仍在努力寻找属于自己的蓝天 ~

  8. #8

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    Quote Originally Posted by mich_2103
    Hi Guys,
    My post may be a bit OT but it is also related to star/astrology photography.

    Some time back I posted a thread about stars photography because I happened to visit some websites and these people took gorgeous photos of star trails, which I wanted to try it out.

    However, some of the more experienced photographers told me that it is impossible to get such photos if taken in Singapore because we are located near the equator and therefore, will be unable to get such effects such as star trails.

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Peace,
    -Michelle-
    Though we're located at the equator, the constellations still move from 1 end to the other end of the night sky through the night, that's wat I noticed when I stayed up late to stargaze during 1 of my chalets last time. So I guess it's still possible to capture star trails here, only difference cld be that the trails won't be as nicely curved / arched like those taken in countries further up north/south. However, in Singapore it's indeed quite difficult to capture star trails, mainly cos of light pollution... We simply have too many lamp posts on this island...
    ~ 迷失的我仍在努力寻找属于自己的蓝天 ~

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    Quote Originally Posted by mich_2103
    However, some of the more experienced photographers told me that it is impossible to get such photos if taken in Singapore because we are located near the equator and therefore, will be unable to get such effects such as star trails.
    Peace,
    -Michelle-
    Maybe it has something to do with difficulty in locating the north star? This is the star around which other stars appear to rotate, and hence it is said that if you keep the north star well within the frame, and expose for 4 hours or so, it'll be possible to obtain the classic star trail photos with the trails seeming to rotate in concentric circles around a relatively 'still' north star.

    Trouble in Singapore is also the light pollution. I think it'll be quite difficult to expose a photo successfully for a few hours without external light sources casting a hue in the photo, turning the sky from black to brownish and reducing contrast.

    That said, I'm a star trials n00b. Never done it in my life, don't even have a remote control.

    But from what I've read, the essentials are a long exposure (a few to several hours), moderate aperture (the wider the aperture, the more likely you are to catch trials of fainter stars, but too wide an aperture means exposure time will be reduced), low ISO, mirror lockup and remote control/ cable release. Go to the most ulu places possible to reduce chances of light pollution. Be sure to have personal protection, warm clothing, coffee to stay away. Use a battery grip with batteries loaded into it...don't want the camera to drop dead when the exposure is almost done and land up losing the whole shot. Keep the batteries warm with a warm pack, and do the same for the lens. In colder areas the lens may fog up with dew and reduce contrast in the shot. Try to have something interesting in the foreground to give the star trials a sense of place.

    I've seen a 4-hour star trial photo which includes an illuminated cactus. The photographer exposed the scene and while doing so, used a torch and flash guns to 'paint' out the cactus for around 10 minutes.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    wow. haha. it's like.. an artform become rocket science!

    i'll still be pretty near the equator.. just wanna practise this trip first, then hopefully be better equipped with tools (tripod + cable) and skills by the time i go to the himalayas in april. should be stars there right?

    those of you interested in stars..

    http://www.stellarium.org/

    =)

  11. #11

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    Quote Originally Posted by skinnylatte
    wow. haha. it's like.. an artform become rocket science!

    i'll still be pretty near the equator.. just wanna practise this trip first, then hopefully be better equipped with tools (tripod + cable) and skills by the time i go to the himalayas in april. should be stars there right?

    those of you interested in stars..

    http://www.stellarium.org/

    =)
    My fren who went Nepal came back telling me... she's so overwhelmed by the "congested night sky" & cld almost grab the stars with her bare hand when she's in the mountains...

    Guess it shld be the same for Himalayas...
    ~ 迷失的我仍在努力寻找属于自己的蓝天 ~

  12. #12

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    Quote Originally Posted by fWord
    Maybe it has something to do with difficulty in locating the north star? This is the star around which other stars appear to rotate, and hence it is said that if you keep the north star well within the frame, and expose for 4 hours or so, it'll be possible to obtain the classic star trail photos with the trails seeming to rotate in concentric circles around a relatively 'still' north star.

    Trouble in Singapore is also the light pollution. I think it'll be quite difficult to expose a photo successfully for a few hours without external light sources casting a hue in the photo, turning the sky from black to brownish and reducing contrast.

    That said, I'm a star trials n00b. Never done it in my life, don't even have a remote control.

    But from what I've read, the essentials are a long exposure (a few to several hours), moderate aperture (the wider the aperture, the more likely you are to catch trials of fainter stars, but too wide an aperture means exposure time will be reduced), low ISO, mirror lockup and remote control/ cable release. Go to the most ulu places possible to reduce chances of light pollution. Be sure to have personal protection, warm clothing, coffee to stay away. Use a battery grip with batteries loaded into it...don't want the camera to drop dead when the exposure is almost done and land up losing the whole shot. Keep the batteries warm with a warm pack, and do the same for the lens. In colder areas the lens may fog up with dew and reduce contrast in the shot. Try to have something interesting in the foreground to give the star trials a sense of place.

    I've seen a 4-hour star trial photo which includes an illuminated cactus. The photographer exposed the scene and while doing so, used a torch and flash guns to 'paint' out the cactus for around 10 minutes.
    Like this?


    Can you see Polaris among the coconut trees in the centre bottom of the frame? The line across the middle is caused by the @#$%&^ lab scratching along the whole stretch of my film!

    Shot on ASA400 film exposure is around 15-20 mins, I can't remember the aperture. This was shot more than 4 years back.

    All you need is a tripod and a wide angle lens, point it north or south and expose.

    If you are shooting constellations, then you will need a medium telephoto lens. You will need to use a higher ISO or you will need to piggyback on a telescope with a proper equatorial drive so that it will 'track' the stars as the earth rotates.

    The image below is shot a few months back on a D70s at ISO400. The exposure is 30s. The sky is already too bright so you can't get great contrast but the nebulosity of M42 (Orion Nebula) is already slightly visible (100% crop from another image of shorter exposure showing M42 below. You can already see even at 30s (20s in the case of the 100% crop) the star are already forming a trail. Good thing about digital is that it does not suffer from reciprocity failure like film does. This causes the sensitivity of the film to decrease one you are using long exposures, resulting in the need for even longer exposure time. So if you want to shoot reasonably long star trails, you will need to use the lowest ISO and may probably need to close down the aperture. You can trial and error and unlike film, you can calculate the exposure by using the normal method.


    Last edited by lsisaxon; 13th February 2006 at 04:38 PM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    Quote Originally Posted by mich_2103
    Hi Guys,
    My post may be a bit OT but it is also related to star/astrology photography.

    Some time back I posted a thread about stars photography because I happened to visit some websites and these people took gorgeous photos of star trails, which I wanted to try it out.

    However, some of the more experienced photographers told me that it is impossible to get such photos if taken in Singapore because we are located near the equator and therefore, will be unable to get such effects such as star trails.

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Peace,
    -Michelle-
    The correct reason why we cannot do it in Singapore is that the light pollution would not allow you to do very long exposures.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    For me, bcoz of the noise on my 10D, I prefer film for long star trails...
    Anyway, this was posted last year ...
    http://forums.clubsnap.org/showthread.php?t=134627

  15. #15

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    Quote Originally Posted by nuts
    For me, bcoz of the noise on my 10D, I prefer film for long star trails...
    Anyway, this was posted last year ...
    http://forums.clubsnap.org/showthread.php?t=134627
    I think there is no choice but to use film for very long trails. I don't know how good are the CMOS sensors, but I'm sure the CCD ones may heat up quite a bit if the exposure is more than 5 minutes. I have not tested any DSLR for that kind of exposure yet. I would probably just use a mechanical camera.
    Last edited by lsisaxon; 13th February 2006 at 05:25 PM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    Dude, there's actually a technique where u do an exposure of the same time where u had tat long exposure.

    Example if ur star trail is for 4hr, take another shot(with ur cap on) for 4hr(with the same settings) and combine them together. U shd get less noise. Can't remember wat's the actual term for doin tis tho.

    Don't worry abt heatin up n stuff, the sensor can tahan. But of course make sure tat u have enuff juice to last for such a long exposure.

    Quote Originally Posted by lsisaxon
    I think there is no choice but to use film for very long trails. I don't know how good are the CMOS sensors, but I'm sure the CCD ones may heat up quite a bit if the exposure is more than 5 minutes. I have not tested any DSLR for that kind of exposure yet. I would probably just use a mechanical camera.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    Quote Originally Posted by AdyH
    Dude, there's actually a technique where u do an exposure of the same time where u had tat long exposure.

    Example if ur star trail is for 4hr, take another shot(with ur cap on) for 4hr(with the same settings) and combine them together. U shd get less noise. Can't remember wat's the actual term for doin tis tho.

    Don't worry abt heatin up n stuff, the sensor can tahan. But of course make sure tat u have enuff juice to last for such a long exposure.
    Yeah.. and then it will be daytime.. :P I think it's called dark noise cancellation.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    Wah!

    2 long exposures of 4 hours.. =) Camera can tahan, I don't know if I can! (It's supposed to be a romantic getaway, significant other will be very annoyed if I spend too much time with my cameras, but I'm going to try anyway..)

    Speaking of combining images, check this out.
    http://www.boingboing.net/2006/02/12...p_produce.html

  19. #19

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    Quote Originally Posted by skinnylatte
    Wah!

    2 long exposures of 4 hours.. =) Camera can tahan, I don't know if I can! (It's supposed to be a romantic getaway, significant other will be very annoyed if I spend too much time with my cameras, but I'm going to try anyway..)

    Speaking of combining images, check this out.
    http://www.boingboing.net/2006/02/12...p_produce.html
    So time to shoot with bracketing on? 0, +1.5, -1.5?

  20. #20

    Default Re: Shooting Stars

    Quote Originally Posted by mich_2103
    Hi Guys,
    My post may be a bit OT but it is also related to star/astrology photography.

    Some time back I posted a thread about stars photography because I happened to visit some websites and these people took gorgeous photos of star trails, which I wanted to try it out.

    However, some of the more experienced photographers told me that it is impossible to get such photos if taken in Singapore because we are located near the equator and therefore, will be unable to get such effects such as star trails.

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Peace,
    -Michelle-

    we can still take star trails but not the circumpolar (around pole star, so you see arcs of light around a point) kind.

    If you want, go as far as Thailand can liao ... but need to go to the ulu places ...

    PM me if you want to find out more ...

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