Photography News issue 25

Technique 28

Photography News Issue 25

Astrophotography Stars in your eyes As the skies darken towards winter, it’s time to feel the wonder of astrophotography. This month take your first steps in shooting the night sky...

Words by Kingsley Singleton

As photographers we’re always looking for newways to see theworld; ways that can amaze us and the people who see our shots. And like the microscopic detail of macro photography, or the flowing water of long exposures, which give a view that’s impossible to see with the naked eye, astrophotography can produce that same sense of wonder. Of course, astrophotography is a discipline in its own right and like any other it takes work to be good at it, as well as the right kit. And while astrophotography is a somewhat general term for shooting the night sky, which takes in both wide-angle and cropped-in shots of the stars alone, here we’ll be looking at the latter. Each image is a unique challenge and a triumph over practical problems (and the English weather)... so each gives immense satisfaction

Fortunately though you can start simple and still get some great shots before moving on to more exacting set-ups, and with even the bare minimum of knowledge and equipment, you could be shooting lunar landscapes, the Pleiades cluster, and the Andromeda Galaxy sooner than you’d thought possible. Expert advice To help, we’ve enlisted the help of Chris Woodhouse ARPS, author of the book The Astrophotography Manual . An experienced photographer in other fields, too, Chris has always held a general fascination for astronomy, and having been “blown away

by the images that ordinary guys were achieving”, he bought some used kit from eBay to try it himself. Soon he was hooked and kept striving for better, becoming a fully-fledged night sky expert. “One of the thrills of taking a really good night sky image,” Chris says, “is the fact that, even though we could all potentially take identical pictures, we just don’t. Apart from the fantastic colours that emerge out of an apparently monochrome sky, each image is a unique challenge and a triumph over practical problems (and the English weather). You cannot take anything for granted so each image gives immense satisfaction.”

Above The Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, also known as Messier 45 or M45, is a big and obvious target in the night sky, and one that’s ripe for shooting even if you’re a beginner. It can be seen with the naked eye, and, says Chris Woodhouse, is a subject that “you often see taken with a DSLR on an inexpensive telescope or telephoto lens”.

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