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Thread: Any tips on photographing the moon + starry sky?

  1. #1
    Member vincechu's Avatar
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    Question Any tips on photographing the moon + starry sky?

    Hi everyone, recently the moons been really bright and the starry sky's been clear, so thought it would be great to try and take some photos of the moon and starry sky. And also on Friday (29th Jan), according to Yahoo News, Mars and the Full Moon will be really bright and visible so I thought it would be nice to take some photos of them.

    So today (Thurs) I tried a few shots of the night sky and didnt get any good results , so I was wondering if anyone could please give me some tips?

    I know that long shutter speeds (with tripod) and higher ISO (which affect IQ) help, but what should I do about focusing? I'm thinking infinate focus would be a good idea but how do you get infinate focus without using Landscape Mode (which apparently sets focus priority to infinate and doesn't help as it doesn't allow control over shutter speed). I heard infinate focusing is impossible on the G1 - is that true?

    Any tips would be greatly appreciated if it helps I'm using a G1 and the 14-140mm

    If anyone else tries to photograph Mars and the Moon on Fri 26th don't forget to post your photos if anyones interested heres the Yahoo news article, it provides a bit of information about whats happening with Mars and the Moon, but its a UK site so don't forget to check local sites for when would be the best viewing time for you, UK around 9PM: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/21/20100128...w-4b158bc.html

  2. #2
    ChrisJ
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    Re: Any tips on photographing the moon + starry sky?

    To fill the frame with the Moon you need a lens in excess of 2000mm (1000mm on the G1).

    The Moon is brighter than you think when it occupies most of the frame 1/125th of a second at f8 being a good starting point for a full Moon.

    I shot this picture of the moon using my G1 on an Astro scope, you need a manual lens as auto focus won't work.



    This was shot using the scope to project the image onto the sensor using a 24mm eyepiece, it's not cropped.

    This is what I got with a 'bare' lens (650mm - 1200mm on a G1) again not cropped.



    Chris
    Last edited by ChrisJ; 28th January 2010 at 17:34. Reason: added picture

  3. #3
    Senior Member RichA's Avatar
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    Re: Any tips on photographing the moon + starry sky?

    You need to shoot the moon with a long lens (at least 400mm on the G1) to get any major detail. Also, if it's a mirror lens, it must reach temp equilibrium with the outside air to avoid deformation of the mirrors. You should use the self-timer to isolate the camera from human hands when shooting. Shoot when the Moon is as high in the sky as possible and on a night where the stars don't twinkle as this means unsteady (blurry) shots. To get detail, shoot the moon when it is at partial phase (half, quarter) because that is when the sun's rays hit it at an angle, revealing features with relief.
    Stars need exposure time and with the G1, don't exceed 200 ISO or you will get noisy images. Ideally, you need dark skies (doesn't matter with the moon) and as long an exposure as you can do without allowing for motion blur as the Earth turns. A tracking mount (telescope equatorial mount) is needed if exposures exceed about 10 seconds with a 50mm equivalent lens.

    This shot was taken using the G1 though a 1000mm telescope at f8.


  4. #4
    Member vincechu's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Any tips on photographing the moon + starry sky?

    Many thanks Chris and RichA, you gave me some very useful tips which I'll try to put into action tomorrow (weather permitting - it just started raining here in the UK )

    Now that I think about it using my 14-140mm was a bit of a silly idea haha, I'll go borrow some larger glass from a few friends of mine

    I have to say I never thought about using the self timer to eliminate shake from touching the shutter release - its a really simple idea and I'm kicking myself for not thinking of that earlier lol - Many thanks its a very useful tip which I'll definately keep in mind for other aspects of my photography.

    I have to say both of your images are really impressive and inspiring, thanks for sharing them and also many thanks to both of you again for giving me your tips, I really appreciate it

  5. #5
    Senior Member RichA's Avatar
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    Re: Any tips on photographing the moon + starry sky?

    I cheated. The image was taken in the summer when air temp was moderate and the skies very steady. If that same shot was taken in the winter, it would have maybe 1/2 the detail, if that.

  6. #6
    duckrider
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    Re: Any tips on photographing the moon + starry sky?

    hello vincechu,
    vice Your impression monn & stars are "running" along the cope. Result is: If You use exposure times longer than some seconds (depneding on the focal length of Your lens) You will not get shrp pics. You have to do manual (not that easy) our automatic (not that easy and not cheap!!) tracking of Your photographic equipment.
    The only astronomic corpus bright enough for fast tripod pics is the moon. Stars are not bright enough to take pictures without tracking.
    All Astrophoto-Professionals hate full-moon for deep sky shots, everybody is waiting for new moon because for exposures lasting 30minutes and more moonlight ist disturbing very much.

    Taking impressive photographs of stars & galaxies needs BIG equiment (>10.000Euro) and LONG expierence (>5-10 years, hundreds of sleepless outdoor nights), so don't be disappointed if Your pictures won't look like "Hubble-made".

    good time
    Thomas

  7. #7
    Member vincechu's Avatar
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    Re: Any tips on photographing the moon + starry sky?

    RichA: Thanks for the info, seems photographing the moons more complicated than I expected.

    Thomas: Thanks for the information, I wasn't expecting much detail to start with but I think your tip about manual focusing should help - thanks

  8. #8
    jglover
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    Re: Any tips on photographing the moon + starry sky?

    You can take pics of the very brightest stars without tracking. You will need a steady tripod and a relatively fast normal to wide angle lens. For a standard 35mm frame and a 5omm lens, you can get away with about a 20 to 30 second exposure without the stars beginning to trail on you. Using this technique you can get nice constellation portraits with the brighter stars showing. In the winter in the US, Orion, Canis Major, Gemini, etc. will make nice subjects. I suspect you could probably get more stars if you stacked several images, though I've never tried it with constellation images.

    And, as Thomas said, the full moon will wash out these types of photos. Also, it is really not possible to do constellation portraits and the moon in the same frame, as the longer images required for the constellations will completely wash out the lunar image. To get both in the same frame will require Photoshop trickery!

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