Star Photography for Beginners (Astrophotography)

Star Photography for Beginners (Astrophotography)

how's it going guys I'm Josh and today I am hyped to teach you about astrophotography or shooting stars and this is going to be a beginners tutorial so basically an introduction to astrophotography so if you've never shot with manual settings in your camera not even a problem you'll be shooting in full manual mode by the end of this video and capturing stars it's going to be great so a couple things I want to start off by saying my most important preface is that I'm not from Idaho Iowa or the middle of the country and the reason why I saved those three places is because people from those areas are always the best astrophotographers because they get to go outside everyday just see the most incredible starry sky I know I'm generalizing here a bit but I live in DC and go to school in New York and it's very busy and there's a lot of light pollution so it's hard to shoot photos of stars now get to do it that much so that being said there is a whole world of really intense Astro photography that gets a very very technical very in-depth shoot even milk away all this crazy stuff and I am not quite there I'm not the best ass or a photographer and I'll show you a few of my shots who they are so if you don't like my work no hard feelings and if you do know that there is a much more in-depth world of Astro photography and this is just the tip of the iceberg now this tutorial is going to be for people like me who don't live in the country and don't have the opportunity to shoot stars that often that being said I will have you ready to go for your first time so let's get into it first things first equipment you're going to need you'll want a camera with manual settings and I use a Canon 70d right here they're going to want a stable tripod a headlamp is going to make your life so so much easier because you're going to be working in the pitch black of night probably somewhere where there's absolutely no lights and you also might want a flashlight because you're going to be doing some light painting more on that later but an iPhone light can suffice if you don't have a headlamp and a flashlight I highly recommend the other two though and finally you're going to need the right lens now it's a lot of my other photo tutorials you can do those things like long exposures with any sort of lens but for Star photography you're probably going to want a wide-angle lens and I use the Tamron 10 to 24 millimeter wide angle and the reason why you want a wide angle is because it lets you get more of the sky and see these big things like the Milky Way and such as well as you're going to need a very wide aperture so this lens actually isn't ideal the lowest option Oh two is 3.5 a lot of photographers prefer ones and go to 2.8 or 1.4 and if that doesn't mean anything to you don't even worry about it just know that this lens I really like because it's very well rounded and I can shoot lots of stuff like portraits and three photography with this and that's why I got this it can also do Astro photography however if I were to get a lens specifically for Astro photography I would probably get the rocket on 24 millimeter 1.4 and I will put links to all of these lenses down below if you're curious and I also have a website full of all my camera equipment and reviews on it also an intervalometer or remote really helps but not mandatory more on this later and lastly before we get to actually shooting the photo there are three elements you need to know about weather and locations first things first is light pollution you're going to need a place where there is minimal to no light pollution and just because your backyard is dark does not mean there's not insane amounts of light pollution in the atmosphere so I'm going to put a website link down below that has an entire world map where you can actually see where you live and see what the light pollution is coming from so just to put things into perspective here is DC where I live and you notice you might have to drive an hour outside of the city just to get a little bit of darkness here is Shenandoah National Park just southwest still in Virginia where it's much much better and you'll be able to get some good action the national parks are always amazing for that and here is New York where the light pollution is so ridiculous that you might just have to give up and watch my street photography tutorial is dead but seriously it is a battle if I'm in the right place where there's not too much light pollution so I have to take the opportunities I get and I don't get to shoot stars as much as I'd like to number two is the moon now a lot of photographers get really precise about tracking the weather and the moon because if the moon is out and bright you're not going to get the Milky Way you need the moon to be almost non-existent for that however if the moon's out you can still get great photos of stars which is good news because some of us don't have the luxury to plan our trips around the lunar calendar and lastly number three you're going to want to know where the action is and by that I mean I have this great app called sky guide that lets me look around and see where all the action is where all the constellations are and where the Milky Way is which is super helpful because sometimes it's hard to actually see with your eyes your camera can still capture them finally we're ready to start shooting so step number one is you're going to want to find the right location star photos are really bore when it's just this guy you're probably going to want to have something in the foreground whether it be a tree a car or a mountain walk around try and find a cool spot that where you can have the stars in the background find something interesting now a lot of photographers will say you should set up before it gets dark which is a great idea because you have full range of your composition you can see what's around you now if you're like me you only get that opportunity to shoot a couple times a year and when you arguing that you're probably in a national park hiking or koch2 you're doing something so I don't get to shoot until it's already really dark out so what I like to do is actually let them walk them around all day just keep it out for clue spots near my campsite where I'd be able to do some good Astro photography if you forget to pre-plan not a huge deal I've also had some loved just wandering off my campsite in the dark but that is definitely where the headlamp comes into play step number two is composition now if you're lucky you already set up a camera before it got dark you've got a great composition lucky you if you're like me it's now pitch dark and you're wandering around trying to find something and once you do find a cool potential shot you look through your camera and you see oh my god it's pitch black I can't see anything what you're going to have to do is actually take test shots to see how the photos going to look to be able to see these test shots and not have them take too long we're going to do is first drive our iso way way high try 6400 or so drop your aperture number to the lowest number possible minus 3.5 and then drop your shutter speed to about five seconds and they're going to have to be in full manual trail of this and with those settings your camera on the tripod you should be able to get a rough look at what your shots going to look like we're going to be changing all these settings later so this is just so it can take the least amount of time possible for you to see what the shots going to look like so you're gonna have to keep messing around with your camera moving it from place to place adjusting the angle until you take the right shot and you're like okay this is a nice composition and then we move on to step number three once you have your shot composable you like it we're just going to do a little bit of alignment so first of all make sure your camera is shooting in full raw mode because this will give you way more options and editing more information it's the way to go second plug in your intervalometer or your shutter remote or if you don't have either of those things you can turn the ten-second timer on and when that will let you do is make sure your camera doesn't actually shake because when you press the shutter and your camera it shakes just a little bit even with a steady tripod and finally make sure your camera is in full manual mode if it's not already set number four we're going to now set our aperture and remember that aperture shutter speed and ISO all counterbalance and the reason why we set aperture first we're going to set it to the lowest number your lens will possibly let you go to now if you have a lens like this zoom lens chances are it's different lowest possible apertures at different zooms so the wider your lens is or the more zoomed out it actually is the lower aperture you'll be able to go to so I always shoot my star photos at 10 millimeters instead of 24 because let's me go to 3.5 so basically just bring it to the lowest aperture number possible because it gives you more flexibility later on with your ISO and your shutter speed lowest number possible and for those of you that don't know aperture is like the little hole in your camera that's in light and a really small aperture number means a big hole it lets in more light step number five we are now going to set our shutter speed which is how long the camera shutter actually stays open while the picture is being taken now there's this thing called the five hundred rule and basically it's this mathematical formula that calculates the slowest possible exposure or shutter speed you can use however don't even worry about that if you're curious I'll put a link to it down below and there is a cool thing but all you need to know is that you want an exposure of fifteen to thirty seconds so we're going to start at fifteen seconds step number six is setting your ISO now I asked though is your cameras digital sensitivity to light and the larger the ISO number the noisier the photo is going to get now most cameras have a max ISO and usually photos start to look terrible before you actually hit that max ISO so on my 70d I know that I can shoot a photo at 3200 max before it starts to look awful 6400 is usually a little bit too much so anyway you're going to want to start at 1600 ISO and we're going to start to experiment until we find the perfect one step number seven we're now going to focus our photo so make sure first of all that your camera is set to manual focus because it's so dark out that auto focus is going to be of no value to you and take your focus and bring it all the way to infinity because you're focusing on the stars and with a wide-angle lens infinity will be perfect and what you want to do just to make sure is take a test photo just zoom in on it using the digital zoom and triple-check to make sure the stars look good if they've seen a little bit off there's two things you're going to want to fix one is you might want to take it just a little bit before infinity some lenses are best like that or two you'll end might have just fogged up because it could be cold outside so shine a light on it to make sure and use a microfiber cloth if you have to clean it off step number eight experimenting at this point you should have a composition that's good just got to tweak those settings to make sure you can properly see the stars so don't worry about the foreground subject for now if you have a Korean front or whatever don't worry about that we'll focus that next step just focus on making sure the stars are lit properly so your aperture should be at the lowest possible aperture your iso at 1600 and your shutter speeds at fifteen seconds so take a test shot and this looks good nice we're still going to keep experimenting just to see if there's anything better we're going to now try a 20 second exposure with all the same settings and then a 30 second exposure just so you can see which ones look best if your photos still seem a little bit dark and the stars aren't looking good we're going to bump our iso up to 3200 now if you're not seeing the stars or either one inside still or two just too much light pollution so definitely be careful checking that map step number nine the foreground so at this point your star should be properly lit the camera settings perfect we just got to make sure that subject and the foreground is good to go so if you're shooting nothing but the stars you're probably totally done at this point we just have to edit in the next step but if you have something like a tree in the foreground we're gonna have to do is light it up with your flashlight so an iPhone light does work for some smaller stuff or if it's really close to you now if its larger you're probably going to want a bigger flashlight but what you're gonna have to do and this is a lot of trial and error you're going to actually have to paint it in with light now if you just hold your light right here you're going to have one little spot of your subject well-lit and everything else really dark and it's not going to look good we're don't want to actually do is shake your camera around moving the light all over to actually fill in different parts of the subject now it even helps a little bit to move to the side and try and get a little bit of action over here to function as a fill light because if it all comes from the same direction the subject will look kind of flat so just kind of experiment with all the different light sources you have so this is a lot of trial and error and if your foreground subject your tree turns out a little bit too bright maybe you only have to use the light five seconds of the photo it just depends on the brightness of your light how far you are from your foreground subjects all these variables so just experiment until you have a decently lit full-grown subject and last step before we edit number 10 stick around and just keep experimenting with photos you'll find that the clouds are constantly changing affecting the lighting of the shot so yeah be patient and once you've got this technique down you can take a bunch of different shots now once you take a shot into like oh this is it take three more doing the exact same things because you'll find that you might have a shooting star in one that you do or don't want and you never know what it's going to look like once you actually pull it up into computer so just to be safe shoot a couple and step number 11 we're now going to take the photo into lightroom and editing is crucial because before you edit you're going to be missing out on colors and details that you wouldn't normally see but once you start to tweak with this you'll see the photo get so so so much better so if you don't have lightroom i'm going to put a link down below to get it and let's open it up and start messing around a couple of crucial details first of all you're going to want to set an adjustment brush and what this is going to do is select only the stars so you can tweak that part of the photo and then you're going to also want to set an adjustment brush for everything below this selection process to set up of course it might take a minute or two just like that and I'm going to bump up the contrast just to make the stars come out a little bit better clarity is also super super helpful try not to go above 50 though because we can get obnoxious now in this photo you have the moon illuminating the clouds so I'm going to mess the highlights a little bit see how that looks and of course a little bit of saturation is also really helpful and then down below I decided all this stuff is just way too much work to light up so instead I'm going to get it all dark vibe so I'm just going to highlight it and then actually just bring down the exposure a little bit and bring down the blacks and it's gonna be pitch black for a much more dramatic feel and lastly once we're done with that we're going to scroll down to the HSL tab and we're going to mess with individual colors now in this photo you have the orange light pollution on the far right as well as some blues and the purples so we're just going to mess with the saturation and the luminance for these two options and the last thing we're going to do is we're going to go in to the detail feature of Lightroom and we're going to do a little bit of noise reduction because you shot at a very high as so which means a lot of noise so I'm going to bring that bar up to about 25 which is a good good middle ground and it'll make your photo a little less noisy and a super helpful feature you'll see I actually mess with the blues a little bit more and saturated the photo more on my first round that's just how it goes but they are pretty similar for the most part and that's a brief overview of the editing process and finally step number 12 you're now going to post these photos on Instagram and so I can see that use the hashtag Josh cats photos as well as tagging me in the description with my Instagram at Josh Katz because I want to see your awesome star photos there's nothing more gratifying knowing you guys are learning photography through these videos and some of my favorite shots will be featured in my next tutorial video and if this was helpful be sure to give it a thumbs up because that really helps me and subscribe for more videos and most importantly be sure to leave a comment letting me know if you have any questions anything that you liked or didn't like about this tutorial because I'm constantly trying to improve and finally if you have any suggestions on future photo tutorials you think I should do please let me know down below I'm thinking about doing a series on composition but let me know what you guys want to learn and lastly if you like my work be sure to follow me on Instagram linked to that over here and I also have a website full of all of my best photos and high quality you can check out I'm also selling prints of my favorite shops and actually I have one is the Northern Lights in Iceland and this one's also for sale on mine I've also got a bunch more Photoshop Lightroom and photography tutorials on my website as well as an entire review of my full camera setup so if you're curious about any of that you can check out my website link to that over here and that is all I have to say except for my favorite videos for my last photo video tutorial I did a tutorial on this cool floating skateboard effect and my four favorites are from Nick Rush this one was super cool and petty Noah sellers and Peppa cruise that I can't pronounce this guy's name but they all did incredible work and it was super cool to see people actually do it when I'm teaching so definitely be sure to tag me in your photos on Instagram so I can see them and that is all add to say thank you so much for watching and I will see you eventually and last but not least don't forget the Eurostar always eats my food we didn't need this did I'm in some gnarly pierogies for lunch today here you go all I shared them with dad I sautรฉed some onions on I know everywhere you say you may create you more

44 thoughts on “Star Photography for Beginners (Astrophotography)”

  1. Hey guys! I have a Canon EOS Rebel XSi Model# DS126181 Camera With 28-55mm and a AF 75-300mm 1:4-5.6 LD, can just buy a special lens to be able to shot stars and if so what lens would you recommend or what extra equipment would I need?. PLEASE HELP!!

  2. Great info Josh. Can you suggest a good starting Camera and equip, all for about 1000.bucks? some of us beginners are on a budget. Thanks again for the super great info….

  3. Thank you! After watching just this one tutorial I was able to capture a beautiful nightscape in my Missouri countryside.

  4. Thanx Josh love this video. Deffo gonna be watching all your others. Nice and easy to watch and understand. Also a really nice guy. Peace always from the UK.

  5. All the Rokinon lenes are pretty good for a budget. I have the 14mm and the 16mm both very nice for Night sky. Also you can use live view to manually focus on a star. No need for test shots

  6. thank you bud, that was very help full!.. I got a Fish eye lense.. is that lense will be the better for shooting stars? isnt that will have the lowest aperture of all lenses? I got the 7 artisans 7,5 mm … thanks for you help..

  7. Great job. Solid basic or nightsky photography. Thanks a lot. I kindly suggest you to shoot your tutorial videos with manual focus with a constant distance between you(a simple ground mark would perfectly work) and your camera to avoid constant AF adjustment of the camera.

  8. Josh….thank you. I've tried loads of tutorials and this is the first one I've been able to actual shoot the night sky…ok my equipment isn't what you've recommended (I don't have a wide lens) but none the less…the best results I've had so far.


  10. Thanks Josh, super helpful. I've just started into astrophotography with a recent camping trip to Death Valley then Grand Staircase NM. I was wondering why my shots were slightly blurry even with a tripod. But I think your shutter remote idea is the key. I'll be watching more of your videos, very helpful, thanks! Oh, and I love the light painting idea!

  11. I know absolutely nothing about cameras. All this technical jargon goes straight over my head. I just want to buy a good camera and tripod and go take some cool pics. Help lol

  12. Great information and your delivery is awesome. You are having so much fun and that translates to the audience. Thank you and keep making' videos.

  13. This was fantastic video. Thanks for posting. Really helped a lot. do you have anything posted that goes into highlighting a person in the foreground. you touched on it in this video, but could use a little more info on this. As well do you have anything for beginner ;right painting?


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