Astro Photography

Shooting the stars at night can be a difficult but hugely fulfilling discipline in photography. We have all seen those utterly fantastic shots of stars streaking across the sky, or the milky way in all of its colourful glory, and marveled at this snapshot of the heavens. It can stir all sorts of imaginative thoughts, wondering who or what is out there, are we alone, and just how to these photographers take such fantastic shots! Well, there is good and bad news for those that wish to emulate them. The bad news is that you really do need to have access to a DSLR, a good tripod and lens. You will also need to develop an intuitive sense of how to use the camera settings and just where to point your camera in the night sky. The good news is, that there really is no magic going on with the camera. The controls are there to be manipulated and it is distinctly possible to learn how and when to use your camera to get these shots.

Ideally, you are going to want to get out of the city and into the country to avoid light pollution. The warm glow of the city lights tend to mask the true glory of the night sky, which I am sure that anyone who has spent time in rural areas will testify to. Coastal areas offer better visibility.

Aside from the post-processing, taking good shots of the Milky Way is also a matter of knowing just where in the heavens to point your camera. However, it is not needle in a haystack stuff, and you don’t have to be an expert astronomer, or understand which planet is which, or which star is part of which distant constellation, to be able to figure it out. Interpreting the celestial canvas is a matter of understanding the seasons, which dictates where the distant stars are in the night sky. If you really don’t care to learn this amazing science, and that is not big deal really, you can always download the a Stellarium, which will give you an idea of where to point your lens in the night sky. This will give you an idea of where to point the camera at a given time of year. For example, if you live in the northern hemisphere, you should point the camera up high into the night sky during winter and in the south during summer, where you will see Orion, etc and the wider Milky Way. In the Spring, the Milky Way is likely to be more on the western periphery of the night sky. During the autumn, you are most likely to see the Milky Way high above the western horizon

You will need a DSLR camera, as these tend to perform much more efficiently in low light conditions, picking up all sorts of data that we are barely able to see with the naked eye. The lens aperture is of fundamental importance. A wide open lens (say f/1.4 or f/2.8) will allow your camera to gather the most light, however, this will come at the cost of sharpness towards the edge of your images. An aperture of f/2.8 can produce acceptable results, but your really do need a lens of the highest quality to do so. Be careful not go stop too far back, to say f/11 or above. However, at f/4 there may be a possibility that the blurred effect can be more pleasing that the sharp effect of starts at that aperture size. Therefore, it can often be better to accept a little blurring as a more pleasing result. Prime lenses tend to offer the best quality; but that comes at a cost. They very often have a limited focal length which is not entirely suitable for the wide angle skyscapes you expect with astro-photography.

Focusing in the dark can be a troublesome business, but an important one. Achieving what is known as “hyperfocus” or “infinity focus” is the only way to ensure that as much of the scene is in focus as possible. However, this does not just mean just turning the focus ring to the widest setting – hyperfocal distance is actually just short of this. There is a way around this though; focusing on a torch or flash light placed around 50 ft away (or the distance to hyperfocus) can be just as effective as a more scientific method of determine the plum point on the focal ring. The second method would be to use live-view and zoom in (with digital zoom rather than optical zoom) and adjust the focal ring until the stars are sharp. In my experience, though, this is not always an accurate, or more to the point stress-free, way to focus on the stars.

When taking certain types of astro-photography, it is actually better not to capture any movement in the stars themselves. This means you are going to have to limit your exposure time. In my experience, limiting to 20 to 30 seconds will probably suffice. Of course, though, the close the stars are to the celestial pole, the shorter any movement will be, and vice versa. When looking straight to the north star, with a long focal length, you may even be able to extend the exposure to 90 seconds.

Manipulating ISO will also provide some control over both the number of stars in view and the quality of the image. These, unfortunately are conflicting goals. The more you crank up the ISO, the poorer the image quality will be. ISO’s of greater than 800 will show up noise, even when viewed at large scale. However, the benefits are that the camera is letting the light flood into the sensor, bringing out a number of distant stars that perhaps aren’t even visible to the naked eye.

Photography

The Best Top Rated Digital Cameras On The Planet

So, rumor has it, your looking for the top rated digital cameras ever to grace a store shelf. Well, what if I told you that the even if you get the best rated digital camera on the planet, it still won’t save you from taking pictures that suck out loud. Yep you heard me. That may be a bit harsh, but better I tell you the truth now, then wait for you to spend a thousand or more dollars on the latest and greatest camera that Canon, Nikon, or Pentax have to offer.

A great camera doesn’t necessarily guarantee great pictures. I’ve seen some pretty amazing pictures taken with cheap little point and shoot cameras. Its true, sad but true. Money may not be able to buy you love and happiness, but it’s also true that it can’t buy you the camera to make you the next Annie Lebowitz. It just can’t. The only thing that can get you to take better pictures, is to learn to be a better photographer.

Photography is a skill, like any other, and you can’t just throw money at the problem, and hope it’s fixed. It’s going to take some time and effort on your part to make that happen as well. However, once you begin to understand more about composition, lighting, color, shading, field of depth and other components of what makes a good photograph, then and only then will a better camera do wonders for your images.

It’s like playing tennis as a beginner. No matter what racquet you put in your hands, your always going to play like an amateur. But, once you spend a few years at the sport, and move up in your skill level, then a good racquet can mean the difference between winning and losing your club championship.

Good cameras are exactly like that. The complex professional cameras have features and functionality that you really need to understand to take advantage of. If you don’t know what and aperture is, or have a basic understanding of field of depth and color matching, then just stick with the point and shoot cameras. They do much of the thinking for you.

If however, your serious, and have a passion, and have spent time AND money upgrading your skills and knowledge, then it’s time to invest in some good photography equipment. Before you make that purchase, be sure you understand the camera technology available. Also make sure you know what you want in the context of that technology. There’s no point in paying for something you won’t ever user. When you’ve done all that, it’s time to get to the nuts and bolts of shopping around. The internet is great for that, as just about every camera ever manufactured is described, reviewed, praised and panned on the internet. Just take a look around.

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Best Internet Network Marketing Training System – The Secret In a Down Economy

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Photography Is Ruining Travel

Travelling is all about gaining new experiences and seeking new environment’s to gain a wider knowledge of other regions on our planet. Every man and his dog has a camera these days presented in different formats from your standard digital camera to SLR cameras to camera phones and i-pads. In most cases these are the first thing we ensure we have packed before travelling abroad, and they are one of a few items that we take out with us on our day-to-day adventures. The problem with cameras is that they seem to get in the way of our day-to-day activities. Everybody seems to have the urge to take a picture of just about everything they see, rather than savour the moment with their own eyes.

It’s fair to say that some people spend their entire holiday looking through the viewfinder of a camera rather than with their own eyes. In many respects people are more interested about going home with a few good images representing their holiday rather than experiencing the holiday at the time for what it is. Not long ago I was on a boat trip in Namibia and we were being followed by a pod of dolphins riding the crest of waves behind our boat. I spent the whole time looking through the viewfinder of my camera trying to capture the perfect image of the dolphin’s instead of enjoying the experience for what it ultimately was, and that was the experience of a lifetime, I never did really get the perfect shot I so desperately wanted.

If we’re not careful we could all find ourselves in a situation where getting the perfect picture takes priority over the experience, where does it end? When you travel on safari these days all you see is hundreds of tourists all peering down their camera lenses at the animal in front of them rather than just sitting back and savouring the moment of being in the presence of such a wonderful creature. Although technology is positive in most ways, this certainly doesn’t seem to be a great indication of things to come. There seems to be so much pressure these days for people to get great pictures to impress their friends and families back home that half of the holiday is spent trying to get yourself into a scenario where creating this picture is possible.

There was once a time when taking a camera on holiday wasn’t important and it was all about the experience instead. These times seem to have come and gone and the future certainly doesn’t look promising judging by today’s standards and people actions whilst on holiday. With almost everyone having access to a camera these days competition between people to get the best picture is always going to be rife and until there is a fundamental change, photography over the experience of a holiday seems to be the way it’s heading.

Photography