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Astrophotography tips?
  
 
FrancisK7
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Astrophotography tips?


I seldom shoot in remote locations where stars are visible and when I am it's always overcast. Last Saturday I had the first opportunity in over 30 weddings to shoot stars, and we noticed them at 11:45PM when we started packing to leave. I was thankful the couple accepted to go outside in the cold to do this at that time, but I hit a few blockers.

First, I had never shot a starry sky.

Second, it was cold and late and I felt pressure to do this quickly

Third, I did not have a tripod.

So Jessica was crawling on her hand and feet in the wet grass, acting as a tripod to help me stabilize, whilst simultaneously using her cellphone light to help me focus as well. Meanwhile, my assistant was holding a flash with a grid+sphere on it.

I ended up using my sigma 20mm art at 1.4, ISO3200 and did a 1.5s exposure, the best I could muster in a hand held fashion with a human tripod for support. This is a single exposure.

Used rear-curtain sync to freeze them properly.

My question is. how could I have improved this shot?

I imagine a composite would have been the way to go? What's the longest possible exposure if I have a tripid before I start seeing trails? Any post processing technique tips that may be particular to astrophotography? Next time an opportunity presents itself, I'd like to improve on the concept.







Thanks for your time!



Jul 24, 2017 at 03:20 PM
macpro88
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Astrophotography tips?


First thought is to take multiple shots, layer/blend in post for these types of shots. Get the shot of the bride and groom first; sharp, well lit, etc. Then get them out of the frame and make the shot for the stars.

It's distracting that the stars are so out of focus in this image; when I view images like this, both the bride and groom and the stars become the center of attention, and if one of them out of focus, it just looks weird.

Given your circumstances for this photo though, it is well done. I don't think there's a whole lot else you could have done, except using your human trip to take the second shot for the stars.



Jul 24, 2017 at 04:06 PM
TheyCallMeJ
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Astrophotography tips?


Astrophotography can be complex, adding human subjects adds into that, in particular on a wedding day so it is difficult to elaborate in a short post. Quick tips:

1) Check the moon calendar and pay attention to the weather forecast, should the conditions give you the opportunity, bring a tripod;

2) If you are shooting as a landscape, with the stars being the main subject (tiny people in the frame) then you can get away with manual focus to infinity on wide angle, everything will become sharp;

3) Traditional portrait (as shown), you won't have both subjects and background in focus so learn how to shoot and edit a composite;

4) Once you use the tripod, don't hesitate to push to ISO 6400, your background is underexposed. You can get away with 5-10s exposures on tripod for sharp milky way shots on wide angle, anything longer will induce star trails;

5) Setup the shot with inanimate object first before calling in your clients;

6) If it's cold, have the bride wear the groom's jacket;

7) Finally, the proportion between the two bodies is hard to look at, it feels like one person with two heads, bring the groom out so the bride is not painfully twisting her neck so far back;



Jul 24, 2017 at 04:31 PM
level1photog
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Astrophotography tips?


You did pretty well given the circumstances.

-I don't like the pose since she is blocking half of his face. I would move him more to the side so he can be seen.
-There is some bluish light on her forehead and hair that's a little distracting.

Unfortunately, without a tripod, it's going to be hard to create well done astrophotography.



Jul 24, 2017 at 04:57 PM
FrancisK7
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Astrophotography tips?


I figured a composite would yield best results (it's not like f8 was an option) but I didn't think I could pull it off without moving.

I'm going to have to invest in a small tripod I can leave in the car at all times for those rare occasions. We're pretty packed as is with all the stuff we bring (120" screen, projector, photobooth, photobooth accessories, lightstands, a thinkthank roller and 3 shoulder bags, various reflectors, umbrellas, softboxes... I'm going to need a SUV very soon) but I've seen very compact models.

I agree the pose is meh. I didn't channel my inner Roberto Valenzuela here.

I tried to recover more of the sky but as I did the softness due to OOF was just even more irritating to me.







So next time it'll be a two exposure composite and I'll have a tripod with me. ISO6400 and 5s exposure.

Thanks for the tips guys.



Jul 24, 2017 at 05:30 PM
level1photog
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Astrophotography tips?


Look into getting a tripod like Vanguard 265. I have it in my car and it's good for vacation too. It pack compactly. Strong enough to support Tamron 15-30 and 5D IV.

Yes sometime I wish I have a SUV with all the gears I have now when I do onsite printing, 2 camera setup, and all the lightstands, softbox and laptop.

After looking at this again, I think two shots composites is probably what I would have done. I would take one shot of the couple and another shot of the stars focus to infinity. Ideally if no tripod was available, I would have placed my camera on something to support it (stool, car, anything around eye level). I don't think I can handhold 1.5 seconds even with Rear Curtain Sync.



Jul 24, 2017 at 06:16 PM
MRomine
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Astrophotography tips?


FrancisK7 wrote:
So next time it'll be a two exposure composite and I'll have a tripod with me. ISO6400 and 5s exposure.


This should be more helpful on the shutter speed need vs the focal length vs ISO vs crop factor: https://www.lonelyspeck.com/milky-way-exposure-calculator/



Jul 24, 2017 at 06:54 PM
 

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FrancisK7
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Astrophotography tips?


That's a great link Mark, thanks.

Is that the milky way behind them? If so I totally lucked out because I had no idea how to orient myself.

What I like about composites is that you can hunt for your spot, fiddle with the exposure alone and only bother the couple once that first exposure is taken, after which you can pull all your focus on the pose.

Saturday I was excited, tired and trying to do it all at once without the proper tools, so a wonderful learning experience



Jul 24, 2017 at 07:05 PM
MRomine
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Astrophotography tips?


FrancisK7 wrote:
Is that the milky way behind them? If so I totally lucked out because I had no idea how to orient myself.


I belive so, I'm not any kind of expert, I'm just getting into it myself.



Jul 24, 2017 at 07:09 PM
BSPhotog
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Astrophotography tips?


Definitely a composite. The two things you are trying to shoot simply require very different things. Small light stand could work in a pinch to stabilize the camera. I have some beefy Manfrotto umbrella brackets that work well and can support a couple pounds of camera .

I think I'd try and shoot the terrestrial portion stopped down, so that you don't have OOF trees between a sharp couple and sharp stars, Maybe I'll have an opportunity to give this a shot some time, provided I have a reception far enough from all of the light pollution,



Jul 24, 2017 at 08:02 PM
Unclejoe1116
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Astrophotography tips?


If you're doing a composite, drop ISO to whatever your base is. Focus on infinity, that way the stars don't get that OOF look. After you get a decent star shot, leave the camera where it is, then try and get just the couple, without worrying about the background.

I agree with everyone on the posing not the best, but you did a way better job than I think I could have ever done! Astrophotography is actually one of the easiest things to shoot, because it's so predictable. You can know the weather, where the stars are, what the light pollution is, etc. (Side-note, if the power grid ever drops where you live, drop everything and go take pictures. The night sky is absolutely amazing!!)



Jul 25, 2017 at 01:32 AM
InSanE
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Astrophotography tips?


Just use some other shot of stars, they all look the same, and fix this image.


Jul 25, 2017 at 06:41 AM
glort
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Astrophotography tips?



Considering this was a spur of the moment impromptu thing, I reckon you did BLOODY well with it!

We can sit round all day saying you could have done this or made that better and carry on with the normal fauxtographer drivel, but at the end of the day( literally) you pulled off some very worthwhile shots that the couple didn't expect and will love.

The thing that shits me to tears with critiques is that people always talk about the faults, ( or make some up to seem enlightened) but there is never enough credit given for what was done. I was reading the part about balancing the camera on your wifes back and thinking " that would have been a dogs breakfast of a shot" then I see what you did and it's "Holly Shit!"
I would have expected a lot of squiggly lines for stars but although they may not be pinpoint sharp, I think that adds to the shot. Everyone want to see big starts and moon etc.

I don't think I could have pulled that off near as well so while it's a given that you could do better with a tripod and a bit of planning, I think the result you got was very good even if you had the tools you should have.

Don't sell yourself short Francis. Anyone can do something when it's easy and they have all the right toys. Pulling rabbits out of hats and doing something that you should not have been able to is a whole lot further up the ladder in skill and ability.
You did Damn good job here mate and these shots are going to be a talking point of the coverage and the ones the B&G point out to friends and associates that will get you referrals.
Smart people will rad between the lines and think " If this is what the guy did when he had never done it before and was balancing the camera on his wifes back, the guy has some serious talent!"
Not that this is news to those whom have seen your other efforts with things.

I think there is too much reliance on gear these days and everyone wants things easy but you took on a challenge that relied on your smarts and experience and well and truly put the runs on the board.

I have seen a lot of what you have done I have been greatly impressed by and here is something else to add to that.
Well done mate!



Jul 25, 2017 at 07:19 AM
Mark_L
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Astrophotography tips?


This article is the best I have found: https://luminous-landscape.com/introduction-to-landscape-astrophotography/

My main issue with these shots (and the overpower the sun wide open brigade) is that they just look fake/green screened.



Jul 25, 2017 at 10:19 AM







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