By no means I’m anywhere close to being good in astrophotography, especially when photographing deep sky objects. In fact, taking good pictures of distant stars requires expensive telescope equipment with sharp optics mounted on a sturdy self-adjusting tripod, plus an SLR mount to attach a camera, or even better, a dedicated CCD sensor. For normal astrophotography, say when photographing the Milky Way, one can use a pretty standard camera setup, as long as the lens is wide enough and fast enough in order to get sufficient light into the camera. To achieve the best results though, modified DSLR cameras with special filters are often used by serious astrophotographers.
During our last trip, the night sky was very clear. And since we stayed in a campground, there wasn’t any light pollution, which helped seeing the intricate details of the sky. Since I do not have any expensive astrophotography-specific equipment, I just used my DSLR with a 24-70mm lens and shot the sky wide open at f/2.8-f/3.2 between 20 to 30 seconds of exposure at ISO 1600.
I really wanted to capture the beauty of the night sky and set my camera on a tripod and shot the following photo of the Milky Way:
Obviously, the sky wasn’t as colorful as it is in this photograph. In fact, I expected to see no colors whatsoever, but when I opened the RAW file in Photoshop and started playing with levels, I was surprised to see that some of the areas of the picture contained true red and green colors. Not sure if this is some sort of a light/cloud pollution or color fringing, but I went ahead and saturated the image, then added a little artificial blue on top left and bottom right. Overall, I’m pleased with the result, although I wish the brighter stars came out bigger.
This second image is a vertical shot of the Milky Way. Again, I added some blue and saturated the green to make it stand out in Photoshop:
If you would like to find out more about this topic, check out our article on how to photograph the stars.
Hope you like these!