Reach­ing for stars no easy feat

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Health -

There were re­searchers and jour­nal­ists wear­ing head lamps around me, a cres­cent moon above and a light­house in the dis­tance.

On the plus side, light pol­lu­tion was not as much of an is­sue as it would have been on the main­land.

The first thing to do was to find the Milky Way.

It can be dif­fi­cult to see if it’s cloudy or there is a lot of light pol­lu­tion, but there are apps you can down­load to show you the way.

If you want non-trailed star images, as I did, there are a few sim­ple guide­lines you can follow.

Firstly, take your pho­tos in raw for­mat rather than jpeg.

It will help dur­ing post-pro­cess­ing as you will have a lot more in­for­ma­tion to work with.

Se­condly, use the widest an­gle lens you have as it will give you a longer ex­po­sure.

For ex­am­ple, a 14mm lens will give you 30 to 40 seconds of ex­po­sure, while a 28mm lens will give you about 20 seconds.

The longer the ex­po­sure, the more stars you will cap­ture. Thirdly, you need a tri­pod. It may sound like a no-brainer but you would be sur­prised how many peo­ple for­get to bring a tri­pod. Take a re­mote re­lease as well.

Next will come a bit of trial and er­ror as you set­tle on what works best for you.

I chose to set the white bal­ance to tung­sten, use man­ual mode and man­ual fo­cus.

You should set your fo­cus at in­fin­ity and the aper­ture at the low­est num­ber, prefer­ably 2.8.

A higher num­ber will shorten your ex­po­sure time. ISO should be set at about 6400. This will vary ac­cord­ing to what cam­era you are us­ing, whether it be full frame sen­sor, APSC or 4/3, but there are Milky Way ex­po­sure cal­cu­la­tors on the web if you want to be pre­cise.

Here’s a rough guide – full frame at 6400, 14mm lens at 2.8 will give you about 36 seconds' ex­po­sure; a APS-C sen­sor at 6400, 14mm lens 2.8 will give you about 24 seconds.

Shut­ter speed is cal­cu­lated ac­cord­ing to the fo­cal length of your lens and the size of your cam­era’s sen­sor.

Longer fo­cal lengths and smaller sen­sors re­quire shorter shut­ter speed to pre­vent star trails. Now that’s the first stage of the process.

Fin­ish the work off in Pho­to­shop or another edit­ing pro­gram as the Milky Way may still not be show­ing at its best.

Again, there a lot of ways to bring out the best in your im­age and some ex­pe­ri­ence in edit­ing pro­grams will be to your ad­van­tage.

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