Recently, I received a new Canon EOS 400D Digital SLR camera! In my latest post, I was explaining a few of the features of this camera and the lens I will be using. So over the past few days, I have been avidly photographing anything and everything I can lay the lens on.
From flowers, to animals, to a sickly yellow moon, I have been (perhaps overly) enthusiastic about this new camera and its open abilities. Even when I am experimenting with its capabilities (which are dramatically different from the small digital camera I owned prior) and making mistakes, I have managed to transform these mistakes into modest successes (if not masterpieces).
Saturday night in Sydney, the moon was an unusual yellow shade. So at 10.00PM that night, I ventured out, armed with the camera, a skimpy cream nightie exposing my skin to the unwelcoming and frigid night air. Since this was my first time with astrophotography, (let alone my first time holding a DLSR camera), I decided to begin with unplanned experiments.
Originally, my goal was to photograph a few clear images of the yellow moon, and perhaps a few photographs of the stars that seemed to be dappled across the universe. Easy! However, to master (for me grasp) the art of astrophotography proved difficult. Initially, I placed the mode to Manual, set the exposure to 10″ and off I went. However, to take crisp images at such a long exposure time was near impossible without a tripod. My photos came out blurred and trails of light were the result of my camera shake.
In order to reach my goal, I experimented with faster exposure times, ranging from 1/5 – 30″, attempting to discover the perfect exposure for the situation, settling with 8″. The photos remained blurry, as a result of the lack of any tripod. However, the trail of light began to catch my attention, and when I set my exposure time to 15″, the blurry trail transformed into ‘light patterns’.
From this, I gave up trying to take crisp moon photos and focused on making more patterns with the light. I realised this was the result of the movement of the camera, and, setting the exposure time to 8″, began to move the camera in patterns to make shapes with the light.
After doing this, I tried changing the aperture, where I discovered that the lower the f/stop number, the brighter the image. So I changed the aperture to F4.0. This setting allowed maximum light in making a brighter image. Later, I learned this is because the lower the number, the more light it lets in. This is why, in some photos, the image is whiter and brighter than prior photos. When I changed the aperture, the light transformed from a yellow light to a cleaner, platinum white.
At the time, I did not change the ISO, but have now learnt that changing it in darker scenes is agood idea. However, the higher the ISO, the noisier and grainier the image will be. I only dared experiment with ISO 100 to 400. So it turns out that a disappointing mistake has transformed into an unanticipated success! Experimenting with the exposure, ISO, aperture and shutter speed was definitely enjoyable and produced a promising result.
After this, and absorbing what I had learned about how I can adjust the settings to extract the most from the camera, I tried to take some crisp, clear photos of the oddly yellow moon and the stars (I am always amazed by them, they seem to be dappled among the infinite universe of blackness). As you can see, nearer to the end of my gallery, I have (barely) managed this, but have certainly improved from where I started! I have definitely learnt a lot in this one hour. You can see my (failed) attempts of star photos in the images that seem to be black. If you look close, you can just see a few patterned specks!
You can see my (failed) attempts of star photos in the images that seem to be black. If you look close, you can just see a few patterned specks! This probably failed because the photo would have only been clear if the exposure time was 30″. I was unable to access a tripod, and my shaky hands could not find a clear picture of the stars because of the camera shake. Next time!
Astrophotography will certainly be difficult to master ( in my case grasp), however, until I near it, playing around with settings will be fun! In the following post, I will be writing the poem to describe my favourite or most intriguing photo. Which do you find most interesting? Have you experimented with astrophotography before? Let me know!
Olivia, writing (and photographing) on a whim…