Shooting Stars

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Improve your photography

The last few years has seen an explosion of star photographs, made possible by ever-improving DSLR cameras able to operate at high ISOs; but capturing an eye-catching image requires the right equipment, a good deal of preparation and the ideal location, as well as the correct technique.

What do I need?
A tripod is essential, as is a cable release – just the action of pressing the shutter button will be enough movement to render the shot useless. You can buy a cheap generic cable which plugs into your camera, or splash out on a fancy remote switch which allows you to press the shutter while standing ten feet away from the camera. Most importantly, you need a dark night with no ambient light, and the moon as close to new as possible. The idea is that the light from the stars should be the only visible light.

A moving target
One of the advantages (and disadvantages) of stars is that they are constantly moving. This can be great if you want to capture star trails (see above,) but if you want an image illustrating the thousands of twinkling stars in the sky, it will limit your shutter speed. Generally, anything longer than 30 seconds will mean that your star will become a line. Consequently, you will need to have your aperture wide open (ideally f/2.8, or even less, depending on your lens) in order to let enough light into the camera. In addition, you will need to push your ISO to the max – possibly as far as 12 800.

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