Recently, I have been going on a mental tear studying and learning all that I can about night time photography and / or astrophotography. I am interested in night time landscapes photographs which feature a brilliant Milky Way galaxy. There are, for all intents and purposes, two types of astrophotography, wide angle landscapes / cityscapes and deep sky astrophotography.
Wide Angle Astrophotography requires a camera (preferably a DSLR), a wide angel lens, tripod and cable release. Some simple understanding of how to use your camera and how it captures light.
Deep sky photography also utilizes a camera and tripod, but then it becomes very expensive very quickly. There are many cameras designed specifically for deep sky astrophotography. The tripods become heavier to support then the equipment. The primary lens of the camera is a telescope, which must be mounted on a German Equatorial mount in order to compensate for the rotate of the earth which of coarse is magnified by the telescope lens.
Bottom line a deep sky photographic setup tends to look like a small howitzer setup and utilizes computers to control everything. Do not misunderstand, those who venture into this realm have my respect and admiration. I continue to study this area of photography, however, to quote Mr Eastwood, “A Man has got to known his limitations.”
I have a tendency to emphasize the wide angle landscape world of night time photography or astrophotography. The reason for this decision is simple and two fold. The primary reason is simple and comes down to cost. Right now, I have the photographic gear and ability to take some pretty good images and it is outside of my typical process which makes me happy. I live is Las Vegas, and with about 30 minutes of driving I can be in the deep dark Mojave desert with limitless subject matter.
This does not mean that I will not dip my toe into deep sky photography, however, there are significant technological investments which must be made.
New Camera Gear
For introduction, I have a Canon EOS Rebol XS DSLR camera body with an inexpensive Canon 18 – 55mm f3.5 lens. I typically mount it on a Manfrotto Boden Tripod with an #3265 ball head. This is a great little tripod with many years in service and countless mileage. I do own a large format camera and love to experiment with light and time.
To date, I have purchase a SVBony T ring adapter for my camera. This handy dandy little adapter allows me to connect my Canon DSLR camera to my telescpope. Total invested: $12.
I also purchased a VILTROX Wired or Wireless Shutter Release Timer Remote Control for my Canon EOS Rebol XS DSLR. This device also known as an interpolometer is a essentially a cable release with a timer and allows me to remotely schedule my night time imaging sessions and gives me control over shutter speeds, as needed frequency and duration of the session. Total Cost: $22.00 from the good folks at amazon.
I was a bit concerned about purchasing such a device. On the first night I learn to love this device for certain types of night time photography. First and foremost, for those of us who learned with film, the idea of an an interpolometer scared me. Using film, each exposure is an added expense and contributed to the overall cost of the hobby. In the world of digital, your first image costs you about $600. Each photograph taken drops the cost of each photograph taken.
In the short term, I am looking at building a barn door style equatorial mount. This will help slow some star trails, and keep within my budget for my night time photography habit.
I am beyond excited to head out into the desert a few evenings to try an capture something noteworthy. The bulk of my time in the backyard which has some light pollution. I am having fun and looking forward to new adventures and night time photography.