Since forever, I’ve been fascinated by astro photography. The ability of even a modest camera to capture detail in the night sky that our naked eye simply cannot perceive unaided means there is a whole new world of photography to be explored.

I have played around with some images of the moon in 2021 – until the ‘great wet’ of 21-22 started. Since around November 2021 until now (mid-May 2022) there have only been a handful of clear or semi clear nights.

Astro photography has the potential to be a very deep rabbit hole indeed, and I’m am really only dabbling around the extremes edges of that at the moment. So I decided to take part in a beginners astro workshop being run in the upper Blue Mountains by a local photographer, Gary Hayes.
After multiple postponements due to the terrible weather, we finally met on the night of May 2nd/3rd. Sadly the second half of the night had significant cloud cover, so I only got a handful of useful images.

Still, I started to get a handle on the basics and the images below are a start. These images were taken in and around the Hartley Valley area – a Bortle 2 zone just west of Mt Victoria in the Blue Mountains.

Some of the technique lessons gleaned from this experience include: My camera has very good low light performance, so I tended to drop the ISO setting. However, I think I will be trying to increase the ISO and reduce the exposure time in future shoots. It all requires experimentation, as it is impossible to gauge the quality of an image on the screen on the back of the camera – you have to get the images into something like Lightroom on a laptop or desktop PC/Mac.
You can see the settings I used in the EXIF info on each shot. All the images are extensively post-edited in Lightroom (as all astro shots generally need to be). I’ve added extra info in captions to some images, and you also really need to display these full screen for the best effect.

I plan to apply the techniques I learnt to some more private excursions in the near future.

Images

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