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Thread: Best moon phase for shootng stars?

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    Member LittleSparrow's Avatar
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    Best moon phase for shootng stars?

    I am hoping to plan a trip out into the country to visit my parents this Saturday and do my first night time shoot to capture the stars if the weather looks good. There are no street light for kms! What is the best moon phase? I have done some googling and the moon will be around 21% full. Will that work?
    Also, if you have any settings tips that would be great too. I have a D3100, 35mm 1.8 and a 18 -55m kit lens, tripod and remote shutter release.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Moonlight can be a bovver when the sky is a bit murky. Else, people (on here) have shot pretty good stars pics with moon and other ambient lights.
    However, around New Moon (0% full ) is something to aim for. Or, you can wait for whatever moon there is to set, or before it rises. You have not specified
    whether you want single point star images, or star trails, so I'll go for single points first. PRESUMABLY, you're not tracking and making multiple exposures for
    possible later image stacking. If you are, then others can add to this.

    Of your lenses, both have advantages:
    1. The 30/1.8 will give you a nice wide aperture to let the starlight in and you can have shorter exposures to reduce trailing. HOPEFULLY it is
    good out to the edges when wide open.
    2. The 18 end of the 18-55/?f/3.5?? will give you a nice wide field and will let you expose for longer before trailing becomes noticeable.

    In both cases, you reduce trailing (it's always there so you can only keep it unnoticeable) you have to 1) watch your exposure times, and
    2) have a sufficiently high ISO setting (but not too high as to overwhelm the image with sensor noise).

    Trailing will be greater when you shoot stars that are nearer the celestial equator, and less so nearer the celestial pole. I have found (for 18mm lens)
    that about 15 sec and 30 sec respectively for these areas will just keep the trailing in check. ISO about 800-1600 and aperture wide open.
    The 30mm lens will give about double the trailing of the 18mm.

    For star trails, the sky rotates at 15° per hour. You can go from there for simple, single shot trails.

    That'll do.
    Am.
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    Thanks. It's f3.5 (the 18-55mm)

    I didn't want to do star trailers as the amount of stars you can see in the sky at my parent place is amazing and I really want to capture them as I see them! I might have a go at the star trails too while I'm there.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Try both lenses. - Wide open.

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    Here is a useful link on general astrophotography topics that I have found very informative and useful.

    http://www.astropix.com/HTML/I_ASTROP/TOC_AP.HTM

    Cheers

    Dennis

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    Thanks for the link!

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    Haven't had much success with shooting stars. Although the better ones have had about a quarter moon in them. Specially if some clouds are involved.

    Sorry about the first attempt at a post... Working too hard, and getting old.
    Last edited by geoffsta; 22-01-2015 at 5:57pm.
    Geoff
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    (Geoff. I don't think LS wants to particularly shoot the moon)

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    Since my lens don't seem to have an infinity setting I read that I can auto focus on the moon and then switch it to manual to get a good focus on the stars. So I suppose a bit of moon could be helpful, or I could just try focus on the brightest star.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    It DOES have an "∞" setting, but probably no display.
    I don't know how to operate your camera (Where are the NIKONITES when you want one!!??) but
    you would have to set it to Manual Focus and possibly used the magnified Live View on the likes of
    some distant lights. Get the image as sharp as you can. Drawback: I've heard that the magnification
    function on the D3100 is not very hot and it's hard to see when an image is really sharp.

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    Autodidact & Amateur Sargimuss's Avatar
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    Basically, the advice above is spot on from what we've been doing. If you want to capture a vast amount of the stars (like half the milky way) an 18mm lens may not quite be too helpful. You'll definitely get got photos at the right settings, but you'll have to shoot at different settings to get what you need.

    The tip on focusing to infitity using live view is spot on, just remember, if you change focal length, you need to reset your focus again (the same goes if you accidentally bump your lens)
    Shutter speed will be based on what is essentially called the 600 rule (based on the focal length of your lens and the shutter speed associated with it to avoid trailing of the stars) 600/18/1.5 (Crop factor) = 22.22 (or 22 Second Shutter)

    What you'll need to do at 18mm is set your shutter to 22 seconds and aperture to the most open you can (Lowest f Number) then take some shots with your ISO at a level as low as you can go.

    I've been successful some nights with an ISO as low as 800 on a half moonlit night, other nights I've needed near 3200 ISO. I use a Canon and 10-22 f3.5 UWA lens and have learned by trial and error, then by help from people that are avid night toggers.

    http://www.capturingthenight.com/ast...-the-600-rule/ This is a good page to explain the basics and a cheat sheet on shutter speeds for the 600 Rule.

    The other thing to be mindful of is using either a remote cable release or, at the very least, a timer before the shutter is released (to eliminate camera shake)

    When you are using higher ISOs, you'll likely be disappointed with the levels of High ISO noise in your images, but post processing can help in reducing this. I use programs such as Lightroom and Noise Ninja for the basic NR that I need for my hobby photos, other people can point you in a different direction if you need more assistance there.

    6D
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sargimuss View Post
    ...
    The other thing to be mindful of is using either a remote cable release or, at the very least, a timer before the shutter is released (to eliminate camera shake)
    ...
    It's no LARPHING matter, so don't larf at what I have done:

    Hold black cardboard (or so) over front of lens;
    Use cable release to open shutter and lock open (a type where you could use just one hand to operate) then let hang slowly so as to not introduce movement;
    After a second or so, remove cardboard from in front of lens;
    Run for the exposure time, then
    Cover lens with cardboard and unlock cable release.

    OK, you can LAUGH now.

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    Autodidact & Amateur Sargimuss's Avatar
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    I've heard brief mention of a "Black Card" trick too. the reference was in regards to minimising light pollution, but I can see where the benefit is here too. Yes, it sounds faesible. Possibly noteworthy if you forget to set the timer or want to manually expose your image.

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