Snapping Stars

Not Ryan Reynolds, Anderson Cooper or William Levy, the Cuban hunk who just shook his groove thing on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Talk about a celestial body. Sizzle, sizzle.

No, I’m referring to the stars that illuminate the night sky.

Picture this: The other day my daughter and I were taking advantage of the summer-like temperatures with a late evening stroll. Just as we got to the end of our street we gazed upward and saw two separate stars that shone like beacons against the pitch black sky. My daughter immediately wished upon them. Turns out they were planets. So much for her wishes.

I didn’t make a wish that night, but if I had it would have gone something like this: “I wish I had my camera right now… and a million tax-free dollars.”

Even if I had my camera to snap the stars and planets that night, I would have also needed a tripod to get the photo to look halfway decent. Unless you are part rock and can steady your hands like a statue there is likely no way you could capture a crystal clear picture of constellations.

In addition to having a tripod, you’d also have to manipulate the exposure on your camera. Start at 10 to 25 seconds using an ISO 800 or faster. If you are shooting with a wide-angle lens, set the camera to its lowest f-stop, focus at infinity, and take an exposure of 20 to 30 seconds. Most digital cameras have timer settings that allow you to fiddle with the exposure. It’s best to experiment with your camera’s settings and your angles prior to settling on a specific exposure time.

Another option is to attach your camera directly to a telescope or place it up to the eyepiece. If you opt for the former you will need to invest in an adapter. If you go with the latter you will need to examine the focal length of the telescope and adjust your settings accordingly after you review the images on your camera’s LCD.

Related Articles:

Shooting the Perfect Portrait

Telling A Story With Your Shots

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.