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Make the Stars Go Round in a Few Steps

So everyone loves star trails. There’s just something majestic about seeing an image where you can see with your own two eyes how the planet revolves without us even noticing it. Star trails are one of the best ways to showcase that in photography.

If you’ve ever wanted to try creating star trails but think that it’s a job only pros can do, you are wrong. You can easily create star trails with a little bit of patience and practice. Just get a decent camera with a fast wide angle lens, a tripod, and a shutter release or duct tape.

The Shooting

The first step of creating a star trail image is to actually take the photos needed. Now, to take star trail photos, you have to take a large number of images that you will have to later merge in post processing.

You should try to get your hands on a lens with the widest possible aperture because that helps you use a lower ISO value, and hence get lesser noise in your photos. Open your lens to its widest aperture, set your shutter speed to 30 seconds, and adjust the ISO to properly expose the photo. Once the settings are dialed in, use a remote shutter or some duct tape to make your camera shoot continuously for as long as you want. Remember that you should have at least 50 photos at the end of this process, but more are better.

The Editing

Bring up all your RAW files into a processor and edit them the way you want. The best way is to edit one image properly, and then copy and paste the settings to all images so every image looks more or less the same. After this, all you need to do is bring up all these images as layers in Photoshop, and set the Layer Blending Option to Lighten.

This will make all the brightest parts of your photos, the stars, to be shown on top of the static scenery below. And this is how you will be able to make a stunning star trail image of your very own.

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Moon Photography Made Easy

As saturated the internet is with photos of the moon, there’s no denying that taking a clear photograph of the moon is a very rewarding process. To new photographers, this may seem like a daunting task that only the ‘pros’ can take on, but it’s easier that it seems. All you need is a decent camera, a stable tripod, and some patience.

 

Understand the Equipment

The right kind of equipment is very important to take a good photo of the moon. As mentioned before, this includes a good camera sensor and a tripod. Another important thing needed is a good telephoto lens. Anything upwards of 200mm focal length is advised. 200mm lenses also work, but going lower than that is not ideal. The reason you will need a telephoto lens is, of course, to get as close to the moon as possible without digital cropping.

This is where the tripod comes in. When you are zoomed in to the longest end of your lens, even the slightest of movement can cause the whole image to be destroyed. Once you have your camera set up on a tripod, it’s time to tweak the settings.

Important Settings to Remember

Photographing the moon is all about minimizing the effect of the glow so that the details can be seen on its surface. For that, try to use the following tips and settings:

  • Set your camera mode to Manual.
  • Keep your ISO between 100 and 200 so that the brightness of the overall image is kept low.
  • Set the Aperture to f/11. Lower apertures will blow out the highlights.
  • Keep a fast Shutter Speed. Something around 1/125 to 1/250 will work.
  • Keep your camera’s focus to infinity.

Once you have dialed in all your settings, it is time to shoot. The best way to do this is by using a remote shutter, as pushing the shutter button with your finger causes the camera to shake no matter how careful you are. If you don’t have a remote shutter release, don’t worry. You can simply put the camera’s drive mode to 2 seconds or more, so that when you press the shutter button the camera takes a while before actually taking the photo.

Post Processing

Always shoot in RAW so that you can later tweak your image to pull out the most detail from the moon. One important thing to note here is that, unless you use a super zoom lens, you will need to crop into your image digitally if you want the moon to fill up most of your image’s frame. This is where the amount of megapixels your camera body has comes into play. The more this number, the more you can crop without sacrificing too much of the image quality.

 

Now that you have all the information you need to photograph the moon, go out and take some test shots. It’s always best to actually shoot in order to learn which settings work best for your gear. Happy shooting!