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Astrophotography, Level One

Whenever we are gearing up for an astrophotography session we prepare at one of four levels. This post is about Level One. The picture below shows the typical equipment lineup in this level.


Level One is less technically complex than than the other levels. However, it often requires planning to execute it well.


The exposures in Level One tend to be quite short unless you want to have star motion in your picture. Below is an example of a very short exposure. I knew I wanted to have the eclipse rising over the water. I knew the horizon could not have any obstacles that would block the eclipse since it was already underway when the sun and moon rose together. I pored over maps to figure out exactly where I would need to position myself in order to have everything work. The interval timer was not needed for this short exposure of 1/3200s with a 100mm lens.


Here is an example of a much longer exposure that used the interval timer. The interval timer was not used for it's interval features, but for holding the shutter open in Bulb mode for 5 minutes while I did light painting with a flashlight. This exposure was for 5 minutes at f4 using a 17mm lens. When we expose for such a long period the stars appear to rotate around a central point. This central point is where we find Polaris, the north star.


In the next example we can see the full power of the interval timer. The following video is a timelapse view of the 184 frames that were taken. Each frame was 30 seconds with a 24mm lens at f4. The frames were taken back to back and it was all controlled by the interval timer which was programmed beforehand. Here is a zoomed in portion of the sky.


We can take all these images into a program like StarStax and with some tuning in Photoshop we get a final result like this:


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