No matter what types of photos you’re taking, anchoring the frame is key. “You really want something in the frame to anchor the photo,” photographer Jeff Carlson says, “Whether it’s trees or a landmark in the foreground, you want to have something that's going to frame the sky so that it doesn’t just look a scene from a space movie.”
Be aware that because you’re shooting in low light, you must leave the shutter open for a longer time than you would in daylight. Due to the rotation of Earth, celestial bodies will have light trails in the resulting photo. “Even though your camera isn’t moving because it's on a tripod, everything else is moving because you’re on a rotating planet,” Carlson says. “You don’t want all the stars to look blurry because the planet has shifted slightly.” The 500 rule can be helpful for avoiding unwanted movement in your night sky shots.
Finding the right tools & camera settings for astrophotography.
Once you’ve determined what type of photography you’re interested in, it’s time to get your tools together.
While smartphone cameras are making enormous technological leaps, you’re going to want the benefits of a DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses. And no matter what type of night sky photography you’ve chosen to shoot, a tripod is a must.
“If you want to do astrophotography or night photography, you want cameras with larger sensors.”
It’s also a good idea to invest in a digital camera with high ISO potential. “If you want to do astrophotography or night photography, you want cameras with larger sensors,” says photographer Derek Boyd. “High-quality cameras that shoot ISO 6,400 and up are going to give you cleaner images.” Proper camera settings are key for succeeding in astrophotography.
If you’re looking to create a deep sky photography rig for capturing detailed images of celestial bodies, you’ll need some more-advanced equipment — most likely an equatorial mount, a telescope, a guide telescope, and a few other pieces of necessary equipment.