A Simple Way to Photograph Comet NEOWISE

If you have not realized it yet, Comet NEOWISE is on the night sky. This is a big event for astrophotographers and photography enthusiasts alike.

Photographing Comet C/2020 F3, also known as NEOWISE, is actually not that hard. Get out your tripod, attach a medium to long lens on your camera, point the camera towards the north, and wait for darkness. It is important you do not use a classic wide angle lens, as the comet will appear very small in the sky. Try first with a focal length of 50mm, and increase it if necessary. Any camera ought to work for this. Settings are equally easy. Make sure you manually focus on a distant light or star as to have infinite focus. Dial-in a 2-second shutter speed, an aperture of f/5.6, ISO 1,600, and a white balance of daylight. If your photos come out too bright, you can either lower the ISO or shutter speed. If you are using a focal length like 400mm, you want to lower the shutter speed as to avoid star trails. If your photo comes out blurry, make sure to use a two-second shutter delay and turn off image stabilization.

In the above video, I venture out to photograph Comet NEOWISE in the middle of the night. I try to incorporate different foregrounds to make a complete photo. As I am located in Denmark, which is relatively north on planet Earth, I struggle a bit with both the altitude of Comet NEOWISE and the beautiful summer phenomenon of Noctilucent Clouds. Noctilucent clouds are usually something you want in your photos, but they can obscure the visibility of the comet. However, I manage to incorporate them into my composition and come away with a beautiful and unique photo.

Have you photographed or seen comet NEOWISE yet? Share your photos down in the comments.

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5 Comments

Chris Fowler's picture

I enjoy your videos! I watched this one 2 nights ago and those Noctilucent clouds are indeed an interesting feature, but distracting from the comet itself as you said. Here in Florida, I am having challenges with clouds too, but they are the rain type that block view of both sunset and the comet afterwards. As soon as there is a clear sky I am going to try the tips you mentioned. Thank you.

Tony Northrup's picture

You can just point an iPhone 11 or later NNW (towards the big dipper) and get a great shot of it handheld. Most recent smartphones make it look great in night mode. If nothing else, it's a great way to find it in the sky, since you probably can't see it in your EVF or OVF.

Ruud van der Nat's picture

Could see it quite easily in the OVF of my Canon EOS 6D. It’s remarkable you can take the above photo with an iPhone, not in the same league as Mad’s or Alyn Wallace’s images though.

scott garrod's picture

Vancouver Island, July 14, 2020