An Astrophotography Tutorial for Beginners

Astrophotography can be incredibly rewarding, albeit daunting if you're new to this particular way of creating with a camera. In this on-location tutorial, we are given some great pieces of advice for how to go about shooting both landscapes and portraits under a nighttime sky.

Night photography is almost its own art form, in the way that there are so many things that you will do differently both setting up and capturing shots, as well as how you handle the files in post-processing. This isn't a tutorial for what to do with your shots in post, but rather how to make the most of your locations when shooting at night.

As per her usual, Julia Trotti does a great job of explaining the equipment she is using and why she chose to use it. She uses a couple different lenses for this one, including a budget lens that will be comparable to what you might have if you are just getting started with your journey in photography. This is a great little tutorial for anyone looking to expand their capabilities out in the field and who has an interest in capturing scenes under a starry sky. Enjoy!

If night photography is a skill that you are particularly interested in developing, then you need to make sure to check out our tutorials with Elia Locardi: "Photographing the World 2," and "Photographing the World 4." Both of these Fstoppers original tutorials will go into much further depth concerning the more technical aspects of both setting up your shots and how to handle the files in post-processing.

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Spy Black's picture

Some good barebones info. The Lonely Speck site has lots of cool info for beginners as well:

By the way, you can use a 1-inch sensor camera or even a cellphone for astro pics. I took the shot below with a 1-inch sensor Canon G9 X Mk II resting on a wooden post, 8 seconds f/2 @ ISO 1600 28mm FF equivalent. If you have a halfway decent body you may have a built-in intervalometer that will allow you to shoot multiple images at higher a higher ISO and then stack the images using the free astrophotography image stacker DeepSkyStacker:

Michelle Maani's picture

So you compare a one-inch sensor to the microscopic sensor of a cellphone? A one-inch sensor is a good-sized sensor. I don't know of any cell phone whose sensor can do what a one-inch sensor can do.

Spy Black's picture

I'm not "comparing", I'm merely stating that you can use a 1-inch sensor camera OR a cellphone for astrophotography. As absurd as it sounds, all you need to do is Google "astrophotography with a cellphone", and see how it's done.

Robert Huerbsch's picture

Nice intro for beginners! The three mistakes I’m most commonly see from initial AP shots are:

Focus off (stars should be pin points when zoomed)
Exposing too long (stars are egg shape or streaks)
Light Pollution... need to drive to darker skies!

With dark skies and fast glass you don’t need a tracker!

Rex Jones's picture

Nicely done, my friend! This is a great shot!

Robert Huerbsch's picture

Thanks Rex, dark skies and fast glass : )

Victor Tafoya's picture

Beautiful capture Robert. What about PP astro shots. Do you have any recommendations. Just looking for a good source to assist me.

Robert Huerbsch's picture

I do my stacking and calibration with Astro Pixel Processor. It’s as good as PI but costs less and is easier to learn.

There is a good tutorial on fstoppers for stacking stars with PS CC as well.

Spy Black's picture

"Light Pollution... need to drive to darker skies!"

A good way to find the darkest areas near you is to use the light pollution map sites: