aSTRO Workshop Notes

Hi all, 

Here’s my reminder notes for the last workshop:

 ISO 3200 | F2.8 | 20 Sec

ISO 3200 | F2.8 | 20 Sec

Prep for your shoot at home.

  • Choose the lens and camera and attach before leaving the house. (Reducing risk of dropping, condensation and saving time).
  • Attach Tripod Plate.
  • Turn off your IS/Stabiliser. Wether you have it built in to your sensor and/or your lens. It softens your image and we want those stars sharp!  (Ideally assign it to a quick menu and/or custom button for easy access)
  • Switch your focus to MF (Manual Focus) 
  • Enable Peaking if you have it. (If you have used it before it should re-activate with previous settings)  Most camera models give you a few options of colours. I use RED and have it set to peak on the HIGH(Highlights/Stars) 
  • Enable your 2 Sec Timer. This gives you time to stop touching the camera to limit camera shake during exposure. (I use 10 second timers if I’m using myself as a model or need to get in a position to paint light)

You should be set for some night shots.

When there is no moon, I find starting at ISO 3200, 10 sec & f2.8 or faster (Ideally). Helps me get a real feel for the scene. 

I’ll often go higher or lower depending on my composition and the available light. 

With a lens wider than 18mm (Full Frame Equivalent) you’re able to shoot up to 20 Seconds before you see any really movement from the starts. 

And you can still achieve great results using 30 Seconds. (This is where you're at your max really for still star shots) Longer will almost always show some form of star trail.

Of course the longer the exposure the lower your ISO can be. Meaning the cleaner / less noise filled your final image will be...we have to compromise somewhat to not show to movement in the stars.

Focus, Focus, Focus! 

It's so often forgot to check your focus after your test shot. Please remember to check. 
Take a test shot, review the image and zoom into the stars, checking both the sharpness and the ISO noise of the shadows (Purple/Ugly Colours where black should be) when you zoom. 

Tricks for getting focus...
1) Use peaking until the stars light up red or in the colour of your peaking setting.
2) Use a really high ISO to see as much as possible whilst you focus, use the zoom feature on your cameras back screen whilst you're on LIVE view to better see what you're focussed on.
3) Shine a big torch on where you want to focus, remembering if you're focussing on something 30+ feet away from there onward will almost always be in focus to infinity.
4) If you're really struggling to get that focus...(It happens) - Use the back of the screen at the bottom there should be a focus indicator that should read something like 1ft - 30ft - Infinity (Symbol) - This can also be found on some lenses, as well or instead of. 
Use the distance indicator and focus the lens to the required (estimated), and take a test shot. 
If a little out still, tweak from there taking further test shots until focussed. 
5) If all else fails...
Focus before dark with auto-focus, mark your tripod position and comeback later.




I find some reasonably accurate results/information on this website, cross referenced with a local weather channel I find I can get a general idea.


You can’t be popping your head outside and doing it in the spur of the moment. 


Mind you had the moon been less or if it had set last night it would have been great as it did clear enough by the end. 


You can keep track of the moon rising and setting and milky way positioning by using this app called SKY SAFARI. 


It’s available for various different types of devices. I use Safari 5 for IOS. 



Let’s leave it there for now. Soak that in and be ready for the next clear sky with an early moon set. 



Thank you and it was a pleasure to run this workshop. 




Thanks all, 


Jack Mayall 


©Copyright Camera Workshops Ltd. Please do not share or pass these notes on.