CAMERA ON TRIPOD
With today's fast films, the only equipment you need to start taking spectacular photograplis of the night sky is a camera and a tripod.
Taking pictures of the night sky is back-to-basics photography.
With today's automated cameras you need only point and shoot to get technically perfect photos—at least during the day. At night, especially with faint subjects such as stars, old-fashioned skill has to replace the microchip circuits of modern cameras. Light meters and autofocus sensors will not function in the dim light.
An astrophotographer must manually set the f-stop and the shutter speed. The f-stop is the adjustable aperture of a lens, which controls how much light enters the camera; the shutter speed is the length of time the shutter remains open to expose the film.
Simple astrophotography— shots done with a camera on a tripod—usually employs fast apertures of f/2 to f/2.8. A lens set to an aperture of f/2.8, for example, lets in twice as much light as a lens set to f/4.
With a good-quality fast lens and one of today's fast films, you can capture striking portraits of constellations and Milky Way star clouds without a tracking system. No guiding, no polar alignment, no elaborate equipment to buy or set up. Just place the camera on a sturdy tripod, focus its lens at infinity, and, with the camera in manual-exposure mode, set the lens aperture to f/2.8. Frame the scene, then lock the shutter open on its B setting for 10 to 80 seconds. Try a range of exposures at first.
The secret of success is the film. Use at least an ISO 400 film. Better still are the latest ISO 800 to 3200 films. With exposures of less than 60 seconds, these films can record stars tar tainter than you can see with the naked eye.